There exists a moral rule in sport that supporters should not sell match tickets above face value, nor should they pay over the odds for a ticket, no matter how big the occasion.
Unfortunately, Irish football fans continuously pay extortionate prices for tickets to Premiership games by purchasing them through third party travel agencies.
So that poses the question, where do travel agencies get match tickets from and why do Irish supporters pay in and around €300 to watch the team they support?
Due to a lot of Irish football fans being predominantly arm chair fans, partially because they can’t afford to travel over to England on a regular basis and partially because some of them aren’t necessarily “die hard”, they are sometimes unaware of the ticket schemes available at Premiership clubs which would enable them to purchase tickets at face value prices. Then some are aware, but choose not to avail of them for various reasons.
Certain clubs, particularly the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool who would have a wide fan base, sell tickets on a loyalty basis e.g. you need to have attended a certain amount of games this season if you want to purchase a ticket for the Manchester or Merseyside Derby, and this must be recorded on your fan card. However, if you wanted to go to “smaller” games against the likes of Norwich City and Crystal Palace, you should be able to get a ticket no problem. Alas, if supporters do not travel on a regular basis, they opt for the more high profile games when they do decide to venture across the Irish Sea.
The football fan who attends games week in and week out will tell you that these fans do not deserve tickets, and while they have a point, it doesn’t answer the bigger question of how tickets which could be going to loyal supporters are getting into the hands of travel agencies who are only interested in making a profit.
It is a sad truth that a lot of the tickets come from season ticket holders with various clubs who lend their season cards to travel agencies with the purpose of making a nice little profit. The agencies then in turn sell the ticket as part of a package deal to supporters in the likes of Ireland, Norway and China.
My dad and I once used an agency when going to a Liverpool v Spurs game at Anfield a number of years ago. I was shocked to be handed a season ticket for the Kop. At the time I was too caught up in my own excitement at being on the Kop, and it was only when I got older that I questioned the legitimacy of all this.
The waiting list for a Liverpool season ticket is so long, you’ll more than likely be dead by the time its your turn to purchase one. This prompted the cynical person inside me to wonder if the waiting list is actually so long because season tickets which could be made available to supporters, are instead being made available to travel agencies on a regular basis.
Incidents like this occur more so with the “bigger” clubs who would have a large support in countries outside England, namely Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, and in recent years the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea (what a coincidence).
Celtic Horizon Tours, probably the biggest provider of Premiership package deals in Ireland, currently have the following “deals” on offer:
I decided to further research the Liverpool v Arsenal package, even though it is sold out, and was advised by a Celtic Horizon employee that even if a parent wants to bring their child to the game, it will still be €359 per person sharing.
When one reads the term package in conjunction with match, you would assume it includes travel, accommodation and ticket. Au contraire. This package only covers one nights accommodation and a ticket for the game, leaving the purchaser to make their own way there by boat or plane.
One night in the Crowne Plaza Hotel by John Lennon airport in Liverpool on the 13th January costs €110. Doing the maths, that means the match ticket is being valued at €249, and you still have to pay for your travel. What a great deal, eh?
It is easy to apportion the blame on those who are willing to pay such unreasonable prices for tickets, or those who sell them, but the buck should be passed to and stop with the clubs. How can they have some people paying face value for a match ticket and others pay hundreds? They are aware this is happening, but they do not appear to be doing much to stop it.
Supporters in England regularly protest about ticket prices and rightly so, but maybe they also need to start questioning how season tickets and general match tickets are being made available to travel agencies.