Written by FYP Fanzine

Crystal Palace’s season ticket offering, which was announced last week and is currently nearing its Friday deadline, has left many fans disillusioned and disappointed with the direction the club has taken. Long-term season ticket holders, dedicated fans with many years of history with the club, have either felt pressed into buying a season ticket or have been impacted by a change in the payment method provided by the club.

Club chairman Steve Parish indicated in programme notes from the club's friendly against Brondby that he hoped COVID-19 restrictions would be further lifted 'sooner rather than later' indicating that this was why season tickets were put on sale. On Tuesday, the government determined that social gatherings would be limited to six or more people.  

We have been deeply concerned by the stories we’ve read on social media about the impact of the season ticket scheme on fans. Fanzines shouldn’t only write about what is happening on the pitch, they also need to speak up when things adversely affect fans off the pitch too. We consider that the stories below, which are only a selection, demonstrate how unfair the current scheme is. We consider that the scheme should be rethought by Palace immediately. The club should recognise the deep unpopularity of the proposal and the adverse effect on fans as soon as possible. For the sake of all fan, including those below, Rethink It, Palace

Loyalty, but at what price?

Lynne and Paul Brameld have been season ticket holders for 35 years, but with Paul being diagnosed with blood cancer, the decision not to renew was already made. While Palace offered a break from being a carer to her husband prior to the pandemic, Lynne knows that because of the necessity to shield, it was the only decision she could take.

“I don’t mind paying a retainer, but I do think the £200 per season ticket is over the top. What if Paul’s cancer means I cancel his season ticket? What if people lose their jobs as the economy crashes?”

The club are advising fans who are taking the deferral option to be prepared to provide proof from a doctor to substantiate the need for shielding.

“Paul’s shielding letter includes his NHS number and consultant name — I feel it’s wrong to ask for personal information.”

As part of the club’s work in the community, Palace provided support to the Bramelds during the lockdown, as Paul is over 70.

“The support was amazing. But why would they turn on us now? If I get a phone call demanding proof, I’m ready for them.”

Vague policy heightens risk

Palace’s vague policy about shielding has lead to fans who might be subject to such a shielding recommendation questioning whether they would actually qualify for the deferral option.

Rich Le Gate has been a season ticket holder with his dad for 9 years, and is being challenged by the choices provided.

“My dad is in his 70's and I'm not overly keen on him going to games, but he doesn't think he can defer his seat because he has no medical condition,” says LeGate.

“We sit in the Arthur Wait which is organised really badly, I don't really want to trust Palace to look after us, they botch so many things!”

The entire issue has left Rich frustrated and disappointed.

“There is a fabric there between fans and CPFC the business, it's being torn at more and more with moments like this.

“I worry that cleansing moments like this basically create a disconnect between the club and any sort of identity it's had. Consequently, the club ends up being a cover version of itself, trying to display all the previous characteristics of Palace, but in a faux, plastic way.”

Jane Vigus has been a season ticket holder for 22 years and a fan since 1968. The lack of clarity around the deferral option has caused confusion for her, too.

“I’m probably what you’d call covid-hyper alert. I’m over 65 and COVID is not something I want to catch! I already live with 2 school-aged kids - is an occasional visit to Selhurst an extra risk too far? Especially as winter unfolds?”

Like many other fans, Jane has sent a number of emails requesting information on how the club will manage fans within the stadium. She hasn’t yet had a response.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have this info — especially regarding covid safety — prior to effectively lending the club a large chunk of money for a small amount of product over the season.” 

“I suspect, in the end, I will end up renewing and hope, if I don't feel safe after I’ve tried a game or two, the club can resell and refund my seat for the duration.”

Jimmy Smith has been a season ticket holder for the past seven seasons. With his partner’s pregnancy, he would like to defer his season ticket — despite the cost still being prohibitive. But he’s not sure he would qualify under the shielding stipulation. 

“The thought of making her sick, or even having to miss the birth if I pick up the virus, scares me,” he says. 

“But I have no idea if that is an acceptable reason and neither is there any guidance.”

That lack of clarity is also an issue when it comes to what happens should Palace determine his reason not to be acceptable.

