Industry News

Starmer vows to cap resale ticket prices if Labour takes power

Featured Image: Rwendland/CC BY-SA 4.0

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to cap the resale prices of sport and music tickets as well as regulate resale platforms if the party wins the next UK general election.

The plans will see authorities clamp down on ticket touts who scam music and sports fans going to live events.

Starmer aims to strengthen consumer rights legislation to restrict the resale of tickets at more than a small, set percentage over the price the original purchaser paid.

The number of tickets individual resellers could list would also be limited and platforms would be held accountable for the accuracy of information about tickets they list for sale.

Starmer, speaking at the Labour Creatives Conference, said: “Access to music, art and theatre for hard working Brits can’t be at the mercy of ruthless ticket touts driving up prices.”

Starmer’s comments have been received well by many in the industry. The commitment comes a year after the current government rejected Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) recommendations for stronger laws to protect consumers from touts.

“Today’s announcement is positive news for music fans,” said FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb.

“The so-called secondary ticketing market is a completely artificial construct and reliant upon a relatively small number of touts, many of whom are based outside the UK, who hoover up tickets before reselling them at profit on websites such as viagogo, StubHub and Gigsberg. New legislation has the potential to break that cycle, to put fans first, and to make the UK’s live events sector the envy of the world.”

Ed Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp, added: “This is fantastic news. We have spent years fighting the scourge of online ticket touting and keeping prices fair for fans. The impact of these policies should be monumentally positive, and help to reset the UK’s live music market for the benefit of artists and their audiences.”

Labour’s commitment comes after a series of exposes that show the level of touting in the UK which some consider unfair on regular consumers. A 2022 investigation undertaken by FanFair Alliance and ITV News found that just three traders were responsible for more than two-thirds of the UK festival tickets listed on Viagogo.

Yesterday, the final pair operating for ticket tout firm TQ Tickets Ltd were found guilty of fraudulently trading after unlawfully reselling tickets worth more than £6.5m ($8.2m/€7.6m).

In 2023, the UK government said it “does not currently intend to introduce further regulation in this area” when announcing its decision to reject the CMA recommendations. It added that it would instead focus on its consumer protection measures in the recently introduced Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill”. This week the government was defeated in a House of Lords vote as peers backed an amendment to the DMCC which would crackdown on abuses by ticket touts who leave sport and music fans “scalped”.

Legislation to outlaw ticket touting has been adopted successfully in a number of other countries, most notably in Ireland.

Viagogo has commented on the situation, seeing it as a chance to protect its customers.

“We see this as an opportunity to underscore the effectiveness of today’s regulatory framework of the resale marketplace, which has been shaped by years of government review and oversight. A safe, secure and transparent environment for UK consumers has been established,” a Viagogo spokesperson told TheTicketingBusiness.

“We protect consumer’s rights to buy and sell tickets in a secure, regulated marketplace. On viagogo, payment is contingent on the buyer successfully entering the event, and every transaction is guaranteed, ensuring buyers either gain entry or receive a refund.

“Significant evidence demonstrates that imposing resale restrictions and removing safeguards forces fans to unverified sites and social media, exposing them to a high risk of fraud without any protection.

“We believe that a comprehensive conversation, focused on practical and effective regulation across the entire ticketing industry, is in the best interest of consumers.”