All we want is some clarity ... and a change of system

Posted by Rushian on May 10, 2007, 01:45:24 PM

Someone should ring up the Anfield switchboard and ask them to pass on to senior members of the club the old adage, "if you're in a hole stop digging".
With the farcical ticket allocation for the Athens Final totally overshadowing the game itself, a spokesman for the club told this morning's Daily Post that they would "not be drawn into the numbers game" and reveal how many tickets had been up for grabs in the computerised ballot, which was open to season ticket or fan card holders who had attended six Champions League games this season.
We'd like to know why? Surely we as fans have the right to know how, why and where tickets are distributed? When it appears that an absurdly large number of time-served and loyal fans have missed out in the ballot, questions have to be asked as to how many tickets actually went into the ballot and how many were creamed off for other sources. The inherent institutional secrecy which LFC retreats to at times like this belies any notion of the image of it being a "family club", an image LFC and its friends in the media still like to nurture.
It's fair enough for LFC spokesman Ian Cotton to stress that the club is "sympathetic to the fans' plight", but to pin the blame entirely on UEFA demonstrates an almost blatant misreading of the situtation, a slap in the face for those who travel the length and breadth of the country come rain or shine inspiring the team.
Any analysis of the situation has to start with UEFA's paltry allocation of 16779 to both clubs in a 64,000 capacity venue. Once again UEFA's "football family" seems to come higher up the list than the fans of the competing clubs with 20,000 tickets allocated at UEFA's discretion and 9000 distributed via a public ballot which has become a tout's early summer bonus. Michel Platini was recently swept to power as head of UEFA with part of his manifesto being the belief that " the game has to stay in the hands of those who make it: the players and fans". Well Mr Platini try tackling the corporate beanfeast that prevents real fans supporting their team at your prestige finals.
But UEFA isn't the crux of fans' complaints. The distribution system the club has implemented is receiving both barrels from every direction. Before we even touch on the loyalty scheme, and the automatic entry into the ballot of everyone with 6 credits even if they had no interest in going to Athens, it'd be nice to know how many "ordinary" fans qualified to enter the ballot, and how many tickets actually made it as far as the ballot pool. Also:
How many tickets are going to Priority Rights Holders (Ex-Shareholders)?
How many to the players and staff of the club?
How many to the Development Association?
How many to the club's sponsors, Carlsberg, adidas and other associated companies?
How many to corporate season ticket holders and box holders?
How many have gone to agencies and travel companies?
Could as many as 5000 tickets have been removed before the ordinary fan had his shout? Is the number even higher? We know from Rick Parry that around 4500 fans had 7 or more European credits making them automatically eligible for a ticket suggesting after the corporate take just 7000 tickets may have remained for those with 6 credits. Anecdotal evidence suggests it may have been much lower, with many fans reporting success rates of the nature of just 1 out of 15 from friends they know in the ballot. Can't the club see that by not being open with regards to this information they're just fuelling accusations of backhanders, tickets for friends and widescale legitimised touting?
Loyalty schemes should be a fair method of rewarding a fan's loyalty in supporting the team. Badly implemented loyalty schemes aren't. And that's what we have here. How can someone who theoretically may have been to just 6 Champions League games have the same right to a ticket as season ticket holder who's been to the same 6 European games plus all the Premier League home games, Premier League away games and the two cup ties at Anfield?
And this isn't an anti-fan card rant. They should be an essential tool in recording and rewarding fans loyalty. But when the requirements imposed by the ticket office for a final ticket place fan card holders (let alone season ticket holders) who have been to 19 home League games, both cup games and the 6 European games at the same level as a fan card holder with just 6 European games on their card, the system is fundamentally flawed.
What's needed is a new cross-competition loyalty system recognising attendance at all games, such that season ticket holders are rewarded for coughing up for 19 league games at the start of the season and PTS and fan card holders who spend the time getting tickets for all 19 league games through the season are also rewarded. Only then will we see someone who has been to 27 games at Anfield this season rewarded above someone who has cherry-picked their 6 European games. The technology is there to implement such a system and the club should use it.
This is one hell of a sorry mess, and it has to be hoped the new owners take notice and implement some serious changes at the club. The fans do not deserve to be treated with such contempt.

© RAWK 2007

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