Lincoln City CEO addresses fan anger over low ticket allocation for Wembley play-off final against Blackpool
Lincoln City's chief executive has issued an open letter to address concerns about the low ticket allocation for next weekend's play-off final against Blackpool.
The Imps have announced they have been allocated 3,879 tickets plus directors/hospitality for the Wembley showpiece, which kicks off at 3pm on Sunday, May 30.
Blackpool are due to confirm their ticket details shortly, but their allocation will be similar.
Lincoln supporters will be housed in the East blocks, meaning Pool fans will be in the West.
Fans of both clubs have already raised concerns about the comparatively small allocation, given Wembley has a capacity of 90,000.
The recent FA Cup final between Leicester City and Chelsea was played in front of 22,000 fans as part of a test event, but only 10,000 supporters are permitted to attend the play-off finals.
Supporters also raised issue with a large number of tickets going to sponsors, official dignitaries and delegates.
Addressing these concerns, Imps CEO Liam Scully released an open letter on the club's official website.
He said: "On behalf of the board, Michael Appleton, 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 seven 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."
Here are some of his responses to concerns raised by supporters of both finalists:
Why only 4,000 tickets for each team?
Scully said: "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."
Why are there 2,000 tickets 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," Scully added.
"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 is the overall capacity 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," Scully explained.
"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 three 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 tickets be distributed internally at Lincoln?
Scully said: "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 two hospitality 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
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