Kat Law, Co-chair, of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust shares her views on the new ticketing system for games at White Hart Lane next season.
Since the Club announced its home ticketing policy for next season on Tuesday afternoon, social media has been no place for the faint hearted. ‘It’s a farce’. ‘It completely disregards loyalty’. ‘There was nothing wrong with the old system’. ‘If ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’.
It’s fair to say we don’t like change. I get that. As a race, we are incredibly sceptical of anything that challenges the norm. But change is something we, as Spurs fans, will need to tolerate if not embrace over the coming seasons. There are challenging times ahead, starting now.
The closure of the North East corner of White Hart Lane has reduced capacity by 4,000 seats. These 4,000 seats have come out of the pot of tickets available for members. So, from the off, there is a huge squeeze on tickets for both Bronze and Lilywhite members. Roughly 50% of those available last season have now gone.
This creates big problems.
There was already a supply and demand issue at White Hart Lane well before the loss of 4,000 seats, which is a major reason why THFC is building a new stadium. And which is a reason why the Trust campaigned for a larger temporary venue than the 30,000 capacity Stadium MK offered, which would have seen virtually no tickets available for members for an entire season.
There was already a supply and demand issue at White Hart Lane well before the loss of 4,000 seats, which is a major reason why THFC is building a new stadium
Next year is not going to be a year like any other. The final season at White Hart Lane will see ticket demand increase even further. And with significantly fewer available.
‘But the old system worked fine for me. I got every ticket I ever wanted.’
The old system, otherwise known as the Grey Circle of Doom. You may have been one of the lucky ones but the volume of complaints the Trust received after every in-demand match tells a different story.
Confidence in a Ticketmaster platform stretched to capacity had been completely eroded for many. Let’s take the Southampton match, for example. 12,000 members were online when tickets went on sale at 9.30am. That’s bang on 9.30am. Securing tickets depended on how fast your server connected from whatever device you were using. Nothing more. It didn’t take into account the fact you’d had a membership for a decade, had 1,000 loyalty points and had already cleared your diary for that weekend. It was an online lottery.
Now, imagine that system next season for all 19 premier league home games. When half the number of tickets are available. And tell me how that would be fair?
What we now have for Category B and C games next season is an offline ballot. Offline ballot, online lottery. There’s not much difference there, except the ballot allows members the chance to apply at a time that is convenient for them and allows all wanting a ticket equal chance of getting one. So, it’s a fairer system. That’s a fact. A system that allows more fans an equal opportunity is a fairer system.
What we now have for Category B and C games next season is an offline ballot. Offline ballot, online lottery
Of course, the ballot does not take into account ‘loyalty’. Which is why the Trust argued against 18 of the 19 home games next season being allocated this way. We felt strongly that the fans that have been to the most matches in the loyalty point cycle (let’s not get into that right now!) deserved a greater chance of securing a ticket for the last ever North London Derby at The Lane, the last match against the Spammers, the last win against Chelsea. So we pushed for all Category A matches and the last ever match at White Hart Lane to be allocated by loyalty points.
This guarantees those members in the top 4,000 loyalty point bracket tickets at these games next year. Something which was far from guaranteed with the old Grey Circle of Doom.
‘But why couldn’t all games for next season have been run by loyalty points? Surely that’s the fairest way?’ If you’re in that top 4-5,000 then yes. If you’re one of the 66,000+ members outside of that but still paying your membership fee each summer you may think differently. Running all 19 league games by points would have created a closed shop and shut out the vast majority. Something which wasn’t sustainable or fair. And for that reason, this option was never on the table.
The truth is there is no ideal solution. And the truth is that the best solution is usually the solution that suits you best
So, what we have is a system where every member gets an equal bite at the cherry for Category B and C matches and where loyalty is actually rewarded for the biggest home games next season. For the first time.
Moving Champions League matches to Wembley negates this problem for European cup matches, where a minimum of 30,000 members’ seats will be available for the group stage games. Positive news.
There is no argument from me that next season will be challenging. And with the supply and demand ratio as it stands, not every member will be happy. The truth is there is no ideal solution. And the truth is that the best solution is usually the solution that suits you best.
What I can say is the new system is both fair to the wider membership base while recognising the loyalty and commitment of the most frequent match goers.
It’s change. But it’s for one season. Let’s try and give it a go.