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Loyalty Has To Count When Fans Return To Stadiums !
Sunday, 23rd Aug 2020 15:34

There has been much discussion recently about how clubs would ballot for supporters to be present at matches when they are allowed back into stadiums, I feel that loyalty is an important factor and that those that have been to the most games should be given priority.

This is going to be a controversial subject and there are many who would say that no Saints supporter is a better supporter than another, I would agree with that, but I would say that some supporters choose to be more dedicated than others, they prioritise supporting Saints over other aspects of their lives whilst others do not choose to.

Since time immemorial football clubs have used a loyalty based system when it comes to tickets for big games and away games and most supporters accept this as the way to prioritise tickets, whether it is a points based system as it is at some clubs, or like at St Mary's where the pecking order is firstly season ticket holders with a number of away games, then season ticket holder with no away games and then members and finally a general sale to the database.

This system has been used at Southampton Football Club for a number of years ever since records were held on computers and it is a fair system, so if it is good for important cup and away matches, then why should it not apply when there is reduced capacity at stadiums ?

The truth is we only have a small number of fanatical supporters, so the impact would not be great in the big picture, but these supporters live and breathe Saints, years of great support should mean a little more than just an equal chance in a ballot with someone who may just have brought a season ticket for the first time last season and hasn't been to an away game.

There are those out there (I am not one of them ) that have barely missed a match home or away in years decades for some, they could just about take missing the games after the restart because they appreciated that no one was allowed in for good reason, but they would feel let down, kicked in the teeth even by the club they have devoted themselves to, should they find that their support & dedication actually counts for nothing.

Any good business will look after it's best and long standing clients first and football should be no different.

I would say that the majority of supporters will accept that some do deserve to go more than others due to their loyalty, yes there may be a few who can't go to as many away games at present as others, but that is a choice and therefore those who chose to prioritise Saints in their lives should have that recognised.

Indeed at the recent onine fan focus group meeting on the subject, although some felt that it should be an even ballot for all, most felt that loyalty should be rewarded, indeed a prominent member of the Saints online community after admitting that he due to previous commitments he had been a season ticket holder only a short time, he felt strongly that there were many who should be in the stadium before him and admitted he would actually be very upset to be in the ground if he knew that there where those who had been to many more games then him allowed in.

Taking into account what was said at the meeting and that the club is likely to have 10-12,000 spaces and a season ticket holder base of 16,000 who wish to go I recently put the following to the club both at a online meeting and again in e mail.

I suggested two tiers of loyal fans who would be guaranteed entry to all games.

Tier 1 - Those who have season tickets and have been to a certain number of away games, I would suggest a minimum of 6 in the league in the season just gone (given we played only 14 this is a reasonable number) I would think that there would be about 2,000 who would qualify under this, it can be adjusted depending on exact numbers.

Tier 2 - Those who have had a continuous season ticket for 10 years at St Mary's, again the club would know the numbers but I would think they may have around 7,000, however I would also say that most of those in tier 1 would also be in tier 2, so only 5,000 would need to qualify in the tier 2 group.

I would then say both of those in these tiers ie 7,000 in total, would be guaranteed a seat for all the games when fans are allowed to return.

Assuming 12,000 allowed in and again the figures can be adjusted this would mean the remaining 9,000 season ticket holders would be in a ballot for 5,000 tickets per game, this would mean that all would be guaranteed at least 1 game if there were 2 played in this reduced number and that some would see both games.

All in all most supporters would be satisfied with this arrangement, but more to the point the club would be seen as having looked after those who have been the most loyal, no one could argue with that.

I have spoken to a wide number of fans about this and 99% agree that the most loyal fans deserve to be given some sort of priority, to them being at the game is more important in their lives than the rest, again this doesn't make them better supporters, but they are more committed and it should be remembered that although yes some fans are unable to go to away games or have a season ticket for good reasons be it family or financial, this number will be relatively small, we all choose our level of support and in any football club a minority will choose to follow the team away from home regularly, most choose not to.

So when Saints decide how they are going to distribute tickets when St Mary's is allowed to reopen, they should look after those that go further than the rest when attending games, this is what being a football supporters is all about, in the near on 50 years I have been going that is how you are judged as a supporter, by the number of games you go to.

For those who want to find out what was said in that meeting then I have provided a link to a public site for the London Saints Supporters Club below , they took notes and have published them online, all comments are those of LSSC and not of the Ugly Inside or myself.

https://www.londonsaints.com/2020/08/15/corona-virus-club-supporters-meeting/

Photo: Action Images



Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.



