29 July 2012

Bring back the ticket touts

I've never entirely understood the anger felt towards ticket touts at major sporting events, particularly when it comes from people on the right. Touts are no worse than futures traders, buying something today, in the hope that it will be worth more tomorrow. If I see Cup Final tickets on sale for £100, say, and I reckon lots of people will pay twice that, why shouldn't I make that investment? Similarly, if I were a rich but lazy man, with no forward planning skills, why shouldn't I be able to pay over the odds?

But most people seem to disagree, and all sorts of mechanisms have been put in place to stop ticket touting at sports events. Which is a pity, because otherwise all those empty seats at the Olympics might now be occupied by people who've bought them off a dodgy looking geezer outside Stratford bus station.

I spent most of my working life in the cosseted public sector, and so I know nothing about the harsh realities of corporate hospitality days and freebies, but as I understand it, companies buy up loads of tickets so they can offer a nice day out to senior staff or possible customers. They can't always use the tickets, so they don't turn up, and just write off the cost of the tickets. Finding another way to use them would proably cost more than it's worth. If Britain still had a working infrastructure of ticket toutage, those tickets could be on sale, and we wouldn't be affronted by the sight of all those empty seats. Those dodgy looking geezers - valuable entrepreneurs - would make a little money, which would trickle down into the local economy of East London, creating a real legacy, and probably improving Britain's balance of payments

So, if anything can be learnt from the Olympics, let's make sure that we rebuild the threatened ecosystem of ticket touts. Abolish absurd over-regulation. Encourage the banks to lend more to dodgy geezers. There's no problem that the operation of free markets can't fix, apparently.

26 July 2012

The curse of a literal mind (4)

There was recently a trailer for a programme on Radio 4 Extra that included the sentence: "He could only see her profile, but could see she had beautiful blue eyes".

Normal people, consider how lucky you are that you don't immediately think, like me, that at best all he could know for certain was that she had one beautiful blue eye.

And my mind is still trying to reconcile this headline from today's Guardian. Resting on a knife edge is particularly dangerous, and something only trained fakirs should attempt.

03 July 2012

San Rocky de Lepe

I've blogged earlier about the situation at San Roque de Lepe, a Spanish football club which appears to be owned by the same people who own Charlton. With the news that Charlton's friendly against Sporting Lisbon won't now take place at the San Roque stadium, I looked up what's been happening.

Here's the fullest story I could find. Using my limited Spanish and my more limited business knowledge, it seems that the club owed €150,000, mainly to players, and that if that debt wasn't paid, the club would be relegated to the 3rd division. The Town Council of Lepe has organised a deal whereby local businesses have paid the debt. In return the (former) owners of the club have transferred 51% of the shares to the Council, which is therefore the majority shareholder. It is suggested that some of the British owners didn't want to retain ownership, and that is why the owners as a whole didn't pay off the debts.

So this explains why the Charlton match isn't being played there any more. Does it shed any light on what's going on with the ownership of Charlton? We've read that one director has left, apparently unexpectedly. Perhaps this means there's a split within the owners of the Addicks. This is all I can work out for now. I expect there will be more to come, but have no idea if this is good or bad news.

If anyone understands the Spanish story better than I do, please comment!