5TH October 2006
Dear Mr Chairman,
Carling League Cup – Crewe Alexandra FC vs Manchester United in the third round on 25 October 2006 – Sale of tickets
I am writing this letter to voice concerns raised both by members of our committee and by a significant number of fans in connection with the forthcoming fixture against Manchester United.
With a noticeable decline in attendances, and an average gate, over recent games, of less than 5,000, the forthcoming game represented an excellent opportunity to promote the football club in the local community. However, long term gain appears to have been sacrificed on the altar of ‘short-termism`.
With three weeks remaining until the tie, it was somewhat surprising to see tickets go on `general’ sale on Tuesday. However, even more surprising was the lack of anything that might be called a coherent policy.
Ahead of the sale of tickets, season ticket holders, regulars and casuals alike were expressing genuinely held concerns to the ASi that Manchester United fans would have `carte blanche’ to purchase as many tickets, in any part the ground, as they saw fit. Even BBC Radio Stoke was encouraging the general populace of South Cheshire and North Staffordshire to get down to the Alexandra Stadium to purchase tickets on `general sale`
The only discernible policy or strategy associated with the sale of tickets for this fixture would appear to be to get the `sold out’ signs up as early as possible. The time available between the draw being made and the fixture being played lent itself to a much more imaginative, and potentially lucrative, strategy. I should be interested to know, for example, whether anything along the lines of the following approach was considered?
a) Season ticket holders and members (1 ticket each) – until Saturday 7th October;
b) Fans with match ticket stubs from Carlisle and Gillingham (1 ticket each) – Monday 9th – Friday 13th October
c) Any remaining tickets on general sale from Monday 16th October.
It is not unreasonable to posit that an extra phase of ticket sales for fans who attended, and kept ‘match day` stubs for, the back-to-back home games against Carlisle United and Gillingham would have had the inevitable effect of both increasing the ‘gates` for those two league games (thus bringing in much needed extra revenue) and reducing the likelihood that tickets for seats in the South and West Stands might find their way in to the hands of Manchester United fans.
Although the sale of tickets that opened on the morning of Tuesday 3 October was advertised as a ‘general sale`, anecdotal evidence suggests that a “customer number” was required, and that each “customer number” carried an entitlement to purchase four tickets. Notwithstanding the requirement for a customer number, however, there appears to be a significant body of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a sizeable number of Manchester United fans have been, or will have been, enabled to infiltrate the `home’ sections of the ground.
I would remind you that regulation 13 of the Ground Regulations of Crewe Alexandra Football Club state that “Any individual who has entered any part of the ground designated for the use of any group of supporters to which he does not belong may be ejected from the ground either for the purposes of his own safety or for any other reason.”
I should be very grateful for your assurance that both the club and the police are satisfied that everyone will be able to enjoy the game in safety and free from intimidation.
I assume also that the stewards will exercise their power, under the above mentioned regulation 13 of the Ground Regulations, either to remove away supporters from designated ‘home areas` to the North or East Stands or to eject them from the ground.
I also feel bound to mention, in this regard, that I know of a number of supporters who regularly attend home games who have decided to watch the game on television for fear of being, as it were, strangers in their own ground.
I assume that we can rest assured that the club will show a bit more imagination in its ticketing strategy in the event that it progresses further in this competition, or reaches the later rounds of the FA Cup and has the good fortune, once again, to be drawn against Manchester United, or a club of similar stature.
I look forward to your response,
Man Utd Ticket Fiasco
5TH October 2006