“One thing is for sure and that’s that I cannot afford to lose the £200 and there is no further information from the club about what happens if they deem my reason not worthy.

“I don’t want to pay the full renewal fee. It leaves a bitter taste. I will be sad to let my season ticket go, but not at the expense of supporters being treated badly by the club.”

New Instalment Plan Causes Financial Headache

After years of working on the basis of allowing fans to pay for season tickets by direct debit, this season sees Palace requiring fans to go through V12 Retail Finance to pay by installment.

The season ticket purchase page does not mention that the new payment plan  requires season ticket holders taking that option to submit to a credit check.

The club’s season ticket payment options page, which appears to have text that should link to V12 Retail Finance’s Terms and Conditions, does not have clickable links. Only when you get to the completion page of the process are you made aware that there is likely to be a credit check performed.

That lack of clarity and the resultant credit check has caused Brad Campagnac, a season ticket holder for the past 47 years, to decide not to renew his season ticket following what he feels was a misleading process.

“I did not know they would do a credit check,” says Brad, who has been working on repairing his credit history following problems in the past. “No doubt this has put a mark on my score.”

“I’ve been travelling from Norwich for the past season and a half. And after 47 years it looks like it’s finally over. It’s a very bad way to treat us.”

Chris Chapman is another fan that opted to go with the installment plan to pay for his and his daughter’s season ticket — only to find that V12 Retail Finance declined his application on the grounds of his credit — despite not having any credit concerns.

“After 26 years I’m going to have to pass and hope I can go next season. I was declined despite never having issues so I’m going to have to check that.”

The result is that a season ticket he was able to pay for over the course of a season previously becomes a significant, immediate burden. 

“It was £750 for two season tickets — how can I justify that on a ‘maybe’?

“I’m so disappointed in the club, especially when I see what other clubs such as Fulham are proposing for their season tickets. Even Arsenal’s option is better than ours!”

Both Fulham and Arsenal are offering cost-free deferrals and ticket plans that don’t require payment of a full season ticket price. 

Palace Family Divided by Payment Change

For long-term season ticket holder Scott Kingsworth, being declined for credit after 7 years of uninterrupted payments to the club has meant that he is faced with an unenviable choice to make.

Scott moved to Berlin two years ago and travels back for every home game to attend matches with his son. 

“As upset as he was, one thing that kept him going was the fact that we still had our season tickets and we would always have that day out together — no matter how far I had to travel to fly in, pick him up from his mum's and get to Selhurst for kick off and we had no plans to change this.

“Unfortunately, I have been declined finance probably due to the fact that my main income is not from the UK anymore.

“I have 2 choices, pay for the season tickets upfront and not have the money this month to pay for flights to get back to see my son, or to let the season ticket go and possibly spend time with my son at a smaller more fan friendly club, which I never thought I would have to do.”

Palace epitomised what a family club stood for, especially with regards to his son. 

“He loves Palace so much because he could go to his friends at school and show them all the pictures of him meeting every single player and even getting to play on the Selhurst pitch. 

“The club I loved literally showed me how much of a community club it was and how it was showing my son some of the most friendliest memorable moments of his young life.”

Fellow Palace fan Andy Ferrer has been a season ticket holder for the past five seasons, attending games with his wife and their two kids. 

Palace’s direct debit payment meant that football was accessible. 

“Our credit isn’t great due to a few disasters but having the release as a family to go and watch Premier League football is always a release, win lose or draw. 

“We have not missed any season ticket payments having paid monthly for the previous 5 seasons, and always understood if payments were missed we would not be able to attend.”

The change in how the club takes instalments, especially in light of the economic downturn and the impact it has had on personal finances, has left Andy with one conclusion. 

“This says to me we are turning the working class supporter away because they are not the best financially. 

“I will not be renewing or saving for the following season, I will follow the team and will hopefully look to go again once the new stand is built.” 

We ask that Palace reconsider the options made available to supporters, providing options that are accessible, considerate and fair. 

There is still time to make such changes. Share this article on social media with the club if you also think Palace should Rethink It. 


 

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