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FanFair calls on UK watchdog to intervene on Viagogo-StubHub deal

Anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance has formally called on the UK’s competition watchdog to conduct an investigation into Viagogo’s $4bn buyout of StubHub.

Campaign manager Adam Webb said the organisation has now raised a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Viagogo and eBay stunned the live entertainment industry when they announced the mega deal last week. The two parties said it is likely to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval.

FanFair Alliance has faced a long-fought battle with Viagogo due to its controversial business practices and continued stream of complaints against it. It has now called for a ‘phase 1’ enquiry into the proposed StubHub deal on the grounds that, it claims, give Viagogo a monopoly on secondary ticketing in the country.

Webb said in a letter: “We would urge the CMA to conduct an investigation into this proposed merger and its potential implications for UK consumers and live event industry.”

Both Viagogo and StubHub have attracted the focus of regulators in recent years, with the former in particular having been criticised and sanctioned by watchdogs in the UK and other jurisdictions.

In the UK, the two firms are the only two major ‘for profit’ resale platforms still operating after Ticketmaster closed its two secondary sites, GetMeIn and Seatwave in late 2018. Therefore, the deal would give the combined Viagogo and StubHub almost a complete monopoly of the secondary market in the UK.

Webb continued: “This would, we believe, inevitably lead to even higher fees for consumers, and an even greater dominance of search and social media advertising – increasing the risk of consumers being led needlessly towards inflated tickets in the secondary market, and away from authorised primary ticket agents.”

TheTicketingBusiness has contacted the CMA for comment.

A spokesperson for Viagogo said: “Viagogo expects the market regulator to look at this deal as they would with any deal of this size and we will be working with them collaboratively on that as required.”

The UK’s competition regulator suspended preparations for court action against Viagogo earlier this year after ruling that Viagogo had finally addressed its outstanding concerns about how it presents important information to its customers, claiming it is “worlds apart from the one they faced before the CMA took action.”