'Unfair on youngsters', 'I like it' - Sheffield United split on loyalty points debate after giving Blades' ticket policy general thumbs-up
Sheffield United fans have given the thumbs-up to the club’s overall ticketing policy at Bramall Lane – although the ever-controversial issue of loyalty points has reared its head once again.
Introduced when United were promoted to the Premier League in 2006 as a way of issuing tickets for high-demand away games, the loyalty points system has been debated ever since.
Its supporters say the system works, rewarding those who have followed the Blades up and down the country; its detractors view it as a closed shop, where those at the top of the queue pull further and further away from everyone else and young fans, for example, have no chance of ever catching up.
The Star is aware of several instances of fans using fellow supporters’ loyalty points to obtain away tickets; fan one pays his money, travels to the game and cheers on the team, fan two sits at home in his living room listening on the radio or following The Star’s live blog but gets the loyalty points.
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As part of The Star’s big fans’ survey, we asked supporters how satisfied they were with the club’s overall ticketing policy. Almost 45 per cent of respondents said they were ‘reasonably’ happy, 15 per cent were very happy and 23 per cent were neither happy nor unhappy; only 17.6 per cent of fans were either unhappy or very unhappy.
Less than 10 per cent of fans were unhappy with the club’s pricing structure for matchday or season tickets, but an open-ended question about loyalty points provoked a more split series of responses.
“Loyalty points should delete after five-10 seasons,” one fan said, “because too many ‘loyal’ fans didn't go in League One so when the rest of us kept going we were the ones to miss out on away Premier League tickets.”
Another wrote: “It's too difficult for young people to get the chance to go to away games with the same people snapping up tickets every time.”
Blades fan Russ said he would like to see ID attached to tickets and points to stop the transfer of away tickets, and added: “I'd also like to see the word 'Loyalty' changed to 'Member' as loyalty is often derogatory to those not as well off as others.”
Other supporters suggested that a portion of the away allocation could be placed into a random ballot to give everyone a fairer chance of getting one, although there was an acceptance that away tickets may be easier to come by now anyway after United were relegated from the Premier League last season.
The system also had its supporters.
“I like it and wouldn’t change it,” another Blades fan wrote.
“Us supporters who have been to all the games home/away and Southend on a cold and freezing night match, then you get supporters jumping on the bandwagon when we are doing well complaining that they couldn’t get a ticket because they haven’t enough points.
“My answer to that is if you support the Blades, don’t just pick your games - buy a season ticket, then your points will go up just like ours have. Then when us older people have gone, you’ll be like us now people complaining about you.”
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