Membership schemes have been a topical subject for several clubs. Supporter groups have heavily criticised these schemes accusing clubs of cashing in on their loyalty.
As for our ‘away scheme,’ it was clear from elements of it that it had issues, particularly in how it was open to abuse. For members wishing to attend away games with their families, it was unnecessary with many priced out. Though the scheme wasn’t mandatory and supporters could still purchase away tickets based on their booking history.
Access to tickets must be based on fairness, rather than a one-off entry fee, whilst striking a sensible balance between the loyalty of existing fans and allowing new supporters to also acquire tickets. We recognise that there isn’t a perfect system and some supporters preferred paying for the convenience to have priority access.
The scheme amongst other ticketing issues was discussed in depth at the Away Fans Consultation Group last month. Below are the minutes.
Away Consultation Meeting Minutes – Thursday 20th June 2019
Attendees: Dan Walker (AVFC), Lee Preece (AVFC), Lynne O’Reardon (AVFC), Nathan
Thurman (AVFC), Anne Edwards, Anton Cuscito, David Michael, Joanne McKibbens,
John Holder, Jonathan Knibb, Mark McFarland, Mo Razzaq, PC Stuart Bladen, Steve
Gough, Thomas Cole
Apologies: John Perks, Max Stokes
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.
Shrewsbury – Up to 3,000 tickets if required
• £10 Adults, £5 U24/O65/U18/Student, U12 FREE, £5 Disabled – On
sale from Monday 24th June 5pm Online
Walsall – Up to 3,000 tickets if required
• £12 Adults/U22, U18/O60 £6, Family ticket £15 – On sale from Monday
24th June 5pm Online
Charlton – Up to 3,000 tickets if required
• £15 Adult, £10 O65/U21, £5 U11 – Likely to be on sale from 2nd July
which is when Charlton are due to go on sale
RB Leipzig – 10 Euros per tickets – Likely to be on sale from 2nd July subject
to agreeing the process of selling the tickets
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.
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, 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.
It was put to the club that the membership is not really required and if away tickets sales were
based purely on loyalty the club would still be able to guarantee certain groups of supporters’
tickets who had relevant criteria.
Due to the allocation at Bournemouth, the possibility of this match being excluded from the
membership was proposed. This match could then be based purely on criteria and only those
that have attended.
The club suggested that we could incorporate a ballot system for a small amount of tickets (50
was mentioned) to ensure that fans who might not be able to access tickets to away matches
could have an opportunity to do so. Feedback from the group was that loyalty is the key factor
when allocating away tickets and that it didn’t seem fair that fans who did not have the required
history would have the opportunity to get tickets via a ballot despite it being a small number of
Concerns over Bournemouth tickets allocation and the fairness of these tickets being
distributed to fans. Especially if the scheme was to run as suggested as they group felt that
tickets would not be available for those not in the membership, but they would have still
attended the majority or every away match.
While the group were keen to seek a resolution at the meeting, it was agreed that the group
would reflect on what has been discussed and once the minutes have been circulated,
feedback to the club. The club will then gather all feedback and decide based on this.
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
• Not having an Away Season Ticket Membership and basing all away ticket sales on
loyalty at previous matches.
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.
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.
The club advised that the Claret and Cub memberships will be made available for sale for the
forthcoming season and details are to be confirmed in due course.
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.