Dear clubs, more FA Cup tickets in the hands of fans please...

Dave Beasant lifts FA Cup 0011241

The Football Supporters’ Federation has written to every Premier League, Football League, and Conference club asking if they support the principle of more FA Cup final tickets being allocated directly to competing finalists.

Every season we receive emails and letters from fans bewildered that they can’t get tickets for the FA Cup final, despite often being season ticket holders. It’s an annual complaint and it’s not just fans who are concerned - Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis outlined his worries last year.

“We fully understand this is the showpiece FA fixture to celebrate the game as a whole, but we also believe the loyal supporters of the competing teams deserve a greater chance to see their team play in what is one of the biggest matches of the season. The balance in the FA’s allocation system is not right,” said Gazidis

Despite Wembley’s 90,000 capacity the finalists receive only 25,000 tickets each with an additional 17,000 going to Club Wembley and 23,000 to the “football family” via the FA and other bodies. Thousands of tickets issued by the FA for their showcase competition end up on the black market, meaning fans are often forced to purchase tickets illegally and at extortionate prices.

Even when these tickets make it into the hands of fans at face value, there’s no guarantee that the “right” fans have managed to get them as there’s been no points-based allocation. It’s who you know, rather than how loyal you’ve been, which dictates whether you get a ticket.

Of the 23,000 going to the “football family” many do go to hardworking, grassroots volunteers who attend the final themselves and have a great time. We support the notion that volunteers receive some reward but think it’d be more appropriate to reward them with England tickets.

In addition, there isn’t any oversight as to how clubs distribute tickets themselves. Both clubs in the final receive 25,000 tickets, but there’s no rule on what proportion must go to fans, as opposed to club officials, players, guests, or sponsors.

Our letter encouraged all professional clubs not appearing in the FA Cup final not to claim their allocation so that a far higher proportion of tickets go to the finalists.

We also asked the clubs two questions and will use the answers to promote best practice:

  1. Do you support the principle of more tickets for the FA Cup final being allocated to the clubs competing in the final?
  2. If your club does not reach the final, do you already, or would you be willing to not claim your full allocation of tickets?

As FSF chief executive Kevin Miles writes: “The FA Cup is a great competition but every year its reputation suffers as loyal fans of the finalists miss out and too many tickets are regurgitated via the black market. It is in all of our interests to do something about that and I’d be very pleased to hear from clubs or officials who would like to work with us on this.”

The FSF would like to thank affiliated member-group the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust who worked closely with us on this initiative. If you would like to get involved with FSF work in relation to FA Cup allocations, email info@fsf.org.uk.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.