As MCG capacity rose to 85 per cent last weekend and Adelaide Oval returns to 100% for the 8 May Port v Adelaide Showdown, fans have been urged to be patient and observe COVID-safe rules while the AFL works on ticketing issues that have arisen this season.
Some AFL games have attracted disappointing crowds, and the AFL Fans Association has heard from fans who say the ticket system is too complicated.
AFLFA president Cheryl Critchley says others are still concerned about their health or have become used to watching at home. “We understand the need for ticketing safeguards as we could still experience COVID-19 outbreaks,” Cheryl says. “Public health always comes first.
“However, the move to digital tickets and the need to book may have put some fans off, while others are unhappy they haven’t been able to sit in their reserved seats. Some have decided it’s all too hard.
“We’d urge AFL, stadium and club members to contact their relevant organisation if they have any problems. Hopefully, things will become simpler as capacity returns to normal, and we welcome the recent increase from six bookings per ticket transaction to 10.
“Fans should also ensure that they register using the QR code when they arrive at a game, as high compliance rates help in deciding whether it’s safe to maintain or increase crowd numbers.”
The AFL has provided the AFLFA with answers to some of the questions that have arisen.
AFL Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial Kylie Rogers says fans have had to change the way they purchase tickets and attend matches “as we continue to navigate the pandemic and modify our behaviours”.
“We want fans to know we are working hard behind the scenes to get them back to the footy and having members in their seats and appreciate everyone’s patience so far,” Kylie says.
The following answers to fans’ questions were provided by the AFL.
Can walk-up ticket purchases return at 85% and/or 100% capacity?
Fans can still purchase walk up tickets on the day at the stadium, with the only difference that these are purchased online versus at a ticket window. This can be done on a smart phone, with further assistance provided at ticket windows if required.
How can people without smart phones access tickets?
Extra staff are available at games for people who need help accessing tickets. The easiest way for people without smart phones to enter games is either printing the ticket and scanning it or going with other people who have smart phones.
Why can’t members sit in their own reserved seats when capacity is 75% or 85%?
The stadium COVID safe plans required by the relevant State governments require specific areas to be blocked out bays from being completely full, therefore not allowing all reserves seat members to sit in their seats. We recognise this is very important for our members, so we are actively working with the Victorian government towards this. The AFL is working to have this rectified in the coming weeks.
Can members with game access book a seat without having to pay extra? Some say they’ve had to pay for expensive upgrades, when normally they could just swipe into a game.
Yes, members can redeem a seat without any additional cost. The different tiers of memberships have access to different areas that each club determines based on demand just as a normal season.
What is the limit for group bookings?
After group bookings were initially reduced to six due to COVID safe plans, this weekend that limit increased to 10 to encourage larger families and friendship groups to attend. The purchaser must enter the name and contact phone number of each attendee but can use their number for anyone who does not have a mobile phone. Members will also need to continue to register for tickets online as the AFL finalises arrangements in the coming weeks to have Club and AFL reserved seat members return to their designated seats.
How important is it for fans to register via the QR code when they enter a ground?
This is still very important, as it allows the Victorian government to contact people if there is an outbreak. The same goes for other states and territories.
Why can’t Victorian members just swipe into the ground? At least some clubs have not provided barcodes on cards; is it possible for them to do so if they haven’t already?
The Victorian government’s key objective is to know all of the attendees in a stadium so that if there is a positive case, they can be contacted quickly to minimise any risk. The challenge with many memberships is there might be a family of five with each person listed in the system, but they may all have the same phone/email listed through one person. Therefore, this becomes a challenge for contact tracing. Many clubs have digital membership cards which are easier to update but the timelines around producing new physical cards are quite long.
What do you plan to change if capacity returns to 100% in Victoria?
We are currently working through that … with the Victorian government, the clubs and stadiums. Until the COVID risk is eradicated, we will always need to take measures to ensure the safety of the community.
Are all these rules dictated by state government protocols, or is there some scope for the AFL to adjust them?
We are working very closely with all state governments to prioritise the health of the community and get as many fans at the footy as possible. We are always working with them on opportunities to improve the experience without compromising on safety.
AFLFA membership is free, and fans are encouraged to join at www.aflfans.org.au.
More information: AFLFA president Cheryl Critchley on 0418 312 596. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.