Last week MOMS on the behalf of the Fans Consultancy Group, along with Lion Club’s Heads and away Villa fans (John Holder, Mark McFarland, Steve Todd, Anthony Willis & Steve Gough) participated in the second away ticket consultation meeting with Nicola Keye and Lee Preece of the club. Please find an overview of the issues discussed below…
Before we get into the details of the meeting, here’s a look at the away attendances for the first weekend of the Championship season:
Now, it can’t be taken as gospel that there were 7,000 Newcastle fans at Fulham, as the above asterisk indicates, the Toon Army’s initial allocation was 2750. Was the mixed zone 100% all Newcastle fans? It’s hard to confirm. Anyway, the good news is they only paid £25, so hopefully that will apply for Villa away fans too when we visit next year in April.
The Away Ticket Consultancy Meeting
Essentially the meeting continued on from the first meeting of highlighting the issues of concern and discussing ways of improving things. Sheffield Wednesday’s awkward drip feed of the away ticket allocation was explained. Initially, 3,200 had been expected from the off, but just 2000 were offered up, before a final 4000+ was issued at short notice.
Lets just say it wasn’t Villa’s fault, and if they had known the full allocation from the outset, the sale of tickets could have been planned more smoothly. There might have even been potential for a subsidy too from the club, but the staggered nature of release and late additional tickets, meant that it ultimately couldn’t be considered.
Potential Upcoming Future Away Allocations
- Bristol City 2,500+ (£30)
- Ipswich Town 2,089 (£32.50)
- Barnsley could be 5,700
- Preston North End could be 5,500
Reciprocal Deals Update
Currently no reciprocal deals on away ticket prices have been struck yet, although the club did indicate a willingness to match Reading’s £20 offer. MOMS also passed on some intel that Newcastle were open to doing a reciprocal deal.
The allocation for Burton Albion was queried – too early to confirm but the club is in contact and monitoring their situation.
In relation to Blues away, it was raised that other clubs involved in certain matches had arranged coach travel as being the only way fans could access matches, and would this be a possibility for Blues as a means of maintaining order. It is highly unlikely this would happen which was welcomed by the group.
Booking Tickets Issues
- A frustration that had been raised to the group by many fans concerned the request (when calling the ticket office) for email / phone information at the beginning of the call. The club confirmed this practice had stopped three days ago previous to the meeting, as it recognised the time being lost with calls waiting.
- A query was raised in relation to on the day sales – if we did not sell out would a club sell on the day? The clubs preference would be to ensure all sales are transacted via the ticket office in advance. There are a number of risks involved in selling on the day. For example, there is no control on the numbers who may attend, and on the day sales also offer those subject to banning orders etc an opportunity to discredit the clubs reputation on the road.
- With regards to sales criteria, the question was asked if we know that everyone with three or more matches on their booking history, why don’t we go on sale for everyone that qualifies as opposed to selling in tranches. The club explained we know exactly how many fans qualify for each tranche, and by staggering the sale it helps us manage the numbers who can purchase on any one day to give those that qualify the best opportunity we can to use the e-ticketing or call to purchase, and for us to help them if any queries or issues arise.
On-line Ticketing Issues
- The next discussion was around on-line ticketing, and using on-line to help the club cope with the sale of larger away allocations.
- The club is aware of a number of issues with the on-line ticketing platform, particularly for those looking to book larger groups. It was noted that not everyone had encountered problems with the system and it was working well. There have been more issues the club is working on since the last upgrade. It was suggested that video tutorials on how to book could be useful. It was also suggested that out of hours exclusive booking windows may help ease demand.
- The majority of internet use is before work and during the evenings, so perhaps having exclusive on-line booking windows for certain criteria would be a good way forward. The exclusive on-line windows raised concerns on account of some of the issues being encountered at present. A further concern was raised that exclusive on-line windows may prejudice those without PC access, particularly when nearing sell outs. It was also suggested that if the club is looking to use on-line sales to help cope with demand, then the removal of booking fees would be a good incentive.
- On the e-ticket information page, it was asked if the option to filter between home or away ticketing appeared on the 1st The club agreed this will be looked at.
Disabled Away Supporter Issues
- First issue raised was concerning disabled supporters and those in the disabled ticket away scheme. There are two matches this season (QPR & Fulham) where the allocation of tickets does not meet the number in the scheme. It has been suggested a ballot would take place to see who gets to go, and the question was asked if it would be fairer to allocate based on the number of games attended and / or those that have sent back the fewest returns. The club felt this would be fairer and will investigate accordingly.
- The club was also asked to look in to the provision of free travel for personal assistants on coaches (to be in line with ticket policies). Again, the club agreed to look in to this.
- It was suggested that there should be disabled supporter representation at these meetings. The club will ensure this happens, and will see if anyone in the away scheme would be prepared to represent the interests of disabled fans who travel away.
The group discussed the conduct of our fans on the road, and how this will be a key element of our continuing to receive larger allocations from clubs throughout the season.
Basically, the equation is – a reputation for trouble may result in lower future allocations.
Whilst we want the loudest and most vocal away following in the league, it is important that Villans on away days respect the facilities and the personnel on duty at stadia.
If you have any issues regarding away tickets or away games, please drop us a line at [email protected] or reach out on social media.