Royal Albert Hall members accused of 'profiteering' by reselling tickets to charity gigs

BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall (Mark Allan/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall (Mark Allan/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

Wealthy patrons of the Royal Albert Hall have been accused of profiteering by selling their allocated tickets for charity performances.

Under the venue’s funding model, a quarter of seats are the property of the heirs of the hall’s original subscribers who funded its establishment in 1867.

But some seats have reappeared for a profit on ticket reselling sites - including charity gigs for young cancer patients, The Guardian reported.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the Who, was among those querying the practice, telling the paper it was “unfortunate”.

“They are obviously within their rights to keep their tickets, but whether it is morally right or wrong is a different thing,” he said.

“It is unfortunate what has been going on. It’s a moral issue. If I was the boss of the Albert Hall I would make it clear that this would be a nice thing to do [to stop it].”

The issue of members selling seats for profit was previously raised by former Royal Albert Hall president Richard Lyttleton at a House of Lords hearing last month.

He told a committee: “Ed Sheeran wrote to the Hall and asked that Members refrain from selling tickets to their seats at inflated prices.

“The reason for that was that he has great respect for his fans. When he was starting out, they supported him.

“And if you are a shopkeeper or a shop assistant in Barnsley, and you went to Ed Sheeran’s first concerts, he subsequently became enormously successful, and you then find that the only way you can get to see him is by forking out £6,000, basically you are excluded.”

Under the hall’s founding, some private subscribers were given the right to pay for seats in perpetuity, with the rights passing onto relatives or being bought out by others.

Some are owned by the hall’s trustees, but there is no suggestion those seats at charity gigs have been resold for profit.

Members’ tickets for other high-profile events such as Last Night of the Proms have also reportedly appeared for sale on ticket reselling sites such as Viagogo.

Ian McCulloch, President of the Royal Albert Hall’s Trustees, said: “Seatholders’ tickets are their private property belonging neither to the Hall nor to the promoter of the event.

“When a charity promoter hires the Hall on a day when the seatholders enjoy their right to tickets, the seats in question do not form part of the letting.

“The seatholders are not therefore depriving the charity promoter (or artists) of anything. The Hall does encourage seatholders to sell their unused tickets to the public at face value through the box office, but it follows from their ownership that the seatholders may use or sell their tickets in any way they choose.”