I’ve been asked recently about my thoughts on the £5 surcharge that the club adds to ticket prices on matchdays and decided that it would be better if I discussed it with the club and gave their views as well as mine. My thanks to the club for being open in providing this update.
The good news is that, since Andrea Radrizzani took over, the club has made plans to scrap this surcharge.
I’m sure this news will please everybody who has spoken to me and we can look forward to it happening some time into the future: The exact timing is uncertain as it relies upon the installation of new equipment and testing of new ticketing methods but this process is already underway and will continue until complete.
And there I’ve mentioned the nub: new equipment costs money to install and new methods must be trialled and tested in small ways before being rolled out across the stadium. I’ve written before about the costs that the club is incurring on infrastructure and scouting etc and many fans would prefer that money is reserved for spending purely on players – the club is, in my opinion, trying to balance funds across a wide spectrum of needs and cannot wholly fund all projects at once, which is a sound business decision. Similarly, changing ticketing methods, just like any change within any organisation, is best done in stages where each stage is evaluated and any necessary improvements implemented.
I’ve spoken before about how stadiums around the world are being digitised to bring news and information to our mobiles and screens during matchday and I know the club have investigated this in the past but stepped away from getting involved (probably due to cost). My personal view is that as more broadcast material is created for worldwide streaming of every match then local streaming logically follows, I suspect Andrea Radrizzani is savvy enough to see these opportunities too!
A part of the digitisation of stadiums is ticketing, where connected systems can work over the internet to provide a much more modern experience to fans ordering tickets and entering the ground.
The club has already successfully trialled “Print-At-Home” ticketing which reduces postage (and the carbon footprint making it so much more environmentally friendly) as well as collect-on-the-day-queues and will soon install new equipment at more turnstiles to accept this method.
The next stage, which should be seen after the first new turnstile equipment is installed at Elland Road, will extend the Print-At-Home method to become paperless with “Direct-To-Mobile” ticketing whereby you only need bring your mobile phone to gain entry to the ground.
I’m pleased with this news from the club as it should put a stop to the misconception that the club is charging the surcharge “to rip fans off” when the truth is the stadium doesn’t have the resources to handle large queues of fans trying to buy an hour or two before the game. I suppose Andrea Radrizzani could invest to enlarge the ticket offices and queuing areas while bringing in more temporary ticket and security staff for a couple of hours but, quite frankly, that doesn’t make financial sense to me. For now, the club will seek to discourage as many people as possible from buying just before the match and try to promote buying in advance by adding the surcharge, but it is good news that the club recognises not all fans can do this and so the days of surcharge are numbered.
Mike Thornton 28th February 2018