The practice of ‘ticket touting’ – where tickets for events are bought and then sold on at vastly inflated prices – is huge business within the UK. Most people will have turned up at an event and seen touts trying to flog their wares to ticketless punters outside a venue. Such a practice involving football matches, however, is illegal in the UK.
The following pieces of legislation deal with ticket touting for football matches:
Section 166 of CJPOA 1994 makes it an offence to tout tickets for football matches by creating the following offence for an unauthorised person to:
As s 166 has been in place for a number of years, ticket tout practices evolved to find ways round the legislation. This included:
As s 166 of CJPOA 1994 became less able to combat ticket touting in football, the government brought in new legislation to bring the law up to speed.
Section 53 of VCRA 2006 amended s 166 of CJPOA 1994 and extended the clamp down on ticket touts. It is now an offence:
The price of the ticket sold is immaterial as to whether there has been an offence as touts often sell tickets below face value immediately prior to the match beginning. The real issue is whether public order is jeopordised: any unauthorised sale of tickets can breach public order by decreasing the segregation of supporters at football matches.
It used to be a requirement under CJPOA 1994 that the sale was in the course of trade of business. This has now been removed by VCRA 2006 as this is not a concern from a public order perspective.
The above legislation is concerned with ticket touting for ‘regulated’ football matches. The Ticket Touting (Designation of Football Matches) Order was introduced in 2007 to increase the definition of regulated football matches to include:
This means the legislation in place to deal with ticket touting in football applies to all games played within England, all games that English sides may be involved in, and all games the Welsh and English national teams will be involved in, including World Cup and European Championships qualifying matches and international friendly matches.
Section 53 of VCRA 2006 includes trading on the internet within the definition of ticket touting. An offence would only arise, however, if any part of the transaction occurs within England and Wales as that is the limit of the Act’s territory.
The offence will only occur if any part of the transaction occurs within England and Wales but this does not include the actually purchasing of the ticket.
A criminal conviction for ticket touting carries with it a maximum penalty of a fine of £5,000. A football banning order can also be imposed on a tout as a preventative measure.
If you purchase a ticket from someone outside a football ground, it should be clear they are not an authorised seller of the ticket. Tickets sold over the internet are more problematic as sometimes clubs will sell through authorised agents. The only way really to guarantee you have an authorised ticket is if you purchase it directly from the club or through their official website.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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