Glastonbury strikes back against the Touts

Glastonbury strikes back against the Touts

10 April 2003

You might think that the Glastonbury organisation was celebrating after the festival sold out in a staggering, record-breaking one-day, on March 31. In fact, the unprecedented, virtually immediate sale of the 112,500 tickets has caused the organisers no end of grief ever since.

Virtual Festivals developed and look after the Official Glastonbury Festival Message Boards, and we have been astounded by the amount of online criticism subsequently directed at Festival Chief Michael Eavis and his organisation, for "permitting such a thing to happen". Much of this is being posted by disgruntled long-time Glastonbury fans, who feel that the spirit of the event has been compromised by allowing touts to snap up tickets and sell them at a huge profit while genuine fans cannot get in.

The numerous boxes containing 10,000 or so redundant official ticketline posters currently blocking floorspace in the Glastonbury Festival office prove testiment to the fact that the early sell-out was certainly not forseen. And why should it have been? Last year, it took ten weeks for the tickets to sell out, they were cheaper and there were 12,500 less of them! There is no doubt that the organisers were caught just as much by surprise as the ticketless fans. This much is clear from the perplexity on Eavis' face when asked why he thought the tickets sold so quickly:

"I'm not sure what happened, why they all went so fast - we only issued four tickets per person. I think there are genuine small time people trying to make a bit of money on the tickets." We also believe that the "No Ticket, No Entry" message has finally filtered through, considering the highly publicised success of the Superfence last year, increasing demand.

Causes aside, Michael Eavis and co. were left with the unenviable and extremely difficult dilemma of what they could possibly do to help reverse the unfortunate situation and prevent it from happening in future. The obvious first target was the touts themselves, many of whom have been offering tickets for up to 500 each (face value was 105). Eavis has declared war and luckily, the law is on his side. In an interview  to be aired between 7 and 10pm on Virgin Radio this Sunday, he said staff would be monitoring auction websites to check names and addresses of people putting tickets up for sale to make sure they do not receive tickets they can sell on:

"We won't issue the tickets to the people that are trying to resell them. We have the names and addresses of sellers on the online auction site. It says on the contract on the back of the ticket that it is non-transferable." He warned anyone tempted to buy from touts: "The legal advice I've received is that we can withhold those tickets so these people won't ever get them - so please don't pay any money."

Michael Eavis has revealed that a reserve list he opened to sell tickets for the festival seized from touts was now closed. The new Official Glastonbury Festival Message Board, developed and moderated by Virtual Festivals has also played a valuable role in the campaign to clamp down on touts and identify worthy ticket holders. Anyone spotted trying to sell tickets at a profit is immediately added to the blacklist, whilst a special section is in place for users to buy and sell tickets at face value, in harmony with the spirit of the festival.

So what can the Festival do to stop this happening next year? Eavis believes that either he and his army of helpers would have to vet "all the names individually", or look at increasing Glastonbury's capacity.

"The licensing people might let us increase the capacity a little bit, but I don't want to go through the ceiling," he said. "Saturation point is probably 200,000, but I can't really see the authorities agreeing with that sort of figure. We have plenty of land, though. Loads of redundant farmers everywhere at the moment."

No more tickets will be released for sale this year.

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