sport news Premier League clubs facing a digital BACKLASH as they fight to appease fans ... trends now
Football's digital ticket revolution has provoked outrage among fans, leaving Premier League clubs scrambling to deal with complaints.
Several clubs made the switch from paper and plastic to season tickets on smartphones last season, sparking chaos at the turnstiles and criticism from fans' groups. Now more are set to follow as the new season starts.
On Wednesday, West Ham agreed a print-at-home option on tickets after complaints from supporters who could not, or did not want to, download tickets on to their phones. Fans also launched an online petition.
Premier League clubs are fighting to appease angry fans over football's digital ticket revolution
Crystal Palace have backed down on plans to introduce a £40 membership fee for anyone wanting to transfer or resell digital season tickets for certain games.
But some Palace fans are still angry because any e-tickets issued in the transfer scheme still come with a £10 charge.
'When clubs are making big changes to their ticketing operations, like going all digital, we expect them to consult their supporters about it,' a spokesperson for the Football Supporters' Association said.
'All supporters should be able to get into the ground easily.'
Several clubs made the switch from paper and plastic to season tickets on smartphones last season
The Premier League turnstiles are about to swing back into action and fans will approach with a sense of apprehension not merely limited to the readiness of their team for the big kick-off.
Twelve months on from enormous queues and scenes of chaos outside the grounds caused by another lurch towards digital ticketing, more top-flight clubs are about to embrace the revolution. That means more supporters braced for the inevitable disruptions and hidden costs.
West Ham have found themselves under fire ahead of the opening game of the season against Manchester City, with an online petition gathering signatures and complaints from fans who would rather not move to a digital-only system.
The club extended booking office ticket hours to cope, promised more staff will be on the gates on Sunday and have ultimately now agreed to provide supporters with a 'print at home' option for tickets for the match.
Portsmouth fans come through the turnstiles all the way back in 2013 using the paper system
West Ham have found themselves under fire ahead of the opening game against Man City
But the Hammers are not the first to head down the digital path and they will not be the last.
Several clubs made the move at the start of last season when crowds first returned to capacity after the pandemic.
During the Covid lockdowns starting in 2020, the Premier League wrote into their rules that clubs should look to be 'digital first' to stop paper tickets being passed hand to hand, spreading the virus.
But the rule no longer exists, and the decision is once again down to the individual clubs, although the direction of travel is set and it is clearly advancing towards more digital tickets.
There is no holding back the march of technology. It is much cheaper, cleaner and more environmentally friendly. It is also more secure, and the added measure of control is appealing for the clubs.
They will have a much better understanding of who is in each seat, how often they actually attend, what time they arrive at the stadium, how they consume what they like to call the 'match day experience'. It can help track down culprits if there is disorder in the stands and is proving to be a crucial weapon in the long fight against ticket touting.
The Hammers are not the first to head down the digital path and they will not be the last
Plenty of fans prefer it. They find it more convenient to know the ticket is on their phone and in their pocket without needing to think about printing it at home or going to a collection point, but there are plenty who disapprove for various reasons.
Some just don't like change. Football fans by definition are creatures of habit. Some collect ticket stubs for sentimental reasons in the way they collected match-day programmes, something else that is under threat.
Some dread this shifting landscape and the increasing pressure from all angles to surrender personal data. Where does it end, with face recognition technology at the turnstiles?
Others find it is an unnecessary complication - and an additional expense - if they are sharing season ticket passes or cannot attend and want to pass the ticket to a friend or family member.
Extra charges are increasingly set on transfers, membership fees to be part of the scheme or simply an administration fee to receive an e-ticket, or to list on the ticket exchange.
Clubs might argue that tickets should not be transferable. You cannot transfer a season ticket on the trains if you are not travelling, for example, but football is a different entity.
Fans are loyal to their colours not passing trade and prices have soared,