The Chelsea Supporters Trust board notes the following statement from the @CFCTickets Twitter account earlier today – “with regret we are shutting down cfctickets after this week being contacted by Chelsea, and the site being brought to Bruce Bucks attention”.
Chelsea FC are in the happy position of demand for match tickets exceeding the available supply. While this ensures sell-out home games, it also means that many supporters are left trying to obtain tickets through other means, a problem exacerbated by the club’s growing global reach. Traditionally, this has meant buying tickets at highly inflated prices from touts stationed close to the ground, and it is an ongoing frustration for many supporters that gangs of touts continue their activities in the Fulham Road area, unchallenged and unchecked by police or Hammersmith Council.
In recent years the club has entered into a commercial relationship with Viagogo (self-described as “the world’s largest ticket marketplace”) who have been the subject of unflattering publicity in the media and who charge both buyer and seller of Chelsea tickets a commission on transactions. Although this is a means for season ticket holders to sell their seats for games they cannot attend, many are clearly uncomfortable about the mark-up involved and last summer’s CST Members’ Survey highlighted the concern many supporters clearly feel about this relationship. Viagogo was also listing tickets for last season’s Europa League final at highly inflated prices, an issue picked up by the national media.
A relatively new, alternative method for supporters to buy and sell tickets has been through organisations like CFC Tickets who offer a no-fee marketplace for supporters to offload unwanted tickets to other supporters, at face value. It is to be regretted that the club has seen fit to clamp down on this activity in the same week as e-mailing season ticket holders extolling the virtues of selling unwanted Arsenal home tickets through Viagogo.
It is also clear that CFC Tickets were experiencing problems with users attempting to defraud other users, but this certainly does not mean that the face value ticket exchange concept, in principle, is not a worthy one. Arsenal operate their own club-backed ticket exchange for unwanted season tickets, offering tickets at face value with a low handling fee, and this service is clearly best practice among Premier League clubs at this time.
The CST board firmly believes that Chelsea should operate a similar system, drawing on features of the service offered at Arsenal and also the experiences of CFC Tickets. A club operated system would also remove concerns about potential fraudulent activity.