Ian Hart: Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't
The recently announced changes to the Albion Loyalty ticket scheme has obviously prompted a fair amount of debate amongst supporters.
With the long awaited arrival of Premier League football and season ticket figures at record levels there was always going to be an unprecedented demand for the Albion’s away fixtures.
Any scheme was going to have its ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, and whilst the inbred ‘fanzine editor’ mindset of mine will champion all fans having a voice, whatever their opinion, some of the recent criticism levelled at Albion chief executive Paul Barber is a little unfair.
The question of ‘degrees’ of loyalty is almost an ongoing hot potato, which has probably been knocking about in some form or other since the club was formed back in 1901.
Does the fact fan A has attended more away games than fan B over a number of seasons make them a better supporter?
Of course not, but to have a perceived fair system there has to be a starting point, and a scale that is transparent as it can be.
The club’s arrival at the Amex in 2011, and subsequent ticket sales, is obviously a good as starting point as any for the scheme however I do think there is a small group of supporters who should be singled out for preferential treatment.
I don’t even know how many they number, but the club will certainly have the information of the ‘four stadium season ticket club’.
The fans who had season tickets at the Goldstone, Gillingham, Withdean and the Amex, are as I previously stated, a very small number, but are fans who have been on the ultimate journey.
For the record I don’t even qualify, I’ve got three out of four I regularly travelled to Gillingham but as part of my media commitments was given a press pass by the club, but the very small group who have made a season ticket commitment at all four Albion homes deserve in my opinion a special dispensation.
That amendment aside, the new scheme is as fair as it can be, naturally there are some away games more than others I’d like to attend this season, and myself and Harty Junior with our pre-designated loyalty points will take our chances like everyone else, but to reiterate as exciting as the upcoming campaign is, for me it’s always been more about the journey rather than the destination.
On the subject of loyalty, the return of Wayne Rooney to Everton after 13 years at Manchester United has certainly got half of Merseyside buzzing.
Personally I think it’s a great move for the club, the player and perhaps even the National team, as more game time at Everton could yet see Rooney force his way back into England’s plans for next summer’s World Cup.
Going in the other direction is Romalu Lukaku, who marked his £75 million transfer to Old Trafford by announcing that he was now playing for the biggest club in the World, with the greatest supporters.
For the record he said the same thing about Chelsea two years ago just before he left West London for Goodison Park. I wonder how long it will be before he’s kissing the badge on his shirt in front of the Stretford End?
Fickle or forgetful footballers - don’t you just love them?
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