English rugby wins small victory in online tickets fight

Reuters, LONDON

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 18

English rugby won a legal victory on Wednesday to support its efforts to prevent the resale of tickets for international matches online at inflated prices.

The Supreme Court in London dismissed an appeal by secondary ticketing Web site Viagogo against an order forcing it to identify people who had used its Web site to sell on tickets for autumn internationals in 2010 and Six Nations games last year.

However, Viagogo struck a defiant note, saying it would continue to offer tickets for England matches, including this weekend’s game against South Africa at Twickenham.

A number of soccer clubs and tennis event organizers have signed partnerships with Viagogo and rival StubHub, owned by EBay, to allow fans to sell unwanted tickets online.

However, the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) argues that the practice risks pricing out ordinary fans.

“Selling tickets through secondary ticketing sites is against our terms and conditions and allows prices to be inflated, preventing many of our supporters from purchasing,” RFU chief commercial officer Sophie Goldschmidt said. “We now plan to identify such sellers and take tough sanctions to keep our tickets off secondary ticket sites and in the right hands.”

The RFU can reduce allocations to member clubs if they sell tickets online, “name and shame” offenders or ultimately try to recover their profits through court action.

The battle between the RFU and Viagogo is likely to intensify in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup, which England will host.

Tickets for England’s game with South Africa were on offer for prices of between £125 and £200 (US$199 and US$319) on Viagogo’s Web site after the ruling.