I write this not as a disgruntled fan who wasn’t able to get a ticket for Charlton’s season opener at Griffin Park, even though I am, but as one of many regular away game goers who are somewhat annoyed by Charlton’s ticketing policy. My view is one I’ve had for quite a while, but finally being the victim of how Charlton allocate away tickets has meant I’ve opted to write about it.
I am no better and certainly not superior to any other Addick. I’m not a better supporter of this club than any of those will be in attendance at Brentford in just over two weeks’ time. However, I do feel that I deserve to be there.
That’s not to say I want the ticket delivered to my door free of charge in a golden envelop, signed and sealed by Johnnie Jackson, as nice as that would be. But I do think my committed away travelling means I should be offered the right to purchase a ticket in the first instance.
Since February 2013, I have missed just three league away games. I’ve travelled to Middlesbrough, Huddersfield and Barnsley twice. I’ve been to Cardiff, Nottingham and Doncaster on Tuesday nights. I’ve seen more of Sheffield than I have of my own palms in that time. But my half loyal half mental travels are not rewarded, I feel, appropriately.
Were they, I would currently be in ownership of that sought after ticket to our first game of the season. Instead, by the time I managed to get through this morning tickets had been sold-out. An unscientific assessment, moaning about the situation on Twitter and reading replies, suggests that Bournemouth are the only other Championship club who don’t reward away travellers; the majority allocate away tickets via a loyalty points system.
Of course, those who have purchased VIP season tickets and have a Valley Gold subscription also deserve priorities. That I do not dispute; they give the club extra cash and, although arguably the majority won’t attend too many away games, they deserve to be able to go to the ones that they wish. With that in mind, I have absolutely no issue at all with those will be attending their first away game for months or years at Griffin Park.
However, those who attend the majority of away games, thus showing their commitment to their club through support and not necessarily by directly improving its bank balance, deserve the same privileges. It seems bonkers to me that many of us attend almost every away game, going to unattractive fixtures in unattractive places, but can’t attend those games that are looked forward to most.
With all that taken into account, I believe Charlton, like so many other clubs, should have a loyalty points system. As an example, VIP and/or Valley Gold could be worth the same as 15 away games, therefore both those who take up additional products from the club and those who regular attend away games are given the rewards they deserve.
Some will argue that if I want to attend every away game, I should simply purchase Valley Gold. A fair shout, and something I should probably do, but I feel it’s more a matter of principle that those of us who travel to horrible northern places frequently should get guaranteed access to tickets for games in equally horrible London-based places.
There’s also a point of view that a loyalty points system would be, well, pointless as there’s only a handful of high demand away games every season. Nonetheless, that many who go to most away games are unable to go to just one of the more attractive games is an issue that needs a way of being resolved.
That Charlton’s ticketing system doesn’t reward away fans has been raised by a fellow regular traveller on several occasions, the first being last season when a similar system was used to sell Millwall away tickets. Both times the question has been asked, those at Charlton have stuck by their policy, possibly with the intention of flogging a few more Valley Gold memberships. In fact, the ticket office mentioned that there’s no money made from selling away tickets. That’s fair enough, but it would be nice if they could follow what other clubs have done and reward away travellers.
Apologies if I sound like a spoilt brat. That isn’t the intention, and is probably more to do with my quality of writing than anything else. Also, if you have a spare, hello.