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Que Saha Saha

Robert Elstone, 20th March 2009 - 14:48

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Robert Elstone

Robert Elstone

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Robert is Everton's Chief Executive.

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Que Saha Saha

Setting the rules on the ‘right to buy’ FA Cup semi-final tickets has been keeping us busy all this week.

It didn’t come as a surprise to any of us but demand will clearly outstrip supply and the list of legitimate claimants, on the most sought-after tickets we’ve had for some time, gets longer every day.
 
As we explained with some of our away European fixtures earlier this season and in 2007/08, the number of deserving claims to any scarce ticket is huge.

Of course, ‘deserving’ is subjective but have a think about the following and understand the challenge we face; how would you prioritise our 25,000 or so season ticket holders and lounge members who invest millions of pounds before a ball is kicked and come every week; our 70 odd supporters’ clubs who bring thousands of loyal Blues to-gether every week; our thousands of fans who, for whatever reason, don’t fall into the above but regularly visit Goodison Park and our 1,500 shareholders who own the Club?

I could go on, but it is one big job allocating fairly across those groups. I guess, put simply, we’re confident we’ve placed all fans who come and watch the Blues regularly near the top of the queue.

For those supporters who can’t secure a ticket, the game will be shown on free-to-air television. As we all know, like it or not, the Game’s television partners provide us with considerable funds and it’s a measure of the scale and popularity of two great clubs - Everton v Manchester United - that our game will be screened by ITV1 at the prime weekend ‘slot’.  

Kick-off time and venue have both been widely debated and in some quarters, criticised. For all of us probably, bar perhaps the very young, it doesn’t feel right that semi-finals are played at Wembley. Wembley’s mystique is founded on infrequent, hard-earned visits and two teams, not four should have that honour every season.

Of course, it’s easy to take that ‘high ground’, but let’s be true to ourselves, will we say no? Find me a Blue who’s not looking forward to it. It’s going to be a special day and a special day enjoyed by 32,000 Evertonians not the 18,000 or so that might have got a ticket at Eastlands or perhaps even less at Villa Park.

Travel With The Blues

The ‘bonus’ of a Wembley trip and perhaps the 14,000 extra tickets comes at a price. We do recognise that travelling home from London on a Sunday evening will be difficult and accordingly, we’re in the process of reserving a substantial number of official travel packages. The Club recognises its responsibility to its fans and our duty to make traveling home as stress-free as possible.

The group tasked with transport to Wembley set itself the challenge of providing sufficient official tra-vel, at a reasonable price, via rail and coach, for our travelling fans.

The team met earlier this week and set a target number of places to offer – with flexibility to increase that, and began discussions with Thomas Cook, our official travel partner, to secure rail and coach packages to meet that esti-mated demand.  In addition, the Club will also offer a significant number of coach packages ourselves and next Monday, when fans buy semi-final tickets, they will be able to book travel at that point.

Season Tickets

The value of being a Season Ticket holder or a Lounge member at Everton is fairly evident in the above. Quite rightly, on every major allocation challenge, we turn to the Season Ticket holder and the Lounge members first. 

Of course, the semi-final is right in the midst of the new Season Ticket campaign which will stretch our resources and stretch your budgets and that’s why I’m pleased that our season ticket offer for next season is so strong.

In my opinion, it’s the best since I’ve been at the Club and while I was disappointed to receive a pack posted to my home address – our work on our data needs to improve! – it did give me a chance to reflect on the pricing, payment options and the long list of ancillary benefits - besides the great seat, at a discounted price, set out in the Season Ticket pack.
   
As I hope you’re aware we are now on sale, both for renewals and any new season tickets and on Monday, the first day of sale, we sold a staggering, and very encouraging, 700 season tickets - 10 times what we sold on the first day last year. That made us smile and suggests, albeit ‘one day in’, that our offer for 2009/10 has been well-received.
 
I spoke at our Mid-Cheshire supporters’ club visit last week about the importance of maintaining and growing the Season Ticket base. Funds from season tickets account for a substantial part of our budget, at a key time of the year and it’s so important we hit target. And our target gets higher and higher each season; it has to, not just to raise funds but to keep setting our bar higher – placing high-er demands on our team; nil satis! 

To reach that target, we need to be accessible, responsive and ‘easy to buy from’; our payment options need to work, our online ticketing needs to stand up, our staff need to offer great service.  If we fail on any of that, please let us know.

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