Chelsea has set the ball rolling in what will reportedly become a Premier League-wide crackdown on touting after launching a legal battle to quash illegal resale.
UK newspaper the Guardian reports that the Premier League club’s lawyers have secured injunctions against two men who admitted to reselling match tickets, with one claiming to be a “tiny, weeny cog” in a much bigger operation.
Football ticket resale is illegal under UK law, meaning the two men could face fines or even prison time if they flout the court order.
Lawyers have secured five other temporary injunctions for Chelsea, after the club’s senior figures responded to fan complaints about the sheer volume and obvious nature of touts operating outside Stamford Bridge stadium.
The two men, John Bourke and Gary Shepherd, admitted to reselling a ticket and have accepted a court order preventing them from doing so in the future. They have been forced to cover £14,655 of the club’s legal fees and undertook not to loiter within 400 yards of Stamford Bridge or 200 yards of Fulham Broadway underground station.
Bourke, said, according to the Guardian: “I’m a tiny, weeny cog in the running of it. A tiny cog in the biggest clock in the world.”
Shepherd told the court: “I can’t see how you can sell one ticket and get fined nearly 10 grand each.”
The judge, Justice Stewart, ordered the men to hand over any remaining tickets they had in their possession to help Chelsea track down season ticket holders or members accountable for releasing their tickets.
However, both men claimed not have any more tickets and did not have any details of any other transactions to hand over.
Sources told the Guardian that Premier League clubs have agreed at high-level meetings that further action must be taken in order to stamp out the practice. Chelsea is understood to be the first club to resort to legal means.
Ticketing expert Reg Walker, of the Iridium Consultancy, questioned the commitment of Manchester City given that the club has a commercial partnership with controversial resale platform Viagogo.
Walker said: “Whilst Chelsea’s action on secondary ticketing must be welcomed, other clubs need to sever ties with the secondary ticket market and terminate relationships with websites such as Viagogo who simply provide an outlet for tickets mass harvested by touts.”
Viagogo continues to push the notion that it provides a useful service that allows fans to sell on tickets they cannot use and offers a guarantee to customers.