In recent weeks, as a member of the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), MOMS has been privy to a few discussions on the topic of paid Away Season Ticket/Schemes in the Premier League.

Recently Norwich City introduced one, that looked simply to be 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 £50 a season to be able to buy any away tickets. The knock-on effect would be the price cap would be broken – for example, if a Canaries fan went to five away games tickets would work out at £40 each.

Aston Villa have an Away Season Ticket open to home season ticket holders that for a membership fee (last season £25 for away scheme members or £40 for new applications), gives fans priority on booking on away tickets and choosing their seat. Essentially, it works in a similar fashion to paying for speedy boarding on an airline.

In the recent Villa Away Consultation Group meeting (Thursday 20th June 2019), the subject of the club’s Away Season Ticket came up. Since its introduction caused some controversy last season, the club had offered in the recent FCG meeting on June 11th to look at it and rework it from scratch if need be, while some Villa supporters felt it should be scrapped all together.

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Away Season Ticket Membership

The concept is to have a dedicated window where fans are guaranteed a ticket for each match and the option to select specific seats.

Last season 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.

Looking towards the upcoming season in the Premier League, the club have been looking at 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 a certain amount of away games in the 2018/19 season.

After the renewal period the club would open the sale of the membership to supporters who were not current members but are home season ticket holders who have attended a significant amount of games (the number was discussed and will be revealed in the meeting notes next week).

There is also a mooted price increase on last season ala the Claret membership cards.

Is the Away Scheme Actually Needed?

It was put to the club by some members of the Away Consultation Group that the membership is not really required and if away tickets sales were based purely on loyalty and the club would still be able to guarantee certain groups of supporters’ tickets who had relevant criteria.

Obviously, the key benefit of the scheme is the priority booking, but that shouldn’t prevent an away supporter with an excellent/perfect record from previous seasons from getting a ticket.
It should be ‘priority booking’ and not ‘priority allocation’ in that respect.

For example, it would be unfair for non Away Season Ticket supporters with near ever-present away records in the previous season to miss out on tickets for the limited allocation (around 1,300) of Bournemouth away.

Without the scheme, supporters with very good previous booking history would have the benefits of the priority booking and first dibs on seat choice anyway.

There is also the issue of supporters joining the scheme just to have access to the big away games, then selling on the tickets to the other away games. This was the main controversy of the scheme, when you consider fan social media commentary on the scheme over the past season.

Closed Shop?

There is an issue of away support becoming a closed shop and the demographic increasingly ageing.

The Away Season Ticket did at least allow home season ticket holders the chance to get on the away ladder, so to speak. If they then went to enough games after being in the Away Season Ticket scheme, they would then be allowed to renew their Away Season Ticket the next season.

While loyalty is the key factor when allocating away tickets, the closed shop danger extends out of any away day schemes. How do you keep the open the door for new fans or supporters who want to see Villa play in the area they live for example? Surely the option of getting a ticket for an away game shouldn’t be impossible? For example, a Villan living in Plymouth ideally should at least in theory have a shout of getting a Plymouth vs Aston Villa FA Cup ticket?

The club suggested a ballot system for a very small amount of tickets to ensure that fans who might not be able to access tickets to away matches could at least have an opportunity to do so. This is a notion MOMS would support, as the number that would be offered wouldn’t impact on the fans that go to EVERY game (a surprisingly low number) or the majority of the games, who deserve first dibs on tickets for their efforts.

Anyway, back on topic, what do you think of the Villa version of the Away Season Ticket, which ultimately acts as priority boarding?

Away Season Ticket Vote

Should there be a paid Aston Villa Away Season Ticket Scheme? Vote in poll below.

The viable options:

  • [YES vote] Having an Away Season Ticket Membership but exclude the Bournemouth match and only have members accepted who have attended substantial away league matches during the 2018/19 season. Gives fan security for the coming season.

or

  • [NO vote] Not having an Away Season Ticket Membership and basing all away ticket sales on loyalty at previous matches

Vote in the poll below…

If you need more insight into how the scheme operated last season and other Villa supporter’s feelings on the matter, check out the debate on the Away Season Ticket on the MOMS Facebook page.

Also, one train of thought is that it was understandably a good idea commercially to create such a scheme as an extra revenue stream, when Villa were in the Championship. But is it needed now? Due to the vastly increased income that Premier League clubs are privy too, would it just be seen now as rinsing loyal supporters, who spend enough on travel regularly following Villa away from home?

