By Alastair Magee
When Coldplay announced an Irish date for their ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ tour next July at Croke Park, die-hard fans across the country beamed with joy.
Thousands, including myself, waited patiently by computers while many others queued for hours outside ticket booths awaiting the 9 AM release of tickets.
The concert sold out within 30 minutes and those lucky enough to capture the golden tickets forked out over €90 for an opportunity to witness the tour which has captivated North and South America over the past year.
Ticket prices are always a topic of debate, but loyal fans of bands and singers are willing to meet the demand for an opportunity to see them live.
But a growing problem is evident in Ireland. Ticket touts are becoming an epidemic, capitalising on the needs of the consumers who are left with no choice but to pay three or four times the price of the actual ticket.
‘Ticket touting’ is when tickets are bought from licensed sellers then sold on for a price determined by the individual or company in possession.
The problem that seems to be occurring is that these individuals or companies are purchasing an ever larger percentage of allocated tickets meaning that the actual fans are left with less and have to succumb to the extortionate ticket tout fees if they wish to attend.
At present there is no legal prohibition on ticket touting in the country, although there’s been many private member bills on the topic introduced over the years.
Most recently, Fine Gael TD for Dublin North West, Noel Rock, intended to publish a bill which would end the practice of ticket touting for sport and music events.
The bill would end ticket touting for profit, which had been supported by many sporting organisations and companies such as Ticketmaster.
Over the summer we witnessed a ticketing scandal involving the Olympic Council of Ireland with investigations currently under way both in Ireland and Brazil.
This should never be allowed to happen, especially involving an organisation, which essentially should be ensuring transparency in both foreign and Irish sporting circles.
The proposed new law may not have prevented this saga from happening but it would go some way to ensuring that everyday ticket touts at concerts and sports events in Ireland would face consequences.
Other countries such as the United States and England already have legislation in place to tackle the problem.
The law in England forbids the sale of tickets near sports grounds.
Ireland secured the rights for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 and Dublin will be a venue for four matches in the 2020 European Football Championships. The IRFU are also in the process of bidding for the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
With so many major sporting events being brought to our shores, there should be a greater emphasis on ending ticket touting before they take place.
I believe legislation on the topic is of great importance to end the current situation which is ruining the enjoyment value for real fans and putting more money in the hands of ticket touts.
We must come together to tackle the problem and punish those who wouldn’t think twice about making healthy profits at the expense of ordinary people.