PAUL DARVILLE on the unfairness of the Crystal Palace fan loyalty scheme, which offers more rewards for buying a burger or a replica shirt than it does for following the team to away games
Crystal Palace’s club loyalty scheme, or “Parish Points”, is used to help allocate tickets for various away games to ensure that the regular away-goers and long-term fans get a higher priority.
This had been seen to be a fair system until last season, when the addition of loyalty points being awarded for purchases through the club shop or through food and drink outlets around the ground was introduced.
Here’s an example of how the loyalty system works now:
- Norwich away ticket (£45) + Chelsea away ticket (£55) = £100 + travel and expenses = 60 loyalty points
- Short sleeved replica home shirt (£50) + short sleeved replica away shirt (£50) = £100 = 100 loyalty points
Is that fair?
Distributing loyalty points for online purchases, while not offering points to people buying in person from the club shop, is not only unfair, but it borders on the ridiculous. Especially while it was not even being clearly advertised to most fans, let alone those who are not regularly browsing the websites.
Few members of staff in the Holmesdale or Arthur Wait were aware of this scheme last season. Certain outlets were offering loyalty points in the higher end sections of the ground, so that some fans could receive loyalty points from last season whereas those in other sections of the ground could not.
How can £1 spent in the club shop be worth one loyalty point? Those who went to Chelsea last season would have paid around £50 for tickets yet received only 20 loyalty points.
I accept the argument that Palace do not receive any money for away tickets. However, is that really a reason that can be used against the most loyal of supporters, those who travel week-in, week-out and would have had to witness a variety of nightmare performances since the existence of loyalty points back in 2012?
If the Parish Points scheme is to continue, and it seems that despite 95 per cent opposition to it, it will, why not adapt it so that those that travel to 10 games or more a season are still rewarded for the loyalty they deserve?
If an away game is to be worth 40 points – as a ticket to the Norwich City game this season is – then the equivalent could be that you would have to spend maybe £80 or £100 in the club shop. At least then, you are rewarding the time, effort and expense that these fans go through every week to get to these games.
The there is the small matter that fans that have traveled to Germany and South Africa, as well as to other more local friendlies, and have not received a single loyalty point. We all have our own definitions of loyalty, but for those fans who were fortunate enough to be able to travel to these places, why should they not receive loyalty points?
Surely, an easier option if you wish to reward fans for purchases in the club shop and in the stadium would be offering a separate merchandise loyalty card? It rewards those that go in the shop without hindering those who choose not to purchase food, drink and merchandise.
Under such a system, fans would get points for their money spent with the club. And fans who attend matches would get points for the tickets they purchase, and they can always go and get an away season ticket if they have the urge – and the bank balance – to be able to attend a minimum of 17 away games a season.
- This is an edited version of an article first published on The Eagles Beak website and is reproduced here with permission
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