If you have any thoughts on how an Away Season Ticket should work and could be a good idea, or why you think it should be scrapped, please comment below.

The minutes from the actual Away Consultation Group meeting and the club’s verdict on the Away Season Ticket will be published next week.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. This is a quote and link from the Villa site regarding the away scheme last year I don’t think it was policed as well as they intended. .

    Q] What if someone joins just to buy Baggies and Blues tickets?
    This is a simple one to answer.

    We will be monitoring the scheme incredibly closely and, if it becomes obvious that members are only interested in buying tickets for the ‘big’ games on the road, they will be removed from the scheme without refund.

    We will not allow anyone to abuse the scheme in that way. It wouldn’t be right for the rest of our fans and we won’t accept it.

    On the same note, if away season ticket members are buying for other games and then selling them on to ensure they stay on the scheme, they will be removed too.

    https://www.avfc.co.uk/News/2018/06/30/revamped-away-scheme-information

  2. as an away sceme member I thought it worked well particularly liked being able to choose my seat .I think there should be comebacks from last season…I think a fair criteria would be attendance at 75% of away games to retain your membership of the scheme with allowances for long term ill health.Think also lower seating should be restricted to our aging supporters as well as disabled to enable to view from their seats instead of having to stand.

  3. I can’t comment too much on the Away scheme as never been in one. I was a ST holder for 7 years but had to give it up 2 seasons ago. I still go to home games when i can. I always believe priority should go to people who attend the most games, but for me, a ballot for even 30 tickets or so for people who can’t make/afford many away games would be great.

  4. I was not on the away scheme last season and tried to get away tickets to a few games when my son wasnt playing Saturday football or I wasnt working and managed to get to just 4 away matches. I could have gone to more but I am not bothered if someone who actually goes to more games has priority. My only gripe is that it was plainly obvious that many people were buying tickets just to keep up their history and then reselling. Any solution to that though would be really restrictive if linked to ID, if i managed to get 3 tickets but then was called in to work at the last minute would that mean my partner wouldnt be allowed to take the children? Another thought could be to be able to use Pride points to secure an opportunity to buy an away ticket rather than a random ballot if they did that it might encourage more spending on the cards to get points.

  5. I was in the away scheme and attended all games as I do every season. Last year god knows what the person that put it together was thinking it was bloody awful. I said at the beginning of the season to the proposals it would be abused, I was told we won’t let it. I pointed at the terms and conditions and said you can’t stop the your terms are pathetic…..I was right.

    Added it was a total disgrace they opened up West Brom away to away season ticket holders as it was not part of the terms and actually went against it, so people I knew had attended two always blues and West Brom and got one, over people with 17 always, insanity.

    Problem is villa don’t listen. It’s simple….allocate up to around 800/1000 away tickets and base it on always last season combined with away supporters and season ticket holders as a criteria. In other words if a season ticket holder from last year renews and has been to 15 games they get priority over an away sth that’s bern to mess, make sense? That way it’s fair. Then they go down in criteria until filled. Make it absolutely clear the minute you miss 4 games you’re out, no refund unless hospital letter can be issued. It’s has to be a lot more closed.

    The rest then go to criteria as always. Then away sth can be used in cup games as they used to be.

    It’s not rocket science fgs yet villa made an absolute mess of it last year. With disabled the same thing will happen this season as last two. Wheelchairs are criteria based and ambulant that require it get the front row blvked off but are also guided by criteria.

    It 100% has to come to loyalty and I’m nit in favour of a ballot sorry for that very reason, why should someone that never goes get a ticket because it’s up the road from them, over someone that does, sorry not for me.

    Let me know hun if you need anything else

    Sonia (villa dsa)

    • Regarding ballot, it’s to prevent away games becoming a complete closed shop, that will just lead to an ageing away fanbase with little scope for entry for the next generation of fans etc. As you know, we’re not talking many tickets and we’re talking about it being open to home season ticket holders, or for example, Claret Members could chose one game in the season they can go in a ballot for. You’re not opening it to people who never go. You’re just giving people who really want to go at least a chance (albeit small), that’s not really going to encroach on the regulars. For example, you’d make Bournemouth off limits to any ballot.

      If it becomes a completely closed shop, then you’re just waiting for people to quit or die!

  6. I thought the away scheme was an improvement on recent years as you could choose where to sit and i didn’t mind paying extra to join the scheme. I don’t think it’s a valid argument to say people sold on their tickets to keep up their booking history as this could still be done if the scheme wasn’t in place. I would suggest that most if not all people on the scheme would be in favour of keeping it while those who are not will be less in favour.

