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Hospitality or inducement. Summer feeding frenzy, but not for you or I

Panacea comment

11 Jul 2014

Summer in UK.plc can be fantastic when the weather is good. And with summer we see the season slowly start with the Derby, Royal Ascot, Queen’s Club tennis, Glastonbury and ending with an orgasmic weekend rush of Henley regatta, Wimbledon finals, the British Grand Prix and Le Tour with some post coital inhaling of fresh air at Cowes Week in August.

We can forget about any World Cup football enjoyment since England got elimated early, but headlines were still made for all the wrong reasons by Ray Whelan, a director of FIFA’s official hospitality partners MATCH.

He was arrested in Brazil as part of an investigation into illegal ticket sales at the Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro's best hotel reserved for FIFA’s great and the good.

The arrest, along with another 11 people, came as part of the cunningly named ‘Operation Jules Rimet’ looking into ticket touting.

I used to be a great lover of sports, playing and watching. Tickets were relatively easily attainable and there was a feeling of inclusivity, that the ordinary ‘guy’ and of course ‘girl’ could attend events with relative ease, enjoying the spectacle of top quality sport.

But tickets to major events seem to have fallen victim to touts or the need to place on display pointless, gratuitous celebrity at the expense of the true aficionados.

Whilst not wishing to deny the great and the good the opportunity to attend the above, can someone explain to me why so called ‘Royal Boxes’, Royal enclosures’ and ‘VIP areas’ are rammed full, day after day, with the same people: 

  • Assorted Royals of varying importance or irrelevance
  • Politicians of varying importance or irrelevance
  • Pippa Middleton
  • Her mother, father and brother
  • Celebs of varying importance or irrelevance
  • David Beckham
  • Kathryn Jenkins
  • Jude Law
  • Goldie
  • Michael Fassbender
  • Naomi Campbell
  • Amanda Holden
  • Joey Essex and other ‘Towies’

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there but I think you get the gist of it.

So whilst the likes of you and I may spend good money to get tickets (if you are lucky) or queue, enter ballots and still not get tickets or decline/not get offered provider corporate hospitality, the great and the not so good come up winners all the time.

Brand association and sponsorship hangers on get the best seats at the best events all the time, not the real fans and certainly not the real introducers of business in our industry as they have been airbrushed out by regulatory diktat.

Not to say that the financial services regulators miss out on life's little treats and luxuries, as history has shown.

Just a thought, would a ticket to any of these summer events from provider sponsors cause demonstrable consumer detriment on an industrial scale? 

But it is very TCF and inducement compliant though eh?

As a footnote, of the more than 3 million tickets for the World Cup it was actually possible to buy, 445,500 were allocated to Mr Whelan's MATCH Hospitality business, according to FIFA.

At the time of writing, in 'Elvis speak', Mr Whelan has 'left' the Copacabana Palace by the back door. He may not come back for a while.

A seriously nice little earner though 'Terry'! 

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