The Trust’s ticketing team met with Club’s Head of Ticketing, Ticket Office Manager and Supporter Liaison Officer on November 30 for a session on the key areas of ticketing at Spurs. Below is a summary of the main points raised by the Trust in the discussion, along with what we lobbied for on behalf of our members.
Ian Murphy – Head of Ticketing, THFC
Beth Demery – Ticket Office Manager, THFC
Levi Harris – Supporter Liaison Officer, THFC
Katrina Law – Board Member, THST
Anthoulla Achilleos – Board Member, THST
Steve Cavalier – Co-chair, THST
MANCHESTER CITY AWAY (PREMIER LEAGUE) – THURSDAY 19 JANUARY 2023
Following the late cancellation of the original fixture in September, this match has now been rearranged for the evening of Thursday 19 January 2023 with a caveat due to either side being involved in an FA Cup replay the same week. THST asked that supporters who had tickets for the original date but who cannot attend the rearranged date should retain their ticketing points for the game, in line with the policy adopted for the rearranged matches at Leicester and Burnley last season. The Club will consider this. There will be subsidised travel to the game. If the match is postponed again, the standard protocols regarding ticket refunds and returns will apply.
PORTSMOUTH HOME (FA CUP THIRD ROUND)
Following the FA Cup Third Round draw, Portsmouth will be taking their full 15% away allocation for this match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which will take place on Saturday 7th January (12:30 KO).
THST asked that ticket pricing be kept outside of categorisation at around a £20/25 price point for adults, with family packages and concessionary tickets available all around the stadium. THST also asked for the Senior price category to be operational for this match. THST suggested offering 3 loyalty points to those supporters who buy tickets and attend, in order to further incentivise a good attendance.
Pricing for the match has subsequently been confirmed as £20 for adults and £10 for U18s with a family package of two adults and two U18s for £40.
AC MILAN (CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ROUND OF 16)
THST welcomed the Club’s decision to set the pricing at Category B (as opposed to Category A), following THST’s concerns about the categorisation of the home group matches. THST asked whether the experience of ticket sales from those matches had informed the Club’s decision on AC Milan categorisation. The Club explained that pricing for each game was set appropriate to the opposition and context of the fixture.
THST asked about take-up rate before extending to guest sale and whether the availability of Ticket Share for the final two group matches had increased that. The Club said that it had not led to a marked increase. THST requested that Ticket Share be opened for AC Milan and any subsequent UCL games, which the Club said would happen, subject to any security concerns around a specific match.
THST reiterated its points that there should have been lower categorisation for group games, along with the offer of a package across all three games.
The Club had been in dialogue with AC Milan about pricing for the away fixture, which has subsequently been confirmed as £59. THST observed that clubs should be setting pricing below the cap of 70 euros; that was a ceiling not a floor.
CAPACITY AND SEASON TICKETS
In response to questions from THST, the Club confirmed that the official capacity (including every seat in the stadium) is 62,850.
THST asked whether the number of General Admission Season Ticket Holders was 43,452 (the figure shown on the points tally in August). The Club said that was roughly correct. The vast majority of the 8,000 Premium Seat tickets are sold seasonally.
RENEWAL AND RETENTION
THST asked about ST renewals for 2022/23 season; what was the retention rate and had there been an uptick in the number of fans opting to pay via V12 finance given the cost-of-living crisis? The Club said that there had been a minor increase in the number of people taking the instalment option. A few who requested the instalment option were declined and the Club has normally been able to intervene to assist. The Club was pleased with renewal rates.
THST asked if the Club audited the reasons for ST non-renewal. They do and there are typically a wide range of reasons given, with a low proportion citing financial hardship. The Club’s data analytics team are doing very detailed work on this, focused on retention and engagement. THST suggested the possibility of incentives to non-renewing ST holders to rejoin or continue regularly attending matches and offered participation in any focus groups around this area.
