Rugby-English RFU win legal victory over online ticket sellers

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - English rugby won a legal victory on Wednesday to support its efforts to prevent the resale of tickets for international matches online at inflated prices.

The Supreme Court in London dismissed an appeal by secondary ticketing website Viagogo against an order forcing it to identify people who had used its website to sell on tickets for autumn internationals in 2010 and Six Nations games in 2011.

However, Viagogo struck a defiant note, saying it would continue to offer tickets for England matches including this weekend's game against South Africa at Twickenham.

A number of soccer clubs and tennis event organisers have signed partnerships with Viagogo and rival StubHub, owned by EBay, to allow fans to sell unwanted tickets online.

However, the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) argues that the practice risks pricing out ordinary fans.

"Selling tickets through secondary ticketing sites is against our terms and conditions and allows prices to be inflated, preventing many of our supporters from purchasing," said Sophie Goldschmidt, the RFU's Chief Commercial Officer.

"We now plan to identify such sellers and take tough sanctions to keep our tickets off secondary ticket sites and in the right hands," she added.

The RFU can reduce allocations to member clubs if they sell tickets online, "name and shame" offenders or ultimately try to recover their profits through court action.

The battle between the RFU and Viagogo is likely to intensify in the runup to the 2015 World Cup which England will host.

Tickets for England's game with South Africa were on offer for prices of between 125 pounds and 200 pounds ($200-320) on Viagogo's website after the ruling.

Viagogo said it had taken steps to ensure that sellers of tickets would not face exposure in the future.

"Our rugby ticket business is now bigger and our data protection is now better, so fans may therefore now buy and sell rugby tickets on Viagogo with absolute confidence that their information will be protected in future," said Ed Parkinson, Viagogo's head of marketing.

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