The concept of Away Season Ticket/Schemes in the Premier League have recently been a controversial topic. As previously reported on MOMS, Aston Villa decided to scrap their’s after supporter consultation. Recently Norwich City introduced one, that seemed to operate as a paywall for fans to obtain away tickets to matches. While the Premier League’s tickets are currently capped at £30, Norwich fans would have to pay an additional charge to be able to buy them – thus in reality, breaking the price cap.
Another approach for an Away Season Ticket would be it to act like a home one, where you buy it upfront and make savings on away matches. That though has two major issues – a) another upfront cost for the fan, and b) the club doesn’t ‘own’ the away tickets, so it’s not something they can control the price on, so they would potentially lose money, if they provided a discount.
Villa’s previous away season ticket scheme in contrast was more akin to the speedy boarding priority you get on airlines, allowing you to select your seat too.
The discussion behind the issue can be found in the below notes from the Villa Away Fan Consultation Group meeting last month (Thursday 20th June 2019), amongst various other information.
Away Consultation Meeting Minutes – Thursday 20th June 2019
Attendees: Dan Walker (AVFC), Lee Preece (AVFC), Lynne O’Reardon (AVFC), NathanThurman (AVFC), Anne Edwards, Anton Cuscito, David Michael (My Old Man Said), Joanne McKibbens (Aston Villa Disabled Supporters Association), John Holder, Jonathan Knibb, Mark McFarland, Mo Razzaq (AVST), PC Stuart Bladen, Steve Gough, Thomas Cole
Apologies: John Perks, Max Stokes (VoT)
Meeting dates for the 2019/20 season
The club proposed dates for future meetings to ensure a consistent approach and give the group plenty of notice.
Last season it proved difficult to get everyone together as meetings were not structured in terms of set dates. Dates for the season’s meetings were confirmed as Thursday 24th October 2019 and Thursday 5th March 2020. These dates will give the group chance to reflect after the start of the season and then again before the end of the season.
The club confirmed that away ticket allocations in the Premier League are set at minimum of 3,000 or 10% of the stadium capacity.
For Bournemouth, the club have been advised that they will receive 1,325 tickets. It was mentioned that rules state that clubs are liable to pay for any unsold tickets should less than 50% of the last allocated block be sold.
Tickets will be capped at £30 as part of an agreement between all Premier League clubs. Concession tickets will still be available as per what the away club usually offer.Embed from Getty Images
Original Away Season Ticket Membership
The club made a proposal for a revised Away Season Ticket Membership based on feedback received by fans over the course of the 2018/19 season.
Feedback from those currently part of the membership was very positive due to the ability to have a dedicated window where they are guaranteed a ticket for each match and the option to select specific seats. Feedback from those not in the membership was that they felt there should have been a criteria in the first instance to join the membership and not opened up to all season ticket holders, although the reason the club did this was based on feedback from supporters who were struggling to obtain tickets for away matches and felt it was fair to give all season ticket holders the opportunity to join the membership.
The proposal was based on keeping the scheme as it is, operationally in that fans would could purchase the membership however the club would only invite current members the option to renew if they had attended 15+ away matches in the 2018/19 season.
After the renewal period the club would the open the sale of the membership to supporters who were not current members but are season ticket holders who have attended 15+ away matches during the 2018/19 season. The membership fee was to be increased to £30 for renewals and £45 for new members.
Feedback from the group suggested that the 15+ level was too low (when considering the grounds with smaller away allocations), and this should be increased to 18+ in order for supporters to renew their membership.
Other clubs were discussed, namely Norwich, who have introduced a membership that their fans need to join in order to access away tickets. The feeling was that clubs were using these membership methods to extract more revenue from fans and putting up a paywall to get away tickets.
The viable options available were agreed as:
- Having an Away Season Ticket Membership but exclude the Bournemouth match and only have members accepted who have attended 18+ away league matches during the 2018/19 season [YES vote]
- Not having an Away Season Ticket Membership and basing all away ticket sales on loyalty at previous matches [NO vote]
Final Decision on Away Season Ticket Scheme
The outcome has already been covered on MOMS and can be found in the below article. Obviously there’s no silver bullet to solve the two main concerns of rewarding loyalty, yet preventing a closed shop.
Any ideas (or thinking outside the box) from supporters for future discussions on the topic are most welcome though.
Away Sales Criteria
The club proposed to go on sale with away matches to supporters who have attended 15 away games, then 12 away games before opening to season ticket holders, members and then general sale, subject to availability.
The club would then introduce criteria based on the current seasons matches at points during the season. Working up from 3 games to 6 games then 10 and 13 games as we progress through the season.
The group felt that the levels of criteria was too low and that more games from the previous season should be considered when creating the criteria as this would reward fans who regularly followed Villa on the road during the last Championship season.
Eventual Sale Dates and Criteria for 2019
Check out the sale dates/criteria for Villa’s away matches until the end of 2019.*
*Please note: Subject to change.
The club were asked about the discounted Virgin trains travel that was introduced last season. It was suggested it was a good scheme and feedback was that it wasn’t promoted enough.
The club confirmed that this wasn’t an agreement with Virgin as such, but much rather something that was simply put to the club and that not much was known about it. The Premier League have advised the club that they are looking at ways to improve and encourage train travel for football fans in the future.
Crowd surging at away games
It was mentioned about previous instances of crowd surging in the Championship. PC Bladen said that he doesn’t anticipate any issues at Premier League clubs as the stewarding is generally a lot more effective with the allocations available not really exceeding 3,000.
Wembley Play-Off Final Tickets
The group briefly discussed ticket sales for the play-off final. Feedback was that sales did run smoothly but that some fans were frustrated that what were considered better seats became available later in the sales process.
The club confirmed that they are obligated to hold certain tickets for a variety or reasons such as players, players families, Owners and at the point we go on sale, it is not known exactly how many of these are required.
Therefore, it will be the case that the unused tickets will go back on sale later in the sales process. Due to the very short timescale to sell and dispatch all of the tickets, it is not possible to plan this any better but appreciate supporters’ frustrations.
We managed to get tickets to 6 away games last season. This was despite the appalling chaos and wrong information and spending frustrating hours trying to buy the few tickets on offer. Many games being shown sold out when in fact they were not. So having been a loyal supporter for over 60 years seeing the villa play on over 60 different grounds, If there are any tickets left for Spurs or other games I am classed the same as the new premiership glory chasing season ticket holder who might never have been to Villa Park before. Where’s the loyalty to those like me who struggled to get to a few away games. So later in the season when it’s opens to those games this season, it will yet again be a closed shop. I will therefore be unable to get to away games and more stadiums while I am still fit enough to be able to do so. Seems like the fan consultation was made up of those continuing the closed shop.
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