Following on from my piece on StubHub over the weekend, which focused on the troubling practice of matchday tickets being flogged for well over the face value on the site, I approached the club to get their take.
To my surprise, and therefore to their credit, I was given a pretty detailed line on the club’s partnership with StubHub and – you won’t be surprised – a fairly robust response.
To refresh collective memories… Like many other fans last weekend I purchased tickets for the Villa game from StubHub and was relatively lucky to have paid only a little over the face value for them.
Others may not have been so lucky and you can see from the image below that some tickets were floating around on the site for as much as £200 each.
For those who cannot make the game StubHub can be a valuable resource. You can recoup your costs conveniently by passing your tickets on to other fans who were unable to pick them up when they went on general sale – everyone’s a winner right?
Except that some fans – who I prefer to see as vultures – are seeking to take advantage of the resource to extract a tidy profit.
Given the club’s strong statements in the past on touting, the arrangement with StubHub did raise eyebrows – applying eBay economics to ticketing will only end one way, surely? We can’t therefore be too surprised that some of us are taking advantage of the system to fleece each other. It’s human nature perhaps.
I asked the club to comment on the availability of tickets for the Villa game – by no means a Category A fixture – for such high prices and their response is, in full, below:
A spokesman for the club said:
“We actively monitor the ticket exchange and have taken steps to avoid this happening.
“We introduced a price cap of £200 for this season and this will drop to £150 from the start of 2015/16. Additionally we have prevented tickets that are reasonably priced from being bought and resold i.e ‘flipping’ and we actively monitor the number of transactions per season ticket holder.
“We find that if tickets are posted at a reasonable price they are purchased very quickly. With the price cap in place, although you may see tickets listed at high prices, these will either remain unsold or be sold at the cap limit price only.
“It is important to note that the Club does not benefit financially from sales on the site.”
The cap, I’m reliably informed, is a rare ‘concession’ to achieve from StubHub. However, it remains concerning that the market can be allowed to dictate ticket prices which should – in an ideal world – be going to fans at face value. I’m fundamentally morally opposed to this.
As I said above, there is a place for a resource like this for those who genuinely wish to pass on unwanted tickets but surely a cap of somewhere in the region of 10-15% (to enable StubHub to make a small profit and cover their costs) would be ample?
It is self-evident that “reasonably priced” tickets will be snapped up quickly, but for the big games like Arsenal/Chelsea/United etc there is every reason to believe that the proportion of tickets offered at the cap of £200 will be higher. And people will pay it.
Commercial interests always win out and whilst the club has extracted a price cap from StubHub it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the eBay model is designed to help people make a profit – that’s exactly what it’s for.
It’s also worth noting that every single ticket on StubHub which remains unsold because of its inflated price deprives a genuine fan of a ticket at the game. Empty seats might mean fewer fans being ripped off, but it also means fewer fans in the ground. Far from ideal.
I guess my conclusion is two-fold:
Firstly, taking at face value the club’s claim that they are not benefiting financially from sales on the site is one thing – I am grateful for the response from the club, but the detail of their arrangement with StubHub is still worth scrutiny. Do they have an arrangement in place to provide StubHub itself with tickets as part of their commercial tie-in? That would enable StubHub itself to ‘flip’ tickets at a premium.
Where do the corporate tickets on StubHub come from? Is a mark-up being made on those, and if so by who – StubHub or Spurs?
Finally, though, in all of this I retain an unhealthy contempt for the fans who use the site as an opportunity to fleece other supporters. I stick by my original assertion: you’re not Spurs fans, you’re vultures.