Monday, 14 January 2008

Chicken and egg

I hope I've got this wrong. Maybe I've been too quick to pass judgement. Maybe someone is winding me up. I am quite gullible. But I'm starting to question Watford's approach to their paying customers.

It all started when the Fourth Round draw was made that paired Wolves with Watford. As you'd expect, one of the first things I did was to make some enquiries about the game; whether it will be an all-ticket affair and how I could go about getting a ticket. I contacted the club, and in all honesty they were extremely responsive. I got the standard "ticket details will be announced in due course" reply; Watford have since announced that tickets will go on sale to Season Ticket Holders only. However, tickets will not go on General Sale until Monday 21st January, a matter of days before the game.

Further digging (mainly with the Watford fans) made me aware of a "database" that Watford FC run for ticket allocation. Now, this is the bit I may have got wrong, but I have been told by several fans that I need to be on this database before I can buy tickets. Stories have been recounted of fans being turned away on match days because, whilst trying to buy tickets, it transpired that they were not on this database. This happened at a recent game (Watford v Crystal Palace in the last round of the FA Cup) where the final attendance was only 10,480, several thousand short of capacity. Surely this can't be true. Can it? Why turn away good business? Why refuse permission to fans who had turned up and were ready to pay, had the cash in their hands? Why do this when the ground was only half full? Or, more pertinently, half empty?

I checked with the club, and yes, there is a database which you need to be on before you can buy tickets. I asked how you get on the database? The answer? "After you have bought tickets, your details are put on the database". Come again?

Talk about chicken and egg. I was told to call back on Monday 21st January...

Having slept on this, I had decided that this simply was a misunderstanding and, come the day of reckoning, I would have no problems buying tickets over the phone. But then only today I heard this story about Watford FC.

A Watford fan had arranged a massive outing to watch a Watford game; he had just over 315 children and adults in his party. He booked this with the club some time ago, and managed to get discount for party size. The discounted costs averaged £20 for an adult and £8 for a child. Some time after those arrangements were made, Watford then announced that ticket prices for the game in question would actually be reduced. The new prices for the game were £10 for an adult and only £1 for the kids. Understandably, Watford would charge this huge party the new prices, saving the organiser something in the region of £2750. Wouldn't they?

Well, no. They wouldn't. In what has become a PR disaster, Watford are refusing to back down on this. They insist that the original prices be charged. In the words of the party organiser "so what started as a good opportunity for WFC to encourage some young new fans is turning into something a little distasteful - I certainly wouldn't do it again and we take hundreds every year to at least one match."

Oh dear. Can someone tell me what is going on down at Watford?

So it maybe is a little naive of me to think I'll have no problems getting tickets for the Wolves game, even though early indications suggest it will not be sold out. I am prepared to be proven wrong and I'm keen to give Watford FC the benefit of the doubt. However, it really could be a chicken and egg situation with this database.

It all sounds a bit fowl to me.


Anonymous said...

If I was you, I would e-mail Watford and link this blog to them, and that way, there shouldn't be any reason for them not to sell you a ticket. Ask them also to put a piece in the programme about your Road to Wembley - I did a Road to Wembley a few years ago, and clubs like Norwich were excellent in helping me with tickets.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with everything here.

I was one of a number of people milling around the Vicarage Road ticket office with a £20 note in my hand 2 hours before kick-off who was told "no, you can't sit in one of the 9000 empty seats because your names not 'on the list'". Apparently I couldn't join the list because "it takes time".

I'm in no rush to go back.

brizzlehornet said...

The database is intended so that people cant just jump on the band wagon when Watford go on one of their miraculous cup runs. Not wanting to blow our own trumpet but this does happen quite often, miraculous because yes overall we are a bit rubbish really. Anyway, this situation only applies to cup games, not everyday games to ensure that people who go week in, week out do not miss out. In this situation they have completey shot themselves in the foot. For what was supposed to be such a "faaaamily" club, always trying to encourage youngsters to come along by reducing prices, to not credit the group back the kiddies fees at least is completely ridiculous.