The inevitable has happened, has it not? The general uproar about tickets for our FA Cup tie with Everton has kicked off in the wake of news we’re getting 5,521, with 563 of those having restricted views.
There’s been a wave of criticism on social media and the usual outlets, claiming that we’ve been done over as the FA requirement is 15% of the stadium capacity. Everton are rogues, trampling the little man, we’re poor at negotiating, good honest fans will miss out, etc etc. You know the drill by now, think 2016/17 FA Cup run, you know the one, where we took more than our average home attendance to Arsenal but surprisingly the following week 8,400 of those fans couldn’t get time off for Boreham Wood.
A week later still, 3,000 of them were busy for our crucial National League match against Forest Green.
I know I’m sounding like one of those uptight fans already, but I do get angry when stuff like this happens. We’ve got an away game at Crewe on Boxing Day, another at Cambridge on December 29th and yet oddly, neither of those have caused problems due to the allocation and they’re drastically down on that figure of 5,500. Why? Because it isn’t Everton. If you want to see Everton so badly, why not go in their end?
Okay, I’ll chill a little now. I know there’s two or three sides to this argument, but when the club receive criticism for an away allocation that is justifiable and fair, it irks me. There’s problems with how the allocation is being handled too apparently, 80% for ST holders, then a further 20% for My Imps members. After that, if there’s any left they’ll go on general sale. Good luck with that.
The main issue for many isn’t the method of sale, but the allocation. Goodison holders circa 39,572 (according to Wikipedia), which means we should get 5935 as the 15% allocation. We’re getting 400 fewer than that and apparently it is a scandal. Of course, it isn’t really. It’s logistics, the same issue faced at many grounds. Dividing up is easy on paper, but in real terms there’s safety to consider, there’s methods of separation and all sorts. Everton will sell 30,000 as a bare minimum for the game, meaning our allocation is about right. It might not be capacity, but they suffer the same issues with segregation we do. I know there’s many of you out there who don’t understand our segregation policy, or don’t want to, but the fact is this: if clubs could sell 39,572, do you really think they’d say ‘let’s not bother, just to piss fans off’, or ‘we’ll give a full house a miss this time just for shits and giggles’? Of course not, they’re a business, whether that is Everton, Lincoln or Gainsborough, the more tickets they sell the better.
Much comes down to the sense of entitlement between some fans. People think somehow we’re entitled to so many thousand tickets just because we’d take that many, but that isn’t how it works. Some people will miss out on the Everton game, some of those people will miss out despite being there against Crawley earlier in the season. That’s football these days and there’s nothing you, I, Everton or Liam Scully can do about it, as much as we’d like to.
From a purely personal point of view, I do have a small issue with the My Imps allocation. I understand the club want an option for those who cannot commit to every game, but I believe that the full 100% should be available to ST holders, then if there’s any left pass it on to My Imps. Those fans who invest upwards of £300 every year do so for priority tickets and there’s a very real chance that an ST holder could miss out on a ticket to someone who is a My Imps member. Is that fair? In my eyes, as an ST holder, no. However, I guess the club are trying to cater for everyone.
Season tickets clearly aren’t the best option for us .. I’ve only missed one match this season and been to both previous cup matches at SB so I can’t help but feel dismayed at being termed a second class citizen in terms of ticket priority
I mentioned something similar on the podcast last week and it drew a measured response form one of the listeners whom I shall chose to keep anonymous. He messaged me with his current situation and how he felt my views impacted on his matchday experience.
“Just listened to the latest pod and just wanted to pass on my thoughts regarding Everton ticket allowance. I do get what you mean regarding your thoughts on why the priorities are as they are but it’s not always black and white. My own matchdays vary, depending on what else my family are doing- sometimes my wife may have other plans, oldest daughter could be working, youngest at a party etc. Sometimes they just don’t fancy it.
Consequently, sometimes I’m in with the JIC, sometimes in the CO-OP upper, so season tickets clearly aren’t the best option for us- practically or financially. Though I’ve only missed one match this season and been to both previous cup matches at SB so I can’t help but feel dismayed at being termed essentially a second class citizen in terms of ticket priorities (I don’t mean by you!). Having said that, I’m not sure how it could be done differently but as I almost always agree 100% with your musings, I just felt I wanted to tell you this, for what it’s worth- didn’t fancy posting it in either of the groups and coming across as a moaner/ getting lynched.”
Firstly, it is a shame that a genuine discussion point cannot be raised on the usual social media forums for fear of the usual response. As an aside, I believe firmly that if you’re after genuine debate and not smart-arsed comments a proper forum is better, with a log on rather than instant Facebook posts, but that’s my own thought. Anyway, there’s a valid point raised here which does tend to trample a little on my own beliefs.
I can understand the need for such allowances in this instance, but it raises the question of one fan being more important. I, by my reasoning, feel that a ST holder deserves preferential treatment, but I do not believe as an ST holder I am better than the supporter who sent this message. I do believe that in making a financial commitment, one that isn’t small, I and those like me have bought the right on first dibs on important tickets.
The truth is the ST model does not suit me. I’ve sat in my seat on three occasions this season, other than that I’ve been a guest in the executive boxes and once been in the boardroom with the directors. However, I bought an ST knowing this to be the case because I didn’t want to miss out when it came to something like Everton. I gambled and (hopefully) it will pay off. I do suffer though, my partner works in Cambridge and comes to three or four games a season, but she often misses out when she’d love to come along. She won’t be at Everton, obviously, as she doesn’t have an ST. More to the point, why should she come to Everton if she’s only attended six or seven matches, whether that is work related or not?
Football is changing and as a club, we’re changing even faster. Three years ago on the first matchday on the New Year we played away at Halifax, drew 2-2 and took 464 people. Seven days later, 2402 turned up to watch us get beat by Dover. There wasn’t a problem if my partner wanted tickets that day. I could have brought every follower I’d got on Twitter at the time, they could have brought their partners and we’d still be two to a seat. Is that relevant? Of course it is. Less than three years ago (and for the decades prior to that) Lincoln City was accessible, on a Saturday at 1pm you could be in town and decide to go to a game and walk in. Now, unless you’ve made a commitment of some description, My Imps, ST, Junior Imps, whatever, you stand two hopes of getting a ticket. No hope and less hope than that.
So please, when criticising the Everton allowance, do bear in mind that there’s nobody at fault, there’s no conspiracy and there’s other people to consider too. Just because it’s a big game and your mate who is an Everton fan wants to go, it doesn’t mean he (or she, eh Heidi?) can go.
We’ve been given the biggest allocation for the Everton away end since they played Chelsea in the 2016 FA Quarter Final. Think on that.