Hello Ants, I hope you’ve had a great January! How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? I’d imagine better than mine which has not lasted into February at all. In this issue of Ants Weekly I’d like to take a look at a topic which has implications beyond football alone – ticket touting. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the concept of ticket resale, what with artists such as Ed Sheeran refusing entry to customers who’ve purchased tickets from resale websites such as Viagogo. Many have seen this as a positive move against the inflated prices from these companies and have called for further action to ban this behaviour. However, it’s a more complex issue than just banning it; did you know that even just lending your season ticket to a friend qualifies as ticket touting?
Near the end of 2017, Celtic controversially reasserted that fans should not lend a friend their season ticket. They claimed that doing so risked compromising not only the club’s own safety measures but also the SPFL’s regulations. Fans were outraged, and rightly so in my personal opinion. While I do understand the rules by which a football club is bound, more should be done to allow tickets to be reused in these situations, not to fill the ground or even for the club to make money but just to give another fan the chance to see their club play without engaging in an astronomical (not to mention illegal) transaction. This topic signifies a fork in the road regarding the sport’s continuing change towards commercialisation and it’s clear what the right direction is.
For all except the most dedicated of fans, it’s unavoidable to have to miss a game in a season. Maybe you’ve got to catch up on some work, you’ve got a few errands to run or maybe you just don’t fancy a freezing cold trip away up into the highlands. More and more clubs, such as Liverpool and Wolves are offering a ‘ticket exchange’ system which allows season ticket holders to inform the club of their non-attendance and allow their seat to be resold. This scheme has been praised massively for ensuring that stadia aren’t left half empty and is a positive move against ticket touting issues. This contrasts with partnership deals that some clubs, such as Manchester City, hold with the companies in question to allow trades between fans to take place, usually at extortionate, inflated rates. With there being no guarantee that season ticket holders will report their absences in time, this is still very much a reality for many fans despite the ticket exchange scheme.
Football tickets for in-demand games are especially prone to being touted. The Glasgow derby is a prime example. Following cuts of away allocations for these fixtures to less than a thousand, fans of the travelling side have been much harder pressed to find a ticket which has led to supporters becoming left to scour resale opportunities. Some opt to look for expensive hospitality options but the majority do resort to this. There have been reported sales of around £1,300 for touted tickets for the most recent derby at Ibrox on the 29th of December. The seller in question also claimed to have around 6 tickets on twitter but details of this have been removed online.
According to the Guardian, companies based off shore (of course this is to flout UK restrictions on touting) use software that ‘harvests’ tickets from specific football clubs purely to be sold on. Scarily, this software is free to use and readily available. Normal conditions don’t allow for a consumer to purchase more than a specified amount of tickets. This is usually a low but fair number and yet somehow hundreds of them appear online shortly after they go on sale. Be it up to the government to plug these legal loopholes or the club to see to it that no one overpays for a ticket, somebody needs to take action. £28 tickets for Arsenal vs Milan were recorded being sold for as much as £234.40 on Viagogo – over 8 times the original asking fee.
How do you feel about this? What would be your solution to this problem? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org! Alternatively, email if you have any feedback or any other topic you’d like covered in Ants Weekly. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, have yourself a fantastic week and I’ll speak with you all soon.
MON THE ANTS!!