Date: 28th July 2009 at 9:28am
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We always knew that reaching nirvana and promotion to the top flight would have significant implications for Clarets fans. That day at Wembley on Monday 25th May and the 1-0 victory against Sheffield United in the Championship Play-Offs Final would change the football life as we knew it for all Clarets fans in our first season in the top flight since 1976.

Burmley FC had until recently, let`s face it been a struggling midtable side for most of the post-Digital age. The club had to be particularly frugal in their spending habits and money had always been tight. We had to sell our key players often leaving the club with no hope of promotion season upon season.

That sense of hopelessness seemed to affect the fan base with more and more it seemed staying away season after season although we did seem to stabilise with an average home gate about 10-11,000. Many theories were put forward as to why we couldn`t get more folk coming to watch the side at Turf Moor, in hard financial times over the years with the town struggling, maybe just the cost of a ticket was the reason. Not enough Burnley football fans, even if they wanted to could come to matches because they simply could not afford it or so one theory went. Another theory was that we played boring, non-entertaining football anyway and this became particular prevalent and vocal during the darker days of Steve Cotterill`s time with the club. Why would fans anyway be attracted to a club that only played half-a-season, sold its best players in the January window and thus killed off any slim hopes it might have had of finishing in the top 6? That seemed to be Burnley`s lot season after season until Owen Coyle arrived.

All these theories may have some merit in their own right but looking at the demand for season tickets now and the likely demand for walk-on tickets at home and tickets for away games at the likes of Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, The Emirates and Anfield, we seem to have one simple answer .

All the club needed to do was reach the Premier League and the number of Clarets fans coming to games would exceed all expectations!

Season ticket sales have gone through the roof with an estimated 17,000 now taking the plunge. Of course a number of these (including yours truly) would also have simply taken advantage of the club Premier League promotion pledge to give 2008/9 Season Ticket holders a freebie for 2009/10 but even so the demand is pretty impressive with lots of new Clarets fans coming out of the closet.

The very nature of the demand almost questions what defines a Clarets fan and whether the likely scrabble for tickets in 2009/10 both for walk-ons at home and tickets for away games could set fan against fan. Will the loyal Clarets fan who has followed the team through thick and thin now feel upset that some of our newer brethren are making life difficult for that fan to now get tickets?

The very fact we have had so much demand for Season Tickets will mean of course there will be less seats available for walk-ons and non-season ticket holders. There are clearly going to be some fans that will be disappointed and they could feel aggrieved that fair-weather fans can now watch their beloved team after forking out for a season ticket for possibly the first time or indeed have become a Clarets fan for the first time. Yesterday the club announced their new policy for the 2009/10 Ticketing arrangements and some of the measures are bound to be controversial but Vital Burnley believe that in the end the club are being as fair as they possibly can in a situation where it was never going to be possible to accommodate the wishes of all Clarets fans and that`s what we all are whether we have supported the club for over 40 years or only just become one. It would be terrible if, when in our most exciting season for many a year, Clarets fans became bitter about other Clarets fans and vented their anger against the club.

Let`s first of all note the new ticket arrangements starting with those for home games.

Ticketing Arrangements for Home Games

To help prevent infiltration of away fans into home areas and to ensure that Burnley fans who come to Turf Moor on a regular basis are rewarded for their loyalty, the club is introducing a membership scheme for the 2009/10 season

Membership will cost £20 for the season for all price categories, but this will give the member discounts of around 20% on normal match day prices, up to £7 per match for adults. Over a full season, adult supporters can save over £100 by becoming a member.

In addition, members will enjoy a priority period for the purchase of a ticket for home matches (Note sales will be strictly on a one membership, one ticket and first come, first served basis).

The Club also advised that Memberships are now on sale to personal callers at the ticket office and by telephone 0871 221 1914.

Clarets fans should also note that in the event that match tickets are available for sale after the members’ priority period, supporters who wish to purchase a ticket for an ‘A’ category match must already be registered on the Clarets database and will be expected to purchase a ticket for a ‘B’ category match in the same transaction.

Ticket Prices Table

So what about away games?

Ticketing Arrangements for Away Games

The Club expect demand for away match tickets for the coming season to be high, and in most cases to exceed the supply of tickets made available to them.

For this reason, the allocation of away tickets will be strictly on a loyalty points basis, although a limited number will be set aside for foundation members and shareholders for sale on a first come, first served basis. The qualifying number of loyalty points will be set on a match by match basis depending on availability of tickets

Again, sales to supporters who have the qualifying number of points will be strictly on a first come, first served basis. The allocation of tickets will be one ticket per qualifying supporter.

As a reminder, season ticket holders are allocated 350 loyalty points per season and match day ticket purchasers are allocated 10 points per ticket purchased.

Burnley FC has approximately 4000 supporters who have 2,000 loyalty points or more.

Applications for tickets will be accepted by post only to the Ticket office marked ‘Away Tickets’ and the match you are applying for. No applications for a match will be accepted until the club announces the qualifying number of loyalty points and prices for that match.

Applications should include your Clarets number, your name and address, a cheque for the correct amount made payable to Burnley FC and a stamped, self addressed envelope

So there we have it, it is probably not ideal and the situation will be different for each fan in terms of the advantages, disadvantages and crosses to bear. Why don`t you tell us what you think below this article or debate this topic in our forums?

In relation to my own personal circumstances, I have been lucky enough these past three seasons to get myself a season ticket so there will now be a number of advantages for me because of that.

I will of course get a free season watching the Clarets at home in 2009/10, I will be guaranteed a seat for all home league games and I will have built up quite a few loyalty points for the away games although may be not enough to go to the likes of Old Trafford. I am happy therefore in relation to home games but I will have to accept the difficulties and inconveniences I might now face trying to get tickets for away matches.

The first thing to say is I haven`t a clue how many loyalty points I have in total and nor do any of us know at this stage what number we will need to go to the various matches. No doubt a hell of a lot will be required for Old Trafford (2000?) but maybe not so many for Portsmouth. It is probably best to see how this works out before panicking and complaining to the club. I think the biggest bugbear for me will be having to write to apply each time and the difficulties I will face in trying to get tickets for more than one person. Everybody of course wants to sit next to friends, but this is going to be hard to arrange now unless of course the club will accept one letter with each of your friends details, Claret Number and loyalty points spelt out. It will of course mean though that all your mates will have to have a Clarets Number and have the right number of loyalty points for the match! It will also be interesting to see what benefit there will now be in being a member of the Foundation. It looks like a limited number of tickets will be available over the phone for Foundation members like myself but I can imagine it will be a right scrabble to buy them.

I think in conclusion we should all keep calm, do the best we can under our individual circumstances to get the tickets we want and only then if things are really becoming an hardship raise the issue with the Club or via an organisation like Clarets Trust who under the new Partnership meet regularly with the Club and can raise fans concerns. I think we all have to accept, things are not going to be perfect, it is not a perfect world and we all have to act rationally and calmly to the situation. Somehow all of us have to enjoy one of the best times in our history and do it with dignity without pitching Clarets fan against Clarets fan. We all support the same club and to what degree we have done so in the past is quite frankly irrelevant.

If you don’t agree then I just ask you one thing, how would you have organised ticketing this season bearing in mind the demand and how would you have made it fairer?

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