    The real issue here is the low away allocations.

    • Wrong ! People openly selling their tickets look at the ticket and travel section on hero’s and it’s clear the scheme is being abused

      • Disagree, Villa could probably sell 5000 away tickets next season per game so low allocation is an issue, low supply and high demand for tickets creates the market for resales and abuse of the system.

        I didn’t suggest tickets on the away scheme weren’t being resold but if the away scheme didn’t exist and relied solely on booking history what’s to stop someone buying tickets to build up their booking history and selling them on anyway? In that scenario someone could have gone to a couple of aways, built up a good away ticket history and still got an Albion ticket.

        The problem isn’t with the away scheme or indeed any other scheme it’s people’s abuse of the system by purchasing tickets to keep up their booking history and reselling them.

  7. For someone who travelled to 15+ away games, who tried to get on the away scheme and couldn’t, and then missed out on an albion ticket. I think it was a terrible idea.

    The system of booking history was working well, there is now a second tier where if you were lucky enough to get on the scheme you got priority over a fan that may have attended many more games then you.

  8. Me and my now 10 year are on the away scheme and it’s great last season, I could get front row tickets for most games guaranteed, which meant he could sit and not have to stand watching games like seasons past and not go flying, if a goal is scored because of people going ott in celebrations.

    I hope they bring it back this season as its made it a far my enjoyable experience for him, athan the previous couple of years I’d took him.

    Which made it far more enjoyable for me, not having that stress of having to watch him so didn’t fall off the seat etc.

  9. during the debate for/against the away scheme was there any consideration for our fans with disabilities?

    • Yes, completely. Fans with disabilities were fully represented at the meeting by two members of the Aston Villa Disable Supporters Association who always give good input.

  10. When you have been to 15 aways and cannot get an Albion away ticket in the playoffs and you see people walking up the street to the ground who you know have been to very few aways then you know something is amiss. A lot of resales were going on last season and will continue again if the scheme continues. Let the people with the most away credits, there is little reason to have the scheme in place. In short convenient for the club not so good for the fans. As for random photo checks, your name is not on the ticket so could never work.

    • They just need to change it, that decision to allow to pick games was pathetic and they even went against their own terms and conditions allowing away sth to buy in the criteria…..absolutely stupid….

      Needs to be a min you can cancel like 3 max 4 once you have done that you’re out,

      Maybe don’t include cup games….,

      Last year I had a friend away sth brought three tickets away 2 West Brom, 1 blues…..that’s all they wanted and villa could do nothing about it as it was set up so badly…

  11. I went to every game and was on the Away scheme. I think it is superb. And would pay for it for many many years to come. It should be a CHOICE if we want to pay the club money.

    Away ST £30 – Guaranteed ticket pick your seats. Sell from 23 games purchased till x amount have sold.

    Then leave the rest to high criteria.

    Opening up this closed shop is not a valid argument, by the way, when you openly admit that people on the Away scheme were selling on their tickets to those without enough criteria just for convenience.

    Clearly not a closed shop.

    • In terms of the closed shop/selling on tickets – you have to discuss these matters in terms of what is legal to do. They’ll obviously be attempts at closing the door to reselling tickets. Random photo IDing on away tickets is something that clubs are talking about bringing in next season…

      • And how can they realistically run out he checks. They failed to monitor the scheme by checking games bought so Id checks you have zilch chance.

  12. First season in the Champ I had 3 Away tickets and it was great. I had to attend all, bar 5 games (Norwich on Tuesday night is always a challenge because of work). Having the tickets sent out (I had to send back if I couldn’t make it) was a benefit, especially as I work away a lot and “release day” wasn’t always convenient.

    I’m for an away scheme – convenient and effective from a time perspective.

  13. I think an away scheme is far for loyal supporters.. some people can’t get to a computer or phone in time to book away games but want to go .. the scheme 2 seasons ago worked in my opinion… though I did like they way you could choose your own seat … not all away scheme members sold on their own ticket … how do we know that non members were buying up away tickets just to increase their booking history to get them a better chance of a Birmingham ticket ?

    • There’s definitely an argument for paying for convenience, but the most ‘loyal’ supporter in terms of booking history, would get first choice and to choose their own seat. So is there any real value in paying to be a member? It does remind me of airlines trying to add on extra charges for things that used to be free, but are now suddenly an extra. If there is a scheme there should perhaps be also some extra benefits, even if it’s a token thing like a unique badge and the odd perk.

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