Ticketmaster Ireland has been offering Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) county boards incentives to sign up or renew contracts with the ticketing platform, according to reports.
The Irish Times revealed internal GAA communications that showed Ticketmaster offering rebates and loyalty credits to individual counties that signed up to its Universe ticket sales app under a new deal.
The incentives reportedly included rebates of 15% of commissions paid last year to Ticketmaster, and a new loyalty payment of €7,500 (£6,460/$8,240) to existing and new counties that signed up to use the app in a three-year deal.
In 2020, Ticketmaster consented to a High Court order, which limited its use of exclusive deals and upfront payments following an investigation by Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
As reported by Barry O’Halloran of The Irish Times, an email from GAA ticketing manager Emma Tormey, sent to county boards, said: “If the direct cost of Universe to your county board was €60,000 last year in direct fees for Universe sales – €9,000 will be paid back in the form a rebate directly to the county.”
Ticketmaster said it would pay the promised rebates and loyalty credits once GAA counties had completed signing up. The email added Ticketmaster was the GAA’s “preferred ticketing solutions provider”.
The GAA said that the deal covered club games within each county, but not inter-county matches. It also did not say if Ticketmaster was the only ticket agent for counties that signed up, and not all counties have signed up with the ticketing platform.
Ticketmaster told The Irish Times that it was “in full compliance” with the 2020 court order and that “the terms of our financial arrangements are confidential”.
The court order means that Ticketmaster Ireland is unable to enter an agreement with a venue that includes an exclusivity clause. It also stops the company from entering an agreement with a live event organiser that includes an exclusivity clause, if the deal lasts more than three years. Ticketmaster cannot agree a contract that lasts more than five years and its deals cannot be automatically renewed.
Following the court order in 2020, Ticketmaster Ireland was forced to release event organisers and venues from exclusivity clauses within their contracts. The company also agreed to the order’s terms with the CCPC after the commission’s preliminary findings revealed infringements of Irish competition law.
The Irish Times added that companies can avoid legal proceedings by entering agreements that address the regulator’s concerts.
Ticketmaster Ireland disputed that it had violated competition law, but made an agreement that tackled the regulator’s concerns, which was then made an order of court.
In a statement to the newspaper, the commission said: “The CCPC has also been actively monitoring the impact of the required changes on the sector generally. Within this context, the CCPC is aware of the issues that have been raised and is continuing to engage with Ticketmaster and with live event organisers and venues.”
Ticketmaster declined to comment further when contacted by TheTicketingBusiness.