Saturday, 16 August 2008

Ashes Tickets

In the early days of George Bush's presidency I remember reading an opinion that Bush and Clinton were essentially the same, but people liked Clinton more because at least when he was [screwing] you over he smiled and lied about it to make you feel better.

Colin Povey said this week: "“Will [offering half-year membership] put people off buying full membership next year?..

“It’s unfortunate that some feel they’ve not had value for money. But it’s like me buying a tie one week and going back next week and finding it’s in a sale.

“If they don’t want to come then fine. If they want to go and join Worcestershire instead then fine, too. They’ll pay more, but they’ll not have the ability to buy Test tickets and they’ll not have as good facilities.

“I think we’ve got the pricing spot on for the Ashes. We can’t be giving away tickets for this, the premium cricket match in several years. If we have a half empty ground we’ll have got it wrong. But we’re not going to, are we?"

Such a public relations drive should surely see all members back on side and ensure Mr Povey never has to dip into his pocket for another tie, on sale or not, as every member will be send them as presents to demonstrate their good will.

George Dobell's article in The Post makes some good points about the improvements made recently in the club. But his comparisons to the reign of Dennis Amiss miss the point; "Many of the problems seen now, trivial or grand, are the fruits of seeds planted years ago and, like British Rail, memories of Dennis Amiss’ time as chief executive appear to sweeten over the years". I think in reality most members acknowledge that the current regime is more competent, but the attitude, or at least the public face of the regime is doing nothing to win people over.

He may well be a competent business man and an organised leader, he may well be one of the best equipped Chief Executives on the county circuit, but Mr Colin Povey is certainly no politician. George Dobell is pretty much ploughing a lone furrow in his support for Povey, but the next time they speak, (when by all accounts Povey is articulate, considered and charming), George may consider mentioning to him that when dealing with the public a little diplomacy goes a long way.

It is highly unlikely that any member's disgruntled by the half-year membership and the price and method of allocation of Ashes tickets will change their minds or feel better about things by his combative and belligerent response to the ill feeling. It would do less harm to acknowledge that people are entitled to their opinions and attempt to placate them and to also provide a more robust defence of the policy than 'we wanted to sell these tickets so we did. Tough', which may as well be what he said.

Its at times like these that the conventional media struggles to maintain true independance and assert their opinion. I have a lot of respect for George Dobell and Brian Halford, but I have to wonder whether they are afraid of upsetting the club hierarchy and compromising their inside track on news and this is behind their decidedly reticent articles on the issue. Or if they genuinely feel that fans and members have not had a raw deal here.

Some selective facts
  • More than 1,000 half-year memberships have been sold this season already
  • There is around 6000 members of WCCC before the half-yearly sale
  • Colin Povey says 'Over five years our membership has declined by one per-cent.' (~60 people)
  • He then says 'Evidence so far shows that those buying ‘half-year’ are lapsed members...'
60 does not seem to be the same as 1000, although I am neither a statistician or an accountant (thanks to jason2 on the WCCC forum for pointing this out).

  • Membership renewals for 2008 were £142
  • New members (or renewals after 31/03/08) had to pay £30 'joining fee' *
  • Membership for 2008 for a new or lapsed member at any point before around 15/07/08 was £172
  • Membership for 2008 after this time was £65.
  • Slightly contrary to some reports this is 38% of the actual price (rather than the 'face value') for a maximum of 71% of the season (by days of cricket)
It is therefore newer members rather than long established members who are most upset about this "sale".

  • A 'public' ticket for the Ashes match costs £75.
  • Therefore 4 public tickets cost £300
  • Half-year membership costs £65 (allowing you to purchase 4 tickets)
  • Members tickets cost £60.
  • Therefore 4 members tickets + half-year membership costs £305
  • Effectively WCCC are charging anyone who wants a £5 premium to buy advanced tickets for the game.
Quite apart from some members (myself included) being tempted to buy their maximum allocation and then tout them on in order to soften the blow of the increased personal cost of going to Edgbaston.** This is frankly just encouraging the outright touts. Touting is always going to be a problem at cricket matches, largely because the authorities do nothing obvious to stop or discourage it. At every test I can think of I have been offered tickets right outside the gate in clear view of ground staff. In one case (South Africa 2003 Edgbaston, final day) in clear collusion with the ground staff a tout was selling junior tickets (face value £5) for £10, when there were £15 adult tickets available on the gate! Everyone going through the side gate was purchasing junior tickets from the tout next to the turnstiles and being waved through.

There do not seem to be any initiatives to prevent the touting of tickets, indeed there are some for this game already on Ebay. Oh, apart from the frankly futuristic and biometric initiative that I will let Colin Povey describe in his own words, less I don't do it justice; “According to the wording on the back of the tickets they are not transferable". In the battle of club v touts that looks like 1-0 in anyone's language.

* - I quote from "Inside Edge" 28/02/08: 'Don’t forget to renew your membership before the 31st March so you do not have to pay the £30 joining fee. All renewals after this date will be subject to this charge'.
** - This was behind the fact I told my wife 'sod it we may as well buy as many as we can and tout them on', when purchasing - since then friends have emerged from the woodwork and all our tickets are accounted for.

Original article edited 19/08 - It was bought to my attention that I had been somewhat unfair in my comments on the independence of The Post and The Mail. In particular I feel my original post did not convey the point I was trying to make regarding the balancing act between relying on a source and yet still feeling free to criticise and potentially upset that same source. I am usually reluctant to edit articles, apart from in spelling and grammar, but in this case I have made minor edits to the last sentence of the 8th paragraph and the first sentence of the 10th so that it reads closer to my original aim.

1 comment:

val said...

All this exercise has done is made Ashes tickets easy pickings for touts.
In no way will WCCC see the membership increase for 2009.
If they wanted to sell more International tickets then it should have been done for 2008 seeing as the N.Z & S.A games were very poorly attended.
If they had kept the prices next year the same as this, Edgbaston would have sold out in no time.
Whether the Ashes will sell out?
I don't know..but WHAT i do know is that although the 'members are' is sold out..and no way will it be full of 'members' for the Ashes.