Carabao Cup Final Tickets Newcastle United sale details – A complete and utter shambles
Carabao Cup Final Tickets.
Eddie Howe and his Newcastle United players completed the job on Tuesday night, adding a 2-1 win to the 1-0 away victory at St Mary’s.
A great night at St James’ Park, with owners, management, players and fans all coming together for a very special occasion of common purpose, all that mattered was getting over the line and ensuring a trip to Wembley for a cup final.
The final whistle against Southampton also brought something else to the forefront of everybody’s minds, something not quite so collective and bonding for Newcastle United fans.
Who would and who…wouldn’t, get Carabao Cup Final Tickets.
Thursday brought news of how Newcastle United would do this and down below I have put down my thoughts on what has been put in place.
However, a few things to consider / accept first
Newcastle United have a massive fanbase.
Newcastle United haven’t been to a cup final for 24 years.
Newcastle United haven’t won any trophy for 54 years and not picked up domestic silverware for 68 years.
Newcastle United could have sold their allocation of 32,761 Carabao Cup Final Tickets many times over.
When demand vastly exceeds supply, you are always going to have more people left unhappy (who don’t get Carabao Cup Final Tickets), that people left happy (who do get Carabao Cup Final Tickets).
I never envision a situation where Newcastle United would ever be unable to sell a Carabao / League Cup final allocation out. However, fair to say that if for example, what happened at Man City now happens at Newcastle United, then if say getting to the League Cup final in 2033 after a decade of winning Premier League, getting to finals and winning cups, competing year after year in Europe challenging for the Champions League, then the demand for League Cup final tickets wouldn’t be quite at the level it is for this one. If for no other reason than financial for so many people. Having just been to Bayern Munich in the last round, do you go to Real Madrid or go to the League Cup final?
This is not expectation, just speculating / dreaming. In the last decade, Manchester City have been to Wembley 14 times in the FA Cup (finals and semis) and League Cup. They have also won five Premier League titles, plus competed in the Champions League in all of these last 10 seasons, the last five years they have got at least to the last eight, losing finalists two seasons ago and lost in the semis last year.
Personally, I believe Newcastle United have a much larger fanbase than Manchester City, certainly when it comes to a fanbase wanting to go to matches. So what I am saying is that whilst I do believe Newcastle do have many more fans than say Man City, it is still a fact that if NUFC did copy the success at the Etihad, then there would be a lot more glamorous matches and tickets available, year after year.
That is the very positive part, the potential that cup finals and glamorous Champions League matches, amongst others, could become a regular thing, if everything goes right.
The negative thing at the moment is that with this 2023 Carabao Cup final having so many fans wanting to go, the need to allocate the tickets in the very best possible way, was so so so important.
Sadly, it has proved to be a complete and utter shambles.
Before I get into why I think that, I would like to make ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, that I don’t believe for a second that anybody has done this deliberately. Instead, people have made very bad decisions and simply not thought it properly through.
The information from Newcastle United says that ‘The club sought feedback from Newcastle United Supporters Trust to ensure fairness and transparency.’
Well, whoever has made the decisions and given the advice that has been taken, have clearly made a right hash of it. My suspicion would be that the major failings in it, have been due to not taking into account properly all fans at each stage of when they might (or might not) get a cup final ticket. I’m guessing the fans from NUST giving feedback to ensure ‘fairness’, clearly didn’t include people who are going to be so adversely affected by what has been decided. So haven’t appreciated where this whole process goes so badly wrong for so man fans.
However, again, I would say, I don’t think anybody has done this deliberately AND in many ways it is a thankless task, because whatever way it went, more people are going to be disappointed (especially those who don’t have season tickets and very definitely those who don’t have memberships either, because they have zero chance) than are going to be satisfied. Basically, if you asked every Newcastle fan how tickets should be made available, the overwhelming majority would choose, if given the chance, the route that give them personally the best chance of getting a ticket.
There again though, that makes it then even more vital that those deciding how tickets are allocated, then do it in a way that is seen to be generally accepted as the fairest way possible AND helps those fans who do get tickets, to have the best experience possible when they go to Wembley, INCLUDING also as little stress as possible when going through the process of getting their ticket(s).
As I will explain below, rather than getting that best possible outcome where the overwhelming majority accept that the Carabao Cup Final Tickets, instead it reminds me of the classic episode in Auf Wiedersehen Pet.
In that episode the ex-pat workers want to paint the inside of the hut to brighten it up but can’t agree on which colour to paint it. Up steps Brummie Barry (Timothy Spall), who insists that he has the perfect solution, the rules they used at the West Bromwich and District Sunday Methodist Table Tennis League for deciding things.
