Tickets for tomorrow’s game against Manchester United have now almost sold out. Thank you for your tremendous support.
For those who have been frustrated by systems issues, we apologise. We have done our best in difficult circumstances but recognise the issues that many of you have had.
It was always going to be impossible to satisfy the demand for tickets for this fixture, and having only 48 hours to sell tickets meant we were facing a huge logistical problem which will probably never happen again.
In the circumstances, after consulting with various supporter groups, we took some decisions which were designed to make the allocation as fair as we could, recognising that no one system is ever considered fair by everyone. In particular, we chose to offer tickets to season card holders for a week prior to even knowing if we would win the replay with Watford, so that they could be assured of a seat.
We then decided to have a 24 hour period of priority for those who had been at the Watford game. This started by keeping the Club shop open until 1am after the match, to enable as many as possible to buy tickets immediately for the 4th round.
Unfortunately for those trying to get priority tickets online there were issues for people who had bought more than one ticket for that game, as people had problems buying more than one ticket for the 4th round. Had we had more time to test the system thoroughly for this scenario, we would hopefully have picked this up, but the very short time frame meant this was not possible.
The tickets went on general sale at 8pm last night but almost immediately we had 19,000 people simultaneously trying to log in to the system - a completely unprecedented number for this Club. The volume suggested that it was likely that some Manchester supporters who had been unable to buy through their ballot were trying to buy tickets in the home end.
We were also alerted to ticket tout activity through third party websites, primarily for tickets in the away end but a small amount for the home stands.
In light of this information, in order to limit tout activity and to ensure the safe segregation of fans, the decision was made to stop tickets from being sold online. Very few tickets were sold online prior to that facility being removed.
It was decided that the best way of giving our genuine fan base the opportunity to purchase a ticket for our game against Manchester United would be via the club shop.
With such a quick turnaround between Emirates FA Cup matches and unprecedented levels of traffic, we can only apologise for any confusion and frustration that has been caused.
Our ticketing system has been subject to an extensive review since last season and the anticipated changes will be implemented in due course to make sure that we are better able to cope in the event that we are in the happy position of having a sell-out match in the future.
In recognition that moving to online sales would cause difficulty for loyal fans based away from Merseyside, a small allocation of tickets for the game has been put to one side for geographical supporter’s associations to distribute by ballot to their members who have been unable to get to the shop to buy tickets. This is being coordinated by those supporters’ associations.
To those of you who have waited for considerable amounts of time we sincerely thank you for all of your patience and thank you for all of your support.
Thanks also to the ticket office staff who have worked incredibly long hours to try to make sure as many of our supporters as possible have got the tickets they wanted.