After reading tales of woe in the aftermath of the scrum for tickets today, it’s made me question whether or not Forest have really got a sensible plan for games like this – and the answer, on first inspection, would have to be a resounding no! The worst thing I’ve heard is the amount of tickets that have gone to Forest staff (4 per staff member is the rumour quoted – totally unsubstantiated, but there you go), and the apparent 900 odd tickets going to Capital One, the club sponsor. (again, totally unsubstantiated).
That of course eats into how many are available to sell – now, this is where the club started well – away season ticket holders and away members were prioritised, quite rightly – then they instigated a “5+ away games” filter – again, I approve of this – if it works. However, I’ve spoken to people who have definitely been to more than five, more than ten in some cases – but upon checking with the ticket office have an incomplete ‘record’ logged against their Client Reference Code – despite quoting this when ordering.
Then of course the general scrum for season ticket holders – with the added twist that, ever keen to make a fast buck, Forest were prepared to still allow people to join the ‘away member’ scheme for £30, and still get a Chelsea ticket. Now that to me is cynical – I heard about it last week but didn’t report it as I didn’t want to publicise it. Forest then posted a message on their website compelling people to use the website, and not to queue up in person.
I’ve yet to hear of anyone who has successfully bought tickets online for the Chelsea game – but plenty who followed the clubs advice and tried. Of course, by the time it had buggered up and they tried to phone, the phonelines were very busy. In a way this is a blessing, because worse still for anyone who arrived much after 6:00am at the City Ground was that despite a solid 5-6 hours of freezing, they weren’t to get a ticket. At no point when I was there were any fans warned/turned away when it was quite obvious they had no chance at all of a ticket.
So, we have people who queued up from the early hours with no ticket, and we have people who’ve phoned up or gone online and struck lucky from the comfort of their home with tickets. We have unconfirmed numbers of corporate complimentary tickets – and we have at least a thousand or so very unhappy fans. And something tells me that Forest don’t really care that much about this, because at the end of the day, they have the cash now – and a few bonus £30’s for the away member loophole to boot!
Now, where supply is less than demand you can’t please all of the people all of the time, however – whilst Forest got some elements of their strategy right for this, some of it I think they dropped the metaphorical bollock bigtime, and let down a large number of their long suffering supporters. Of course, I am writing this lucky enough to have arbitrarily picked the right time to secure a ticket – which perhaps takes the passion out of what I’m saying as of course I’m delighted I’ll be attending the game.
But here is what I would prescribe as the most sensible way of going about things should a match like this occur in the future:
- Away season ticket holders & members first – this is a no-brainer, but membership to these schemes should have a cut-off date close to the start of the season.
- Minimal corporate or employee freebies - I imagine Forest have to supply Capital One with some tickets as part of the sponsorship – but if it’s true we gave ‘em 900 out of 6,300 then that’s far too many. If it’s true employees had the option of four tickets each, that’s far too many.
- 5+ Away game season ticket holders – or whatever number is appropriate – I like the idea of this system, IF the records on the computer system are correct – and they’re not. Remember folks, when you buy an away ticket – even on general sale – force them to record your client reference number. Failing that, keep your ticket stubs – it could be worth an appeal.
- Season ticket holders – at this point, I would restrict phone and internet orders to season ticket holders with an address registered a sizable distance from Nottingham – 30 miles? 50 miles? Unsure. ID should be provided when buying a season ticket to make the records accurate. Anyone in close proximity to Nottingham should be dealt with first-come first served in a queueing system. Potentially you could limit the number of tickets collectable per person to enable the club to better predict how many tickets there are to go around the queue.
- General sale – never likely to be an issue in a game like this, but again, first come first served would be the order of the day.
It seems like common sense to me, and it seems like Forest have cocked up on a number of fronts. When I read the encouragement to order online I didn’t trust the Forest ticket booking system enough to risk it, so queued anyway – I feel really sorry for those fans who did trust the system and missed out. So take note, Forest – some elements of your ticket distribution are decent and fair – but you let a lot of people down over the Chelsea ticket saga, and the sad thing is, as an entity I don’t think you really care so long as you have the money.
I do concede that the freebie element of my criticism is born of gossip picked up whilst queueing, so I have absolutely no idea of the validity of these claims – I certainly suspect the Capital One freebies is an exaggeration! But even if these numbers were more reasonable, the rest of my argument still stands – as I noted in my last post, for a person 500 yards away from the ground in bed on the phone to be able to attain tickets ahead of somebody who drove to Nottingham from afar to queue is surely not right?
Anyway, what do you think?
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