FULL: Brighton chef Paul Barber gives scathing response to ‘flattest atmosphere’ claim and empty seat farce for season tickets

Brighton and Hove Albion Managing Director and Vice President Paul Barber

There were a slew of no-shows last Wednesday night for the disappointing 1-0 loss to a defensive Wolves side at Amex Stadium.

The attendance of 30,362 people was announced based on the number of tickets sold – including season tickets – but there were around 10,000 empty seats.

the column sparked a lot of healthy debate online, but also demonstrated that, despite some disagreements, fans want the best for the club.

Ultimately, it comes down to helping Graham Potter’s side achieve the best results on the pitch in the richest league in the world. A full and rock atmosphere at the Amex will certainly contribute a lot.

Barber immersed himself in the debate, described it as a “click-bait nature” and responded to points made in last week’s article. column. Here is the Vice President’s full response:

“I am writing in response to the article written by Scott McCarthy, owner of the We Are Brighton site, published by the Brighton & Hove Independent after our last home game with Wolverhampton Wanderers, criticizing the atmosphere at Amex, the politics club to announce sold sales, and the ticket sharing system introduced for season ticket holders.

“I would like to address each point in turn, but first, thank the majority of the fans who have been superb in their support for the club and our efforts on and off the pitch this season.

“Whether it was the football the team played in the Premier League, which many consider the best they have ever seen and which has seen us continue our progress under Graham Potter; or off the pitch, with the measures that we had to take take during the pandemic to continue playing in front of the supporters in the stadium.

“Our supporters were brilliant, and it was once again evident with all but two of the fans complying with the new Plan B measures on Wednesday night.

“For Scott’s points, and first on the ‘flat’ atmosphere. There will be times when the atmosphere on the ground is great, and other times less so, it’s the same in all clubs in up and down leagues and across the country, and has been the same at Amex in each of our ten seasons since opening; and will also have some correlation with team performance and results, and other factors such as the weather and even the kick off times.

“We heard what only 8,000 fans inside the Amex could do for the Manchester City game at the end of last season. Even with limited numbers, a brilliant atmosphere is still achievable.

“Wolves came to frustrate us on Wednesday, and anyone who watches football at any level knows that it ultimately damages the atmosphere. Wolves’ game plan was to stop play when they could and us. prevent getting into any rhythm. This is not the case. the first time teams have done this to us at the Amex and, as part of the desired effect, these tactics are calming the stadium.

“However, if Scott or other fans think they can help us improve the atmosphere under such circumstances or in any other way, we have always been, and still are, open to dialogue. I lost. counting the email exchanges, the street chats, or the fan forums where we discussed it, and finally, we come back to the same starting point – the vibe, in good times and in bad times , must come from the stands.

“We can help, and of course the way the team plays part of that, but at the end of the day the atmosphere is for the fans to drive. On our recent trip to Aston Villa, with newly installed Steven Gerrard as head coach, Villa Park was rocking.

“We controlled the game, calmed their fans for long stretches, and although Villa’s performance for 80 minutes was similar to their previous home game, their fans stayed with them and after the first goal gave them the momentum and energy to win the game late.

“Our fans have done the same on several occasions this season and have been rewarded with many late goals.

“Regarding the announcement of the participation, Scott will already be well aware, like the vast majority of fans, that it is standard practice across the Premier League and the EFL to announce their sold participation (and this for many, many years), and while we enjoy the Wolves game, there has been a much higher number of no-shows, there were some pretty obvious reasons for that! I’m sorry, but to suggest that this is due to the exchange of tickets or sharing options is just nonsense!

“I’m sure I don’t need to explain the reasons, but we don’t know how many fans had Covid-19 or even just symptoms, and therefore couldn’t attend. Likewise, there is will have had many, in light of the fluid nature of government advice (some arriving until 5 p.m. that evening), who did not want to put their health or that of their family at risk, or risk isolation , before Christmas time.

“We also heard from government medical advisers that evening advising fans not to go to the stadiums before Christmas for games, and only to get their boosters!

