Ticketing: The issue that won’t go away

With success on the field comes an inevitable interest from lots of different people, and when that success becomes international news, there is always going to be fresh faces and fresh problems for the club to face. Nice problems though, the sort of problems that don’t threaten bankruptcy, closure and relegation. The issues we have around Arsenal tickets is a nice issue to have, unless you’re going to miss out.

Before I start, I’ll clarify that I’m not going to miss out. Having been helped by people for Ipswich (home and away) and Brighton I grabbed the opportunity a final strEight ticket afforded me, and as it turns out it was a wise move. I do understand not everyone has £120 laying around to spend up front, and I understand they feel aggrieved at potentially missing out on the big match.

Firstly, well done to Kevin Cooke for appearing on Facebook live and being honest and upfront about the ‘issues’ surrounding the ticket situation. For those who don’t know Arsenal only allowed us to have 9,000 tickets on the proviso that every sale is traceable, by that they mean there is an audit trail. They want to see where each and every ticket has gone, and the only way they can do that is by Lincoln City selling them to people already on their database. If you bought a final strEight and moaned about how long it took, this is why.

This form of ticket selling isn’t new, at big clubs it is the norm. In the modern world you can’t just turn up at Man United and pay on the turnstile. There are buying clubs, priority lists and the like for each and every game. Ticket touts became a significant problem and the big clubs took steps to negate their threat. Those of you who regularly attend matches of a bigger club will already know this.

The 15% rule doesn’t apply for really big clubs  either. Stadiums over a certain capacity only have to give up to 5,000 tickets to travelling fans. Arsenal kindly agreed to 9,000 as long as the stringent conditions were put in place. The alternative was for Arsenal to give us 5,000, just enough to go around the season ticket and other priority holders. Would we rather have 5,000 fans in the Emirates, or 9,000?

I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to look at this in such an objectionable manner if I were set to miss out, and I imagine for some reading this is not going to make things a great deal easier. Neither Lincoln City, nor Arsenal are doing anything wrong. the big club are not undermining the little club. The little club are not profiteering. Both parties are doing whatever they can within the constraints of the modern game to ensure as many Imps fans as possible get to watch the big match.

I’ve seen a couple of complaints on social media I’d like to address. There’s the parents who have an Arsenal supporting child who wants to go to the game. I’m not pointing at a specific post here, but I’ve seen a couple. Little Jimmy wants to go to watch his local team play his idols, but Dad / Mum aren’t happy because they can’t get him (and one assumes themselves) a ticket for the game. Maybe they’ve been to see Lincoln once or twice this season, maybe not.

Unfortunately sentiment doesn’t play a part in this. There’s a large number of people want to go to the game, not all of them have a sob story or involve children in their complaints. A lot of fans who have followed Lincoln all over the country year after year are struggling for tickets, so why should a kid who doesn’t even support Lincoln get the nod? If he was that big an Arsenal fan perhaps Mummy and Daddy should have signed him up to their supporters database instead?

I’ve also seen some pretty harsh things written about ST holders speculating that they won’t help out fellow fans. I appreciate the post in question was probably written in anger at the possibility of not getting a ticket, but it is grossly unfair. As I mentioned the generosity of an ST holder ensured I got to go to Burnley, and I’d had two or three other offers as well. I had offers from people queuing for the Ipswich and Brighton games too. I firmly believe priority holders will help out other fans where they can. I’d wager a lot of fans are already in possession of their tickets thanks to other people helping them. The Imps family help each other out when they can, but one way to ensure you probably won’t be helped is by going on social media and making derogatory comments about ST holders, final strEight holders and the like.

I’ve also read some fans are contacting the national media to try to highlight the problem. I can assure you this is a ridiculous move. Of course the media will seize on it, look how they seized on the state of the Sutton dressing rooms after Arsenal had been in there. Did they mention to donation Arsenal made to the club? No. By trying to involve the gutter press we’re dragging Lincoln City and Arsenal down needlessly. The Premier League giants have given us 4,000 more tickets than they have to, and remember they have sold out. They didn’t need to fill the upper tier with Lincoln fans, they’ve behaved with dignity and grace. We have agreed to operate under their regulations, and so we should. Where is the story here? Two clubs agree on a ticket strategy but a handful of people miss out? I’m not usually as up front with my opinions, but contacting the national media is absolutely ridiculous, it undermines both clubs and it reflects badly on our fans. Don’t do it.

