Yesterday, the Club belatedly announced the mechanics of the new ticket exchange after six weeks of persistent lobbying from THST. We felt that these details should have been available from the start of the Season Ticket sales process to enable fans to make an informed purchase. Instead, the Club provided only a sketchy outline and, it now transpires, has not taken any of our recommendations on board.
Confirmation that the ticket exchange will open only when the entire stadium has sold out effectively means there is no exchange. Wembley rarely, if ever, officially sells out. And certainly not at the prices THFC is charging.
We had lobbied for the exchange to open by area. Spurs made the decision to sell almost all of Level 1 (lower tier) exclusively to Season Ticket holders in an attempt to preserve atmosphere. This means members will be left with mainly Level 5 (top tier) seats.
By opening the exchange once Level 1 had sold out, Season Ticket holders would have been offered a functional resale platform. And members would have had the option to purchase a seat in the lower bowl. The Club has chosen not to do this.
Given the price differential from Level 1 to Level 5, the extortionate £7.50 transactional charge levied on each seat purchased via the exchange, and given that a lower bowl seat is a vastly different experience to an upper tier seat, concerns around cannibalising primary sales were, in our opinion, marginal. The Club disagreed.
We believe the ticket exchange announcement is the latest in a series of mistakes made by the Club this summer; mistakes that will have a negative impact on supporters and the Club itself. Every action has a consequence, and the Club has seemingly stumbled from one bad decision to another, increasingly boxing itself in.
Let's recap on some of those key decisions. The Club refused to allow a Season Ticket amnesty, or sabbatical, for both renewals and new Season Ticket purchases, forcing fans to commit for Wembley or lose their chance of a guaranteed seat in the new stadium.
Season Tickets were then priced at a level above what we, and a significant proportion of supporters, were expecting. They were also priced in isolation from match day pricing, meaning when the Club came to set those individual match prices, it was limited by the parameters it had already set for itself. Match day pricing was, as a consequence, not one designed to fill a 90,000 seater stadium. Certainly not the 'bums on seats' policy deployed with such success for the European campaign last season.
One positive decision was ending the partnership with StubHub. This presented the Club with an opportunity to tailor-make a platform that reflected the exceptional circumstances of next season and maintained an important service for fans. The Club has not grasped this opportunity.
The Club has, however, left itself a get out. It says it reserves the right to vary the criteria that triggers the exchange opening. It is going to have to do that if fans are to be given anything approaching a fair system, and if the embarrassment of empty seats is to be avoided. It can wait for evidence of its mistake to emerge, damaging the Club's reputation, or it can respond to the widespread opposition already voiced by fans. Announcing clearly that the ticket exchange will open as sections sell out would show that the Club does listen to its fans, and would offer practical benefits to the Club and its supporters. We urge fans to make their feelings known directly to the Club.
We remain as willing as we've always been to work constructively together with the Club.
2 August 2017