Between-fixture boredom has driven me to distraction.
Trawling the Knees Up Mother Brown website I found myself reading a forum thread which began with someone complaining about the club offering discounted adult upgrades for junior season tickets for the home game with Chelsea on 6th March.
The initial beef was that the ticket upgrade price would add up to less than a season ticket holder has paid, pro-rata, for their seat. This developed into a, reasonably civilised, debate about the £99 junior season tickets and how this has been exploited by some people.
I can't be bothered to calculate how much less it costs to upgrade a junior seat to an adult seat for this particular game as compared to what a season ticket holder pays. I imagine it's a few quid, maybe?
It's a night game. It's on TV. I'd like to see a full stadium. There are still tickets available on general sale, or at any rate, to anyone who has some sort of purchase history with the club. Fill it up! Never bought a sweater for 30 quid and then seen it a week later in the sale for a tenner? Prices change, demand fluctuates, you pay what you pay at the time if you're happy with the product and the price. If it changes later that's just the way it goes.
However, the empty seat conundrum has been bothering me a little bit. Before the game against West Brom I got talking to a couple of Spanish lads who wanted to go to the game but the ticket office told them it was sold out. Lo and behold there were hundreds of visibly empty seats dotted, and occasionally grouped, around the stadium. These lads may have been "tourists", but they wanted to see a game, and made the effort to get to Stratford to see West Ham v West Brom, hardly a tourist classic. Some on that thread on KUMB seemed to have an "anti-tourist" slant, I say, "get 'em 'in!". There's nothing to stop bona-fide, regular, West Ham fans getting into pretty much any game they want. And if you want to know what it's like to be a tourist attraction instead of a football club, you only have to visit Old Trafford or Anfield.
So, these empty seats. I think there are myriad reasons for it. The idea that the majority of it is caused by people who have bought junior season tickets with the sole intention of upgrading them for certain fixtures doesn't convince me. Not to say that no one has done this, but we are talking about a lot of empty seats.
Here are a bunch of other reasons why there are empty seats:
1. Empty seats in the posh stand: These people are in the lounge networking.
2. They are in the concourse glugging overpriced plastic bottles (decanted into a plastic cup) of Carlsberg.
2. They didn't want to go and couldn't be bothered to put their tickets up for sale on ticket exchange.
3. They got too pissed before the game and were refused entry, or decided to stay in the pub as it's more fun.
4. They got free corporate or community tickets and didn't want to go, or those tickets are sitting forgotten in a desk drawer somewhere.
5. They leave their seat empty in protest because it ain't like the old days at Upton Park.
6. They went for a few games but it was rubbish and they've forgotten they bought a season ticket in the first place.
7. Anomalies caused by inefficiency, computer system blips or individual error at the ticket office.
8. They got lost, or gave up the will to live, whilst walking from Stratford Station to the stadium.
9. Because lots of the seats are white the empty ones are more noticeable.
10. Okay and maybe some people got a £99 junior season ticket and only use it for upgrading on the "big" games.