It is a crying shame that our biggest cup tie ever has attracted such a glut of negativity, especially when nobody is to blame. We’ll take arguably our biggest ever away following to London, bar the play-off finals in Cardiff. It’s a special day, a historic day that as many fans as possible should get to enjoy. I feel for those true fans who cannot afford to purchase advance incentives and therefore miss out, up until the final strEight promotion I was one of you. However, I also understand the need to comply with the rules surrounding the ticket sales, and acknowledge that Arsenal have done what they can to make sure we enjoy our day as much as we possibly can.

I hope that priority ticket holders don’t decide to give their tickets to ‘such and such’ at work who’s little boy likes Arsenal. I hope they look out for genuine fans.

Good luck to those genuine fans hoping to benefit from someone’s priority, I know that as Imps fans we look out for each other.

For the record my final strEight priority affords me two tickets. I have purchased one for myself and one for my partner. I’ll justify this by telling you she has been to twenty or thirty games since we’ve been in the National League. She even did Mrs Poacher once, and in 2017 alone has been three times, and she gave up her Burnley ticket so it could go to a deserving fan instead (Ed Bruntlett, draw winner and Imps fan for over ten years). I shouldn’t have to justify it, but as a fan with a conscience I feel I ought to.


  1. Where were the so called fans last night, all these people going on, there should of been a full house last night with thousands outside, but there wasn’t.

  2. As I’m sat at home off work with a broken toe, I know I won’t be able to go to the Arsenal game and it’s not the fans that irk me the most who support week in week out but the companies who have the tickets to give away to people who like and share their page on Facebook! You did a competition for fans of the club who follow your blog which is fair enough but some of these companies should take a look at themselves and think about what they are doing! I never really got to say thankyou for my ticket (and pass on my thanks to your better half). As you said I’ve been a fan for over ten years if not more and I don’t have the funds to purchase the advanced options due to my 11month old and an upcoming wedding but I’ll be in a pub somewhere in Lincoln cheering on the imps!!!

  3. Good piece. I’m a fan in London and have regularly been to all the southern games over the years and, after my initial frustration at the situation yesterday, I think the club have handled this about as well as they could have done.

    I am lucky to know a friend who is an Arsenal season ticket holder who is giving me his spare for the day. It’ll be bloody tough watching the 9,000 City fans sing their heart out while im surrounded by Gunners, but I’ll be there at the very least – I guess this tempers my disappointment at the announcement yesterday.

    More importantly, off to Aldershot first.

  4. Well said Gary.
    I’ve “followed” the Imps for years, since the days of Big Perce!, my Dad was a big fan, but as I’m not a regular attender at Sincil Bank, I wouldn’t dream of getting a ticket for the Arsenal game. Yes, I’ve entered a few competitions in the hope of getting a ticket for Ed (son).
    I’ll be happily watching on TV getting caught up in the atmosphere with the neighbours!

  5. First let me totally agree with you about season ticket holders and st8 holders, I pay on the turnstiles and go to most games I have been supporting my beloved imps for 50 years,I decided last week to go to the ticket office to ask about the Arsenal tickets I told them about my situation ,not being able to Que for hours due to a stroke basically got told not our problem,I sorry but they don’t give a shit Gary about people in my position, maybe they will when my wife who is fuming takes it further under the disability act Lincoln city are not exempt from this law (she works away in the week and is director of adult social care in Shropshire so knows all about this sort of thing,she is a supporter of the imps as well and goes with me to matches when she can, although I love the club I will back her 100% to stop this happening to others in the same situation as me.

  6. I cannot get tickets my daughter was even planning on flying back from Barcelona for the night. However am a cash on turnstyle supporter, been going when I can since the mid 70s, played for the school boy team, hell I even did a commentary for hospital radio….Gary your article is very well written – although I’m gutted its fair….well done.

  7. Very good read as usual. As an Imp of 40 yrs who use go to all home games and travel away I now live in Chesterfield and only get to a few games these days having got 2 children it is really frustrating at the thought of not getting a ticket . I have bought on line this season and collected from the ticket office but does this mean I am on the club database I am not sure?

    To cap it all my wife is on a course on FA Trophy final day, all I need now is someone to kick me in the proverbials!

  8. Well written, and you’re right of course.
    I’ve been faced with something I’ve never ever come across in almost 40 years of going to Lincoln games and that’s missing out on the ‘big’ games. I had no issue getting a ticket for the game last night but Burnley, Brighton, Ipswich, Arsenal and even North Ferriby away I have not been able to go to.
    Of course I’m gutted to not be able to get a ticket. I’ve supported the team through thick and thin, and like I mentioned, I’ve never missed out in years before, but I do appreciate the club is in a very difficult position.
    If I cannot go then I echo your sentiment and hope genuine fans are being catered for by season ticket holders.