The outcome? The vote saw yellow as the winner BUT nobody wanted that colour. The rules Barry had put forward, was for everybody to put their first choice colour and then if it was a tie, the second choices would come into play. It turned out not a single person had chosen yellow as first choice but a majority had put down yellow as second choice, making it the winner.
What happened for previous Newcastle United finals?
Back in the 1990s, Newcastle United were one of the first Premier League clubs to bring in a computerised system when dealing with tickets.
This included introducing ‘loyalty points’, from what I recall you got one point for each away match you attended, as is the case now, however, I’m pretty sure that at least in one or more seasons, you also got a loyalty point for attending home cup matches. Anyway, the more loyalty points you had as a season ticket holder, moved you further up the ladder when it came to desirable matches. For example, in the 1995/96 season when Newcastle United could / should have won the title, Old Trafford was getting partly rebuilt and expanded, so for that season only, Newcastle fans only got an allocation of 800 tickets for the away PL match at Man Utd. The people with most loyalty points got the tickets.
Moving forward to our last two cup finals, in both 1998 and 1999, Newcastle United were in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
As I say, the club had everybody’s details on computer, ahead of most other clubs, BUT this was done manually at the club. Fans didn’t go online and book / buy / register for tickets or whatever, instead, when you received that season’s season ticket you also got a pad of application forms to use and fill in for away games, which included…cup finals.
The 1998 and 1999 FA Cup finals were once again, not going to satisfy everybody. Particularly as for FA Cup finals you tend to get only around 25,000 tickets for each fanbase, rather than around 33,000 for the League Cup finals.
Anyway, all season ticket holders who wanted to go to those finals, filled in their own application form from their pad. If you wanted to sit with other season ticket holders, you put your application forms all in the same envelope along with a cheque made out to Newcastle United (pretty sure that alternatively you could include your credit / debit card details instead). You also indicated what price ticket(s) you would ideally like.
A deadline was given for forms to be in and once that passed, the club staff then went through all of the applications. So basically, if 25,000 tickets were available, the club staff went through and identified the 25,000 who had the most points. You had to leave the amount blank on your cheque and so if you had applied for four different season ticket holders and sent a cheque to cover all four, if any of them didn’t have the loyalty points to be in the top 25,000, they didn’t get a cup final ticket and the NUFC club staff wrote in the correct amount to cover the number of successful applications.
As you can imagine, this must have been a massive task for the ticket office staff BUT it was universally seen as by far the fairest way to do it. Those who had gathered the most loyalty points got tickets and maybe just as importantly, this laborious process also allowed Newcastle fans who wanted to get seats together to do so. After all, if you were going to see the pinnacle of your Newcastle United supporting life, you wanted to be sharing it with those who are your closest NUFC match mates. Alternatively, if it all went wrong in the final, you would be with the best possible people to share the misery.
That was how things were done 24 and 25 years ago, which brings us to now.
Where it has all gone wrong with how Newcastle United are allocating Carabao Cup Final Tickets
It was a very lengthy email / set of instructions sent out by the club and you can view it HERE, but to explain what I think has gone wrong, these are the key parts of what Newcastle United sent out.
Ticket sales will be split into separate priority periods based on eligibility criteria automatically contained within your club ticketing account.
The club sought feedback from Newcastle United Supporters Trust to ensure fairness and transparency.
Period 1: Season ticket holders with 25+ loyalty points AND have attended at least one Carabao Cup match during the 2022/23 campaign.
Tickets on sale from: Monday, 6th February at 10am (all times GMT)
Ticket sales period closes: Tuesday, 7th February at 8am
Period 2: Season ticket holders that have attended four home and at least one of the away Carabao Cup matches during the 2022/23 campaign.
Tickets on sale from: Tuesday, 7th February at 10am
Ticket sales period closes: Wednesday, 8th February at 8am
Period 3: Season ticket holders that have attended three or four home Carabao Cup matches during the 2022/23 campaign.
Tickets on sale from: Wednesday, 8th February at 10am
Ticket sales period closes: Thursday, 9th February at 8am
Period 4: Season ticket holders that have attended one or two home Carabao Cup matches during the 2022/23 campaign.
Ballot opens: Thursday, 9th February at 10am
Ballot closes: Friday, 10th February at 8am
Successful applications notified by: 5pm on Tuesday, 14th February
Period 5: Season ticket holders that have not attended a Carabao Cup match during the 2022/23 campaign.
Ballot opens: Friday, 10th February at 10am
Ballot closes: Saturday, 11th February at 8am
Successful applications notified by: 5pm on Tuesday, 14th February
Period 6: Members that have attended at least one home Carabao Cup match during the 2022/23 campaign
Ballot opens: Saturday 11 February at 10am
Ballot closes: Sun 12 February at 8am
Successful applications notified by: 5pm on Tuesday, 14th February
Period 7: Supporters with a previous purchase history that have attended at least one home Carabao Cup match during the 2022/23 campaign
Ballot opens: Sunday 12 February at 10am
Ballot closes: Monday 13 February at 8am.
