Champions League Ticket Ban Warning Masking a Common Problem
The announcement made by both Tottenham and Liverpool in relation to handing out bans for supporters found touting their so-called golden tickets for the Champions League final was a welcome move even if it merely represents a token gesture. Following Tottenham’s announcement that three of their supporters were being banned for selling on secondary sites seeking a significant profit on the face value of the ticket, BBC Merseyside closely followed by James Pearce of Liverpool Echo reported that five individuals were under investigation by Liverpool FC with it highly likely they would be permanently banned by the club and any memberships/season tickets cancelled.
The high-profile nature of the fixture seems to have attracted a larger number of “supporters” to attempt to make a quick profit with posts circulating on social media of people commanding in excess of £3,500 for a ticket for the final. The allocation combined with a lottery of a ballot has caused an additional artificial inflation of demand meaning that the extremes that some supporters will go to in their attempts to get their hands on a ticket now includes offering the full use of a membership card with sufficient credits to obtain tickets for the high profile fixtures for the 2019/20 season. This does however increase the possibility of being scammed as there may be lots of posts circulating or ticket listings with tickets, the actual genuine nature of these is questionable. I have already seen doctored screenshots of supposed confirmation emails as well as pictures of tickets being advertised which are clearly fake, one of the reasons being the orientation of the ticket being the opposite of an official ticket.
Away from the final though, this is an everyday occurrence for a Liverpool match albeit that some of those touting final tickets have literally only emerged for this game as opposed to conducting it on a regular basis. Just have a little search on social media where debates over accessing tickets rage almost daily. Reasons to validate the use of a tout go from the classic “I don’t know how to get tickets” to “I can never get tickets so it’s easier to pay X for them even if it is a little more”. These sorts of attitudes ultimately create the “secondary market” without realising that whilst demand will fluctuate dependent on the teams performance, prestige of opponent, the availability issue could be solved by the club expanding Anfield Road as well as their commitment to reclaim tickets from individuals selling on and dare we say it, making a living or even running a business with the sole intent of reclaiming significant profit per ticket. In fact, Liverpool terms and conditions on the issuing of tickets point 3.2 does state that the activity is illegal and they would inform the police and press charges. Whether that is being implemented at all is something that the club would be able to answer but in terms of what is widely available, it appears to not be with stories across a range of forums and twitter pages of involving the genuine passing on for free or face value sale seeing their memberships revoked and when contested, in most circumstances reinstated.
There are sites out there that offer tickets for matches even before anything has officially been released, either sure of their ability to be successful in the queue system implemented on the clubs official ticketing site or by being part of a wider network. In other cases, the sites are used to advertise tickets that are non-existent with the sole purpose of duping individuals out of their cash. Some will go as far as printing counterfeit tickets or in some extreme circumstances where a ticket is genuine on a members card, information published on various internet forums, touts have been known to request passports or personal items as a guarantee of getting the card back with supporters travelling from afar paying great sums to travel over and see a football match.
Take a walk around Anfield on a home match day and you will witness this taking place outside the ground or in the streets around the ground. Don’t be fooled into believing this is a one-off because it’s the Champions League final. Touting happens at every single game. Whilst the scale and prices may vary, it is a common problem across football and whilst there are steps that clubs and authorities can take, it is not something that will be solved overnight. I have already written an article as an education piece on how to get genuine Liverpool tickets, coming off the back of a spike in people reporting they have been a victim of a scam however education is only the 1st part. Liverpool FC advertised for full time positions to investigate touting and it is likely these are the people who will look online and identify where possible, leading to possible bans or if adhering to their terms and conditions, criminal convictions.
Eliminating touting doesn’t guarantee ticket availability will ease but it is a possible ramification even if it sounds unlikely that it will ever happen. It is not a modern day problem and it is something that is possibly more visible nowadays with the internet and social media. It almost makes it easier for somebody wishing to operate in that space as they can now remain faceless and nameless, using aliases or clever gimmicks. I would never use a tout myself but whilst illegal, it is a significant consequence of the much wider commercialisation of the modern game, opening the game up to more people, effectively increasing a possible customer base and creating a business opportunity.