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Take nothing away from the biggest A-League game of the season, but ticket scalping is another preventable problem that no one will do anything about.
Football Federation Australia have been asleep at the wheel all season, but they’re starting to wake up to the realisation they have an image problem.
That’s why they tweeted about Fox Sports commentator Robbie Slater’s missing Dolan Warren Awards invite during the week.
That’s why they’ve just appointed noted football enthusiast Sam Christou to the role of General Manager of Commercial Development.
That’s why, as Ray Gatt revealed in The Australian, FFA accused the ten A-League clubs of being “unnecessarily antagonistic” in their approach to expansion.
Yet when grand final tickets went on sale to the general public on Monday, the FFA were caught out by another problem they’re unlikely to have foreseen.
That’s because everyone assumed the grand final would be played at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
And had that been the case, the spectre of ticket scalping would never have been an issue – simply because the stadium holds enough seats to accommodate two sets of supporters, with some left over to account for any neutral fans.
But that was never going to be the case at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
Not only is the city a renowned football stronghold, but it’s home to some of the most parochial supporters of any code in the country.
And they were always going to snap up the bulk of the 30,000 tickets on sale.
So suddenly the fact that FFA is fighting fires on so many fronts with so few resources becomes a problem.
Because it’s patently absurd that anyone at any time can purchase up to ten tickets in one transaction.
But that has rarely been a problem in an A-League sense – the 2015 grand final is one exception – because even if someone wanted to buy ten tickets to a game, there’s usually so many seats left over it’s never an obvious problem.
But it becomes a problem when everyone in town wants to attend the game.
And it’s one that ticket resellers like Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo are happy to exploit.
If you followed them on Twitter, you might have noticed the @TMResaleAU_NZ account has gone quiet.
They last proactively tweeted back in August 2017, shortly after I pointed out to Ticketmaster that tickets for Amy Schumer’s Australian tour – which was subsequently cancelled – had appeared on Ticketmaster Resale only moments after being made available in an exclusive pre-sale.
Schumer’s tour was being promoted by Live Nation, which happens to own Ticketmaster Resale.
And many critics claim that bots – complex computer programs designed to automate the process of buying tickets online – make it impossible for regular punters to buy tickets to popular events.
The prevalence of bots in the Australian online marketplace is disputed, but even if you make a complaint, it’s unlikely anyone will care.
Register one with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which calls itself “Australia’s competition regulator and national consumer law champion” – and they’ll send back a form letter which reads in part: “The ACCC is not a complaint handling body”.
So it’s left to ticket buyers themselves to do the right thing.
It’s a shame, then, that a small minority of A-League grand final ticket buyers turned around and placed these tickets on resale sites for hugely inflated prices.
And it’s symptomatic of a society in which doing the right thing by yourself is often at the expense of someone else.
Kudos to Newcastle Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna for actively trying to track down scalpers and have them banned.
FFA, meanwhile, have announced they will launch a full-scale review of every aspect of the A-League during the off-season. They should cap ticket sales to six per transaction while they’re at it.
And those who think the issue of scalping shouldn’t have been broached a day out from the decider should try putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Namely the Novocastrians who missed out on a ticket to watch their team host a grand final on home soil.