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Opinion

An interesting Newcastle United fan challenge – As I tried to buy a ticket in the Blackburn home sections

3 weeks ago
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As a Newcastle United fan, it has been challenging acquiring tickets this season.

With an uncapped membership scheme and the new ballot system, it is impossible to know how many fans are jostling for how many match by match home tickets.

The ballot system is certainly fairer but at least when you had to jump in a queue, if you saw you were number 18,000, you quickly realised it wasn’t going to be your day.

It’s the hope that kills you now. Checking your online banking from about midday until midnight hoping to see the price of a ticket deducted from your account.

I managed nine home games last season. So far, I am on three, with several failed ballot attempts behind me. I’m back in the Wolves ballot and hoping for my first trip to St James’ since we beat Man Utd on December 2nd.

However, a few days before that we have a fifth round clash at Ewood Park.

I’ve personally never been to Ewood Park and with it being a historic ground, I quite fancy the idea of popping there for the FA Cup tie.

I’d be travelling from the south so I could stop at Ewood, hopefully cheer us into the quarter finals (and a home draw, probably, maybe, possibly not) and then carry on up to Newcastle to spend the tail end of the week before watching us against Wolves.

Over the weekend I decided to check in the likeliness of acquiring tickets as a Newcastle United fan in one of the home sections at Ewood.

First, I checked tickets for their game against Stoke, next weekend. Still loads on sale.

Then I started going through the attendances so far this season. The highest I could find was a December clash with Leeds when 20,963 attended. A mere 66% of the total capacity.

Even when they played Man United in the 16/17 FA Cup 5th round, they only mustered 23,130.

In the last decade they haven’t filled their stadium at all and have only exceeded a 20k capacity once or twice a season. Their best league showing was 27,600 against Oxford United in 17/18, which was a promotion party, having already qualified in second place for a return to the Championship. It was also a game that could have seen them clench the title had Wigan lost their final game.

Their best ever showing in the last decade was an FA Cup quarter final against Liverpool, in 2015, which saw 28,415 attend.

This article isn’t designed to slate Blackburn’s support. They’ve been in the doldrums for a long time. It was more to highlight that should you not be one of the lucky 7,000 to get tickets for the official away end, sidling into the home quarters should be easy… right? Wrong!

I went on today to grab a ticket in a home section but had to register. Once I was all signed up I tried to secure the ticket, but a message came up, saying that newly registered individuals couldn’t buy tickets. I emptied my basket and attempted to buy a ticket for the Stoke game. No messages came up with that one.

I had a dig through the site and an article was released this morning, saying that tickets are on sale for the NUFC match to individuals that were registered prior to the 28th of January.

I had a quick play with hospitality to see if that was an option but a message stated that the price selected couldn’t be found, so maybe they aren’t on sale yet? Unless they’d sold out within twenty minutes of going on sale.

Looks like they are anticipating (correctly?) a surge of Newcastle fans attempting to get into this game. Time will tell whether they open up sales to individuals that registered later than the 28th of Jan.

My advice would be to get yourself registered early, in case the rules change nearer the time. If you have a friend with a Blackburn registration, tap up that resource. This rule could be the reason Blackburn didn’t sell out in their other big FA Cup ties against Liverpool and Man Utd.

You’d think they’d jump at the chance of selling out their stadium for the only time in the last decade!

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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