Tickets, or more specifically the lack of them, seems to be the topic of the day. Most of social media comments seem completely oblivious to the fact we have a vital game at Barrow tomorrow night, everyone is focused on our showcase (and partly irrelevant) clash with Brighton on Saturday.
The last time I commented on tickets I got a few private messages effectively saying ‘you would be pro-club wouldn’t you’. I defended the four tickets per season ticket holder, and I stand by that defence. Looking back perhaps ten per average Joe was a bit excessive, but very few people I know missed out on the replay.
This time around the club offered a priority voucher system, and after one day of season ticket holders queuing that system comes into play. Once again, despite this being only our fourth FA Cup 4th round tie ever, some sections of our ‘support’ are up in arms. I’ve seen words such as ‘farce’ and ‘joke’ bandied about today, although they are outweighed by posts praising the club’s approach. I’m going to (unsurprisingly) add my voice to those supporting the club.
First and foremost, if you are a 100% die hard fan, one who works full time and loves the Imps then you should have bought a season ticket in the summer. I didn’t, many others didn’t but a season ticket does give you first crack at one off matches should we have a cup run. I know the past forty years haven’t really seen massive cup ties, and those who did buy tickets have basically won a 40-1 outside bet this season. Fair play for putting their money where their heart was back in July.
I’m not belittling those who didn’t, by the way. Very few young people have £250 to splash out on a season ticket, and therefore they have to buy game to game. I know not every household has the income to buy a season ticket aswell, or some people have work commitments. I appreciate that, but those with disposable incomes and a so-called dedication to City would have benefitted from backing us when we needed it in July. As I’ve said I didn’t, and I’ve learned my lesson. In my defence I was working every Saturday morning and I didn’t think I’d get to every game. Eventually I jacked the job anyway, City are more important. Even that doesn’t guarantee me a ticket.
It seems a lot of the negative comments are from people who are adversely affected by the current ticket scheme. Again, I am one who suffers as I now work full time in (don’t judge me) Cleethorpes and I don’t have the time to sit on the phone either. If I did I wouldn’t get through first time, right? It’s appalling isn’t it, the club not having ten or fifteen dedicated phone lines for tickets?
Well no, it isn’t. Funnily enough an FA Cup 4th Round tie with Brighton might attract a good crowd, but I’m not so sure our run of the mill games are quite as popular. Will we see queues around the ground for Welling away? No? What about Macclesfield at home? The phone certainly wasn’t ringing off the hook when Sutton visited earlier in the season.
The usual volume of calls warrants the number of phone lines we currently have, only an absolute moron would suggest we install more lines (at significant cost) just so him and his part-time mates can get tickets for the big game.
Similarly why can’t the club sell tickets into the night, right? Well if you do the maths you’ll work out that they can sell the ground out by opening the ticket office during normal hours, so why pay extra staff? It’s okay saying things like ‘I’d volunteer to sell tickets’, but do you know how the ticketing system works? Have you already got intimate knowledge of the computer system the club use? No? Then you’d be as much use as a nun’s ovaries I’m afraid, you’d stand around looking blank while harassed staff tried to serve customers and explain to you for the tenth time what buttons to press.
Everyone has a theory on how the club could ensure ‘proper’ fans get a ticket, but what is a proper fan? I’ve seen faces this season that I haven’t seen in a long while, should they miss out just because they became so disillusioned under Tilson and Holdsworth? Should I miss out because I moved away for eighteen months? What classes as a proper fan these days?
The fact is the club have done everything they reasonably can to try and ensure that die-hard fans get their tickets. No scheme is fool proof, no scheme keeps everyone happy and unfortunately I sense once again some fans will miss out. I dearly hope not, I hope Karl Beech gets a ticket this time, I hope Linda Hodson doesn’t have to wait for a last minute competition win too.
The only thing I think the club should have done is sent someone into the away end at Gateshead ten days ago and handed out match tickets to the 169 who travelled to that game. I was there, but to clarify I wouldn’t have benefitted as I was in the other end. However, it is those 169 people who should without a doubt get to watch the Imps in 4th round action for the first time in a generation. It’s easy to sit here and write it though isn’t it? Just like it is as easy to write about what a farce the situation is, instead of finding a way to get to Sincil Bank for 5am tomorrow morning, brave the cold and the long wait, and actually get a ticket for the game using your priority voucher, or your season ticket, or your junior red imps members ticket.
If you don’t have any of those, then I’m afraid on this occasion you’re going to miss out. It doesn’t make you less of a fan (unless the only game you’ve been to this season is Ipswich at home, then you’re less of a fan), it doesn’t make the club the enemy, it just means next season maybe you’ll think about getting your arse to a few games earlier in the season.
I’d wager if Danny and Nicky are still around next year, you’ll start seeing priority vouchers appear in the match day programme throughout the autumn. It’d be a great way to shift more programmes, and reward those who go to more game, or who are willing to spend hours on eBay.
When the fourth round draw took place I prayed for an unfashionable match away at either; a club with a 60,000 capacity stadium, or some back water nobody wanted to travel too. I knew this negativity would rear it’s had, I knew my football club would come in for some unjust criticism on social media, and I knew the tie would attract indignant fans who have barely stepped foot in the ground for ten years. Frankly I’ve had enough bad vibes from Sincil Bank between 2009-2014 to last a lifetime, none of us need even more just as we’re getting good. Part of me still hopes that the run ends on Saturday, because maybe then we can concentrate on winning this tin pot league and maybe taking the FA Trophy with us. Maybe then those fans only interested in TV cameras and the romance of the cup can bugger off back to their armchairs, leaving the ‘Carshalton away’ crew to carry on supporting City through thick and thin.
Mind you the red and white in me obviously hopes we stuff the Seagulls on Saturday, and advance to the fifth round for the first time ever in the modern era. Then please, please let us play somewhere like Man United away so half of Lincoln can go without all this bloody arguing.