Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

A scarcely noted Football League failing

Posted by John Beech on March 30, 2010

While the media have focussed strongly on the failings of the FA in the last week and disseminated the calls for reform from a wide variety of sources, scant attention has been paid to a very basic failing by the Football League – its refusal to increase ticket allocations for Carlisle and Southampton fans to the League Cup final last Saturday.

Southampton were allocated 44,000 seats, which were all sold well before the match (1).  Carlisle had to cope with a 13:30 kick-off on the day the clocks had just gone forward, and the number of coaches that travelled overnight showed their fans’ dedication.

On the day a superb turn out of 73,476 was recorded, with the League crowing “That’s more fans than were in Istanbul last season to watch the final of the UEFA Cup, between Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen and more than watched the domestic cup finals in Italy, Spain and Holland.” (2).

True, but why were there still blocks of seats unoccupied with fans eager for tickets?

Click to enlarge

A lonely steward contemplates the 73,476 spectators in other parts of the stadium

The League were certainly neither keeping fans happy by refusing further tickets, nor were they revenue maximising – a lose/lose scenario if ever there was one.  Yes, I appreciate it would have tipped the balance of support even further Southampton’s way, but that is the sort of issue which the FA should have thought about when they decided not to move the national stadium to a more equitable location.  The choice of date hardly helps with equity in any case.

All of that said, it was a tremendous event which I thouroughly enjoyed (even as a Pompey fan!).

[I was there by the kind invitation of Supporters Direct.]


5 Responses to “A scarcely noted Football League failing”

  1. It was a shambles on the part of the Football League/FA (just to make a change).

    We could have sold at least another 10,000 tickets, and given the FA’s need for cash to repay the cost of building Wembley, you’d have thought they’d have wanted to get as many bums on seats as possible.

    Given the recent comments by the Carlisle chairman about their budget for next season needing to be cut, I can’t imagine the Cumbrians would have minded us having a bigger allocation of tickets as it would have increased the payout they received from their share of the gate receipts.

    The Football League hid behind segregation issues, but there are three problems there:
    1. The concourses at Wembley all have big gates at various staggered points right round the ground. Surely they could have just closed the right gates to allow those extra blocks to be used?
    2. If there weren’t enough gates (or gates in the right places) to allow that to happen, why not? Circa £1bn was spent on building the ground, you’d have thought the designers would have factored in things like this.
    3. The Saints executive chairman, Nicola Cortese, offered to pay for any additional segregation methods and staff that were needed to facilitate an increased allocation without using the internal gates.

    • John Beech said

      Thanks for that input Steve. Carlisle have indeed warned of budget cuts (1).

      Personally I can’t see segregation as an issue – my impression was of everyone having a great day out, and no ‘edge’ between rival fans at all. After all, Carlisle v. Southampton is not exactly a local derby – it’s not as if you were playing Pompey, is it? 😉

  2. Simon said

    They did exactly the same thing last year too. Luton sold around 38,000 tickets and could have sold far more, but when they asked for more the Football League refused, citing segregation issues (not, as would be more likely, an appalling lack of forward thinking by the authorities). The Luton fans were singing “Wembley’s too small for us” on the day, along with one or two other chants directed at the Football League’s hierarchy…

    • John Beech said

      Again, Luton v. Scunthorpe was not a local derby. The playing of the segregation card seems to be way out of touch.

      • Peter said

        Also, last year it should be said that Scunthorpe were more than happy to let Luton have more seats, because it would obviously mean they earned more money out of the event – it was just the FL who were against it. In the League One play-off final that year, Millwall were granted more tickets for their match against the same opposition. Bit strange how a club with Millwall’s (albeit not recent) history of crowd trouble gets extra tickets and Luton didn’t!

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