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Viagogo.com , a new website aiming to muscle in on touts' earnings from football matches, has gone live in the UK.
Backed by lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman and David Katz, head of Yahoo’s sports and entertainment unit, the site provides an online exchange for fans to buy and sell unused tickets to games.
The firm has also signed partnerships with Chelsea and Manchester United to create official exchanges linked to their main sites.
After establishing itself in the UK, viagogo plans to open up a German site and eventually expand to the rest of Europe.
"We estimate that the secondary ticketing market in Europe is currently worth approximately £4-5 billion a year, of which the UK market accounts for in excess of one billion pounds annually," CEO Eric Baker told Reuters.
Baker moved to viagogo.com from StubHub.com in the US – a popular site where American fans can buy lastminute sports tickets, and whose model viagogo hopes to replicate.
Viagogo has received US$20 million in financing from backers including Danny Rimer of Index Ventures, and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild. Index Ventures is the lead outside investor.
Peter Kenyon, chief executive of Chelsea FC, said: “This is a service for our fans that means more members will have more opportunities to buy tickets for matches than ever before.
“By providing a secure and transparent environment, season ticket holders will be able to legally sell tickets they are unable to use to other loyal Chelsea fans at a consistent price. This will help the fight against ticket touts.”
While viagogo's initial focus is on sports tickets, its site also features links to music concert and theatre and arts events.
Both Hoberman and Katz will sit on the company's advisory board. It is the second venture backed by the lastminute co-founder to be announced this week, after student social networking site Univillage.com revealed him to be an investor and non-executive director.