Stubhub: Myths and Reality, Winners And Losers

Tottenham Hotspur and their kit sponsors Under Armour are currently running a promotion where fans can send in their photos and/or those of family and friends for inclusion on the tunnel wall at White Hart Lane. It’s a great idea – the last thing that the players see as they run out is the joy that they bring to their supporters, a reminder of when it comes to it, when they escape from the protected cosseted world of a modern Premier League professional footballer, they should be doing it for their fans.

Under Armour and Spurs use the language of loyalty to entice supporters. ‘Earn Your Spot’ at the Lane, ‘Love Your Spurs? Then Prove It’. ‘Your Spot In Spurs’ History is Waiting’. They understand the power and emotional pull of being a fan. They know what the club means to us but when it suits them, the relationship is only one way. We keep on giving, whether it be astronomically high ticket prices or creating an atmosphere as on Saturday or at most away games to lift the side from beginning to end. They reciprocate with all the depth of throwaway advertising copy about heroes and history.

When it comes to it, Spurs give us Stubhub. Tottenham On My Mind is part of Stop Stubhub, a campaign to end the club’s ties with the US based ticket reselling agency with the sole rights to sell on tickets for sold-out home matches that have been already been purchased by season ticket holders and members. The campaign by a group of Spurs writers and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust has gathered momentum over the last couple of weeks. The online petition is a simple way individuals can support us. Also, we have had positive feedback from other clubs and the Football Supporters Federation and Sharon Hodgson MP who has longstanding concerns about the operation of ticket resellers regarding concert tickets.

The Chelsea game has brought the issues into sharp focus, so let’s see where we are after a week and bust a few myths that surround Stubhub and the campaign.

First up: when the scheme was announced in the summer, many of us feared that by enabling ticket-holders to set their own price, this would lead to exorbitant profiteering far in excess of the wildest dreams of any street-corner tout. Spurs denied this would happen but the Chelsea game proved them totally wrong. Six days before the game, one pair of tickets was on sale for £1260. The day before, top price was nearly £1000 a pair and not one ticket was available for less than £95. Sellers sought a mark up of 10 and in one case 15 times face value.

We also said this opened the way for tickets to be bought purely for resale and profit. We have no way of knowing this to be true. However, we have heard of one fan who sold his tickets early on at face value plus just a recouping of the Stubhub fee, only to find them back on the site a few days later at a vastly inflated price. Buying to sell. So much for an honest price.

Is this what Spurs really intended? I can conclude one of three things. They could be staggeringly naive about the way fans buy and sell tickets, which from what little I know about the inner sanctum could actually hold water. It could be that they don’t care, which is to my mind negligent and shows their pro-supporter rhetoric to be the hot air it most certainly is. The third option is that they were prepared to tolerate it because they knew this is where Stubhub make their money. If Stubhub see the Spurs contract as attractive for this reason (the higher the selling price, the higher their fee), they are going to bid top dollar for the rights. So in this scenario, Spurs turn a blind eye while Stubhub rub their hands as fans are ripped off.

I don’t know which aspect of this deal infuriates me most: a company that ruthlessly exploits the low supply/high demand equation at Spurs with a popular, well-supported and achieving side that has a small ground, or the club that is apparently prepared to condone this sorry state of affairs.

What we also found out this week is that there are alternatives. Stubhub’s deal with Celtic does not allow reselling or tickets to be listed above face value. Parkhead is much bigger than the Lane, so Stubhub had less bargaining power. Spurs could and should have been stronger. The other alternative remains of course the ticket exchange, either in the same format as existed BS (Before Stubhub) or in a modified format.

The old set-up was open to members only, precisely those people who ‘love their Spurs’ and have paid up front to improve their chances of getting a match ticket. A few people have said, as did a commenter on last week’s Stubhub post, that it’s only a small proportion of tickets, less than 1%. But at least members would have had a chance of getting one of those 226 that were on Stubhub last week, and at face value rather than going to fans who could justify the huge premium. It’s expensive enough and hard enough to get a ticket in the first place. A benefit of membership has been removed but the price hasn’t fallen.

