The club is delighted to have successfully welcomed 1,808 members of the Green Army back to Home Park for the Sky Bet League One fixture against Ipswich Town last weekend.
Thanks to the significant efforts of staff and stakeholders, alongside supporters’ exemplary behaviour and compliance with the return of fans guidance during the test event against the Tractor Boys, the club has been granted approval to invite an additional 192 supporters to attend our home tie with Milton Keynes Dons on 19 December. These supporters have been contacted by our ticketing team.
Staff at the club continue to work tirelessly to prepare the stadium, providing the necessary documentation and implementing the required procedures, for when the city is moved into the category of Tier One, which will allow the capacity ceiling to be lifted, and more season-ticket holders to be allowed to return to Home Park.
With little time between the government’s surprise announcement that fans would be permitted to return to stadia and our first eligible home fixture last weekend, staff priority was focused on delivering a successful event. This is not to say, however, that supporters who purchased season-tickets for the 20/21 season and were not within the initial allocation of 1,808 have been forgotten.
Throughout the pandemic, the club has tried to respond flexibly to shifting government guidance and safety regulations to provide solutions that would best suit as many fans as possible.
That includes offering fans the opportunity to have their season ticket cost refunded, despite the terms being clear earlier – that we could not risk the financial consequences of having to give refunds if forced to incur the expenses of playing football without the revenue from being able to sell tickets. That refund window closed only 20 days ago, when it looked as if spectators’ return to Home Park was a distant dream.
Once again, we appreciate that the situation has evolved. In particular, we believed that by restricting season ticket sales to existing holders, and limiting the number sold, we would be able to seat all those buyers at our fixtures. As guidance has changed, however, that is no longer possible. Therefore, as of today, Sunday, 13 December, we are offering one further, and final, series of ticketing options – but these are only applicable to those supporters who have not been fortunate enough to gain access to matches at Home Park at the time of writing. The deadline for refund applications is Thursday, 17 December, 5pm.
An incredible 99.9% of season-ticket holders opted to retain their season-tickets during the recent refund window, which closed on 23 November. As a result, the club will assume that supporters still wish to retain their season-ticket, unless informed otherwise. For those who wish to claim a refund, however, we offer the following options:
- Partial refund - from the Milton Keynes Dons fixture on 19 December 2020 onwards, supporters selecting this option will receive a pro-rata rebate for the remaining Sky Bet League One home fixtures. This will entitle supporters to reserve their 21/22 season-ticket seat (at a price TBC) and continue to access the Pilgrims’ Sky Bet League One home fixtures via iFollow at no extra cost.
However, supporters who take up this option will lose their place in the queue for a return to Home Park during the 20/21 season, and will need to wait for tickets to go on general sale to re-join the queue.
This rebate will see supporters refunded the difference between their ‘season-ticket’ price-per-game and a £10 iFollow match pass. For example, for an adult season-ticket holder in the Devonport End, the price-per-game is £17.17. As such, supporters opting for this refund will receive a rebate of £7.17 per home league game, for the remainder of the season.
- Full refund – from the Milton Keynes Dons fixture on 19 December 2020 onwards, supporters selecting this option will receive a pro-rata refund on season-tickets for the remainder of the 20/21 season.
Supporters will lose the right to reclaim their seat for the 21/22 campaign, as well as losing their place in the queue for a return to Home Park during the 20/21 season, in addition to all other season-ticket benefits, including priority ticketing access for cup fixtures.
All subsequent match streaming passes will need to be purchased on a game-by-game basis.
Once again, we ask that supporters consider the implications of their refund claim on the day-to-day operations at Argyle. While season-ticket sales have been excellent, and supporters have been extremely generous, our revenues have taken an unprecedented hit. The return of season-ticket holders, although a tremendous lift for our collective spirits, does not provide any additional revenues.
In addition, the club remains extremely hopeful that we will be placed into Tier One as soon as possible, which will allow us to admit a maximum of 4,000 supporters to Home Park.
The club does not take the Green Army’s generosity of spirit for granted, and we have noted the frustration from a small proportion of supporters regarding the ticketing allocation method for the fixture against Ipswich Town. However, we remind supporters that abuse of club staff, whether online, via telephone, or in-person, will not be tolerated.
We have operated with a small workforce for the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of staff still on furlough. That staff has been forced to respond to the demands of ever-changing guidance, while also managing the day-to-day operations of the club. That has obviously been extremely challenging. We ask that supporters bear this in mind.
A number of supporters have been in contact regarding the prospect of a balloting system, or rotation of seating. The club has been clear from the outset that fans’ return to Home Park would be prioritised on first-come, first-served basis. As such, it would clearly be unfair to those who purchased their tickets first to go back on that promise.
However, we are entirely supportive of an informal rotation approach, and encourage supporters who wish to rotate their place in the queue to get in touch.
If any supporters wish to forego their place in the queue, please contact the Home Park Ticket Office team, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will ensure that your ticket is allocated to the next person on the list.
In addition, supporters wishing to decline their place in the queue for multiple fixtures, for medical, logistical, or any other reason, can do so by contacting the Ticket Office. Supporters who take this approach can reclaim their seat at any time by giving the ticketing team seven days’ notice.
Argyle chairman, Simon Hallett, said:
“Making decisions in an environment with so much uncertainty and where instructions change dramatically and at short notice is obviously difficult.
“I’ve noted that a number of fans have been vociferous, via social media, in calling our ticket allocation system, based on a first-come-first-served principle, unfair. Of course, it’s unfair.
“A global pandemic has exposed many things that are unfair. It was, however, the agreed and transparent basis for our selling a large number of season tickets (not to new season ticket holders, by the way — only to existing season ticket holders) and it would be grossly unfair for us now to go back on our word to those who are first in line for a seat if we were to take it away from them.
“No one complained at the time, though, and everyone knew what we knew about what the future was likely to bring with respect to the return of fans. In fact, our offer was greeted with huge enthusiasm, and we sold over ten times as many season tickets on the first day of sale as we usually do.
“We’ve responded to changing circumstances by sticking to our promises but also by being flexible – always in ways that benefits fans – for example, by offering refunds when we had said there would be none. We made that offer because we wanted to provide a financial lifeline to people who had suffered from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, not to people who simply wished to withdraw their support for the club. In fact, we were hugely encouraged that almost no one took us up on the offer.
“It has been very disappointing that some fans, disappointed at not getting a seat for the Ipswich fixture, have rushed to judgement, going public to claim that the club “doesn’t care about fans” and even accusing, in distressing face-to-face encounters, our extraordinarily hardworking and dedicated people of ‘not caring.’
“Imagine how upsetting that is. Everything that we’ve done at Argyle in recent years has been about improving the club for our supporters. You may disagree with what we’ve done, and you may be able to see where we’ve made mistakes, but to have our motives questioned, even by a minority, is deeply upsetting to our staff, and, frankly, to me.
“If our perceived lack of fairness has distressed you so much, you can now have your money back. Before you make that request though, please ask yourself if it’s “fair”. It certainly wasn’t the basis on which you bought a ticket.
“Is it fair, for example, to other fans, who, while disappointed at not being able to sit in the stands to watch their team, accept that in this emergency financial survival means we all have a part to play?
“We also recognise that some generous fans think it’s unfair that they have seats when others do not. We welcome that spirit of togetherness and, as explained above, will do our best to make sure that your generosity benefits others.
“Surely, that’s the spirit with which we should be approaching each other during this season, above all others?”
To request either a full or partial refund on your 20/21 season-ticket, click here.