West Ham United leave Upton Park and move to the Olympic Stadim in a little over 18 months time.
After Christmas, the club sent out some information as to what this would mean to season ticket holders. Here Blowing Bubbles answers your questions about the process and try to sort out the fact from the fiction…
Q: I’ve had a lot of information from the club about season tickets for the next two years and I’m a bit confused. I don’t want to miss out but am not sure what I need to do.
A: That’s fine. It isn’t that complicated but the move to the Olympic Stadium means the club need to do things a bit differently for the next couple of seasons. They want to make sure everyone feels they have been treated fairly when we leave Upton Park and gets the right seat for them in the new ground.
Ok, but do I really need to pay £75 for the right to renew my season ticket next season? That seems really unfair!
No, no one has to pay any extra money for the right to buy a season ticket for the last year at Upton Park. What the club are asking for is a £75 deposit towards the cost of the ticket, so this money is deducted from the final balance. For example, if your season ticket costs £600 you’ll pay £75 as a deposit by April 17 and the remaining £525 when the balance is due at the end of May
That’s a relief! Why are they doing this?
The club are looking ahead to the first season in the Olympic Stadium and want as much time as they can to make sure the move goes smoothly. To do this they need to know as soon as possible who will be season ticket holders in the final season at Upton Park as these fans will be the priority when it comes to deciding who sits where in the new ground.
Ok, I bet they are putting up prices for the last year at Upton Park though?
Season tickets next year cost five per cent more than this year. Yes, it is an above inflation increase but, to be fair to the club, prices have been frozen a couple of times over the last few years and for most people the increase will work out at less than a couple of quid a game.
Well, I don’t like it but it could be worse. So, I’m sorted for next year. What happens about moving to Stratford? They better not stick me at the back of the upper tier!
Right, this is where you need to pay attention as getting your ticket at Stratford will be a very different experience from renewing at Upton Park. Every season ticket holder who renews their ticket for the final season at the Boleyn Ground will receive an invitation to attend a personal appointment at the club’s reservation centre at Westfield Stratford City.
What one on one?
Yes, every single season ticket holder gets their own meeting. You’ll be able to sit down with one of the club’s advisors and talk about the different options and work out the perfect seat for you. You’ll be able to see in virtual reality what the view will be like and be able to choose whether you’d like to be in the middle or the end of the row, or at the front or back of the tier.
When will these meetings take place?
The appointments will take place between April 2015 and February 2016. They’ve got more than 20,000 to get through so you can see why they are keen to get on with the job.
What if I can’t make the appointment?
Don’t panic. You’ll be able to reschedule it or, if you really need to, you can do it over the phone. However, it will be a much better experience and you’ll probably get a better seat if you make it to the reservation centre.
Will I be able to go to the stadium and see for myself what the views are like before I make my mind up?
No, it would be great if the club were offering that but unfortunately the thing is still being built. The Rugby World Cup means the club won’t have the keys in time to show everyone around before they need to start this process. The virtual reality software isn’t actually too bad so there shouldn’t be too many shocks when you arrive for the first game.
I guess that makes sense. So how will they decide when these meetings take place? It seems like if your meeting is last all the best seats will be taken?
That’s true. The club are arranging the meetings so that the people with the best seats at Upton Park get to pick first. As such they will start with Band 1 and work their way through until they get to Band 4. They have also developed a system that means the people who have the best seats in each band will be the first to pick when it is that band’s turn.
Sorry, you’ve lost me…
Ok, for instance. Say your seat is right on the halfway line in Band 1. You’ll get to pick ahead of someone who is right in the corner of Band 1. It’s not going to be perfect but it is probably as fair as they could have done it.
I see. What if you want to change the Band that you sit in?
When you go to your meeting you’ll be able to pick any available seat in your existing price band, or from any available seats in price bands above. If you wish to choose a seat in a lower price band then you can – but only after all season ticket holders in that price band have had the opportunity to select their seats. They are doing this to protect the rights of season ticket holders in lower price bands, and ensure that they are in no way disadvantaged by the process or their fellow supporters downgrading.
I currently sit with my brother and a couple of mates and we don’t want to be split up. How are we going to make sure we sit together at the new ground?
You’ll still be able to do this. If there is a big bunch of you, you need to book a group reservation appointment and the club will do you all at once. As long as you are organised then there is no reason you won’t get to sit with your mates in the new ground.
What if one of us can’t make the appointment?
That person will be able to nominate someone else in the group to pick their seat for them.
What happens once we have picked our seats?
This is the controversial bit. You’ll need to pay a 25 per cent deposit. The rest of the balance is then due the summer we move in to the new ground during the normal period when you would be renewing. They are doing this to stop people picking the best seats and then deciding they don’t want them nearer the time.
Couldn’t they have achieved this by taking a 10 per cent deposit or something? That’s a lot of money to pay so far in advance!
It is a lot of money and you could argue they should have made the deposit lower. However, once again this money will come off the amount you’ll need to pay later. It is important to stress it won’t cost you any more for your ticket overall even though you will have to pay for some of it well in advance of when you normally would.
Final question, how much are season tickets going to be in the new stadium?
The club haven’t announced these yet but have promised that they will be comparable to those for the final season at the Boleyn. We’ll get the full details in April but you should expect them to be very similar to what you currently pay.