Newcastle United is a club famous for its sprawling fanbase. The Toon Army travel the length and breadth of the country following their beloved Newcastle. However, some sections of fans are becoming increasingly unhappy with the club’s use of loyalty points. Through this system, frequent away day travelers are rewarded with a point which they can use to get priority access to future away games. Many fans were upset to hear that the upcoming game with Leeds United, a game in which many fans have eagerly awaited since the fixtures were released, would be on sale to fans with 100 loyalty points, rendering the game unattainable to many fans. This raises the question whether the loyalty point system is fair.
Newcastle’s away support has been the envy of the Championship this season and throughout this campaign the Toon Army have traveled in number to away games this season. Only this weekend, just under 6,000 fans made the journey to the North West for the fixture against Preston North End. Many of these have been frequent travelers and have followed the Magpies through thick and thin. This is commendable due to the ups and downs that following Newcastle entail. So, surely, this should mean that these fans should have certain perks and this is the stance that the club takes. Supporter liaison officer, Lee Marshall, states “To reward their loyalty throughout the season, away tickets are available to season card holders first. Due to high demand for away tickets, they are sold in order of away loyalty points a supporter has accumulated.” This is important and definitely correct; those fans who turn up and spend their cash every week should be given priority over others. This is only fair.
However, there is also a flip side to this. Due to the unbelievable demand for away tickets, this system ultimately means that fans who may want to start on the away game circuit can’t, due to tickets running out before they reach member or season ticket sale. This ultimately means that the club risk alienating younger supporters who may not have the away day experience that other supporters may have. Unfortunately, this means that younger supporters may not be able to follow their team away from home. However, many may argue that obviously that this is not the case for every single game and some games do reach member sale. Surely then, younger supporters must have to attend these games to build up the points. However with the team doing increasingly well the amount of away tickets hitting member sale are declining. This, therefore, leads to inevitable disappointment for fans who are looking to start following their team away from home.
Following Newcastle at away games is a special experience and many of my greatest days supporting the club have come when following them away from home. The loyalty point system is proven to work and rightly rewards the loyalists in the fanbase – the priority to support their team is something they have undoubtedly earned. However, as a fanbase we must encourage the influx of younger fans into the football club. The club seems to have noticed this and does seem to be moving in the right direction. A recent example of this was when the club released 800 tickets for the trip to Barnsley to people on general sale. With further positive additions like this, the club can gain new away supporters as well as allowing those who are frequent travellers the rewards that they deserve.
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