The FanFair Alliance was established to unite members of the music and creative community in the fight against industrial-scale online ticket touting. Here, its campaign manager Adam Webb outlines recent developments in the market and how a Labour government would likely transform secondary ticketing in the UK.

In March 2024, Sir Keir Starmer announced that a future Labour Government, should they win a General Election, would commit to protect fans from the exploitative practices of online resellers by capping the price at which tickets could be resold. 

It was a measure FanFair Alliance supporters had been calling for since last September, and felt a significant step forward for everyone supportive of consumer-friendly ticketing reforms. Especially given the present Government’s reluctance to take up recommendations made by the Competition & Markets Authority in 2021, demanding stronger laws to tackle illegal ticket resale.  

Other countries – most recently, Ireland – have enacted similar legislation, and with positive results. Music events in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway are all noticeably absent from the listings on Viagogo and StubHub International. 

Meanwhile, in France, legislation was fundamental in allowing the landmark court ruling against Google by live music body PRODISS, preventing the world’s dominant search engine accepting adverts from rogue ticketing websites.  

We now have the prospect of UK audiences being able to enjoy similar benefits – stemming the flow of tickets to rent seekers and profit hunters, while encouraging fans to resell in a capped and controlled environment. Ensuring industry-supported resale services are visible and viable should now be a real priority. 

In fact, personally, I’d go further than that. At this stage of the game, all significant shows should have standardised upfront anti-touting terms and conditions in place – prohibiting “traders” from purchasing and reselling tickets for profit, while providing customers with crystal clear instructions about resale. It should be impossible to buy a primary ticket without knowing what you can and cannot do with it. 

The impact on the so-called “secondary ticketing” market would also be profound. 

Which explains why the individuals who own, operate and invest in exploitative resale websites are currently in such a panic. Viagogo, in particular, has embarked on a concerted round of lobbying and public relations activities – ramping up affiliate deals with respected brands like NME, The Athletic and Reach PLC, and even sponsoring George Osborne and Ed Balls to recite glowing endorsements to ticket touting on their Political Currency podcast. 

They’re clearly on manoeuvres within the industry too – actively looking to buy legitimacy through music-related partnership deals, while briefing MPs that legislation in countries like Ireland and Australia has driven ticket touting overseas or onto social media. Albeit without a shred of concrete evidence to back up these assertions. “

“It’s classic brandwashing fare, about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but potentially quite effective.”

It’s classic brandwashing fare, about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but potentially quite effective.   

According to a recent undercover investigation by The Guardian, Viagogo has also hitched its wagon to a collective body of secondary touting websites and large-scale resellers, all hoping to torpedo Labour’s plans. Led by self-styled “brokers” from North America’s Coalition For Ticket Fairness (CTF), an inaugural meeting of more than 100 paying guests – including convicted fraudsters and others implicated in major ticketing scandals – gathered in London last month to raise funds for a “bulletproof” lobbyist. 

Others at the not-so-secret event included representatives from Vivid Seats, apparently due to launch a UK business in the near future.  

Following The Guardian’s expose, it may be that the touts have been hoisted by their own petard. The aforementioned bulletproof lobbyist has already issued a denial that they ever agreed to work for CTF. 

However, with Viagogo’s parent company (StubHub) reportedly planning a $16.5bn IPO this summer, the stakes remain understandably high. 

National Service aside, ticketing appears to be one of those issues where there is clear daylight between the two main parties. And while anything might happen before 4 July, things might get very interesting after 5 July.