Customer Services and Supporter Liaison Manager at THFC, to address our worries. This was scheduled for the 4th May, prior to the home game against Southampton.
The day before the meeting, THFC provided THST with a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document on StubHub. These FAQs should be read in conjunction with the following Q&A.
Having sight of this information ahead of the meeting enabled us to explore the more searching questions rather than focusing on the practicalities of the system.
1) In 2006, THFC stated their opposition to moving into the secondary ticketing market. Why the turnaround?
StubHub wasn’t present in the UK in 2006. THFC spoke with another company regarding secondary ticketing at that time and part of their proposal was to retain an allocation of tickets that they could sell directly using flexible pricing. This was unacceptable to THFC and remains the case now.
THFC spoke with two secondary ticketing companies in 2012 to discuss the possibility of a relationship. Following a lengthy dialogue, StubHub was happy to work in line with THFC’s requirements and stipulations and an agreement was concluded.
StubHub, who launched in the UK in 2011, is purely an exchange facility and at no point did the company request an allocation of tickets to sell directly.
Hence, the offering is now different to that discussed in 2006.
2) Who, within THFC, is responsible for the decision to move the ticket exchange to StubHub?
Ian Murphy, Head of Ticketing and Membership, along with a member of the commercial team at THFC conducted discussions with the interested parties in early 2012. Based on the commercial deal on offer, StubHub was recommended to the THFC Board, who made the ultimate decision. This is a commercial arrangement. Football clubs always need new income streams, and the increased TV revenue should not be a smoke screen for this. Every club received the same TV deal; hence the gap still needs bridging with other teams.
3) How is THFC’s relationship with Ticketmaster affected by the partnership with StubHub?
THFC’s contract with Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk) was due to expire at the end of this season. It has actually been extended for another 2 years. Ticketmaster declined to compete for the ticket exchange business, as it’s not the company’s speciality. Ticketmaster will continue to operate all normal sales via the ticket office, with StubHub running the ticket exchange.
4) With StubHub being activated once a home game has sold out, how many games are we actually talking about? How many games sold out this season?
The current ticket exchange was activated for every home Premier League game this season. Every PL home game has sold out. An average of 700 tickets were sold via the exchange for each home match, with the exception of Arsenal, where c 200 tickets were sold on the exchange.
5) Do you have to be a Spurs member to buy a ticket on StubHub?
6) What checks are in place to ensure tickets are bought by home fans only?
All tickets sold via StubHub for matches at White Hart Lane are subject to the Tottenham Hotspur Terms and Conditions and Ground Regulations. This states that tickets are for home supporters only and anyone found to be supporting the visiting team will face ejection from the stadium with no refund due. This is exactly the same process currently in place for any tickets sold via general sale.
THFC do have the ability to restrict sales via StubHub to members only on advice from the Police etc. for specific matches.
7) Can Lilywhite and Bronze members buy tickets via the ticket office and subsequently sell them on StubHub?
No. Only season ticket holders can sell their seats on StubHub and only once a game has sold out.
8) Will THFC monitor season ticket holders who persistently sell their seats at inflated prices?
THFC will monitor all aspects of the relationship over the course of the StubHub agreement (which runs until the end of the 2014/15 season). THFC have spoken to other Premier League clubs who have used the system throughout the current season and they have not seen any issues of people exploiting the system.
THFC are aware of a small number of people who currently use the ticket exchange quite regularly as they are unable to attend matches on specific days for a number of reasons (temporary relocation, work commitments etc.)
The introduction of StubHub’s system is aimed to provide an additional benefit to season ticket holders in the event that they are unable to attend a home match.
9) What fee did Spurs receive for this partnership?
The details of any agreements are commercially sensitive and subject to a confidentiality agreement.
10) Did this deal include perimeter pitch side advertising and, if so, was this sold to StubHub at the going rate?
Yes, it was factored into the deal at the going rate.
11) StubHub charges a commission of 12% per transaction to the seller and 15% per transaction to the buyer. In order to recoup face value of £45.00 on a Category B seat in the East Stand Lower, the seller would need to ask £51.15 for
their ticket. The buyer would, therefore, pay £58.82 for the same ticket. How can this be fair? Even to recoup face value, another Spurs fan would be paying almost £60 for a £45 ticket.
The old exchange was a buyer’s market. Season ticket holders only recouped between 75% and 85% of face value when selling via the exchange. This system means they can set the sale price for their ticket, although there is no guarantee that the seat will sell at the listed price. The season ticket holder will be able to amend the list price if they wish to.
12) Making football affordable for all fans is close to the Trust’s heart and this rankles. How can THFC justify the figures the buyer would now be paying for a face value ticket at a time when people are struggling to afford football and with national campaigns on ticket pricing gathering pace? Could THFC look at ways to add value to the Bronze and Lilywhite memberships as a counter balance? Offering 1,500 – 2,000 tickets to Bronze members during their priority window, as an example?
THFC are aware that some of the comments on the new system have suggested it is detrimental to the membership offering. The sales process for home tickets will remain the same in that priority will be given to Bronze, and then Lilywhite members for all home matches in the same way as it has worked for a number of seasons.
There is nothing to suggest the introduction of the StubHub facility will alter the level of ticket availability to members. THFC will continue to monitor this, though, to ensure the membership remains the primary route for ticket priority and that availability to members will not reduce.
13) Would THFC relax their position on the transfer of tickets via other sources in light of this deal?
No. StubHub is a recognised partner of THFC, so the only official way to exchange match tickets.
THFC will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and the Premier League to take the strongest possible action against those that attempt to sell tickets unofficially, either in person or via unofficial websites. The Club does not ignore the issue of selling tickets on the street around White Hart Lane and we regularly make requests to the police to take action against these people. THFC has no jurisdiction over the public highways or criminal offences that occur there.
At every match, THFC deal with numbers of people (often from abroad) that have been the victims of fraud, often paying vastly inflated sums of money for tickets that do not even exist. Additionally, THFC regularly uncover organised groups that hold a number of memberships to obtain tickets to sell on illegally. There is an active sharing of information amongst all Premier League clubs to
identify these groups and ban them. This sort of activity will continue to be a key focus for THFC moving forward.
14) Does the StubHub deal exclude cup games?
No. StubHub will be activated once ANY home game in ANY competition has sold out.
15) Executive lounge members are excluded from the current deal. Why?
At the moment, there is no need to include them. THFC will however monitor and look to add this facility if it is proved worthwhile.
16) StubHub is an open market place with no restrictions on the number of tickets bought or the price asked. What is there to prevent someone from buying 10 tickets and then selling them on at inflated prices? How is this not touting?
This process is called ‘flipping’ (purchasing a revenue-generating asset and quickly reselling (or ‘flipping’) it for profit) and has been monitored. There aren’t actually many examples of ‘flipping’ and it is very rare indeed for the tickets to sell at more than their original price. Photo ID is required upon collection of the tickets on match days, also. StubHub is self regulating. If a ticket is listed too highly, it won’t sell.
THFC is urging fans not to dismiss StubHub without seeing it in action and to reserve judgement until it is fully in place. THFC have also received positive communications from season ticket holders praising the introduction of the new system, because it is more beneficial for the fans that are paying the most money.
17) Where is the money from the StubHub partnership going?
It’s not ring fenced. As with all commercial agreements, any revenue will go into the central Club budget to help fund ongoing operations.
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