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Ed Sheeran objects to Royal Albert Hall’s plans to sell more seats to investors

Ed Sheeran has objected to plans by the Royal Albert Hall to sell dozens of seats at the prestigious London venue to investors, some of whom sell them on for inflated prices.

Currently, 319 people own 1,268 – almost one in four – of the Royal Albert Hall’s seats on 999-year leases. A bill going through parliament would grant the hall’s governing body the power to sell an extra 52 seats to investors.

Sheeran is “vehemently opposed” to the practice of these seat-holders selling their unwanted tickets at inflated prices, a letter from his aides said.

The star’s team has “worked tirelessly to get his tickets into the hands of his genuine fans at the intended price”, the letter said. It criticised “unscrupulous sites where tickets are listed at many times over the face value”.

During a debate on the bill on Thursday, the House of Lords heard that £200 tickets for a Sheeran concert at the Royal Albert Hall were being offered on a resale site for up to £6,000.

The Royal Albert Hall, a charity, hosts about 400 events a year, from the Proms to pop concerts. The venue has 5,272 seats in total.

The hall, which opened in 1871, was funded from the start in part by people who were allocated seats in return for investment. Today, seat-holders include companies, charities and individuals, some of whom have family ownership going back to the 19th century.

Seat-holders who do not wish to use their seats for a concert or event may return them to the hall’s box office for the face value of the ticket minus 10%. But in recent years, some seat-holders have resold tickets through third-party websites at much higher amounts.

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The Royal Albert Hall’s proposal to sell additional seats requires a change to the Royal Albert Hall Act 1966.

Lord Hodgson, who opposes the move, told peers: “If you wish to go to hear Ed Sheeran on Sunday 19 November, you have a ticket with a face value of £200. I have here a screenshot from Viagogo offering that ticket for £5,899 to £6,000 for a £200 ticket.

“Mr Sheeran’s fans are being squeezed out of the hall because they cannot afford to pay £6,000 a pop. This is an extreme example, but a £100 ticket for the Last Night of the Proms was selling for £1,218, so this has clearly become a very profitable enterprise.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Albert Hall said the changes would “support the hall’s efforts to rebuild its financial position post-pandemic, to enhance its Grade I-listed building, and to continue its engagement work, which reaches over 100,000 people of all ages and backgrounds each year”.

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Liam Gallagher fans have also complained that tickets for next year’s Definitely Maybe tour were offered at inflated prices on third-party sites soon after selling out on Friday morning. Viagogo was advertising tickets on Friday afternoon for between £180 and £409 each.

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One fan posted on social media: “Trying to get tickets for Liam Gallagher has been an absolute joke. Everything sold out in seconds and suddenly there are tickets all over Viagogo being sold for quadruple the price. Can’t stand the way modern-day tickets are sold.”

In July, Viagogo’s boss, Cris Miller, defended his company’s practice, saying some fans “don’t want to be forced to get up on Friday morning and wait in a queue that may or may not happen”.

He refused “to apologise for the service we provide”. “I wake up every single day, as does everybody else that works at the company, thinking about one thing, and that’s getting fans into these events all over the world,” he told the BBC.