22 November 2012

Rugby bosses score victory over ticket web site

England's ruby union authorities saw off an appeal by ticketing web site Viagogo at the Supreme Court in London yesterday, securing an important precedent for sport governing bodies to control ticketing policies.

By James Barnes

England rugby: legal scrum over tickets

England rugby: legal scrum over tickets

The milestone judgment ends a long-standing dispute between the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Viagogo, which stretches back to a March 2011 clash between the two after tickets were offered on the Viagogo web site for international games, a breach of the RFU’s ticketing terms and conditions.

Still on line

The RFU claims it is the first national governing body to take this type of legal action to ensure what it described as affordable tickets for genuine fans.
The union’s deputy head of legal, Polly Handford, said: ‘Selling tickets through secondary ticketing sites is against our terms and conditions and allows prices to be inflated, preventing many of our supporters from purchasing. We now plan to identify such sellers and take tough sanctions to keep our tickets off secondary ticket sites and in the right hands.’
However, The Guardian newspaper reports that Viagogo is still selling tickets to the England v South Africa game at Twickenham this Saturday. The cheapest ticket on sale was priced at £124.99, while the most expensive was £599.

Data protection

Viagogo told the newspaper that despite the ruling ‘the resale of rugby tickets is still legal. In fact, more people are reselling rugby tickets on Viagogo than ever before ahead of England's autumn internationals against South Africa and New Zealand’.
Spokesman Ed Parkinson added: ‘While the RFU may have run off with a handful of names from sales that took place several years ago, I can assure you this will not happen again … Our data protection is now better, so fans may therefore now buy and sell rugby tickets on Viagogo with absolute confidence that their information will be protected in future.’

Further proceedings

In response, Ms Handford told The Post: ‘The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have all found that sales of RFU tickets on Viagogo’s website arguably involve breach of contract, trespass and conversion. It is therefore in our view misleading to claim it is “legal” to buy and sell these tickets. Viagogo is in no position to assure its customers that this will not happen again. In fact, the RFU has already issued proceedings relating to the 2012 RBS 6 Nations and intends to pursue tickets being advertised for sale for the current QBE Internationals and upcoming 2013 6 Nations. Users of Viagogo should be aware that they are listing rugby tickets at risk of having their identities disclosed, and sanctions enforced.’

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com