Are loyalty points all they are cracked up to be?
Interesting tale from Brighton this week, condemning their own supporters for buying tickets for an away match.
Or rather, buying tickets for an away game with no intention of using them.
Like Newcastle, Brighton use a loyalty points system to prioritise which fans get tickets for popular away matches. Every away game you go to, you get an extra loyalty point on your total.
Wednesday night saw Brighton sell just over 1,200 tickets for the League Cup match at Bournemouth but only around 600 bothered going to the game. With prices of ‘only’ £10 for an adult and £3 for those under 21, Brighton fans thought it was simply a decent price to buy a loyalty point, with no intention of going to the game.
Back in the day, the idea of having to buy a ticket in advance of a game was rare enough, never mind buying one weeks ahead of a match with no intention of using it.
In the 1970s, for big away matches that were all ticket (almost exclusively cup games), you had a more ‘Blue Peter’ approach, long before computers arrived in our lives.
A sheet was included in early season match programmes and the idea was that throughout the season, you continued to buy the programme and a numbered token was printed, which you then used scissors to cut out and stick to the aforementioned sheet.
If a big game then came around, you stood in a queue at the ticket office and when you got to the front you paid your money and had your tokens stamped (so they couldn’t be used by somebody else), then you were handed a ticket.
Having to miss half a day of school or work was par for the course.
The equivalent back in the 70s of buying match tickets with no intention of using them, was if Newcastle surprised you with a cup run, you could make your way around to the old supporters club shop at the Haymarket, with the hope of buying up programmes from earlier that season.
In general, back in the days before the Premier League, the fairest way to divide tickets was seen to be who was prepared to get up the earliest and queue the longest.
The final death knell for that at Newcastle was the away FA Cup 4th round match at Blackburn in February 1993, soon to be promoted NUFC led by Kevin Keegan.
Tickets were to go on sale one midweek morning and by 10.30pm the previous night, thousands were already in a massive queue around St James Park.
When the pubs chucked out there was people pushing in and tempers rising, the end result being total chaos and a crush right along Strawberry place, the old gates were opened in the early hours after ticket office staff were called from their beds – the charge up the old car park was desperate and every man/woman for themselves.
From then on, ticket allocation became a matter of applying by post before then the loyalty/computerised system we see now.
It may have been all a bit mad and of course there still wasn’t enough tickets to go around for big matches, but we didn’t buy match tickets back in the day with no intention of using them, as has happened with Brighton this time and as you see with Arsenal fans every match at the Emirates.
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