“By watching all of this week’s games on TV, anyone could see that every Premier League game, with the possible exception of Liverpool v Newcastle (where there were even more no-shows than usual) had huge no-shows rates; and with all the matches televised in the match’s turn, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that some fans have taken a safety-oriented approach and to watch the game from the outside. TV at home Not ideal, and of course we would prefer the fans inside the stadium to watch, but these are exceptional circumstances.

“Regardless, and aside from the Wolves game, it might be interesting for Scott and others to note that this season’s average no-shows at the Amex are only marginally higher than those of our winning season of promotions …

“Nevertheless, as a club, we also want all season ticket holders to be present at all matches. Season tickets are heavily discounted compared to match prices to reward this loyalty. Perhaps we should. we review how we encourage actual participation in the Amex in future seasons.

“One example is that for fans who follow England they only award loyalty points, in their case they call them caps, if a fan actually attends a home or away game – and none for bigger tournament matches. Anyway, whatever the future., we make no apologies for announcing a sold participation, this is common in football and, as the name suggests, it reflects the tickets that we actually sold for a given game, that’s what we control, we can’t control who actually decides to attend.

“Finally, the issue of ticket exchange options. First, it was never allowed to share tickets by passing them on to another supporter, and although we do appreciate that this was common before the introduction of digital tickets. , and even turning a blind eye to it has at times been contrary to the terms and conditions of the Premier League.

Scott’s argument for the Wolves game is also wrong, because even if the old system was still in place, it would not have been possible to pass the tickets on, as the government’s new Plan B rules state that the name on the subscription had to ID and Covid-19 pass to allow admission.

“The introduction of digital tickets has been present throughout the Premier League and is supported by all clubs because it offers a much more secure system allowing a number of problems to be resolved: in particular eliminating advertising around matches, prohibiting fans excluded from entering at home or outside. tickets, and prevent season ticket holders from selling or passing their tickets on to outside supporters; while removing the contact points compared to the old system. I’m sure even Scott will agree that these are all positives that benefit him and all Albion supporters, especially in terms of safety and security, as well as the club!

“When we introduced digital tickets – knowing that fans had already submitted tickets (much in good faith, even against terms and conditions), the board made the decision to offer season ticket holders the option to share, as an added benefit for a fee. We knew this might not be popular with some fans, who had regularly forwarded or shared their tickets. But for those who regularly share their tickets, it’s pretty straightforward and at just over £ 1 per match for season ticket holders who opt for more flexibility, and is less than the cost of ONE match ticket to the recipient, it’s also great value. , fans can offer their tickets for resale for free on ticket exchange, or upgrade concession tickets.

“We also felt that a lot of our season ticket holders come to every game and want to come to every game. was better to leave the choice to the fans. The price of membership has also been frozen, and for £ 25 at the start of the season (or £ 15 if you sign up now) this offers a huge range of benefits, including the use of other memberships. people to watch Premier League football. It should be pointed out that £ 15 would not entitle you to a League Two match! And if someone is an Albion fan and wants to see us play in the Premier League, why would they object to being a member and financially supporting the club in a modest way when we strive to compete with more clubs? large with significantly higher turnover?

“This also brings me to the more general point of value for money. Supporters and in particular our season ticket holders enjoy a wide range of benefits, most of which are not included in the cost of memberships in others. clubs, including travel, interest and fees.Free payment plans – all underwritten by the President – in a world-class stadium, while enjoying the club’s most successful period, watching what many fans believe this is the best football they have seen from an Albion team.The overall response on this point has been overwhelmingly positive, both in terms of fan writing and emails to the club; and in our record season ticket sales, membership sales, a 1901 sold-out club and record crowds this season – all in the midst of a pandemic!

“We all know the ‘click bait’ nature of news websites, message boards and other digital media – so even though we know how big a fan of Albion he is and how he exercises the right of every fan to express their opinions. It doesn’t really surprise us to read the negativity in Scott’s article, especially following a disappointing home loss and a long run without a win. However, in this case we thought it was important to correct the inaccuracies in the article As always, thanks to Scott and all the Albion fans for their support in 2021 and off we go for more progress. and success for the club in 2022.

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