Sporting Auctions

Sport on the Internet

Visitors to Wembley's Website have known for a long time that fans were going to get the chance to buy memorabilia such as seats, signs, fittings and fixtures - there has been a form online for a few months for people to register their interest.

Visitors to Wembley's Website have known for a long time that fans were going to get the chance to buy memorabilia such as seats, signs, fittings and fixtures - there has been a form online for a few months for people to register their interest.

That it should be done by online auction is a sensible way of conducting business. E-commerce generally is growing and online auctions in particular are booming.

Representatives of some sports organisations said that limiting bidding to a restricted Internet audience was unfair and that a telephone line would be better - those who tried to phone up to buy England v Scotland tickets might not agree.

Auctions are more complex than straightforward purchases, and demand for Wembley memorabilia at the auction next year is guaranteed to be high. Websites can cope more easily than voice mail when the strain is on.

Auctioning for sports memorabilia is not new, although doing it on the scale of Wembley is. QXL.com, the recently floated Internet auctioneers handling the Wembley auction, and other sites, have been trading in sports items and collectibles since they first went on line.

In the run-up to the Wembley sale, QXL are offering an e-mail newsletter to keep potential bidders up to date. Browsing the lists at QXL is open to all. To bid, you need to register first. The process is straightforward, a matter of following online screens and clicking the right buttons.

In the sports and fitness section you can try to bag surfboards for £50 or darts sets for £5. Besides kit and equipment, there is memorabilia. Lots of it.

Boxing is well represented with a glut of Naseem Hamed programmes, initial asking prices between £6 and £15. There's an autographed Joe Frazier pair of shorts, starting price £150, and a genuine Lonsdale belt, for which the bidding starts at £3,000.

The notes online tell you about the items under the virtual hammer, what their starting price is, how many bids have been received, what increments of bid are being accepted, and when the auction closes. The whole process takes seconds.

The global nature of the World-wide Web means it is easy to log on to overseas sport auction sites and look for goodies there, too. Todays Sports offers the following categories: baseball, basketball, boxing, football (the American kind), hockey (the ice variety), motor sports and Olympics. SportsAuction.com is similar. Here the items have no reserve and bidding often starts at $1.

The auction idea is spreading to tickets. E-commerce is already proving useful for finding scarce tickets, with sites like Lastminute.com being a source for the Rugby World Cup. But when the supply runs dangerously thin, you have to head for their auction pages, were the scope is international.

To buy tickets for the Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield rematch next month, bidding online is a better alternative to standing expectantly on the streets of Las Vegas, hoping someone has a spare.

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