The issue of loyalty points has raised its head this week, following a formal announcement by the club. Given it affects so many fans and has already created some strong reactions, we think it important that we at FYP take a stance on the matter. In short, we disagree with the loyalty points system in its current incarnation.
Crystal Palace fans are a varied bunch - we have a great deal of supporters far and wide, some who go to a single game a season, some who have home season tickets, others who go to both intermitently, and the hardcore element whose support is heard at every single match, whether near or far. We also have fans who have flown the south London nest who are every bit as ardent in their Palace obsession as many of us who are still able to make the regular pilgrimage to SE25.
There is no grade system when it comes to support - we are all loyal in our own ways - and that fact should be cherished and promoted. It shouldn't have a value imposed on it.
And this is where the problem with loyalty points lies. It does put a value on support - and it does so in a way that puts an emphasis on rewarding those who spend money at home games with points that could quite easily amount to more than the points you can get from travelling to somewhere as far-flung as Sunderland or Carlisle. That the scheme is equated, by its name, with loyalty will only serve to rub salt in the wounds of many fans annoyed at its points structure.
The cost of travelling to away games - to provide that little corner of noise, the kind that is often heard filling the stadium - will now often be disproportionate in comparison to the loyalty points awarded under the new scheme. What value is your dedication to travelling to away games, if a fan at Selhurst can make the same points with a £40 spend at Selhurst Park.
Some of us travelled to Newcastle last season - our total spend was in excess of £100. Some of the talk of fans buying sufficient merchandise to outscore ardent away fans on loyalty points may be slightly exaggerated. But the principle that spend in the club shop may, in some circumstances under the new scheme, hold greater value than time, effort and hardcore dedication in attending Palace games far and wide is unsatisfactory.
We see no reason why the purchase of tickets and season tickets cannot be separated from the spend on a matchday - with tickets and season tickets contributing towards future ticket purchases, and merchandise and concession purchases contributing to further merchandise rewards.
That way those fans who support Palace from afar can be rewarded for their own type of dedication in the right way, while those fans that travel far and wide will continue to get the access to away tickets that they deserve.
We call on Palace to review it's stance on the matter and to consult with supporters on how the system can be improved.