Doncaster’s regret over ticket mix-up

Chris Lakey Canaries chief executive Neil Doncaster says he "regrets" the problems which led to fans missing out on tickets for the season finale at Charlton Athletic.

Chris Lakey

Canaries chief executive Neil Doncaster says he "regrets" the problems which led to fans missing out on tickets for the season finale at Charlton Athletic.

The club's allocation of around 3,300 tickets has gone entirely to written applicants, leaving hundreds of disappointed fans, who believed they were to go on general sale.

City said last Wednesday that tickets for the May 3 game would go on sale to the public, after receiving more than 2,500 written applications through their ballot system by the April 13 deadline - but that statement turned out to be misleading.

Application forms for the ballot stated no applications would be accepted if received after the bank holiday deadline. However, by Monday the Canaries revealed their entire allocation had been sold through written applications and none were left to go on general sale.

"Clearly we regret that any supporter who wanted a ticket for this game is unable to attend this game," said Doncaster.

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"But in circumstances where supply is restricted by Charlton and demand is greater than supply it is a very difficult scenario and there is nothing we can do about it."

Doncaster says the club asked for more tickets but were turned down by their hosts.

"Fundamentally, the situation is that there is simply much higher demand for tickets for this game than there is available supply," said Doncaster.

"We initially applied for the maximum allocation from Charlton, which we received. We subsequently applied for a further allocation through the ticket office, and that was declined. I then spoke to their club secretary and they referred the matter to their board to discuss and their board, having discussed it, were not willing to make any further tickets available, even though they could, because to do so would mean them relocating season ticket holders, which is something they were loath to do.

"Clearly in those circumstances you have to come up with the fairest possible way of ensuring that tickets will be distributed among supporters in the best way. We had an application system for this game and everyone who made a written application for tickets received tickets.

"The point where we announced there would be tickets on general sale was at a time when the number of applications received by the ticket office was not up to the maximum. But we received a late deluge of written applications which meant there were no tickets for general sale to personal callers."

It's likely City will review their procedures, with Doncaster admitting the club had been caught out.

"I think what was done was honest and fair at the time because we expected there to be tickets available for general sale, but clearly where there was such a late rush of written applications in those circumstances I think it is fair to say we were taken by surprise by the number of written applications that were eventually received," he said.

"In circumstances where demand is greater than supply unfortunately there will always be people who will be rightly unhappy and that is the case here. We have done what we can, everything we can, to try and make further tickets available through Charlton but that has been unsuccessful."

It is not known how many fans were disappointed by the allocation problems, but some complained of being misled.

John Moore, a season ticket holder for more than 50 years, said: "We rang them last Tuesday and we were prepared to walk our applications down to the ground. But they said 'don't worry, we've got 800 spare tickets going on sale', so we thought fair enough and arranged for my mate and my wife to get some time off and go down at 8am to get the tickets.

"Obviously we were astounded when they then said they'd gone from 800 spare to no tickets for anybody else. I know I should've got it in on time but to ring and be told 'It's okay, don't bring the application down, there will be some on sale', and then they're not, it's not good enough.

"If they don't put some tickets on sale somehow, there will be three season tickets going back."

Ken Sutton, a Norwich supporter living in Waterford, Ireland, had planned to fly over for the game once he heard there were tickets available - but has cancelled his plans.

"I used to travel over but haven't had too much of a chance; I had planned on ringing today for the tickets but no joy," he added. "I was just disappointed with the way we've been treated, especially with the club needing as much support as possible."

It was a similar story for City season ticket holder Matt Crowhurst, of Three Score, Bowthorpe, who had hoped to take his 11-year-old daughter along to the match in south London.

"Where have the tickets gone? I don't see how they can advertise one thing and then say all the tickets have gone," he said. "For me, it seems they have had this deadline for ticket applications and then carried on selling them; suddenly they've all been sold and they're trying to get away with going against what they said.

"It just seems like they take the fans' support for granted. It doesn't matter how we're treated, they've still got 20,000 fans every week."