Opinion: The Double Standard of Debenture Dealings, The Real Cause of Ticketing Fraud
By: Katy Roxburgh | UK Fans Trust
Last year, Action Fraud received 4,755 reports of ticket fraud with the average victim is said to have lost around £365, this year will undoubtedly be no different.
Summertime is open season for scammers, with Britain’s most sort after ticketed events crammed into the space of a few weeks; Glastonbury, The Proms, Queens and Royal Ascot, to name a few.
But there’s one event that makes getting hold of tickets for ‘Glasto’ seem like child’s play: Wimbledon.
Wimbledon has run a Public Ballot since 1924. Unsurprisingly, this is always substantially over subscribed, and entry doesn’t guarantee you tickets either; it puts you in the draw alongside 1.5 million other tennis fans, allowing you to neither preference a day nor court if you succeed.
However, all’s not lost if you don’t succeed in the ballot. Wimbledon release 1,500 daily tickets ranging from ground access to centre court seats, all you’ll need to do to secure these is join the snaking queues in SW19 for the first 9 days of play. A method that simply isn’t an option for huge tranches of tennis fans who have full-time jobs, familial responsibilities or a disability that prevents them from camping out in the unreliable British weather for the best part of a week.
The rest of the tickets are held by a small group of debenture holders, corporate hospitality outfits, and a select group of international customers. The former will cost you a cool £80,000 each, the latter require you be well connected or prepared to drop thousands for a seat in Centre Court.
But here’s where the double standard comes in. Should you not be part of the ultra-wealthy or elite, and instead go through the public ballot no Wimbledon Championships 2019 ticket can be sold, transferred or advertised for sale or transferred. This even applies to internet transactions, newspaper sales or other avenues, otherwise, these tickets will be null and void.
So, what happens if you can’t make it? You fall ill? Or you decide to gift it to a friend?
More likely than not, those entering the public ballot are going to be those for whom spending £70-£200 on a ticket is a not unsubstantial amount of money. Taking away the ability to resell these could leave many out of pocket. Wimbledon have gone so far as to say those found to violate their rules on ticket reselling will in fact be banned from receiving tickets in the future.
However, unlike the rest of the ticketing industry, debenture holders are free to resell tickets or the debentures themselves for as much as they like. In fact, Debentures are one of the safest investments, delivering a return in value anywhere between 30 to 60 percent – and in some cases more than 100 percent.
At the UK Fans Trust we whole-heartedly agree with the right to resell tickets, but this shouldn’t be an option reserved for a privileged few.
It seems somewhat hypocritical – the fact that a Wimbledon Debenture holder can sell a pair of tickets for Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer’s Semi-Final tomorrow for over £7,000 without anyone batting an eyelid, yet everyday consumers who try to sell their unwanted tickets on secondary sites for a minor profit are labelled greedy or misleading. Is the Debentures system just ticket touting in a tie and linen jacket?
And this is where the fraudsters come in. With a primary ticketing market that all too often favors the wealthy and connected, many don’t get a look in first time around, whether it’s Wimbledon or The Proms or even a BTS Concert. They can turn to secondary sites but increasingly, these are being marginalized by event promoters unhappy with others making a profit.
So instead, an increasing number of everyday consumers are looking for alternative, unmonitored marketplaces like private exchanges on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and it’s here they fall prey to fraudsters. Perhaps if event organizers spent more time trying to level the playing field than prioritizing wealthy pundits thousands of Britons wouldn’t be losing money to fraudulent tickets.
The UK Fans Trust was launched out of a belief that everyone should have equal access to tickets for events, rather than a few wealthy or connected individuals. As it stands too much power remains with the event organizers who often hold back tickets from the public. Tickets end up with corporate sponsors rather than us, the fans.
For more information head to: www.ukfanstrust.co.uk