[imagesource: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix]
If you were lucky enough to wangle a ticket for the Newlands New Year’s test match against England, you may have noticed that the English supporters far outweighed those supporting the Proteas.
That was evident throughout the test, and especially on day five, when South African wickets were greeted with massive cheers and skipper Joe Root must have felt like he was back on home turf.
Other than the sunshine and stunning mountain views, of course.
We’ve already spoken about Ben Stokes’ heroics and Jos Buttler’s foul-mouthed tirade against Vernon Philander – in his final test on his home ground, nogal – and as the dust settled on a superb test match, questions were asked about how the ticket sales process was handled.
Fair play to the Barmy Army and the other English supporters for travelling in such huge numbers, but is it right that us home supporters were left fighting for scraps?
Due to ongoing construction work at the north end of the stadium, there was also a 6 000 drop in capacity down to 16 000, but it was hard not to wonder what had gone on behind the scenes.
Ahead of the Newlands Test, 50% of the tickets were allocated to English supporters and 50% to South Africans.
That weighting is determined by the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA), with the New Year’s Test comfortably their biggest cash generator of the year.
WPCA keep 40% of the income of all tickets sold, and in June last year tickets were made available to English supporters through online purchases and travel and tourism packages.
South Africans, meanwhile, had to wait until October before they could purchase tickets and days one to three were sold out in 48 hours.
The tickets on sale to the English are more expensive than the tickets made available to South Africans.
Right off the bat, I’m not convinced that the split was 50/50 in terms of allocation, and you would imagine those tickets sold to English fans may well have been sold for a greater value than those sold to South African fans in October.
Given that the WPCA is in a serious financial pinch, and in dire need of cash, you can connect the dots.
There is a further issue that complicates matters. If you’re a member of the Official Proteas Supporters Club (OPSC), you’re allowed to purchase up to 18 tickets, which is something a number of members did.
Those tickets can then be sold on to English supporters at a much higher rate, and voila, you’re cashing in.
Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Chief Commercial Officer, Kugandrie Govender, said they “need to revisit the whole ticketing system and look at measures we can put in place,” and that CSA has “a responsibility to take these concerns seriously moving forward”.
That’s all well and good, but it will only really be a problem when another top tier test team returns, and even then they don’t bring the same amount of travelling fans as the English.
In the wake of the scrutiny, the WPCA released a statement of their own, seeking to clarify a few issues:
In South Africa it is the Official Proteas Supporters Club that is given the first option on domestic ticket sales. It would appear that South African tickets have been resold to supporters from England at a premium. This is a practice that WPCA does not condone as it limits the opportunity for South Africans to show support for the Proteas team, however this practice is currently beyond the WPCA’s control…
Given the unpredictable nature of 5-day test matches, the decision to release tickets for the 5th day was announced during the course of the 4th day. South African supporters were encouraged to purchase tickets for the final day of the match at very affordable prices; furthermore free entry passes were offered after teatime on the final day of the test.
In other words, they blamed the OPSC for the imbalance between supporters, and the response on Twitter made it clear the public wasn’t impressed.
The statement about free tickets for the final session also received pushback, with some complaining on social media that they had still paid upon arrival.
Whilst it’s sad that so many Proteas supporters were forced to watch on telly, we should also, again, give credit to the English for the superb support they offered their team.
In particular, the Barmy Army, who are currently celebrating 25 years of touring, were ever-present, and they do more than simply guzzle beer and suffer sunburn.
Sport24 spoke with one of their five staff for more insight:
They work a lot with charities around the world whenever England tour.
“We partner with the South African tourism board to showcase this beautiful country, not to only watch the cricket but explore the culture,” said [Barmy Army social media manager Toby] Marriott.
Following the Newlands Test, the Barmy Army has arranged three charity matches for its touring members and all the proceeds will go to Breadline Africa, which is a non-profit organisation providing children and youth with educational support.
“We’re not just about watching the cricket, it’s about meeting people and having fun and giving back,” said Marriott.
Fair play, really.
They also gave Big Vern a decent sendoff:
“We love you Vernon, we do, oh Vernon we love you!”
— England’s Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) January 7, 2020
Whilst the English team will undoubtedly have fewer supporters at the tests in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg (can’t blame them), South African fans will hope they have fewer reasons to cheer.
With a little more application, and fewer brain farts, we stand a great chance of getting one over the old foe.
[imagesource: Russian State Media / Twitter] Russia really one-upped the US with this r...
[imagesource: Flickr / Axel Bührmann] This report comes at you from the dark as I'm in...
Top Gun: Maverick Wins Best Picture From The National Board Of Review - An Oscar nod for b...
[imagesource: Flickr / GovernmentZA] According to the Section 89 independent panel repo...
[imagesource: Raw Pixel] Do you like pina colada? Look, I saw the cocktail name, and...