  9. I found your article informative, with particular reference to Arsenal insisting that tickets can be traced; I would suggest that ST holders and others need to be sure who they may be passing tickets to! I live near Telford, which is not a simple journey to and from Lincoln, and have no connection to the city; I picked Lincoln as my ‘second’ team when I was 10 or 11 in the early 1970s and have been attending games for the last 20 years or so. As I get older, I find the drive to Sincil Bank and back tiring, so I choose to go to away games. I enjoy seeing the usual faces on such journeys and have made a couple of Imps friends over the years. However, I’m unlikely to get a ticket for the Emirates, which is frustrating, as I know there will be people attending who seldom, if ever, attend games. But I don’t begrudge anyone this opportunity: it’s understandable. I’m pleased for the players, especially Alan Power and Paul Farman; I’m pleased the club is enjoying some success and attendances are increasing. But I’m heartened that children and young people want to support Lincoln City, not Chelsea or Manchester United. But I wish I was going to the Emitates rather than the Travellers Joy in Horsehay.

  10. Brilliant piece of writing – I have a begging request in with a good mate which may or may not be successful..have booked train and hotel and sorted 2 tickets in the North Bank behind the goal through a mate of a mate who is a member at AFC just in case (100 yards from away fans) so me and my son can be there. Being brutally honest only about 2500 imps can have a good case to be worthy of a ticket and most of them i know have STs etc – even with the surge lately there are at best 7k Imps at league games including them and lots will somehow get to Arsenal once people realise that trains and hotels etc now make it a dear day out and tickets appear – there WILL be profiteers, whining, trolls and idiots …thats how the world is ..

  11. Another well reasoned and written article, there will always be deserving fans who miss out however hard the Club tries, if we get to Wembley hopefully everybody who wants to can go. Not sure todays (Wed) ticket sales was great, I started queing just before 10am and bought tickets at 4-45, 6hrs 45 mins!

  12. As someone who has travelled all over the country supporting Lincoln but lives 200 miles away I’m gutted that I won’t get a sniff of a ticket. I counted 15 of us standing at Welling on a Tuesday in 2015 – where were the thousands that will be at Arsenal instead of me then? Thanks to your blog I understand the constraints the club are under but couldn’t they have put that info on the website too? Gutted…

  13. A very good read and agree with you but do not understand how did the ST holder help you with Burnley when you are a straight eight and was priority for your own Burnley ticket?

  14. “a handful of people miss out” I think you underplay the value of being open to the thousands who happily come to Sincil Bank but only occasionally. There is a cliquey tone if folk that don’t commit to full on season ticket etc. are so easily brushed aside as mere aalso-ran. With a postcode in Lincoln a mortgage in Lincoln a job in Lincoln and a postman who knows me personally and on the electoral role … am I not a true Lincoln fan deserving of a shot at a ticket. Turnstile cash payment every time I go hence no other record at the club – sort out a registration process for bone fide occasional supporters surely it’s worth a shot? Surely. Gas bill? Council tax? Hmrc letter? Please be creative.

    • Unfortunately the handful that come every so often were not coming 2011-14. We struggled to get above 3,000 for years, now we can sell three times that amount? It’s a damned if we do, damned if we don’t scenario. I don’t have an ST but I recognised the need to commit to a final strEight, and I’m glad I did. It may seem unfair but the club need to shift a lot of tickets quickly and I’m afraid priority sales is the best way. The only way. I feel for those who miss out, but I’d wager very few fans who saw us more than twice last season will miss the Emirates

  15. i feel so sorry for those not able to go and only hope they can enjoy a great atmosphere wherever they watch.
    A proud supporter for over 50 years, living in Birmingham and being fortunate enough to have a season ticket for many years.
    Looking forward to ‘the run in’ and no doubt there will be ticket issues again before the end of the season.

  16. For all those panicking it reminds me of petrol crisis’s in the past and all those stupid queues…I dont have a ticket yet but rest assured there will be plenty next week…panic not….then the only thing to worry about will be the £5.75 a pint!!

  17. What a difference a day makes! Last week at Boreham Wood I was saying that although I travelled the country watching Lincoln I didn’t stand a chance of an Arsenal ticket as I live 180 miles away. A guy I’d never met before took my number and has just texted me to say he’s got me a ticket!! I am astonished, amazed, delighted. There truly is an Imps family and I’m proud to be part of it.

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