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Within a matter of months we have seen the successful integration by The Auction Channel of two forms of interactive bidding technology into live auction situations, making it possible for buyers to bid in real time over the Internet or by using the star key on their telephones while watching the sale on television.

Last week both systems were in simultaneous operation for the first time at Bonhams’ sale of football memorabilia in Manchester and the outcome represented the most emphatic evidence yet that bidders are beginning to feel comfortable with remote bidding facilities. More than 100 people registered to bid from home using the IBS system, many watching the simultaneous live broadcast on Sky Sports One, and by the end of the sale 56 per cent of the lots had been sold to buyers bidding interactively. Although, like most interactive sales held so far, this event comprised relatively low-value collectables, one remote bidder did part with £1100 for a lot of football programmes, while another IBS client bidding from Hereford paid £1000 for Liverpool striker Michael Owen’s shorts and shirt.

After the sale The Auction Channel’s Chairman and CEO, Jason Gleave, described the Soccer Legends ’99 event as “proof that remote bidding has now established itself as a comfortable tool, bringing entertainment programming to viewers and benefiting the auction houses”. Rod Funston, Bonhams’ Director of Information Technologies, told the Antiques Trade Gazette that there had been more demand for the remote bidding systems than they had been able to handle: “The greatest enthusiasm was expressed towards the television/telephone key pad facility,” he said, adding that he would have liked to see a greater number of clients registering as Internet bidders. “The Auction Channel are definitely on the right track,” he concluded.

The Soccer Legends ’99 sale was the first of a series of televised sporting sales to be broadcast in the coming months by The Auction Channel in association with Sky Sports One, the next one being a sale of angling equipment at Bonhams Chelsea on April 20.