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Our Ticketing Dilemmas

Robert Elstone, 2nd December 2010 - 15:59

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Robert Elstone

Robert Elstone

Posts: 38

Robert is Everton's Chief Executive.

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Ticket Policies and Challenges

For me, and I'm sure for all of us, there are few better sights in football than Goodison Park packed to the rafters, and that's why, every day, the focus of so many people at the Club is to ensure every game is as close to a sell-out as possible.

But, while selling the tickets for home games is top of our list, the selling process for away matches generates a significant workload, and often a few headaches, for our Fan Centre team. Specifically, our games at Scunthorpe United and Chelsea have presented us with difficult challenges.

Chelsea away

As you may know, all visiting clubs are entitled to receive an allocation of tickets for their supporters for Premier League games. Under the current Premier League guidelines, clubs are required to offer a minimum of 3,000 tickets or, if the stadium is less than 30,000, ten per cent of capacity to the visiting supporters.  As fans will have seen, certain clubs, those with spare capacity, often offer us more, constrained only by local safety factors.

When Everton go on the road, whether it's West Ham or Sunderland, we always enjoy great support - one of the best travelling supporter groups in the League.  Our priority is always to secure the allocation we need.  Our problem is that certain clubs only offer full allocations - the 3,000, if we commit to buying all of those tickets.  They can segregate their stadia to accommodate guaranteed home sales and don't wish to take the risk of unsold seats, a risk they pass on to us. We have to decide whether we are certain we'll sell 3,000. If we fall short, we fund the balance, a balance that could be tens of thousands of pounds.

How do we decide whether we can sell the 3,000?  There are a number of factors for us to consider; from the opposition, to kick-off times, to previous years' records.  We've tracked away sales for a number of seasons and feel confident we can anticipate demand.   Taking into account all of this, we make our decision.

This challenge is illustrated by our visits to Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. On both occasions, we had the option to take the full allocation of 3,000 by committing to the full purchase.  Our estimate of demand, based on past records, was a need for between 2,000 and 2,500 tickets (of course, we take account of previous restrictions in capacity when we make our assessments) and in these circumstances, we could be face with a bill of up to £50,000. 

Almost as frustrating for us as it is for you, for Chelsea, on Saturday, we're about 200 to 300 tickets short.  It gives us no pleasure at all to see loyal fans missing out but when we're stuck with inflexibility on the part of the host club, it's something we have to occasionally face up to.

Scunthorpe United

Cup football presents us with a slightly different challenge . When we sell the tickets for the away Premier League games we allocate to the supporters who have attended the most away games and spread the sales periods to ensure we can provide the best levels of customer service and spare supporters the frustration of lengthy queues and waiting times.  

We do, however, adopt a slightly different approach for the cup competitions and for three seasons now have been operating an AutoCup scheme for each of the two domestic cup competitions, home and away, and for European home games when we qualify. For away ties in the domestic cup competitions, season ticket holders who are signed up to ‘AutoCup' are given priority.

The scheme - its conditions and benefits, is communicated each year during the season ticket sales period, though it has been apparent from recent feedback that there are fans unaware of why they should join. We'll commit to ensuring the information is communicated better in the future.  ‘AutoCup' allows us say to all season ticket holders, if you know you definitely want to go to all our away cup matches, accepting any opposition and price, you can sign up and gain priority on your ticket.  For us, that's quite a commitment and show of loyalty, and it's one a great number of supporters have been happy to make.

We know not all of those who regularly travel to away Premier League games want to go to all the Cup games. All supporters relish our annual trips to Old Trafford, The Emirates and The Stadium of Light, some, however, would rather take a weekend off when trips to Glanford Park and Moss Rose come around. I can understand both ways of thinking, and this scheme gives season ticket holders that choice.

The benefits to the supporters who sign up is that they get that peace of mind and avoid the inevitable scramble when a big draw comes around. Even then, it's not guaranteed. As Scunthorpe United will show, when we don't have enough to go round, purchase history will be required alongside AutoCup to ensure fans get a ticket. And that's the perennial problem we face - we have such a tremendous travelling support, that when we get drawn against teams with a small stadium we inevitably have to prepare to manage disappointment. Not something we enjoy, and as I said pre-Wembley 2009, totally at odds with all our hard work trying to sell tickets.  It always feels uncomfortable saying ‘no'.

In all cases, please be assured, we will always try and negotiate as big an allocation as possible and we will always try and prioritise loyal support. Please also be assured that we listen and learn.  If something doesn't work for our fans, we will fix it. Most of all, I know our team is working hard to provide a service of which the supporters of this football club can be proud.

World Cup

Having had one eye on Zurich, and the World Cup bid this morning, I'd like to how proud we all are to see Steve Johnson feature in England's bid submission.  In a very exclusive list of commentators, Steve did his bit to show how football, in England, is socially responsible and extends into all communities. Steve is a hugely respected member of Everton in the Community and, for the past seven years, has helped developed disability football in Liverpool.  With 125 caps for England, he's not a bad player either!

Incredibly, in my opinion, and very sadly, it hasn't helped us win the big prize. Hugely disappointing and a decision that's very hard to understand.

