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AFL defends, tries to explain ticketing system

AFL commercial operations manager Darren Birch maintains the league is not greedy despite an avalanche of criticism from fans about its new variable ticketing system.

The latest wave of fan discontent came on Easter Monday when about 1200 walk-up Geelong and Hawthorn general admission members were allowed to swipe into the AFL Members Reserve without charge after Birch on the day had stripped the game of its A-reserve status.

Others who had pre-purchased a ticket had been forced to pay a surcharge to reserve a seat.

Ticket simplicity, 1980.

Ticket simplicity, 1980. Photo: Digital artwork: Frank Maiorana

Birch conceded the move had backfired.

"We made the decision to open the AFL reserve which we don't do very often at all just to provide some overflow for members to be able to scan into that area to make sure that anybody that turned up to the game wasn't going to be turned away," Birch told SEN radio.

"In hindsight we probably should have put a fee on that to make it fair for those people who had pre-purchased, but the intention was good. It certainly copped some negative criticism ... but what we didn't want to have is people outside the game with membership who couldn't get in."

He acknowledged that the AFL had not sufficiently explained the new ticketing model to fans, but said the organisation was not gouging fans.

"Previously there's only been two price points. What we've actually done is increase it to seven price points and those price points change depending on the game. It is a significant change after a long period of time where we've had one sort of ticketing system," he said.

"The difficulty for us is that it's a new system and it's going to take time to bed down.

"... What most people think is that the AFL takes all this money. We don't, this money is the clubs' money, when you go and pay for the ticket at the gate or you pay for your membership that revenue goes to the clubs not the AFL.

"I hear a lot of feedback about the AFL being greedy and all those sort of things and we need to take all that on board, but ticketed revenue from the gate goes to the clubs."

Birch has previously stated an interest in introducing an American-style dynamic ticketing system, but on Wednesday morning said: "given the feedback we've had over the last month, it's something that we'll take under advisement".

Birch said the AFL was also aware of the burden of high cost of food and drinks at football grounds.

"We are concerned about the price of footy," he said. "I guess the biggest issue for us and for sport internationally is the at-game experience versus the at-home experience.

"W need to work really hard on that. Cost is one element of that.

"People see the game being run by the AFL. We are the peak body and we have to do everything we can to make sure that we minimise cost and to make sure that fans get value for money and they enjoy their experience.

"But there are a lot of costs that our outside of our control: food, beverage, ticket fees and charges outside the price, parking, all of those things are going up in price."

Birch said the AFL would be able to reduce cost at Etihad Stadium when its ownership is transfered to it in 2025.

"That will change the game for us and we will then have to put our hand on our heart and actually say we will make the experience different for the family," he said.

"We will have total control."

18 comments so far

  • It is ridiculous that the top deck of the Ponsford stand is reserved up until the last 10 or so rows which the general admission patrons have to squeeze into. This a 100,000 seat stadium! The whole top deck should be general admission.

    Date and time
    April 23, 2014, 12:25PM
    • Maybe you didn't read the article properly. "He acknowledged that the AFL had not sufficiently explained the new ticketing model to fans, but said the organisation was not gouging fans"

      So the $45 I paid to sit on level 4 of the Olympic stand was not gouging, it just had not been explained to me properly. So Greg we're not being ripped off by paying premium price for D grade seats, we're just too stupid to understand the new model. Good to know the problem is ours and not the AFL's

      Date and time
      April 23, 2014, 4:40PM
  • I betcha if Vlad's salary was tied to this thing they would have got it right

    Date and time
    April 23, 2014, 12:46PM
    • So "the AFL would be able to reduce cost at Etihad Stadium when its ownership is transferred to it in 2025".

      With the dreadful spectacle the game has become, the spectactor unfriendly fixturing times, and the excessive price gouging in relation to food and tickets, by 2025 the AFL will need to give tickets away for free to attract anyone to a game.

      Malvern East
      Date and time
      April 23, 2014, 1:27PM
      • Having a quick look at the stats that picture, the average weekly earnings in March 1980 was $223 with footy tickets $5. Extrapolating that out the same % of wages makes a footy ticket about $32.20.

        How many tickets are more or less expensive than that?

        Of course there is no comparison between the quality if the facilities between 1980 and 2014.

        Date and time
        April 23, 2014, 1:55PM
        • Stop complaining you peasants, you should feel privileged to pay things like "Booking Fees" that are forced onto you with little or no benefit except to the monopoly companies that profit from the AFL industry.

          Do you all somehow think that you are entitled to watch the footy for a reasonable cost, all of this costs money you know and we made it happen overnight, it's not as if it was built up over the last hundred years by magical pixies - get with the program!

          Signed: AFL industry exec on 6 figure salary.

          Date and time
          April 23, 2014, 2:12PM
          • So the afl is concerned abt the cost of going to the footy?
            Since when.
            The justification that variable price is done In America cuts no ice with me.
            This is Australia.
            If US sport is the be all and end all why dont we follow one of their better ideas and get rid of all the sponsors logos on the jumpers and shorts?

            Date and time
            April 23, 2014, 2:14PM
            • When will fans realize that they should boycott matches for one or two weeks so that the greedy out of touch clowns running the AFL get the message. The rules in place, and their manipulation, by the AFL demonstrate how they really don't care about the average supporter. They would make great politicians.

              Date and time
              April 23, 2014, 2:26PM
              • He says how powerless the AFL is. But wait until 2025 when all will be sweetness and light. But worst of all, he speaks of 'price points'...price points...what meaningless drivel is this?

                In the fullness of time going forward the price points just might engender a flowering of negative consumer attitudes in a non-showup attitude that will lead to a less than capacity outcome at the football playing circumferences.

                Date and time
                April 23, 2014, 2:28PM
                • LOL Yes they also don't believe teams play matches or games, they provide "content." Talk about being out of touch. They are as bad as politicians

                  Date and time
                  April 24, 2014, 12:59AM

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