By this stage, most of you will probably have heard about the issues experienced by many Mayo supporters (and indeed, those further afield) with their GAA Croke Park season ticket attendance records over the past few weeks. If not, here’s some background.
It is important from the outset to point out that the GAA season ticket system has been a very welcome development by the organisation, and is one that typically works very effectively and seamlessly. It is the wish of both the GAA and supporters that it continues to fulfil the function for which it was established – to reward loyal supporters.
It has come to our attention that a significant number of supporters who attended games in MacHale Park using their GAA season tickets have not had their attendance records updated online. Upon contacting the season ticket office, some of those supporters have been met with an outright refusal to have their records updated. (Note: Cairde Mhaigheo season ticket holders have not been affected by this issue.)
For those of us who were in attendance at MacHale Park for the Cork game, but subsequently discovered that their attendance was not registered online, it has been a frustrating and angering few days trying to obtain a satisfactory response from the GAA season ticket department via email and telephone, and indeed the poor communication from HQ about their reasoning has been a source of much of the frustration.
Club ’51 believes that anyone who can prove they were in attendance at a fixture has the right to have their attendance record updated, so that they are not potentially affected later in the season. Under the Croke Park Season Ticket T&Cs, you must have attended 60% of your county’s games to qualify for purchase of an All-Ireland ticket if your county makes it to the final. If your county does not make it to the final, and you have attended 100% of your county’s games, you are entitled to entry to a draw for All-Ireland tickets regardless. So it is of paramount importance to loyal season ticket holders that their attendance record is accurately maintained; however until yesterday, we had been met by serious resistance and a lack of flexibility from the GAA in this regard.
Yesterday (Wednesday 26th March) however, in a significant development, the GAA emailed an as-yet unconfirmed number of people to inform them that “We will update your attendance for the fixture in question here as a goodwill gesture to you personally”, while in the same sentence, insisting that “there will be no change to attendance made based upon a post-facto email for any fixture or from any Season Ticket holder where there were no issues reported by the County Board.” It is unclear how many of those affected have received this email or have had their records corrected.
Basically, what this appears to boil down to is that the GAA are telling supporters that unless the county board at the venue in question informs HQ that there is a problem with the scanning equipment or information, if you check your account and find that your attendance record is not correct, it will not be updated, even if you were at the game. We are not satisfied with this response, and at this point have sought the advice of a number of people more qualified than ourselves to check the legality of the GAA’s stance.
We are, however also (finally!) engaged in communication with Ronan Murphy, head of the GAA Ticketing Department, who very helpfully took the time to explain the reasoning behind their response, and in doing so, made some valid points. We will push to continue this conversation in order to try and find a reasonable, workable solution for everyone with a genuine complaint. The GAA have also assured us in writing that they will deal with each request individually and we can only assume that this will involve trying to determine the facts behind a problem, rather than an upfront refusal.
In the meantime, Club ’51 would like to give you some information that may prevent an issue occurring with your attendance record in future.
- The GAA in their communications with us stated that they have taken this stance in an attempt to clamp down on widespread growing misuse of the system. This includes people turning up to match venues and trying to get additional tickets scanned, and people who did not attend fixtures emailing the season ticket office to try and get their attendance updated regardless.
- This behaviour places the GAA’s resources under considerable strain, and it compromises the integrity and fairness of the system for everyone. At this point (and this is somewhat understandable) the GAA have stated that they can no longer simply accept an email in the days following a fixture as proof of attendance at that fixture.
- Therefore, if you have not attended a game, then play fair. Please do not contact the season ticket office to try and get your attendance updated – this is essentially fraudulent behaviour, and makes life difficult for genuine supporters. Your ticket is transferable, however.
- However, we believe that a way needs to be found to accommodate those season ticket holders who have experienced genuine problems with their attendance records, and we will push where necessary to find a workable, transparent solution.
In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your attendance is recorded:
- Arrive early to the ground. In particular, we recommend that you arrive to MacHale Park well in advance of throw-in time on Sunday 6th April as there are now likely to be delays at the season ticket stiles while people ensure that their tickets have scanned correctly.
- In order to get your attendance scanned, you MUST enter the ground using the designated season ticket entrance. They are clearly marked on match days, and if you don’t do this and you fail to get your ticket scanned, in fairness you really only have yourself to blame if you can’t get your attendance updated.
- You must only present ONE season ticket per person to the person scanning the tickets. By giving them your mate’s ticket or your children’s tickets as well as your own and asking them to scan them, you’re going against the entire spirit of the season ticket and you’re also asking the volunteers to break the rules. It’s unfair to the volunteers and it’s unfair to those who do actually attend the games – we have seen proof of that this week. So please, one person, one ticket. The Season Stile attendant is entitled to confiscate the Season Ticket cards of anyone involved in the event of attempted abuse of the one card per person rule.
- Only those who are under 16 may use a Juvenile Season Ticket.
- When your ticket has been scanned, it’s useful to check that it has actually been scanned successfully. According to tickets.ie (the company who administer the GAA tickets) hearing a ‘beep’ does not in itself necessarily mean that the card has scanned correctly. If you are concerned that your Season Ticket has not been scanned properly please advise the person scanning on the day and he or she can try again; enter your barcode manually or alternatively make a note if required.
- If you do want to get proof that your ticket has scanned, then we suggest taking a photo of the scanner using your phone. Should your ticket not scan, the GAA has advised us that they provide every venue with a list of season ticket holders for that venue, so attendance can be manually updated later if the county board reports an issue. Ask them to check you off on that list if you suspect that your ticket has not scanned correctly.
- It can take a few days to get the lists or devices back from the volunteers involved on match days, so please be patient after each fixture. The GAA will not update any attendance before scanners are uploaded and / or the completed roll lists have been received.
- However there are new Terms and Conditions in place for 2014, and under these, you MUST report any issue with your season ticket attendance records within 10 days of the fixture taking place, otherwise your request will not be considered. It is your responsibility to check within that period that your attendance has been logged! If you do notice a problem with your account, email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to make them aware of the problem.
- Note that it is worth re-reading the Terms and Conditions of your season ticket from time to time if you have concerns, as these can change without notice (as per No.70).
The above are all measures we can take to ensure that this system works as well and possible and and serves the purpose for which it was set up – to reward loyal supporters.
As we’ve already stated, while we now have a better understanding of the reasoning behind it, we are not completely satisfied with the GAA’s response this week to the problems Mayo supporters have been experiencing, nor with the manner and inconsistency with which their complaints have been handled. We believe that in future, where mistakes have been made and supporters have genuinely attended a game, that there needs to be a system in place to address these issues in a fair, transparent manner and correct them where relevant. We will be continuing this conversation with them.
However, given the abuse of the system at present, the GAA understandably are taking a firmer line with requests for attendance updates in order to ensure that the system continues to reward genuine, dedicated supporters. A workable compromise must therefore be found so that these supporters can be reassured that they receive the service they are paying for, and the conversation will continue.
We’ll keep you posted!