Tickets priced more than 500% above their face value are being sold to frustrated Manchester City fans by unauthorised Spanish third parties ahead of next week’s Real Madrid clash.
City declared the hugely anticipated Champions League clash with the Spanish giants a sell-out earlier in the week, forcing thousands to be content with watching it on TV.
But numerous online sources are taking advantage of this scarcity – offering tickets sold on behalf of season card holders for more than £200, with hefty service fees added on.
Supporters can still buy tickets through Viagogo – an agency City officially work with – who commit to charging only 90-150% of the original ticket price.
People risk being held to ransom elsewhere, however, by websites employing no such restrictions.
Prime seats are offered for upwards of £159 by footballticketnet.com – whose head office is in Spain despite their admin address being in Tel Aviv – with an incredible £29 added on as a delivery charge.
Madrid-based livefootballtickets.com appear to sizeably undercut this, although their prices fluctuate from a comparatively competitive £85.50 to a whopping £237.
Any sense that fans might get away lightly is dispelled once the payment process begins.
The ticket price is substantially bolstered by a baffling £35 service fee, which doesn’t include the £10 charged for delivery costs.
A Manchester City spokesperson said: “We were not aware of either of these websites and are not formally involved with either.”
The club do have official partnerships with Viagogo and Thomas Cook Matchday Breaks –who sell City fans tickets as part of trips to European away games.
For security reasons, City need to know the details of every supporter inside the stadium, which is the case with Viagogo customers.
The club added that their legal team would be assessing the operations of the websites.
Livefootballtickets.com – whose owners run an identical site called 1st4footballtickets.com – refused to speak to Mancunian Matters when a reporter asked them to comment on their operations.
Later another reporter, posing as a customer, was told they acquired home tickets from City season card holders unable to attend the match and sourced away seats directly from Real Madrid.
Both sites allocate a specific row or seat number to the tickets on sale, with some coming simply with a basic, superficial description, usually written in nonsensical English.
Greater Manchester Police said they have no specific initiative against touts at the moment, apart from general ongoing practices, and do not deal with online ticket sources.
They added that local officers will be aware of touts who frequently operate outside the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford.
Online and face-to-face ticket touts have become particularly topical since the Olympics – when touts seized on confusion caused by multiple empty seats at the opening events.
Under the Olympic Act 2012, ticket touting can now be punished with a £20k fine – which stretches to the illicit sales of football tickets.
Limited tickets for the City-Real clash are still available legitimately through Viagogo for only £45.