Written By Jack J Collins, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

The ins and the outs of the ticket touts

Written By Jack J Collins, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

Ticket touting, though strictly illegal, has been part and parcel of attending events since before the dawn of the internet, but it’s particularly in the footballing sphere that it’s become a real issue. We take a look at the legal standing of this, and how touts continue to get away with it.

The law

There are four pieces of legislation that deal with ticket touting:

Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 states that it is an offence to tout tickets for football matches, by making it illegal for any unauthorized vendor to sell tickets to a designated football match. However, people got around this by selling another item (such as a pin or a programme) at a vastly inflated price and throwing in a ‘free’ ticket with it.

This was banned under the 2006 Violent Crime Reduction Act, which basically stated that using creative methods to get round the 1994 Act was not really on either and that could be a criminal offence if you were involved in any crafty inflate-the-price-and-get-free-tickets dealings.

The 2007 Order simply defined what a football match was considered to be, so that nobody got confused. What’s perhaps most interesting is last year’s amendment, which stated that a seller needed to identify specific seats or an area where the ticket was located, and the face value of said ticket, as the government attempted to crack down on touts.

The difference

The difference between football touting and other touting is quite clear – it’s perfectly legal to resell a ticket to a concert or other entertainment, because one of the main reasons for the original 1994 Act was to stop the possibility of rival fans being enclosed in the same section.

Such an event which would almost certainly lead to angry blokes shouting at each other a lot, but more importantly, could lead to violence, which it’s best to prevent.

The internet

The rise of the online seller has heightened the problem of touting once again. It’s relatively easy for the police to spot a bloke standing outside the stadium shouting ‘get your tickets’ in a faux-Cockney accent, but there’s not as many obvious signs when someone’s touting on the internet.

Last year, there were more than 4,000 complaints made to the City of London Police, regarding touting, but only 32 ticketing sites were suspended. The Police have stated that it is when websites are hosted abroad that they experience real difficulties trying to get them down.

Football clubs have begun to warn fans that if their ticket ends up in the hands of unauthorised resellers, they will have their seats cancelled and could face a banning order from the stadium. In the last two seasons, Manchester United alone have seized nearly 2,000 tickets, according to BBC 5 Live.

The secondary market

Outside of football, the secondary ticket market is worth over £1 billion a year, but remains controversial. One of the key reasons for this is that professional touts can ‘harvest’ tickets, restricting supply and meaning that genuine fans have to pay over the odds to see their favourite artists.

Adele recently tried to deny resellers any access to her sold out tour, but despite her best efforts, tickets with a face value of £100 are being sold on resale sites for over £700, earning the touts a cosy profit and putting fans out of pocket.

The outcome

Whilst tougher laws come in, there appears to be no end in sight to the ticket touting process, and for now at least, the internet has facilitated a near unbreakable marketplace for touts to utilise. The debate rages as to whether this is exploitation or entrepreneurial spirit, but when the real losers appear to be genuine fans, whether that be in music or sport, it remains to be seen how the problem can be fixed.