A few years ago we (along with the majority of EFL clubs) changed our pricing structure so that buying tickets online was cheaper than buying on the day at the ground. The on-the-day supplement was never about making money – the aim was to try to get everyone to buy online at the lower price. The purpose of this was to incentivise people to move to online so that we could:
- Reduce queues at the gates
- Reduce the amount of cash handling (and the correspondent risks, including theft)
- Gather data, to enable us to enhance and tailor what we can do for fans
- Implement a reserved seating strategy (which in turn increases our stadium capacity by 10%)
At the time we introduced this new pricing structure less than 10% of fans were buying online; today, 93% of fans buy online with only around 200 buying on the day, and so the principal objective has been largely achieved. This switch has enabled us to:
- Eliminate queues at the gates (even with a crowd of around 11,000 for the Newcastle game there were no queues, and we now have an ingress rate of 227 supporters a minute through the turnstiles, compared to a peak of about 175 under the old system)
- Achieve on average £3 per head more revenue (ignoring any ticket price increases) as the online system has virtually eliminated the problem of people buying concessionary tickets to which they were not entitled
- Enabled us to enhance supporter services, for example by being able to:
- tailor communications to specific groups, rather than doing blanket e mails;
- prioritise regular fans for high-demand matches;
- manage complex situations like Covid, where we needed to understand family groups for social distancing.
In discussions with TROSC and the Trust, we feel that we now have a sufficient percentage of fans buying online that we can trial, from now until the end of the calendar year, removing the supplement for buying on the day.
We would still encourage people to buy online because that is how they will be able to get the best tailored experience in their interactions with the club, and they will not have to queue to buy a ticket on the day.
Those wishing to buy on the day and not wishing to go online will still need to purchase their ticket through the club shop or from a secondary purchase point for busier games.
We are in discussions with TROSC and the Trust to see what other options are possible to improve the ease of purchasing tickets on the day, particularly for casual supporters, whilst still having allocated seating and not losing the other benefits that the current system has brought.