Right on queue

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Let’s face it; things have gone a little bit mad this season. Whether it be season tickets, the big away games or, to top it all, what happened on Sunday, Wiganers have gone queuing crazy. Forget the Harrods sales, Ashes tests and the Celebrity Big Brother finale you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2005/06’s must attend event was the League cup final. Now I’ll admit I was a little bit twitchy myself about whether I’d get tickets as I’d have to wait until Tuesday before I could even think about joining any queue, and for one reason or another I’d have to go down in person and Tuesday was as good a day as was available.

Luckily the feeding frenzy was too much for the ticket office to cope with, and in retrospect it was always going to be. We got down there early doors on Tuesday and after three hours in the cold walked away with our necessary 18 tickets and the only confusion being why our £36 tickets were only 10 or so rows further back than the £46 ones, and on the half way line rather than in the corner. Never mind though, we were happy puppies, we were going to Cardiff. Or at least we were if we could sort the transport out.

Now my only gripe with what’s happened is the lack of information coming from the club about what, where and how many tickets have been sold etc. Now surely they don’t pay per story on the official site and a daily update on the state of play would have saved a lot of panic, hassle for the ticket office and criticism for the club.

I’m obviously a lot more easy going than some people. Every step the club has taken has caused consternation in some quarter or other. How much of that is to do with fear of (or actually in some cases) missing out on something, I don’t know.

Take the ‘present’ we got from Carling. 400 tickets handed back to the club to donate to an ‘organised group of fans’. Well there’s the supporters’ club I suppose, but I would imagine that would have caused more of a stink. Someone suggested that disabled fans and carers could have got the tickets, now that would have been an idea and nice to see but would have taken some organising.

Away season ticket holders, to me at least, seemed a reasonable enough idea, and although there wasn’t enough for one per AST the number of people that seem to hold more than one ticket suggests that one per holder may have been possible, maybe the club could have paid for the shortfall? At the very least they should have only given one pair to each name drawn up.

The draw may have looked a stitch up, but when you’ve got a 40% chance of your name coming up there were always going to be some obvious looking names on there. Not being an AST holder I’m not likely to lose any sleep over it either way.

As for the organization of the ticket office, well how on earth they came to the conclusion that they could manage the demand for only 27,000 tickets from 14,000 (ish) season ticket holders, over 14 days I don’t know. Last time there was queuing like that there was probably a carpenter at the front handing out fillet o’fish, without the fries. Surprisingly the rumour is that he had enough to go around in the end.

I’ve heard the excuse that people were desperate to make sure that they got the tickets they wanted. Of course everyone was going to want to sit in the same seat. Come off it, for every one who’s prepared to pay 72 quid, there’s some one who begrudges paying 36. I can’t see why anyone would choose to sit behind the goal, but there’s a lot who do.

At the end of the day both sides have something to learn out of this. The club needs to make itself more readily available in ways that don’t involve sleeping overnight in a retail park, whatever happened to the humble postal ballot? I can’t remember Latics ever having one but other clubs use them.

There’s no panic queuing, you just send a form to all season ticket holders offering a maximum of 2 each ask for a preference of which block. If there’s enough for anyone who wants them to get 2, then great if not then say sorry, there’s only one each or do a draw to see who gets 2. You then sit people as near to their preference as possible. Any left over go on general sale.

The fans need to start taking a wider view on things. No matter how the club handle these things there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like it. Stop behaving like Daily Mail readers, panicking over the littlest thing. Yes they’re going to make mistakes, but hopefully they’ll learn from them. In fact, one look at the ticketing arrangements for the Manchester United game tells you that they are.

I suppose this whole thing may need revisiting in a week or so, when tickets go on general sale, and I may yet have to eat my words, but I’ll be big enough to say so. If everyone who wants a ticket gets one, or we don’t even sell the allocation, then how many others will hold their hands up and learn from what has happened? Not many, I’ll bet.

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