Web site allows fans to exchange tickets.

Viagogo, a new European online ticket-exchange venture designed to bypass scalpers, officially launched today (Aug. 18) in the United Kingdom.

The brainchild of CEO Eric Baker, co-founder of the U.S.-based StubHub.com ticket-exchange agency, the Web-based platform allows ticket-holders unable to attend major events to exchange them legitimately with ticket-less fans.

Viagogo hopes its service will allow its clients -- live-event organizers -- to sidestep illegal ticket sellers seeking to exploit Europe's £5 billion ($9.5 million) secondary-ticket market.

Viagogo's biggest clients on the launch date today are Chelsea Football Club and Manchester United Football Club, two of the world's biggest and wealthiest soccer clubs.

Industry experts say the teams' involvement makes sense as a specific British law, the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, prohibits the resale of soccer's lucrative season tickets. This, ironically, tempts soccer fans without tickets to approach scalpers.

The Web site, however, also has sections devoted to the exchange of tickets for concerts, arts and theater.

The exchange of other live-event tickets in the United Kingdom is not illegal. But its abuse by unauthorized sellers is disruptive enough to have led to the formation of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), which includes Ticketmaster among its members.

A Viagogo spokesperson explained that no official discussions have so far taken place with concert-promoters, production organizations or venue operators.

After the U.K. launch, Viagogo expects to open for business in Germany later this year before rolling out to other European markets.