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Government may reconsider secondary ticketing legislation - but only if OFT investigation 'demonstrates market failure'

Government may reconsider secondary ticketing legislation - but only if OFT investigation 'demonstrates market failure'

The TV expose, aired last month, showed promoters allocating pre-sale tickets direct to secondary marketplaces such as Viagogo. These tickets were then sold for up to five times their face value - with 90% of the paid price going back to the promoter.

Speaking at a Parliamentary debate hosted by Mike Weatherley MP (Con) yesterday, long-term ticketing campaigner Sharon Hodgson MP (Lab) said that she had written to the OFT following Dispatches to ask it to look at "market failure". Addressing Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson (pictured above), she said : "I think that the OFT will find demonstrable market failure, so would the Government then look at this [issue] again?"

Robertson responded: "Absolutely. Personally, as the Minister responsible, I have an open mind... [If] the OFT investigation were to demonstrate market failure, we would clearly have to look at the market, to analyse the failure and to see what can be done, if appropriate, to put things right.

"That would most certainly change the debate, as would a firm police or security services commitment that large amounts of money were now being laundered through the secondary market and that not having legislation was helping criminal gangs."

Robertson discussed why a ticket resale ban exists for the Olympics, but has not been brought in for music events.

"Let us be clear that we did not introduce a ban on secondary ticketing because we in this country thought that the Olympics needed such protection," he said. "To be brutally honest... we did it because it was a requirement of the bid. The International Olympic Committee requires it.

"A country has to sign up to a number of things in that regard, not all of which are universally popular in this country--from Olympic-specific lanes, onwards. The commitment to introduce the ban was made quite correctly by the previous Government, precisely because it was a requirement of the bid."

Robertson reiterated he had an "open mind" on ticketing legislation - and said that proven criminal activity would also inspire a rethink by the Government.

"Purely in my own opinion, the moment that the security services or the police say that the activity is becoming a proxy for large-scale criminal activity and that large amounts of money are being laundered through the system, the case for legislation will become much easier to make," he said.

"At the moment, the Government are satisfied to follow the recommendations of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee and the approach of the previous Government, and not to advocate a more general ban."

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