the_saint added 16:39 - Aug 23
No system is fair I have mates who are not season ticket holders who go to most away games as they use season ticket holders who don't go away, i know people who have never been to home or away but got pompey tickets, I know a man that don't even go to football matches but got tickets to the cup final as knew someone that was away so no system works
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the_saint added 16:44 - Aug 23
your two tier would not work either as said I know people who don't go away but let others use their season ticket so why should he have priority over other season ticket holders.
I do go to alot of away games and even I think this is not right
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the_saint added 16:48 - Aug 23
actually I would fall into this category as you would nick so shall we just look after ourselves and sod the rest of them
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the_saint added 17:06 - Aug 23
seriously though I am a season ticket holder and average about 13 away games per season i am fortunate that I work for myself and I don't work weekends but I still don't think that I should get priority over someone that has work or family commitments or financially cant go to away games
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ItchenNorth added 17:34 - Aug 23
As a season ticket holder for 30+ years, I've just renewed again. However as we get the credit on our account for any game we can not attend (be it because no fans are allowed in the stadium or your name doesn't get pulled in a ballot), I'm not bothered about attending any time soon. To me, the more games I get credit for the better, as the idea of attending with reduced capacity (5000 in a 32000 seat stadium for example), no away fans (all season) is not my idea of football.
3

A1079 added 21:46 - Aug 23
Loyalty. We can all define loyalty in our own way, but over what period do you define it - One season, 2 season, 5, 10, etc etc?
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NewburySaint added 00:11 - Aug 24
In my opinion it should be done on tenure for how many years a person has/people have had a season ticket consecutively, unbroken-it’s unlikely that Saints have supporters that buy season tickets but rarely use them, unlike at bigger clubs, so that should start the ball rolling on finding who is most deserving.

I don’t think away games should come into the equation because we’re not talking about away games, and I am someone that goes to a dozen or so away games per season.
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Soton added 05:02 - Aug 24
It’s clear for the start of the season at least that to see a game live you will need a season ticket, but if the club sells you a season ticket and you are a first time season ticket holder they then can’t really say you probably won’t see any games as you’re new to this! The only fair way a club can sell you their product is that your money buys you a equal share of games as everyone else’s money
1

saintmark1976 added 07:21 - Aug 24
Nick, having renewed two season tickets by phone last week I suspect that you may well be attempting to solve a problem which may well not exist.

The suggestion at the time was just over 8000 season tickets had been renewed. If this figure is correct I don’t imagine that the total at month end will be anyway near doubled to 16000 as you suggest. It may well end up that all season ticket holders will be able to attend. Should this not be the case a bigger problem may be how well the club inform those who can attend individual matches.

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SaintNick added 08:28 - Aug 24
Im a little shocked that some people think that loyalty should count for nothing and it perhaps shows the society we have become, where everyone feels entitled and no one wants to actually work for something and earn it, they want to be able to step out when the going is tough and when good times are back step back in and still have the same rights as those who have stuck with it.

In football your dedication to a club has always been counted in games attended, there was no other measure, people complain about just being treated as customers these days and it is this attitude that allows clubs to do that, but even in supermarkets if you get the loyalty card you have to earn the points, the person who signs up last week doesn't get the same number of points and vouchers as the person who has been going week in week out for years.

The saint, yes perhaps I would fall into this category, but I am far from the top of the list, but if I am looking after myself, then most of those who have not been to the games but are still demanding equal rights are looking after themselves as well and I know which one is the most deserving.

Of course there are those that for one reason or another can't get to away games etc, I have been in that situation myself, but I just had to suck it up, luckily enough it was at a time when there was rarely an issue with more away fans than tickets.

The figures a couple of weeks ago were 8,000, the club estimate 16,000 in total given that usually in the last week there is a rush of 3-4000 renewals.

We are truly the Premier League new age fan now at Saints where everyone is entitled, I'm just glad no one suggested that spending at the club shop should be included in how loyal you are.

Call me old fashioned but yes everyone is equal, but those that go to the most games are the most fanatical and loyal, that is the only way to measure loyalty and yes there will be some who would love to go but cant for one reason or another, but they are a minority and lets be blunt, those that slog up to the likes of Man City for an evening game etc (Not usually me) go to every game and deserve to be in the stadium ahead of those who have never seen the team away from home because of that dedication.

If I miss a game at St Mary's because of a ballot, I can take that, but there are those that havent missed a game, in some cases both home and away in years, decades even it is them I am sticking up for, not those to whom having a season ticket is just something to do and as we have seen, with around 4,000 not renewing at a time when the club needs the support financially they can take it or leave it.
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SalisburySaint added 09:30 - Aug 24
Totally agree with you Nick, particularly about the small group of supporters who’ve not missed a game in years.

Especially those who’ve not even missed preseason friendliest, they should be guaranteed a ticket for every game

Even if you set tickets aside for these groups there would still be plenty of tickets available for other season ticket holders in ballot
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saintmark1976 added 10:43 - Aug 24
Interesting comparison with Everton who according to the fans website Toffee Web have sold 31500 renewed season tickets from a ground capacity of 38000 odd. I wonder what they do differently to us?
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Benali_Saint added 10:51 - Aug 24
I fall in to both tiers, so it would work for me.
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the_saint added 17:00 - Aug 24
Think it should be done on unbroken season tickets years like newbury said, not away games the only people jumping on that bandwagon are the ones who benefit from it.
I would be one of them but as said before some fans just can't make it for work, family and finances and I'm in their corner
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SaintBrock added 15:33 - Aug 26
So Nick, scared you might not get in.

What they should do is sell to the highest bidders when the small numbers of tickets allowed has been revealed.

Maximise profits for the club, sod loyalty. This is a business and the revenue losses from not having 32000 fans attending will be colossal.
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