Fans line up to get into Canberra Stadium on Saturday night following a ticket bungle by the Brumbies. Photo: Melissa Adams
THE ACT Brumbies and Greater Western Sydney have been forced to offer compensation to fans following membership and ticket bungles just two days apart that took the gloss off the start of the football season in Canberra.
Brumbies members had to line up outside Canberra Stadium to get tickets to the Super Rugby round one clash against the Queensland Reds, despite most having bought their packages before Christmas.
In AFL, the Giants are offering half-price tickets to their first premiership game at Manuka Oval in April after about 800 fans missed the first quarter of their pre-season game on Thursday night.
It was a massive blow as both codes attempt to lure new supporters for their new campaigns.
The Brumbies had to turn away almost 500 potential new members last week to concentrate on rectifying numerous problems.
They admit their membership dramas are ''not good enough'' and will offer merchandise as a peace gesture this week.
The initial Brumbies' membership bungle resulted in the wrong cards being printed and more than 1000 fans did not get their tickets for round one.
Three factors contributed to the Brumbies' problems - a new ARU system, a Ticketek problem and a new membership pack supplier for the first time in a decade.
''The thing is we don't know how far it has spread. There are two categories which haven't been affected at all,'' Brumbies general manager Simon Chester said.
''We just wanted to get people into their right seats this week. We'll work out the compensation next week - we know it's not good enough,'' he said.
''But our priority has been on getting everyone into the ground this week.''
The timing was disastrous, with Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval both getting major off-season renovations.
There are new $1.4 million ticket booths at Canberra Stadium designed to avoid a logjam of fans entering the ground, with public wireless internet points and a pristine $250,000 playing surface.
At Manuka Oval, there are plans to add more entry points to the western side, and the work could be finished as early as GWS's round seven clash with Port Adelaide on May 3.
Manuka Oval has been upgraded with new turf, grandstands and amenities to attract international cricket and the top AFL clubs.
The Giants' pre-season game against the Sydney Swans kick-started the 48 hours of ACT ticketing drama.
A Ticketek blunder forced the fans to line up outside Manuka Oval because an administrative error meant the fans could not print their pre-purchased tickets before the game.
''It was definitely a mistake made by the ticketing company - they've acknowledged that, and they're working with us to ensure something like this doesn't happen in the future,'' Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval general manager Neale Guthrie said.
''I'm sorry we inconvenienced the patrons the other night at the football,'' he said. ''Trust us that we've fixed it, and next time they come they'll be fine.''
The Giants have a 10-year $26 million deal to play games in Canberra, and the club has moved to ease tension with supporters after the stuff-up.
GWS fans have until Monday to buy half-price tickets for the Giants' match against the Western Bulldogs to be played at Manuka Oval on April 12.
''We put the fans first. Our overriding value is we love our fans, we love the fans of the game and we try to think about any decision with the fans at the centre of it,'' Giants chief executive David Matthews said.
''Clearly if people are missing large parts of the game through no fault of their own, we've just got to make sure those processes are handled right.
''That's why we thought we'd make an offer and extend a bit of generosity at our end.''