Is It Really A Closed Shop?

Last updated : 11 November 2008 By Tom Collins
Paul Duffen states that he doesn't want a 'closed shop' regarding the allocation of season tickets, and that he doesn't want to 'play god' in deciding who should and should not be eligible for away tickets. He also stated that all season ticket holders should have the same entitlement to away tickets. How can this be justified?

A recent article on this website in agreement with Mr Duffen's stance banded around the term 'closed shop'. But is this really the case?

As a member of Away Direct, I acknowledge that I am in a privileged position, in that I'm able to commit to attending the vast majority of this season's away fixtures. The system is fantastically convenient, and has been faultless as far as I'm concerned this season.

However, Away Direct is part of the problem in my opinion. I don't feel that I, or anyone else who joined the scheme for the first time this term, should have been allowed to join. The system is very open to abuse. New season ticket holders could in theory join the scheme, guaranteeing them a ticket for the high-profile away games, before selling the tickets on the black market for less appealing fixtures.

This first came to my attention in the summer while queuing at the KC for a ticket, when two lads with their season ticket forms were discussing joining the scheme. One remarked "If we join, we'll get a ticket for Man U. We can always flog the rest."

Had I been Mr Duffen, I would have only allowed Away Direct members from last season to join, which would have bypassed this problem.

It may sound a bit harsh, but I firmly believe that City fans who have followed their team over the years deserve the chance to see their team play away in the promised land. I'm sure most new season ticket holders would agree. Why shouldn't the club reward loyalty? If Manchester United, the most shallow, commercialised, touristy club in the world prioritise their loyal away fans, then why shouldn't Hull City?

Yes, technically it probably doesn't make business sense. Prioritising more loyal fans over new supporters isn't the best way to increase the fan-base. But a football club isn't like any other business. Just because you know the majority of the die-hards will remain loyal in the Championship (if heaven forbid City go down) even if you screw them over in the Premiership, it doesn't make it morally acceptable. Newer season ticket holders could quite easily have attended fantastic grounds such as White Hart Lane, the Emirates and Ewood Park if they were that bothered. But no, they want a day out at Old Trafford, so kicked up a stink.

I accept that City need to keep new fans and encourage them to join our away following, and hope that after the loyal away fans have been sorted out then many people can get to enjoy watching City on the road (a fantastic experience that is far better than games at the KC in my opinion). I appreciate there will be some loyal City followers who for whatever reason were unable to get to many away games last season, but they could soon rack up the required number of away games with the tickets that have been available for City's away games thus far.

Another thing that no-one has seemed to mention is the players. In a recent interview, George Boateng said "the fans don't realise how big a difference they can make," when referring to the noise the Tiger Nation make at away games. Would this noise be the same with 2,500 newbies crammed in at the Anfield Road End? I think not.

This argument is probably moot now anyway. The vast majority of away games will have tickets available for all season ticket holders who want a ticket, Liverpool excepted. But it doesn't make the club's new policy any more morally acceptable.

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