The PST has been deeply disappointed by this year's season ticket sales process and shares the frustration felt by many of the club's supporters over how this has been handled.
Whilst we do recognise that the club face enormous logistical challenges during the current programme of stadium redevelopment, we feel there have been a number of preventable problems regarding the messaging and execution of the sales.
Fans have not been effectively communicated with over the scale of the challenges faced. This led to sudden shock for the 1,600 fans who received an email to say that their season ticket seat was broken and that they would need to move. This also had a knock-on impact for others whom they sit with in a group and were now themselves affected.
Because of this, a huge number of fans have been displaced from their normal seats. This meant many people wanted to speak directly with the ticket office in order to move themselves and others to a different part of the stadium. Unfortunately, the club appeared to be wholly unprepared for such demand. Many fans have found themselves on hold to the phone line for several hours, while others have felt forced to join lengthy queues outside the ticket office in the rain.
These queues were made worse by the website issues, with many fans encountering IT problems on the opening day of sales which meant they could not complete their purchase online and instead needed to join the phone lines. Additionally, fans who have previously used direct debit payments were told they would be contacted by the club about how they could spread the cost of payments but had not received any information, and so were also needing to join the queues to find out how they could pay for their seats.
By the first afternoon, the ticket office was so overrun that the club's social media pages resorted to asking fans to stay away. On the first full day of season ticket sales, this is unacceptable.
After 18 months where fans have been unable to attend Fratton Park, the moment supporters could finally get a season ticket once more should have been a joyous one. Instead, it has left some fans so frustrated they have considered not renewing at all.
The PST has been regularly engaging with the club over the last few weeks, working constructively with them to ensure the experience of supporters improves. We met with the club ahead of the initial season ticket announcement and raised concerns over the number of supporters who would have to move seats, and were pleased when the club acted to ensure the number of fans affected was reduced. We were concerned that fans were not initially due to be able to reserve their own seats for the first three games and appreciate the changes made to allow for this. We have had several discussions regarding how effectively the seating issues were communicated with fans and were pleased that these resulted in updated Q&As on the club website. When tickets first went on sale on Wednesday evening, we contacted the club about website issues to help get these resolved as quickly as possible. We followed up on the missing direct debit option and we understand the club has created a solution for those who require it. Our Heritage And Advisory Board representatives have also raised the issues regarding sales, to ensure that Tornante are aware of the problems supporters have faced.
We hope the club can move quickly to resolve the current ticketing issues, and would encourage it to consider the experience of supporters more closely at the planning stage in future. The PST is always ready to work constructively with the club to avoid situations like this occurring.