Tennis: All England all-clear

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The Independent Online
THE All England Club was yesterday cleared of 'unfair trading practices' in relation to the sale of Wimbledon tickets after an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.

The former England and Lions rugby union international, Mike Burton, had accused the Wimbledon authorities of operating a cartel in an attempt to dominate the secondary market in tickets for the championships. His complaint centred on allegations that the All England Club allowed debenture holders' tickets to be bought and sold for inflated prices while banning the resale of other tickets.

Burton, chairman of the Mike Burton Sports Marketing Group, claimed that the club repurchased debenture holders' tickets, then resold them at a further mark-up with the consequence that they were only available to his corporate hospitality clients at artificially inflated prices.

While the OFT concluded that the All England Club had a monopoly in Wimbledon tickets, the director general, Sir Bryan Carsberg, said: 'They were not in a monopoly position in the market for corporate hospitality. Their efforts to control the leakage of tickets from their original holders into the secondary market for Wimbledon tickets could not be regarded as an abuse of market power.'