Exclusive: Ticketmaster boss says touting legislation will not solve fan disappointment

Keith English, MD of Ticketmaster Ireland spoke to Newstalk.com about Noel Rock's legislation proposal

Exclusive: Ticketmaster boss says touting legislation will not solve fan disappointment

Ed Sheeran

Ticket touting legislation will send second-hand ticket sales underground, according to Managing Director of Ticketmaster Ireland, Keith English. 

Speaking exclusively to Newstalk.com, English commented on proposals from Fine Gael TD Noel Rock to legislate the second-hand ticket market. 

"I think that as laudable and all as their feelings towards it are, all they are going to serve to do is push this underground. If there is a consumer out there who wants to buy a ticket, be it at a higher price than face value, they're going to do it."

Fine Gael TD for Dublin North West Noel Rock held an event yesterday, calling for an end to ticket touting. The TD drafted proposed legislation to tackle the issue earlier this year after tickets for U2’s sold-out gig at Croke Park appeared online for upwards of €900.

Ticketmaster sells tickets for around 8,000 events each year in Ireland and English says touting only impacts a small number of those events. 

"In terms of volumes, it's very small. It makes a lot of noise, it absolutely does because it's usually about high profile events. We take a huge number of measures (to police ticket sales). An event organiser might dictate to us a ticket limit per person. We will rigorously enforce that. We will go through the sales process as soon as it's complete and cancel anyone who has broken the ticket limit."

"Consumers do not accept these days that something is sold out", he continues. "They will go and look for another way to buy a ticket. If Ticketmaster puts  up a sold out sign, they will start going onto listing sites and then be prey to somebody who doesn't care if they're selling a genuine product or not."

True fans

While legislation may not be the answer in the eyes of Ticketmaster, English says the company is looking at different ways to fight the touts - from paperless tickets to new software solutions. 

"We've just launched in the US and we're looking to bring internationally, a 'verified fan' product. People register prior to an on-sale and we then use sophisticated software to look at their social media activity and other things to try and identify if they're a genuine fan or not. Then, we send them a code allowing them to purchase a ticket."

Many fans were left disappointed this year after a number of high-profile gigs such as Ed Sheeran and U2 sold out, with tickets reappearing for sale online at multiples of the original price. 

"Ed Sheeran is a great example. He played two shows in the Three Arena, the last time he was here he played two shows in Croke Park. The supply will never cater for that demand. That's the nature of live events. It can be very hard to anticipate before a show goes on sale what the demand will be. There's always going to be a case with those high profile artist, regardless of how you manage the ticket process, where people are left disappointed."