Latest Blogs by Robert Elstone

Kevin WorthingtonI would dearly love to attend 'some' away games. With a family and ensuring their interests are all catered for as well, I cannot attend 'all'. However, I fully accept that those who do should have priority. There is always a way. I went to the opening game at Blackburn, in the home section. I attended the Manchester City game, in the home section. and I attended the Scunthorpe game, in the home section. For these last two I attended on hospitality package (for Blackburn I was lucky and given a 'ticket') Scunthorpe hospitality was excellent for a club of this calibre - cost - £60. Yes its twice the price of a ticket, but if I cannot attend all I will attend those I can and pay a premium, and I am happy about it! So, moral is, where there is a will there is a way.

Friday 11th February 09:29 Report Comment

peter mcgimpseyMR ELSTONE when tickets are allocated by ballot why does this seem to go to pot . i was told not to apply for b/pool but other fans got tickets with less credits doesnt seem right does it not the first time. .

Friday 3rd December 21:39 Report Comment

CRAIG WEILDINGShould do the same selling conditions the away clubs do when they visit our place especially prices.

Friday 3rd December 14:43 Report Comment

Ian Phillipsit seems you have two options for away games. Go to nearly all of them or go to none. Not fair at all on those who can't afford to go to so many

Friday 3rd December 11:41 Report Comment

Ian PhillipsPerhaps the club could consider their fans who live along way away. Spurs and West Ham are my local games, because we took such a small allocation for Spurs I couldn't get a ticket, which now means I'm unlikely to get a ticket for West Ham. So with just 1 away credit this season I won't get tickets for any away games. Thanks Everton

Friday 3rd December 11:39 Report Comment

Im a London based evertonia member and always go to the Chelsea, Tottenham and other London fixtures, but this year tickets seemed to sell out pretty much to Season ticket holders only - Gutted. (Although internet ticketing agencies are still selling everton section tickets from £120+ ) Any chance Everton could find out how many people want to attend the game, and even take a deposit, before telling the likes of Chelsea what allocation we want to take? Rhys

Friday 3rd December 11:01 Report Comment

Mikel ArreguiIt's a great pity for the loyal fans, but if Everton have no security in selling them all I can understand not taking the risk, we don't have so much money as to waste it. Barry's idea is good though. Oh, and we should make Chelsea and other clubs who do this the same they do to us.

Friday 3rd December 10:34 Report Comment

Mike WilliamsWhilst apologetic in tone, the article makes complete sense. Why should the club take a hit of £50k or so just to cater for the 'casual'. Great for the truly committed who go on a regular basis to the away games - their names and details will be available to the club and the stats will back up the true demand. Add some for a contingency - the cost of which is clear - and all seems fair. I'm positive we attach the same conditions for away fans, why wouldn't we? Barry makes a good point, if there is a financial penalty for those who 'demand' a ticket and then do not take it - worth following up.

Friday 3rd December 10:20 Report Comment

Richard ThomsonI dont accept the premise that you think you are short for chelsea by 200/300 short for Chelsea or that you know the demand for somewhere like Tottenham. As a season ticket holder living in the South I like to try and go to games in London (its such a relief not to do the 7 hour round trip!) I would sugget that 9 out of 10 times the tickets are not available. The assumption is based on the demand that you know, and does not take in to account that many of the supporters I know down here don't even bother to check if they can get a ticket as they know they'll be sold out. I think the club completely ignores this requirement at once again shoots itself in the foot as it prevents Fathers taking their kids and encouraging new support from another area other than Merseyside. I find the club very narrow minded on this subject.

Friday 3rd December 09:57 Report Comment

Owen KendrickSo disappointed with this post! I am one of the unlucky '300' who hasn't managed to get a ticket and can not believe you haven't taken full allocation for stamford bridge! I have travelled up from Southampton 3 times this season to see 3 poor performances at Goodison, Wolves, Newcastle and the recent West Brom defeat. It has cost me alot to attend these matches but that is the commitment I make every season to support the club I love! I rarely moan about these sort of things, but here you are moaning about a gamble involving a few hundred quid, yet you are willing to spend 9 million on what seems to be a tarted up cafe?! Isn't it about time you guys started showing the fans the loyalty and support we show you season after season?

Friday 3rd December 09:41 Report Comment

Stuart Yates@ Ian Campbell As Robert mentions in his blog we are '200 to 300' tickets short for the Chelsea game. Are you seriously saying an extra 300 fans is going to make us win at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else for that matter?

Friday 3rd December 00:03 Report Comment

Barry JordanWhy not introduce an auto away league ticket scheme like the auto cup scheme. I have previously asked for an "Away Season ticket". This would help the club knowing who wants to go to all games and would help the fan by not having to apply for tickets every other week (queuing ip or applying by post).

Thursday 2nd December 23:56 Report Comment

dave mattocksam sorry robert but this is a complete joke. Fans that travel across the country week in week out may not get a ticket for scunthrope because they arent in the auto cup scheme, yet fans that go to 2/3 aways games a season can because they are. Its unfair and this need to change for next season

Thursday 2nd December 20:36 Report Comment

Ian CampbellRobert. 1 - These Clubs that do this to us, I take it (and hope) that we do exactly the same to them in return fixture at GP? 2 - The Thousands of pounds you mentioned, surely that has to be worth the gamble, if Everton finish one place higher because of our away support then that brings an extra 500,000 in revenue does it not?

Thursday 2nd December 19:40 Report Comment

Margaret WalchI understand the problem, but Iwish you would make an exception for me!! As a resident in Lincoln, and being elderly, i can't often get to Goodison; I always hear the commentary, and watch the highlights. But this match at Scunthorpe is such an opportunity, being just down the road for me, - I'd love to go

Thursday 2nd December 17:57 Report Comment
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