THST repeated its unhappiness with the April deadline for 2022/23 ST renewal and urged the Club to ensure that this year’s deadline is no earlier than 29 May 2023, the day after the end of the season.
SEASON TICKET PRICING
THST would want to see, as a minimum, ST prices frozen for next season or preferably reduced. Many fans were facing financial challenges. THST suggested that loyalty should be rewarded by offering renewing ST holders a slightly lower rate than new ST purchasers. THST also asked for the reinstatement of two home cup games per season to be included in the ST. The Club said that costs had increased substantially across all areas. A decision on next year’s pricing had not yet been made.
The Club said the relocation process had gone well over the summer, with 3,500 people relocating. 9,000 people had registered but a lot had opted not to proceed as availability was limited due to high renewal rates. Relatively few of those relocating were from areas which had now become safe standing.
THST raised the issue of people wanting to relocate from 1882 Season Ticket seats to GA Season Ticket seats. The Club said it considered each such relocation request on an individual basis and considered the longevity of ST ownership i.e., whether the person had held a GA ST previously.
THST had been contacted about ST seats which became restricted view because of camera positions. The Club was not aware of an issue, because seats liable to suffer obstruction by camera positions were not made available for ST purchase.
HALF SEASON TICKETS
THST was not opposed to Half Season Tickets in principle, and its annual survey had shown support for them from fans. But there were a number of outstanding questions relating to the Half Season Ticket offer.
THST asked whether the Club’s ideal ratio between Season Ticket and match day sales had changed from when the stadium originally opened. The Club said there was no exact ratio applied, it is fairly fluid and the changes were marginal amounts. The Club then looked at how resale through Ticket Exchange was performing. Because ST holders who could not attend matches were using Ticket Exchange in large numbers, the Club was more relaxed about a slight increase in ST holders as a percentage of total capacity, because it did not reduce to any significant extent the amount of tickets available for match day sales.
In response to questions from THST, the Club said that none of the seats offered for Half Season Tickets were in areas with concessions, so the match day availability of concessions had not been reduced. The 1200 Half Season Tickets available were a mixture of new inventory and unsold Season Tickets. In the end, 600 were sold. The Club would not currently offer Half Season Tickets for the first half of the season.
THST asked for a breakdown between the different concession categories. The Club advised that was commercially sensitive so could not be shared.
THST asked for an explanation as to how concessions work by block. The Club said that there is not a fixed number of concessionary seats available in eligible blocks. The Club manages the proportion of ST to match day concessionary seats to make sure there is inventory available in those concession areas at each stage of the sales process. The Ticketing Team explained that there are not separate caps on concessions by type (Junior/Senior).
THST raised the lack of concessions available on Ticket Exchange. The Club has no plans to change this as there is no fair mechanism to apply it.
THST highlighted the erosion of Senior concessions over recent seasons and checked THFC was still offering a Senior rate to visiting fans. It was confirmed they were £19.
THST requested that the Senior price band be honoured for home domestic cup games. The Club said it was likely that the offer would be Junior concessions only with no Senior concessions given that pricing was generally at a discount already. THST registered their dissatisfaction with this decision.
This remains a hot topic amongst THST members and in THST’s survey.
THST asked for a breakdown of the percentage of allocation by categories: General Admission ST holders, Premium ST holders and players/staff etc. The breakdown provided for Brentford away last season was helpful and THST suggested that it would be helpful to provide a similar breakdown for the upcoming Crystal Palace away fixture, about which THST members were raising similar questions and concerns.
The Club said that 12.5% of the allocation goes to Premium ST holders. If applications are oversubscribed, it goes to a ballot of Premium ST holders. While there is some ability to share these tickets, as Premium Season Tickets are often owned by a company or business as opposed to an individual, the Club does take action against any Premium ST holders who sell on or misuse the tickets, imposing bans on away applications etc.
