Like many fans, I was unable to cop a ticket for Wrexham away, potentially our biggest game in years as we look to return to the Football League. It did leave a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth with the website crashing not being able to select tickets when they came back up and then out of nowhere – sold out.  

Having travelled to places like Maidenhead, Boston and Workington on Tuesday nights and persisting whilst we were in the depths of the Conference North, I felt I would have enough credit in the bank to earn myself a ticket. But fundamentally there is no tangible measurement for this. There will be many other more diehard Stockport fans than me who missed out on tickets and were more deserving of one than myself and It begs the question – is it time for a membership scheme? 

One of the attractions for me as a lower-league fan is the informality. You can decide to rock up at 2:30, pay on the gate and enjoy some affordable football. If you want a ticket for a Premier League game these days, it can be like getting tickets for a one-off prestigious show at the West end. Before you want a ticket, you have to become a member and even then if you only have the lowest form of membership you may if you’re lucky get to go to 2 or 3 matches a season. 

When I was at University in Sheffield, I sometimes went to watch Sheffield United. It was £10 a ticket for students (not bad for Championship football) and you could rock up as late as you want to get one. In my opinion that’s a great attraction of lower-league football. It’s accessible and affordable. But as soon as Sheffield United were promoted to the Premier League that all changed. I have a couple of friends who are Arsenal fans and we tried to get tickets. First, we needed to become a member which was £30. Then we needed to attend a number of matches to accumulate a certain amount of points to get a ticket. This would amount to about another £120. Then, we would finally be eligible for a ticket for the Arsenal game but there was no guarantee. In the end we unsurprisingly didn’t bother. If clubs are trying to generate support should it not be more accessible? 

Well, ideally yes. But when there is greater demand than supply, why should a day-tripper to Sheffield United like me be guaranteed a ticket for a high-profile fixture? I’m sure Sheffield United would love to offer myself a ticket but, that ticket is far more deserving to someone who has been going for years. Fundamentally, a membership scheme whilst an unfortunate product of modern-day football may well be the fairest route. And, with County’s growing support it may be time that the club follow suit. 

If rumour is to be believed the algorithm on County’s website couldn’t differentiate between the barcodes on half-season ticket holders and full-season ticket holders. I sit near a fan who has been going since the 1930s who missed out on a ticket for Wrexham away but in essence someone who has been going since January may well have beaten him to it. Surely someone who has been attending matches for the best part of 80 years should have certain priorities over those who have only been going for the best part of 80 days? I even know someone who has managed to get a ticket without ever having had a season ticket or half season ticket. They average about 4 games a season – if we’re doing well. 

 I’m not exactly sure of the precise intricacies of how a membership scheme should work but, if one was to be introduced, some sort of accumulative points system should be instated to ensure the most loyal fans don’t miss out. 

Within the past year, many football-league clubs have instated membership schemes and it is frankly becoming the norm. Rotherham and Bolton have done so and non-league, clubs like AFC Fylde, Woodford Town, Fisher FC and Maidstone United have membership schemes. Charlton even offer a membership scheme for pets. 

In fact, as I was doing my research far more clubs had them at all levels of the game than I thought. Not all of them offered a points system that would enhance your chances of getting tickets for particular games and some didn’t appeared to be based not so much on loyalty but, on who was willing to pay for membership. If a membership scheme were to be introduced I would hope it based on the principal of loyalty and not on what is in your wallet.  

By Adam Sundle

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