FC Barcelona to work to prevent resale of tickets by organised touts

FC Barcelona to work to prevent resale of tickets by organised touts

Club to apply a system whereby tickets carry the bearer's name and use a tracking method to prevent misuse

FC Barcelona president ​​Joan Laporta gave a press conference on Tuesday to analyse and evaluate the management of the sale of tickets for the Europa League match between Barça and Eintracht Frankfurt, and to announce the new measures that the club will apply from now on to major Liga and international fixtures to avoid a repeat of a massive influx of fans of the opposing team, especially due to the resale of seats by organised groups, unofficial agents, or anyone who misuses a match or season ticket.

Accompanied by the Vice President of the Marketing Department, Juli Guiu, and the club's head of security, Lluís Miquel Venteo, Laporta began by expressing his gratitude to the members and fans of FC Barcelona who did attend the match and publicly apologising to all those who were disturbed by the massive presence of German fans inside the stadium.


The game in numbers

Juli Guiu presented full details on the tickets used for the game. "It was attended by 37,746 season ticket holders" he said. "35,725 tickets were sold, of which 34,435 were regular sales, and 1,290 were VIP sales. These 35,725 include the 5,000 tickets sent by UEFA regulations to the opposing club. Invitations, 2,425, that makes a total of 75,896. Attendance was 79,468, this difference of 3,572 is operative on a match day. Of these 29,435, minus the 5,000 sent to the opposing club, the three big blocks were 1,500 sold in the ticket office, which are only sold with a passport or ID card, 23,427 sold online and 3,670 through tour operators. The club rejected 27,201 purchases by German IP or card, and therefore the system was working, until it overflowed.”

President Laporta specified that the fact that the control systems were outdated and insufficient for German fans to buy tickets through conventional channels made them look for tickets through other channels, and here the organised tickets touts and unauthorised agents came into play, who ended up distributing most of the 29,435 tickets that the club did not sell to German fans, with the exception of VIP tickets and some 238 tickets that were sold due to a computer error that was resolved. He also acknowledged the misdemenour of a tour operator, with which the club has already terminated its contract. "We inherited this system from the previous board, and we saw that there were the right circumstances, being holidays, an opposition with high purchasing power, etc., for these organised groups of tickets touts and unofficial agents could achieve their goal.”

The club will hence be focusing on these organised groups from now on and will limit their capacity to act. "We once decided to eradicate violent groups from the stadium, and now we have to work together with the police to take action to prevent organised touts from achieving their goals, because these groups end up generating situations of violence. There are enough arguments to work with the Catalan police and the Security Department already has instructions to help make sure this never happens again.”

The president added that the club is also aware of groups that control “a lot of cards, who know how to do so. We need to step up and take action against these people. We also noticed that a lot of Germans who are residents here were able to get a ticket. The causistics are manifold, but we want to put the matter in the hands of the police. Do not think that we are shirking our responsibilities, we assume them all, but you have to be an expert in dealing with these bad practices:”

Guiu also acknowledged that there were "around 7,400 members who bought a ticket at a 50% discount (from 22 euros) which ended up largely in the hands of German fans" and there were also a significant number of Germans in the first and second tier, a season ticket-only area, so the club estimates that about 7,000 season tickets were also used by Eintracht fans.

"We can't know for sure how many season tickets were used" said Laporta. "It's just estimates. We don’t want to go after anyone, but we are very disappointed because Barça fans do not understand or accept this type of practice.”


Imminent measures

Laporta, as in previous statements, argues that "the club is not to blame, because it did not sell tickets to the Germans, but it is the head of the organisation and so we must ensure that this does not happen again and we have to take action ... From now on in both international and special league or cup matches, the system of digitally named tickets will be applied, on a match by match basis." This begins with the Barça Women's forthcoming UWCL semi-final against Wolfsburg on April 22.

This system, as explained by Lluís Venteo, “works by application to ensure traceability and that everything is registered. A member will be able to transfer his or her season ticket, but we will always be clear who the final recipient of the ticket is. We will know who finally enters the stadium." This system is already being applied by some Liga clubs, such as Osasuna, and will also be used at the the Women's Champions League Final in Turin.

Laporta explained that the club has set up an in-house working group involving different departments, including the Social Area, Security, Ticketing, etc. to analyse the different courses of action. He also acknowledged that the club has detected "between 15,000 and 20,000 unused season tickets. The Club Statutes state that a season ticket assigns right of use of a seat for one season. Therefore, we are considering measures to encourage attendance or require a minimum attendance, and for tickets that holders are not using regularly to go instead to more active supporters. We will study this possibility thoroughly because the statutes allow it.” 

Security concerns

Another issue that was addressed is the security concerns due to the number of German fans, well above the 5,000 that purchased seats through official channels. The head of security, Lluís Venteo, acknowledged that drones around the ground "alerted us to the fact that we had an unusual situation on our hands because these fans all seemed to have tickets even though the Eintracht officials assured us that most would not. We weren't expecting all those people to get into the stadium, so when they did we needed to quickly restructure our staffing procedures inside the ground, based on a premise that was not subsequently fulfilled. The fans came in en masse, from the first minute. They have a very different culture, they enter the ground very early, they take their positions, they watch the match on foot, cheering, drinking, and this caused friction with the home fans.”

Venteo added that no attempt was made to prevent visiting fans from entering as this could have generated more serious security problems”, Laporta observing that “UEFA partly congratulated us because things could have been a lot worse.”

Message to the fans

Finally, President Laporta also issued a statement to the fans, including the Grada d’Animació, which boycotted Monday’s game with Cádiz, encouraging them to return to the ground for the remaining games of the season.”

“We need the fans more than ever” he insisted. “Xavi and the team are working hard to recover the mentality that we had until three games ago.”

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