It has been reported that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has been successful in tackling the unauthorised re-sale of tickets for the Ashes test matches by relying upon the applicable ticket terms and conditions.
This is another victory for sports organisations obtained by relying upon a breach of contract action following The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) successful legal battle against Viagogo, where tickets with a face value of £20 to £55 were being advertised for sale at up to some £1,300. The RFU’s case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, but was successfully concluded in November last year.
We understand that in this current case, Nick and Judith Hubscher sold around 800 tickets to the Ashes matches; re-selling them online for over the face value (£50-100) including re-sales for as much as £300.
The T’s and C’s relating to each international cricket ground are different, but all such terms include restrictions on unauthorised re-sale of tickets, for example, Lords’ Cricket Ground T’s and C’s provide that “A ticket must not be re-sold or transferred, save that if more than one ticket is allocated to an applicant, those tickets may be used only by the applicant and the person or persons intending to accompany such applicant to Lord’s. An applicant may transfer or re-sell a ticket at face value to a person who intends to accompany him or her, but no person shall re-sell or attempt to re-sell any ticket or tickets for an amount of money greater than the value printed on each ticket..”
A civil action is understood to have been brought in the High Court for breach of contract i.e. breach of the ticketing terms and conditions agreed to by purchasers of tickets, which has been settled for an undisclosed sum.
This action taken by the ECB demonstrates a consistent follow-through of the ECB’s stance (as publicised on the ECB’s website) that this will not be tolerated: “The ECB monitors online auction and ticket re-sale sites, and will cancel tickets in breach of terms and conditions: i.e. tickets that are sold on above face value are in breach of ticket conditions, and may be cancelled – leading to refused entry into the ground.”
The ECB has also been running a marketing campaign “Ticket Touts Out, do not take the risk“. This use of a marketing campaign to steer the public to buy tickets from legitimate sources in order to avoid disappointment is similar to the successful approach taken by LOCOG and Operation Podium in tackling ticket touting at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (“Games”), a key message being: “The only way to apply for a ticket in the UK is at www.tickets.london2012.com. This is London 2012′s official site… Don’t buy a ticket from an unauthorised website or tout. You risk being scammed, and not getting the ticket you wanted and paid for. “
However, in contrast to the Games, where specific legislation was used successfully to back up the preventative education programme, neither the ECB nor the RFU have specific legislation upon which they can rely. At a time when a pair of tickets for the All-Ireland Football Final that took place on Sunday, are reported as being sold for €2,020 in an eBay bidding war, this successful result brought about by enforcing ticketing terms and conditions demonstrates that that there is an appetite for a fight…