Successful applications notified by: 5pm on Tuesday, 14th February.
Fans who wish to sit together must have linked their online ticketing accounts at book.nufc.co.uk in advance using ‘friends and family’.
A maximum of SIX tickets can be purchased per transaction and all supporters must have the same required level of eligibility and select the same ticket price brand for the transaction to be processed.
Carabao Cup Final Tickets – The Problems
The club’s priority list above, clearly makes loyalty points the very most important thing…for the very first ‘Priority Period’ who can get tickets. You need 25+ loyalty points and have also been to one or more cup match this season.
However, after that, loyalty points are never mentioned again. Why ? If they are the most important thing for the very top category, then why not category two, three, four, five…?? There is no logic to it.
You get to Priority Period 2 and loyalty points are worthless, kind of. Instead it becomes simply if you have attended the cup games this season or not, four home ones and at least one away. This is actually a bit of a nonsense really, because to have got an away ticket for either Tranmere or Southampton, you would have needed 25+ points. In effect really, I think for starters Priority One and Two should have been combined, as very very few fans will be in Two, who aren’t in one. This just makes the whole process far too unnecessarily lengthy and complicated, but more of that to come…
Where it really falls down is this.
You have two fans who go to all the matches together, they have both been to two Carabao Cup home matches this season, but one has 25 loyalty points, the other has 24 loyalty points. Can you see what is going to happen yet…?
The fan with 25 points who has been to two home cup matches can get a ticket straight away.
The fan with 24 points who has been to two home cup matches isn’t even guaranteed a ticket at all.
The punishment / disadvantage of having just one less loyalty point, means you tumble all the way down to Priority four, where there is a ballot and no guarantee of a ticket.
Now as it happens, surely if we have around 33,000 tickets and even if say 10 per cent of them go corporate, sponsors, players and so on, there will still be 30,000 tickets or so to go around, with the number of season ticket holders not much higher than that figure, if at all, then I am sure that fan (and everybody else) in Priority four WILL get a ticket.
However…this brings us to the next problem.
The club state that to sit together ‘all supporters must have the same required level of eligibility and select the same ticket price brand for the transaction to be processed.’
Back in 1998 and 1999 this was no problem. All season ticket holders applied before the deadline, as I explained above, you applied together in the same envelope with those you wanted to sit with, then all who qualified and had applied for a ticket together, got seats together.
Somehow, 24 / 25 years later, despite all the improved technology and the club having access at a push of a button to every single fan’s individual status, they have managed to make a complete mess of it and in so many cases (thousands and thousands?) made it impossible for fans to get tickets together.
This ridiculous over complicated, far too lengthy process, making it all a nightmare.
Going back to the example of the two best mates separated by just the one loyalty point, what are they supposed to do?
It is all very well me saying I am confident people in Priority four will get tickets but that is just my opinion.
Does the fan with 25 points gamble and instead of buying a seat and sitting by himself (or herself), wait until Priority four is opened up and hope that both he /she and the 24 point friend get tickets together?
This then leads into another major issue.
The information the club have put out is far too lengthy and complicated, plus it actually, despite all the words used, doesn’t make very important things clear.
One of those is if say somebody who qualifies in Priority one doesn’t apply when that category opens up. Can they then later apply when Category two, three, four, five open up, when / if they also meet that criteria?
As in the case of our two friends on 24 and 25 points, if Priority one waits for his Priority four friend, can he / she still apply?
Logic would say yes…but nowhere, not that I can see anyway, does it say explicitly that this is the case.
Indeed, this leads me on to another issue.
Not being ageist but…fair to say that the older people are, then as a generalisation, the less capable they are with technology. As compared to those who have grown up knowing nothing other than computers etc.
Also, fair to say that a lot of season ticket holders are on the older side at Newcastle United.
So, for starters, all of the applying for tickets is done online. Then on top of that, the club have made it just massively over-complicated and I think a fair few people, not just those with more ‘experience’, will have looked at Thursday’s information and thought stuff this. Before even getting to the expense of going to Wembley, having to solve the Da Vinci Code (Krypton Factor, Crystal Maze, whatever) just to try and get a ticket or tickets, is just not worth it.
I have been made aware of a classic example that brings together many strands above into sharp focus.
Three fans have gone together to matches for over thirty years, sitting together at St James’ Park, going to some away games together as well.
Two of them have 25+ points and have gone to one home cup game, they can get tickets straight away in Priority one.
