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Touting fears, penalising families, righting a wrong: Norwich City groups react to membership scheme

Norwihc City fans will welcome Premier League football back to their fixture list - but how they book tickets, especially away from home, has met with criticism. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwihc City fans will welcome Premier League football back to their fixture list - but how they book tickets, especially away from home, has met with criticism. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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Potential ticket touting, unreasonably expensive for families and season ticket holders - it's fair to say Norwich City's new membership scheme met significant criticism.

Carrow Road will have 1,5000 seats on casual sale for each Norwich City Premier League fixture next season, while all supporters will need an away membership to give them priority access to ticket sales for games on the road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesCarrow Road will have 1,5000 seats on casual sale for each Norwich City Premier League fixture next season, while all supporters will need an away membership to give them priority access to ticket sales for games on the road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The club unveiled and put on sale its 2019-20 Premier League ticket plan yesterday morning that included away match sales - with previously high demand set to reach new levels given the top-flight's £30 cap on prices for visiting fans.

And the waters were choppy as City's supporters reacted to the news they will need to buy one of the club's two membership tiers to give themselves the best chance of attending any away games they choose - as well as one of 1,500 casual home tickets that will also be capped at £30 regardless of the opponents.

Jon Punt of Along Come Norwich, who played a significant part in improving the atmosphere at Carrow Road and on the road last season, said: "Capping all home prices at £30, which is likely to be unique in the Premier League, should be roundly applauded.

"Unfortunately it's been largely overlooked by a new system for away ticketing that upsets many and pleases few.

"There certainly seems to have been some limited fan engagement regarding the matter. To allow people who don't hold a season ticket but travel away regularly, fairer access to tickets is a good starting point - there has always been too much weight given to holding a season ticket in the prior points system.

"Yet what seems wholly unfair is to effectively surcharge the most loyal fans who held an away season ticket or attended 10-plus away games in 2018-19. To now ask them to dip further into their pockets must be a bit galling, especially so for families making regular away day journeys where the £50 might be doubled or trebled.

"City's ticket allocations for away matches at the larger Premier League stadia will be much healthier than at Championship level - meaning most if not all people who want to attend games can do so for the trips to the big six. They might just have to wait a little longer to secure their seats."

City's chief operating officer Ben Kensell rang some disgruntled supporters yesterday that had complained about the new scheme, in some cases apologising for the nature of the announcement and criticism of the new structure.

The club's self-funding nature - despite its newly perceived Premier League wealth - means the new membership revenue is most likely designed to cover the losses on the £30 home ticket cap.

A handful of supporters were asked for their feedback on the new scheme before its launch, although City's recognised supporters groups were left out of any prior consultation.

It seems the majority of supporters and a sizeable amount of the Canaries' 22,000 home season ticket holders felt put out by the new scheme. The club declined the chance to comment on yesterday's fallout.

"The points system needed changing, let's not beat around the bush, with the season ticket holders and members getting so much of an advantage - I felt that was unfair," said Forces2Canaries Neville Townsend.

"Our group has members who only went to away games and were disadvantaged, so this system gets rid of that - but the expense, especially for a family where you all need a membership, is a lot of money and not everyone has got that to throw around, and not even be guaranteed a ticket."

Canaries Trust's Nick Buck said: "I'm very disappointed and I have grave concern. Disappointed it was launched when it was. The club doesn't have a duty to consult with the Canaries Trust on everything but there's the fact no supporters' groups have been consulted about this - and if they cant trust the trust, then who can they trust? There would have been some level-headed people here who would've had some observations.

"My grave concern is that fans of other Premier League clubs will buy a membership, get a good chance to buy a ticket for the game they want to watch - and then buy the other tickets to sell them to Norwich fans at a profit.

"Selling on tickets is an issue and I just think it hasn't been very well thought through, which flies in the face of everything else the club has done in the last 12 months."

Season ticket holder Stephen Polley, who has attended an average of 10-12 away games each season since City's success under Paul Lambert, added: "I've been accumulating my points so personally, this is where it's a real kick in the teeth because that loyalty has been removed and replaced with a very expensive way in to have a chance.

"The system before wasn't perfect and they've taken steps to make it a level playing field for everyone - but they've not done it in the best way.

"It feels like we've had a season or two of building this amazing good will and in the space of a few hours, it's been setback somewhat.

"I've been looking forward to the fixture release date since I knew it, and now it's tinged with frustration that it costs more money and it's going to be more difficult to go with my mates, which is what it's all about."

- For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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