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Securing a seat for the final at Wembley - was system just the ticket?

Byline: Philip Tallentire Boro Editor

MODEMS are melting and tempers are fraying as play-off fever hits Teesside.

Yesterday afternoon Boro suspended sales of tickets for Monday's Wembley final until today.

Seats went on sale to season card holders on Saturday, just hours after the club's thrilling play-off semi-final victory over Brentford. Boro Pride members were invited to apply on Sunday with the general sale starting at 9am yesterday.

It's fair to say things haven't gone as smoothly as hoped and the club is taking the brunt of the criticism, but is that fair? Ticketmaster are Boro's chosen distributers with the club's website the customer interface.

The whole operation is online or telephone only, there are no tickets available in person from the Riverside box office.

The huge demand was inevitable.

Judging by anecdotal evidence, most season card holders tried to apply online the moment sales went live on Saturday morning.

Not everyone was going to get through at the first time of asking in what was a digital bottleneck.

It was the same story this morning when the general sale got underway.

Anyone who regularly buys concert tickets for hot acts knows what a soul-sapping experience waiting for hours on the end of the keyboard or phone can be.

But fan frustration is perfectly understandable.

If you fail to get tickets to see your favourite band in Newcastle, you can always travel to Leeds or catch them the next time they tour.

Not so with cup finals. They are a one-off moment in time, never to be repeated.

Imagine missing out on a sensational, once in a lifetime, stoppage time winner.

The idea that you may be the one to lose out on a final ticket while your screen is locked or you constantly get the engaged tone eats away at the soul.

Could things have been done differently? Maybe the period for season card sales only could have been extended, but with fans desperate to make hotel and travel arrangements, that would have put other supporters at a serious disadvantage.

Could a loyalty scheme have been used to reward fans who has attended some, or most of the home games this season? Surely the details are on the club's database and those qualifying could have been contacted by email offering them the chance to apply in advance rather than going head-tohead with someone who may not have seen the club live this season.

Or ever, for that matter.

What about selling all tickets from the Riverside box office? Providing season card holders are given priority, that's got to be the most democratic system - first come, first served if you will.

But imagine the scrum outside the ticket office, imagine the queues around the stadium in this morning's driving rain, imagine the complaints about no online sales.

One consolation is the fact that there are 38,000 tickets available for a match taking place 250 miles away.

With many fans buying four, and the realisation that getting to and from the game on a Bank Holiday is far from easy, there are bound to be lots of spares floating around.

Surely a mate of a mate knows someone with a spare? Let's just hope there are no free-marketeers looking to make a killing by jacking up the price.

Now that would be a genuine cause for complaint.

CAPTION(S):

Boro |sold tickets for the play-off semi-final against Brentford to personal callers at the Riverside - but fans wanting to cheer their side on in the final at Wembley can only pruchase their tickets online or over the telephone KATIE LUNN

Joseph Job scores (top) and celebrates (centre) while Paul Ince shows his delight at the end |(left) and Carlos Marinelli takes on Michael Carrick (above) ACTION IMAGES
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:May 19, 2015
Words:626
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