The third person has exactly the same criteria but only 24 points, so can’t apply until the ballot in Priority four.
This third person also has health issues that have recently accelerated sadly, which means they will only be able to go to Wembley, if getting tickets with the two friends who are Priority one.
This is where it gets really really crazy and unnecessarily so, as the club have put these, some of their very most loyal longstanding fans (and this situation will be far from unique), in an impossible position.
Do the two fans risk missing out on Newcastle’s first cup final in 24 years and potentially miss seeing in the flesh the first NUFC trophy in 54 years, by waiting until their vulnerable friend can go with them?
Or, do they take the guaranteed two tickets during Priority one and effectively (as there is no way they can get their friend a ticket next to them if he / she is eventually successful) sentence their 30+ years friend to watching it on TV? (I am not going to get into exact details but it is a case where all three would need to sit together, as both friends would be needed to support the now vulnerable friend).
If there are tickets still left for the members ballot that would happen in Priority six, what will happen makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
For starters, members could have bought and gone to all 10 Premier League home games this season an yet that counts for nothing.
Then on top of that, whereas in the season ticket Priority periods you have it based on a declining number of home cup games attended, when it comes to members, the one who has gone to just the Southampton semi-final home leg, is treated the same as someone who went all four – against Palace, Bournemouth, Leicester and Southampton.
It is simply bizarre, there is zero logic.
Problem / Solution Seven
The thing is with the problem I have just highlighted, it is no extra work for the club to at that Priority six stage to make it that those who have been to four, three, two and one home cup games are treated in order. It is all able to be done at a touch of a button on their computerised system. Everybody applies and the computer system puts them in order in a nanosecond.
Problem /Solution Eight
The whole design of the process appears to have been about allowing those at the top end to be able to pick the best seats. I get that, if you have a choice on this first time in 24 years, then if at all possible you want to be in the best available seat.
Again though, by the power of technology that could still have been done, but at the same time allowing all season ticket holders to apply together, as it was back in 1998 and 1999. The club simply allowing those with higher criteria to pick seats first, once more using the technology to sort this all at a touch of a button.
Problem / Solution Nine
When the final whistle blew on Tuesday night, there were 26 days until the final.
When you look at the club info above, many fans won’t find out until 12 days before the final (14 February – Kevin Keegan’s 72nd birthday!) whether they have or haven’t got a ticket.
The mass descent on London by tens of thousands of Geordies is always going to be a major effort BUT people need to have as much notice as possible.
Every day that goes by, options and prices for travel and accommodation will get worse.
Plus we are also back to the issue of going with your match mates. If you all want to go together, you have no alternative but to wait until the last in line finds out if they have a ticket or not. Or you gamble. Not all people can afford to gamble, especially when these days so many people are under so much financial pressure anyway.
I can’t get my head around as to why the club have spread this ticket process across two weeks, with all these different times / days that different categories of fans can apply for a ticket. When they could have allowed all to apply at the same time, then arrange from there.
Problem / Solution Ten
Yet again, this could all have been avoided.
By simply allowing all season ticket holders to apply by a certain deadline, then the same with members.
Then let everybody know at the same time.
Those who want to sit (and travel, stay) together are taken care of, whilst at the same time letting those with the best criteria get the choice of the best seats.
Problem / Solution Eleven
If the club were going to use a mixture of loyalty points AND attendance at Carabao Cup games this season. Then the only logical way to use this would have been to use both things at every stage of selling to season ticket holders. They could have done this by (just for the purposes of this distribution of Carabao Cup Final Tickets) allocating a point (or points) for each Carabao Cup game attended, then adding to any loyalty points total. This would then have prevented such savage differences, as evidenced by the example quoted above of having 24 or 25 loyalty points. To use loyalty points at only one stage but not the others is clearly inequitable.
Apologies for this VERY lengthy article but I thought it was important to explain properly, exactly why, in my opinion, this has ended up a complete and utter shambles.
Also, it is very easy to just criticise others for what they have / haven’t done, we are all guilty of that.
So if you are going to criticise how Carabao Cup Final Tickets are being allocated and the sales process, then you should also be explaining how it could / should have been done better.
I am guessing that it is too late for the club to rethink this and put right a lot of the mistakes that have been made BUT I hope that isn’t the case.
In these days of everything done online and the fact that Newcastle United now have that computerised database showing what position every fan is in, if registered to buy tickets (in general, not just specifically for these Carabao Cup Final Tickets), whether a season ticket holder, a member, or a non-member.
Then things could be changed quickly in how they are going to be selling / allocating these cup final tickets, as opposed to back in the day ticket office staff having 30,000+ paper application forms that they may then have to rearrange etc!
I hope those at Newcastle United do reconsider and if the will is there, they can do it.
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