Six Nations tickets on Viagogo for total value of €419,000

In-depth analysis reveals the scale at which tickets are being resold for inflated prices

A fan looking for a ticket before last weekend’s Six Nations match against England at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

A fan looking for a ticket before last weekend’s Six Nations match against England at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

 

Thousands of tickets for the Six Nations have appeared for sale on the controversial website Viagogo for a combined €419,000, according to Guardian analysis that illustrates the grip wielded by ticket touts over in-demand events.

Details of the scale at which Six Nations tickets are being touted prompted concern from the UK digital minister, Margot James, and condemnation from rugby governing bodies, who warned that Viagogo’s customers risk being refused entry at the turnstile.

The Guardian examined 1,155 tickets with a “Trader” label advertised on Viagogo for the Six Nations and found they were being listed for €419,343, including VAT, delivery costs and booking fees, collected by the website.

The true amount of tickets controlled by touts is likely to be much higher, given that the analysis covered only two days of Viagogo listings.

These tickets, two-thirds of which were in the hands of just five traders, are listed despite the risk that buyers will be turned away at the door.

James said the findings were very concerning. “Fans should be able to attend major sporting events at a fair price,” she said.

She pointed out that Viagogo was the subject of a court order by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which has taken action against the company over alleged breaches of consumer law. “Viagogo must now make any necessary changes without delay and I expect the CMA to take further action if they fail to do so,” she said.

Fresh doubts

The CMA has already warned that it has “serious concerns” about Viagogo’s compliance with the terms of the court order. And listings for Six Nations games raise fresh doubts about whether the company is abiding by its terms.

The trader with the highest combined ticket price had 173 tickets for sale with a total asking price of €90,466 (including booking fees and delivery).

While the CMA’s court order calls for traders’ full contact information to be advertised, entries for the trader's tickets simply listed his details as “Dublin”.

The highest number of tickets for sale by an individual trader, who listed 290 tickets with a combined price of €73,426.

Another prolific seller, a company called Tick Tock Ltd that listed its address as Panama City, had 100 tickets the combined cost of which stood at €52,179. Another trader, Candy & Co, gave a postbox address in Texas, while a fifth, Tyne and Wear Ltd, is based in Newcastle.

The most expensive tickets, for sale by a trader listed as “harry tout” carried a total cost of €5,415 for two seats in the fourth row with a view of the tryline for the sold-out match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield on February 9th.

The tickets were marked as “Resale not allowed”.

Despite the CMA’s court order, which demands that traders give their genuine contact details, the address for “harry tout” was given as the Scottish newspaper the Daily Record, which has campaigned virulently against ticket touting. The Daily Record said it had no involvement with the listing.

None of the traders could be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the Rugby Football Union said the use of secondary market websites to resell tickets is prohibited by the RFU’s ticket terms and conditions and that ticket holders known to have breached the terms and conditions would be refused entry.

“Where tickets are resold on secondary market websites – especially at inflated prices – it is not just the genuine fans, but the wider game, whom suffer.”

The Irish Rugby Football Union urged fans not to buy resold tickets, which they said might be cancelled. The Welsh Rugby Union also warned fans against buying from ticket resale companies, warning that buyers risked ejection from the ground.

This stance does not appear to dissuade traders. Touts have 194 tickets for sale for Scotland v Ireland alone with a combined ticket price of €65,544 which, if sold, will prove the most lucrative game of the tournament for traders.

Traders are selling 223 tickets for sale for the Scotland v Wales match on March 9th with a combined value of €55,966.

When contacted, Viagogo said it was “perfectly legal” to resell tickets and that any bought through its website were valid and should not result in fans being turned away.

‘Highly unfair’

A spokesperson said: “Event organisers sometimes make claims that they will deny entry to people who have purchased resold tickets. These types of entry restrictions are highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal.

“Therefore, as with all tickets on our platform, Viagogo customers should feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the Viagogo guarantee.”

Under the terms of the CMA’s court order secured against the company, Viagogo has been obliged to publish not just names of touts but also more detailed information about what consumers are buying, such as seat number at the venue.

But the Guardian found dozens of cases that did not display the seat number.

Tom Watson, the UK shadow secretary for digital, culture, media and sport and deputy UK Labour leader, said it was “disgraceful to see that ticket touts on Viagogo are still ripping off rugby fans”.

“Viagogo has been told time and again that it needs to clean up its act. They are flagrantly disobeying the law and even ignoring a court order. It’s unacceptable that consumers may not be able to see basic details about their tickets, like the seller’s name and the seat number. Secondary ticketing platforms have been taking advantage of loyal fans for far too long. This has got to change.”

In late January the CMA, which had given Viagogo until mid-January to overhaul its business practices, said the changes made by Viagogo on foot of the court order were “insufficient”.

Viagogo, in turn, issued a statement which simply said: “We are compliant.”

- The Guardian analysed all listings for Six Nations tickets listed on the Viagogo website which carried a “Trader” logo on two consecutive days. The analysis covers 1,007 unique tickets on sale on the Viagogo website on Wednesday January 30th plus 148 unique tickets which subsequently came up for sale on Thursday January 31st. Checks were carried out to ensure no duplicate tickets were recorded by manually checking the ticket details, price and trader.

* This article was amended on February 8th, 2019 

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