On behalf of the Board, Michael, the players and all of the backroom team at Lincoln City, I would like to thank you for your incredible support over the past 12 months.
We regularly talk about what can be achieved when you get many people pulling on the same bit of rope at the same time. The fact that we will be competing for a place in the Championship in a one-off game just 7-days from now is clearly an example of what unity and alignment can achieve.
With this, we recognise the support of so many that has enabled us to reach this stage. It is therefore clearly disappointing that we have just over 4,000 tickets for the final. Disappointing that Michael and the boys won’t benefit from the vocal backing of 30,000+ Imps. Disappointing so many of you that have contributed to our success will miss out. It is for that reason I wish to write to you to tackle some possible issues head-on.
Why just 4,000?
On the date of the final, the country will still be operating under legislation that mandates maximum capacity allowed at any large outdoor venue as “up to 10,000 fans or 25% capacity, whichever figure is lower”.
As a result of the 10,000 cap, an equal allocation of circa 4,000 tickets will be given to each Club, with 2,000 for official dignitaries, delegates, and sponsors.
From the feedback I have already received, I can see there are 2 points that we need to address:
2,000 for official dignitaries, delegates, and sponsors.
I absolutely hear the moans and groans when all football fans see a percentage of tickets ‘disappear’ to sponsors etc. Ultimately the football finance ecosystem relies heavily on support from the groups mentioned above, and there are existing contracts and commitments in place which contractually need to be honoured. As CEO of Lincoln City, I clearly have an understanding of the overall economic model, but in doing the best for the Lincoln City, I have asked two questions; has this allocation been reduced to the minimum, given so many fans of both clubs will miss out? And, is there anything further the EFL and other stakeholders could do to reduce this allocation?
Whilst losing 2,000 tickets from the hands of fans isn’t ideal, I am comfortable that the EFL and all other stakeholders have done all they can to reduce this number during these unique circumstances. If you compare this figure to other marquee fixtures and finals in the last decade, the overall percentage is as low as I have seen.
Why just 10,000 when the FA cup final had 20,000 fans?
The FA cup final and other events, such as the World Snooker final, were held as pilot events. Pilot events were used to capture data and learn from the hosting of the event. As this was their given purpose, they operated under totally different legislation.
Along with other play-off semi-finalists, across all 3 divisions, we did ask the question if there could be any value in extending the pilot events. In the end, there was no credible health/data reason to expand the pilot events; therefore, all play-off fixtures will take place under the current regular protocols, which is the 10,000 cap.
How will the 4,000 be allocated?
As you can imagine, this is incredibly difficult. As noted above, we are very aware that so many of you have contributed to our success. It is never nice being in the position that ultimately is responsible for distributing tickets, which I know will only end up disappointing a significant number of fans.
Firstly, can I be really clear that the following policy, which has remained consistent throughout, is not a measure of loyalty or support in our eyes. We do not look at our fans in such a way – we are simply grateful to have your support, be that as a season box holder or someone who attends a handful of matches each year.
However, we do need to find a mechanism to distribute tickets. Therefore, following industry-wide custom and practice, current season ticket holders will receive priority.
The exact definition of current season ticket holders has been clarified in our official communication. I would also suggest it is safe to assume the current 4,300 season ticket holders will take up the allocation of tickets; therefore, it is safe to assume we will not reach general sale.
Further to this, I note you will be keen to understand how we will internally allocate the 4,000 tickets.
We will be running an unweighted ballot to allocate tickets. No one person will be given favour over another either by the Club or the automated process. A small allocation will be given to other groups, and in the spirit of openness and transparency, I have set this allocation out below;
- The Board, Associate Directors and Investors, will have an allocation of 90 tickets
- 100 hospitality places will be offered to box holders and lounge members. Box holders will receive the option to purchase 2 hospitlity tickets per box, with the remaining being offered lounge season ticket holders in a ballot format. Both of the above do not come out of the 3,879 general allocation.
- An allocation of 200 will be kept for staff and also for players/players families
- 40 wheelchair bays (plus carer), which will also be issued via a ballot process
Are the Club watching out for re-sale and touts?
Speaking openly and frankly, nothing frustrates me more than people selling tickets for profit in such a scenario. I cannot guarantee this will not happen, but I can assure fans the Club will do everything we can to monitor social media and key sites to look out for re-sales. Under Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, it is an offence for any unauthorised person to sell tickets, and we will not hesitate to cancel the tickets of anyone who does attempt to re-sell the tickets.
Please also be aware as we are operating using an e-ticketing platform, tickets purchased via this manner are highly likely to have been cancelled without you knowing. If you do buy a ticket via a re-sale, the risk and liability sit with you.
If you have any feedback on tickets being re-sold or any comments on any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email@example.com.
In closing, can I please ask for your patience. The ticket office team will be working incredibly hard over the next few days. I am sure there will be frustrations, but please remember there is someone at the end of the phone/receiving that email who will be doing their very best for you and for Lincoln City FC.
Up The Imps