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Free Tickets - Boost Or Bane?

match ticket of Home United S.League game at Bishan Stadium
It used to cost $5 for more than a decade

Years ago, before an S.League game between SAFFC and Etoile FC at Jalan Besar Stadium, I met someone I know just outside the ground, along King George Avenue, and had this brief conversation (as below).

Acquaintance: "Do you have a free ticket?" as he was aware of my involvement in the scene.

Me: "Nope, I don't have it"

Acquaintance: "Cannot be, last time my who worked as a photographer, always have free tickets to matches"

Me: "Time changes as different people are calling the shots now."

A scene like this is not uncommon, but it is already becoming an annoying problem which I attributed to the liberal policy of giving complimentary entry that led to this kind of problem.

A Starhub League Cup match played at Jalan Besar Stadium
A League Cup match played at Jalan Besar Stadium

Perhaps, in the first place, such goodwill was to gather more awareness by offering free admission to fans to certain games.

But the dangerous part of this giveaway has developed into a burden that resulted in the loss of revenue to accommodate this particular group of spectators.

MIXED FEELINGS OVER FREE ADMISSION

A recent poll conducted on this platform's IG Story indicated a wafer-thin majority still favour the idea of giving away free admission to draw awareness.

"I feel the SPL (Singapore Premier League) team(s) should continue offering free entry to fans as a form of engagement to boost interest in the league," said football fan Terence Ong.

"It's not as if we rely on ticket sales for the majority of operating budget like the European clubs and taking this opportunity to get more fans in, and let them see the league is worth following." added the 35-year old marketing manager.

Ong went on to explain such a move to draw in more crowds using complimentary means is hoping to "monetize" from this targeted audience through the sales of merchandise "after they're more interested in the league."

A poll on BoLASEPaKO.com's IG story on free admission
It was a close margin 

However, this suggestion of having "free admission" to games to boost the level of interest for SPL is not concurred by some local football supporters.

One of those having this misgiving is another fan who wants to be known by his surname Kua.

"It is a good marketing move if giving a free ticket will result in more revenue from other sources, like sale of merchandise and F&B at match venues," said Kua who identified himself as a Sembawang Rangers fan.

Added the father of two: "Otherwise, giving free tickets just to fill up the seats with no revenue purposes, (would) just (be) a waste of time."

"NO BIG DIFFERENCE": TIGERS

While there were cases of clubs offered free admission to their home games this season, Balestier Khalsa, however, does not have a plan to follow suit.

In an email reply to queries forwarded to the Tigers, the club general manager Cheng Tim Nee explains: "We are now into pandemic period. As long as our government ministries permit spectators, we will continue to put up tickets for sale,

"(Also) I do not foresee any big difference (because) we don’t profit from gate collections," added Cheng.

The crowds at Jurong East Stadium in early part of 2020 season
The crowds at Jurong East Stadium in early 2020

Similarly, Lion City Sailors (LCS) do not have a "free admission" policy to their home matches, but complimentary entry to their home and selected away games is one of the perks being enjoyed by the club's season pass holders, according to the club spokesperson.

Nonetheless, the Sailors felt complimentary entry is one channel to introduce the local game to an untapped market out there, as they further elaborate in their response to the questions put by this platform.

"Free admission is one way of introducing our product – football – to those who have not been exposed to it before, but it cannot be the only method employed." opined the LCS spokesperson.

"We believe in local football, and while we continue to endeavour to improve our football, we must work to create a strong value proposition in the matchday experience to augment the product on the pitch."

APPROVAL MUST BE SOUGHT ON "FREE ADMISSION": FAS
Approval must be sought before SPL clubs are allowed to have free admission to their home games, as revealed by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

"Clubs must seek approval from the FAS as we have set the minimum quantum for ticketing. Clubs are able to absorb ticket costs to allow for free admission at home matches, after approval is given." said FAS in an email statement on the SPL ticketing policy to this platform.

"Clubs reserve the right to amend ticket prices adhering to the baseline of S$8.00 for adults and S$5.00 for concession and maximum price cap of S$15.00, without seeking directive from the FAS." added FAS in the above-mentioned statement on the pricing policy of SPL matches.

BOOST OR BANE?

Although, I am not sure if the league authority should come up with a more stringent policy on granting complimentary entry to matches.

A sight at Jalan Besar Stadium before a match
Ideally, it will be good to see more paid ticket holders

As someone pointed out to me, liberally giving out complimentary entry would be degrading to the league and does not accord the kind of stature rightfully for it.

Furthermore, rather than having those gate-crashed into the stadium using free passes, would it be fair to those genuine fans who are actually paying to see the matches because they want to?

PS: This article was first published on 23rd April 2011 and is being refurbished with additional details in line with the content repurposing of this blog.

Comments

  1. Always thought that giving free entry was a sign of short term thinking (let's bump up the crowd numbers) without thinking of the long term effects (people get used to free tickets, perceived value of tickets goes down). But I do agree with the comments in the article that if you want to give free entry, there must be a definite plan to convert these people to regular match goers and not just 'hope' that they will somehow catch the football bug and start buying tickets from then on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Always good to have free stuff but thats revenue. Should probably link up with sponsors maybe Yeo’s (last time), buy drink to get disc or free tix. Benefit sponsor also. If not sponsor you for what, no value added.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nonsense idea, giving free tickets to watch professional football and epitomises the lack of a proper football culture in Singapore just like offering free crisps as an enticement to get bums on seats

    ReplyDelete

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