Below are the notes/minutes from Aston Villa’s Away Working Group meeting that took place earlier in the month. The meeting covered several key concerns of Villa supporters in recent months, from fans buying European tickets yet not actually attending the game, to the on-going issue of away ticket allocation.
While the group is different from the club’s Fan Advisory Board (FAB), it is loosely connected. Two members of FAB attended this meeting, while the other Villa fans present, represent different away booking histories.
Away Working Group Meeting Minutes – November 8th 2023
Introduction from the club thanking members for their attendance, reiterating the purpose of the group:
To continually evaluate & establish fair process for the distribution of away tickets.
To identify & support processes that help ensure booking history is genuine and to identify appropriate sanctions against those who pass tickets to others.
Fan RepresentativesClub Representatives
Aaron Jones Leigh Bucknall
Jonathan Knibb Lynne O’Reardon
Ben Redding Lee Preece
Comments from fan representatives in normal text.
Club comments in blue italics.
Whilst the group has not met formally since May, the club would like to place on record our appreciation for the feedback from the group received informally since the last meeting. Help with European criteria via email has been invaluable to the club during very busy times!
We are three games into a new era of European ticketing, which is clearly a learning curve for both fans and the club. As agreed at previous meetings, we remain committed to two principles as we continue our journey in Europe. Firstly, priority for European away tickets should be given to those that continue to support the club in Europe. Secondly, due to the amount of money needed to travel, European away support will not give anyone additional priority for domestic support.
For future games, following the experience of our staff on duty at the ticket collection points, we will only be accepting PASSPORTS as proof of ID for the collection of tickets. Copies of passports or any other form of ID will not be accepted.
European Tickets – no shows / ticket abuse
The club would also like to clarify our position on those who purchase tickets and then do not complete their travel form, and those who fail to collect their tickets on the day. Any fan purchasing a ticket that is not collected is denying an opportunity for someone else to support the team, and clearly, we need to have a zero-tolerance approach to avoid other fans missing out.
For AZ Alkmaar, only those that collected their tickets at the previous match were allowed to purchase. Anyone that fails to collect their tickets will obviously lose that match on their history. Should we reach a point where anyone fails to collect for a second offence, we will ensure they are no longer able to purchase in the first place.
Should anyone deliberately abuse the system by attempting to obtain tickets for someone else, we will also remove their domestic loyalty on top of refusing any future European purchases.
The club has been contacted by several fans who have presented reasons that have prevented their being able to collect. Any fan that has a valid reason that can be supported with suitable evidence will have their history maintained if the club considers this to be appropriate.
At the time of the meeting, a full site visit to Mostar had not been possible to establish exact allocations, wheelchair access etc. The original allocation was only going to be 390, which has now increased to 490. The club shared the intended criteria with the groups which was approved by the group and has since been published.
A concern was raised about non-wheelchair users purchasing ambulant seating at away European matches.
The club’s Disabled Access Officer is aware and will be taking the appropriate steps going forward.
Criteria 23/24 so far
The group were presented the following information for the season so far:
The question was raised as to why we go from 19+ straight to grouping 15+ to 18+ together?
The number of fans who qualify in the first tranche must be lower than the allocation we receive, otherwise fans who have not missed a match for many years (and would not miss another one if their life depended on it) could miss out. We feel protecting this group of fans is important to continue and this view was shared by the group.
Beyond this, and within reason, we have always tried to spread out the opportunity for others, and have always looked to group the next tranches as opposed to going 19+, 18+, 17+ etc. Even if we did go to 18+ for Bournemouth, several hundred on 18+ would still miss out.
On sight of the data for this season so far, it was highlighted that whilst several games have gone to season ticket sale, having 67 & 78 tickets available for two of them highlights the “closed shop” element of the current system.
The club then invited the group to advise on what criteria we should consider for 2024.
Having viewed the data from 23/24 season, it was suggested that the club should rethink the tranche system to enable more opportunity for season ticket holders. The club should maintain protection for those on 19+, then consider 16+ but beyond this point, release the remaining allocation for all season ticket holders. We may wish to consider this for full allocations of 3,000 or more only and maintain a tranche system for lower allocations. It was felt that some season ticket holders would be happy being able to obtain tickets for 1 or 2 games, and that hose on 15+ to 11+ would not be impacted too much by the change.
On hearing this suggestion, other group members were invited to give their thoughts. The suggestion was warmly welcomed by the group.
Following this feedback, the club agreed to circulate two suggested criteria plans for 2024 to the group. One will follow the existing system with a tranche system based on 23/24 fixtures to date, and then a second one opening out for sales as per the suggestion from the group. The club will then seek further feedback from the group prior to deciding.
Any away FA Cup matches will be integrated into any criteria as had been agreed at previous meetings.
A question was raised on the queuing system that appeared for the Spurs away sale.
An unexpected technical issue occurred and was fixed the next day. There was nothing intentional about the appearance of the queuing system!