Ticket touting in the UK is ruining the NFL experience for genuine fans – can it be stopped?

Ticket touting in the UK is ruining the NFL experience for genuine fans – can it be stopped?

Earlier this week, season tickets went on sale for Tottenham Hotspur. This led to frustration from many fans, when instantly tickets were reappearing on secondary ticketing websites for two times, sometimes three, the value thanks to ticket touts.

I started to explore more on ticket touting, where I came across a website called FanFair Alliance. It was established to unite members of music and creative community because they wanted to take a stand against industrial-scale online ticket touting.

Ok, so it doesn’t cover sports but the points they’re trying to make entirely apply to ticket sales generally. On their website, they have a great FAQs section and within this it talks about ticket touting being illegal in some cases. For example:

  • The general re-sale of football tickets in the UK, was banned in 1994. 
  • In France or Norway the re-selling of live music tickets for profit as breaking the law – yet in UK law it’s isn’t.
  • It is illegal to use automated software to bulk-buy tickets for commercial gain, and it is fraudulent to buy tickets using multiple identifies.

It talks about the is a variety of legislation in place that should help protect fans and ensure secondary ticketing websites operate with greater transparency. But unfortunately the legislation has barely been enforced. Their mission is to change that, and I’m 100% on board.

How can we fix the ticket touting issue when it comes to NFL tickets?

I had a chance to speak to Adam Webb from FanFair Alliance about the situation that had unfolded with NFL this week, who shared his thoughts on the fiasco with me. 

“Given the NFL has a long-term partnership with StubHub, you’d have to assume the organisation has a fairly ambivalent attitude to secondary ticketing – or, industrial scale ticket touting, if you prefer that terminology.

“On the back of changes to UK consumer laws, many music artists have proved that it is possible to prevent mass-scale exploitation of audiences. However, if you fail to take precautionary measures – or any measures at all – then this is the result: online touts are incentivised to hoover up tickets, fans get ripped off, and the secondary platforms get richer.

“It’s a travesty, but it doesn’t have to be like this.”

What can we do as fans?

We can start by avoiding sites like StubHub, Viagogo, GetMeIn etc, and focus on Twickets which was created to help sell tickets at face value.

I know there are many fans here who bought season tickets, because you didn’t want to miss out at individual game sales. So if you only intend on going to one of the two games and you plan to sell you tickets, please don’t use those listed above – and give priority to a site like Twickets instead.

What could the NFL do?

I appreciate this isn’t an NFL problem, this is a ticketing issue overall, and it’s the law that needs to change. 

I thought about whether ID on tickets would be an easy solution – yes, it would ensure that genuine fans had the tickets, but then that opens a whole can of worms with getting in on the day and queues being even bigger. So that just wouldn’t work.

I remember seeing the organiser for Park Life monitor tickets being sold via social media for crazy prices, and because he was sick of fans being ripped off, he took it upon himself to tackle it. He was sourcing it out, pretending to be a buyer and then cancelling their tickets – now that is awesome. So I thought about, what if NFL just cancelled the tickets the touts were putting on at extreme value – but then how much man power does that take? Do they even have the right to do that?

The government needs to start criminalising resales above the combined amount of face value and associated fees– but I think this is still a long time off.

I genuinely hope this is something the NFL can tackle because fans are becoming more and more frustrated. I know the world isn’t perfect and you can’t please everyone – but this? This needs to get better, not get worse.

Liz Bhandari

Liz has covered the NFL for five seasons, and currently serves as Managing Editor for Ninety-Nine Yards and for her own website, NFLGirlUK.com. Since launching the website in 2014, she has made regular appearances on the TalkSport2 ‘All American Sports Show’ with Nat Coombs and in 2016 was ranked No.37 (of 400+) in the “Super Bowl: Top 50 UK Influencers” by marketing software producers Analytica for “igniting conversations” between fans.

One thought on “Ticket touting in the UK is ruining the NFL experience for genuine fans – can it be stopped?

  1. I have views. I like yours.

    My first point is that it never used to be like this. We used to fairly easily be able to get tickets, and this is the same for London NBA. I got tickets and don’t remember having this faff. Over the last four years though it has got harder and harder. I accept the game has grown here, NFL wise. Not sure the same can be said for NBA. I am also not sure NFL has grown enough to cause this, in all the people I know covering work and football teams etc (around 500 people) only 7 max go to games and certainly not all of the games. And 5 of them have always been going. What has changed is re sale. Stub hub really got going just as tickets started to get harder to buy.

    Another issue is the choice of venue. I get why spurs has been used as new and purpose built, but outside of the chargers it is the smallest ground in the NFL. That though can’t be changed so let’s look at how we can make sure everyone can see at least one game

    Season tickets force people to buy more games than they want as the single ticket system is almost impossible to negotiate. This is great for the NFL to claim popularity but not so much for fans wanting to just go to one game. But also those that do want to go to more are battling those who just want one and will sell on the spare. They need to sell single games at the same time.

    Ballot perhaps? Have a section for ballot tickets. This usually dissuades touts and at least gives out tickets to people who really want them.

    Membership schemes? This works for RFU with England tickets. Again turns off touts and also means the NFL can get more money out of fans.

    Sort out resale. If Ed Sheeran can stop resale tickets why can’t the NFL? They could find a way. And it is not for us to have to suggest to them how it is done, it is up to them to help us. I just wish they wouldn’t pay lip service to it and fronted up and said “we are not going to do anything, why would we?”. Glasto sells out every year now. No one really moans when they don’t get a ticket. The reason being there are no tickets on stub hub 5 minute later for £1k.

    But for me the biggest issue is they just don’t care. Not really. Not in their actions. They want to grow the game here, that is their objective. Loyal fans pay the same money as a tout. They fill a seat the same as a tout (eventually). Of course if you really question loyalty you need only look at St Louis Rams, LA Raiders and San Diego chargers to see it means little. We can rage and rant as much as we want, we aren’t going to change anything. Not until the tickets don’t sell or they have an empty ground. But does that just then mean they take their toys and go back home and we have no game or it goes to Germany. Germany who have also recently (ish) got stub hub. Why should the law change? It is not for the British Govt to make sure real fans get to the games.

    I am bitter as it is one of my favourite days out of the year with my mates. Have been to 10 or some of the games over the years and gutted I can’t go this year.

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