The managers of artists including PJ Harvey, Little Mix and Mumford & Sons have said that the UK competition watchdog should intervene in the $4bn (£3.1bn) takeover of ticket resale website StubHub by rival Viagogo.
In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), music industry group FanFair Alliance said the deal would enable Viagogo to monopolise the UK ticket resale market, which would have “significant and damaging implications” for the live music industry.
StubHub has been Viagogo’s only major competitor in the UK since Ticketmaster shut down Seatwave and GetMeIn.
FanFair Alliance, which campaigns against industrial-scale online ticket reselling, said the Viagogo’s “unenviable track record for creating consumer victims” in addition to the lack of competition for the reseller should spur the CMA into action.
Consumer group Which? has also called on the regulator to launch an investigation, while some figures in the music industry are understood to be exploring the possibility of asking the EU’s Competition Commission to block the takeover.
A spokesperson from Viagogo said: “Viagogo expects the market regulator to look at this deal as they would with any deal of this size and we will be working with them collaboratively on that as required.”
Viagogo has attracted repeated criticism for allegedly ripping off fans, as well as for its attitude towards attempts by regulators and politicians to change its business practices.
Managing director of Viagogo Cris Miller said on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme that there was an “incredible amount of competition” in the UK resale market, in addition to saying much of the criticism of the company was based on “misunderstanding and myths”.
However, FanFair Alliance said in the letter to the CMA that the company’s “chequered history” shows its directors were not fit to run a company as it ‘would end up with nearly 100% of the UK ticket resale market’ if the StubHub deal completes.
The group also pointed out Viagogo’s “persistent reluctance to follow consumer protection law” until it was forced into doing so by a court order from the CMA.
It also said the company was responsible for “creating significant volumes of consumer victims” in the UK, pointing to examples of people paying much higher prices than they expected, or buying tickets through the website only to be turned away at the venue. FanFair Alliance highlighted the company’s failure to attend two parliamentary select committee hearings in addition to ongoing court proceedings in European territories and action by consumer bodies in Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier this year, Google banned Viagogo from paying to appear at the top of search results, yet reversed its decision earlier this week after Viagogo committed to clarifying the information it shows consumers.
However, the ban is still in place in Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Japan, and Taiwan.