The allocation for players/ staff/ sponsors/ partners is, in part, fixed and not a percentage: there is a fixed number of tickets for members of the first team squad, for example. This means that in those grounds with a small away allocation (for example Bournemouth and Brentford) this allocation represents a higher percentage of a smaller total.
The Club advised that the same allocation approach for Brentford would be applied to the Crystal Palace match.
There are now only approximately 170 Platinum members and there have been no new ones since the introduction of the £30 price cap.
THST asked about progress on digital ticketing for away fans. The Club is taking the lead on this along with a few other clubs. It is complicated by PL clubs having a variety of different access control systems and ticketing platforms. There are also issues about ownership of any PL-wide system and GDPR concerns around the sharing of data of away fans. The clubs are also looking into technology which would prevent fans from screen grabbing digital tickets in order to pass them on. The Club reiterated its commitment to exploring all avenues to clamp down on abuse of away tickets and stressed that fans should also be encouraged to report any evidence of abuse to the Club for action to be taken.
THST said that there was a constant level of concern about away tickets and that THST understood that whatever system was used would provoke concerns from those who were unsuccessful when applying for tickets. There had been some pressure for the Club to adopt a system whereby a percentage of the allocation was made available for ballot, for example 90% based upon loyalty points and 10% by ballot.
The Club was not convinced that this would be the right thing to do. The Club genuinely believes that the current method based upon the five-year points cycle is the fairest method, compared with methods adopted by other clubs -some of which make their allocation all by ballot; some by bands of loyalty points; some by types of membership and other methods. If a proportion of the current allocation was kept back for ballot, this would reduce still further the number of people able to obtain tickets via ticketing points, increase the effective threshold of points required and reinforce the gap between those who meet the threshold and those who would not. Those at the top of the pile would stay there, too.
THST and the Club acknowledged that there remains an issue with away tickets being passed on. Tackling this is an uphill struggle until away digital ticketing with sufficient technology to prevent screen-grabbing and onward transfer is introduced. THST encouraged the Club to be more transparent about the spot checks they currently undertake, and the punishments currently levied. The Club has also appointed an Investigation Officer to follow up reports of misuse.
THST raised the issue of supporters purchasing Champions League away tickets but not attending games, yet still receiving ticketing points. Neither the Club nor THST wishes to see a move to requiring tickets to be collected from a location in the city of the host club. This has not worked well for fans of other clubs and would create great inconvenience for travelling fans. The possibility of the Club using handheld scanners when fans enter the grounds or some form of scanners within grounds that fans could use, but the Club would not want to create bottlenecks on access and also recognises that no system will be fool proof.
THST requested a breakdown of all booking fees. The Club advised that the fees are available on the ticketing website under Ticketing Information & Fees.
THST requested that booking fees be removed from Season Ticket renewals and observed that Chelsea had agreed to this following fan pressure.
THST asked why a ST holder who had shared a ticket via Ticket Share could not reverse the transaction if circumstances (including the date of the fixture) changed. This is a technological issue: once the ticket has been shared it ceases to be the ticket of the person who transferred it and it has no link to them on the system. This means any reversal needs to be manual by the Club. The Club has looked sympathetically on this and helped out when there are genuine reasons.
TICKET EXCHANGE AVAILABILITY AND DISPLAY
Some supporters had complained that the initial display of ticket availability on the website only shows primary inventory first and then additionally shows Ticket Exchange availability once a button is pressed. The Club’s view was that the Ticket Exchange button was prominent and easy to use.
Use of Ticket Exchange is broadly back to pre-Covid levels.
OTHER ITEMS FROM THST SURVEY
THST flagged the other areas of concern from its annual survey that had not been covered in the earlier discussion. Those were:
- Linking concession rates to the person not the seat
- More junior discount areas
- Booking fees applied by transaction not by seat
- Ticket Exchange to be open at all times
- Fairer prices
- Better booking platform
- More staff in the Ticket Office on match days
- More refund options for games moved for broadcast
2 January 2023