Last one: who could begrudge a fan who makes a few extra quid from selling his ticket? If someone is fool enough to pay, sod ‘em. Probably some stupid football tourist anyway.

There’s nothing about individuals in my writing on this topic or in the campaign statement. Do what you like with your ticket, although in reality you can’t because of the small print in the terms and conditions that means you can’t in theory give it to your daughter, son or mate but you can sell it on at a vast profit provided you go through Stubhub. The campaign is focussed solely on the club for allowing this state of affairs and to work with them to suggest an alternative where fans can sell on unused tickets without taking a loss.

If you are selling to pay for your season ticket, the club need to know about the absurdity of creating prices that force some people into this option. Finally, the sellers on Stubhub weren’t just making a few quid, they joined by unscrupulous resellers buying and selling purely to make a profit.

This week the club announced reduced price tickets for the Europa League and the League Cup, a significant success for the Trust who have lobbied for change on behalf of supporters. It shows that the club may be sensitive to feedback after all. Stop Stubhub has a realistic target of setting up an alternative for two years’ time when the present contract expires. Consistent consultation should become part of the fabric of the club. The new stadium is not so far away. More seats changes the whole balance: they will need to work harder with us fans to fill the ground. Now’s the time to continue the process that the revamped Trust have begun because Spurs will be making plans now. Remind them that they need us.

For more on this, read Total Tottenham and the Fighting Cock Sign the petition now: Stop Stubhub 

36 thoughts on “Stubhub: Myths and Reality, Winners And Losers

  1. American Yid here. I went to WHL in 2007/8 and was charged an arm and a leg to attend the 4-4 thriller with Chelsea. Since tickets were obviously sold out, we had to pay whatever the guy on the corner was charging. And trust me, the amount I paid was 3-4 times as much as is the case on stubhub.

    For most games, stubhub will actually drive the prices of secondhand tickets down. That’s simple supply and demand. When you increase supply for secondhand tickets, and demand remains constant, your price will go down. For big games (like Chelsea), the opposite may occur because the increase in secondhand ticket demand (and resulting increase in price) more than offsets the increase in supply.

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  2. Copper bottomed mate, nice one. Despite his undoubted wish, and to some extent work, for success on the pitch Mr. Levy does seem to mis-understand the fans, Ok for years we have been cash cows, however looking at trends though-out the professional game it seems that the worm is beginning to turn. More co-operation between fans of differing clubs, fans from the whole country supporting those trying to save their clubs brought to their end by financial mis-management. Daniel needs to read the runes and get on board as he needs to fill his new stadium and not with just prawn eating folk who go to be entertained rather than join in the adventure of supporting OUR CLUB, cause when the time gets rough it’s the Noisy in yer face fans that will still be going!!

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    • Agree with that. Warning sign also EL home games10k below capacity. Live on free to air tv.
      Will be interesting to see SH prices achieved for say Hull game, but demand for all Spurs home PL games is high at present. With 56k stadium may not even sell out for say Hull, and then SH won’t even come into play.

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      • That’s why deal only for two years. Equation changes totally when we have 56k seats. Stubhub may revert to selling face value tickets as per the Celtic deal. Or they may just go because Spurs aren’t worth it any more.

        Regards, Alan

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    • Don’t mind the prawn eaters if they subsidise cheaper tickets and the club looks after us fans too, which the new stadium seems to do – close to pitch, an ‘end’.

      There’s a chance, slim maybe but a chance, that the club could get closer to the fans.

      Regards, Al

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  3. Two further issues.
    With TE could use stadium access card, with SH have to queue up for paper ticket. Tickets not posted out.

    With TE could see exact spot of seat via box office – good for people with long legs who like aisle seats, with SH can see row number, and seat number when you click for the seat, but even then don’t know if aisle seat.

    So much for progress !

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  4. Im more concerned in the future if the club holds back tickets primary to sell on stub hub. It can be hard enough getting tickets for big games as it for members, whats to stop the club holding back a thousand to sell on stub hub for a bit extra revenue?

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  5. Surely a plus for Stubhub as a Polish fan I spoke to before the Chelsea game flew over and bought an 85 pound west upper ticket for 70 pounds on Saturday morning

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  6. I wrote to the customer service department at Spurs about this and they informed me that all members could have got a ticket for our home games so far (this was before the blue scum match) without going through Scumhub. Seems to me that they’re not satisfied with the money from the Stubhub deal, but want anyone who doesn’t want to use Stubhub to become a member. A win win scenario.

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    • They win either way. This is a succinct example of ruthlessly exploiting the high demand and small capacity at the Lane. Would be handy if we could see a copy of that response – could you share?

      Regards, Al

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      • Hello Scott,

        Thank you for your email.

        Tickets are still sold directly through the Club and the exchange facility only becomes available once a match is sold out.

        All home fixtures have reached General Sale so far this season and One Hotspur Members who applied on Members Sale will have secured a ticket for these games.

        Your comments have been noted and are appreciated and we thank you for taking the time to write to us with your view.

        Kind regards,

        Jake

        Customer Care Team

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    • Stubhub come into the deal when the club says all tickets have sold out.Then one can sell the ticket one has paid for and if you are of that moral inclination buy a ticket a face value and then sell it on for a higher price which is happening.

      Disgrace, simple!!

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      • Probably didn’t explain myself well the WHU tickets were on both the Spurs ticket site & on Stubhub at the same time.Can’t understand how this can be.I do understand the mechanism of StarHub but this seems to be having it both ways.
        There is no defence for Stubhub it & Spurs both stink for setting up this nasty enterprise.

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        • Agree re the stink. After your previous comment, I went to the official site and clicked on the buy now button for WHU. This took me direct to Stubhub – I didn’t realise the club did this, it’s rotten, isn’t it?

          Regards, Alan

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        • Kevin, I owe you an apology. Last night I went onto the eticketing section of the official site and put 1 lower west ticket into my basket. I have no idea how that can be, given that tickets have been available on stubhub for a while but the campaign will follow it up.

          Thank you kindly for pointing me in the right direction.

          Regards, Al

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          • Don’t think anyone thinks anything other than that this is a lousy system.Many thanks to the organisers of the petition,just hope the Board take our “disappointment ” into account.
            More importantly am looking forward to tomorrow & giving West Ham a good thrashing.Wouldn’t mind a few goals.

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            • Not everyone thinks stub hub is such a bad system. Ok tickets were at inflated prices for the Chelsea game ( expected) but ticket prices for Swansea and hull are not that bad and it gives a good opportunity for occasional ‘fans’ to buy tickets without being members. ST holders also get a better price for their ticket than they did under the TE system so their are plenty of winners in this scheme.

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          • I bought a ticket for the West Ham game direct from Spurs, earlier in the week and ages after the game was sold out. I’d been monitoring the official box office and noticed odd seats became available from time to time. Maybe people who had bought seats earlier, then unable to attend, and got refund from Spurs as you can.

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            • Thanks for letting me know. I thought you could no longer get a refund – that’s the whole point of Stubhub, I would have thought. When I looked on Friday night, tickets were available in only two blocks, which implies it was not random but that tickets were being released.

              Regards,

              Alan

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        • Interesting that the protests against stubhub aren’t that great.
          At the end of the day, the club don’t give a sh*t what we think all they care about is how much they can sell the seat for! You might as well jump on the bandwagon and flog ya ticket if you’re a season ticket holder and can make a few quid for a game you can’t make or fancy going to. In a few years white hart lane will be full of football tourist like the emirates, Stamford bridge, old Trafford and etihad. Wake up and realise it doesn’t matter how much you protest the club just pays lip service to the likes of the supporters trust.

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  7. Pingback: Stop Stubhub Update. The Numbers Are In | TOTTENHAM ON MY MIND

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