If Countdown teaches us anything, it’s that there’s more than one way to skin a maths problem. The allocation of tickets for the upcoming games appears relatively simple on the surface until you consider the complexities of bubbles, availability, capacity and logistics. There was a bit of surprise that only 60% of season ticket holders applied for tickets, but two games are midweek and the other is Boxing Day. If you’re in your seventies, midweeks may less appealing and Christmas could be the first opportunity to see family for months, it’s not the most attractive sequence.
Everyone had an alternative solution, all of which had equal merit but none – as far as I could see – were objectively better. Each solution appeared moulded to the proposers circumstances, not to gain advantage, but because that’s the evidence base we all tend to work with.
I’m pretty relaxed about the system, doing it in batches of three allows the club to allocate at least one game to all season ticket holders. Game-by-game would be a frantic process of opening the ballot, doing the draw with all its various complexities, and allocating the tickets. Doing it more than that would expect fans to cast too far forward. I suspect the club will work to help fans whose circumstances change, as they do for all-ticket games, but to guarantee that would be a mistake, you want most people to follow the process to give you capacity to deal with the outliers and exceptions.
The issue I do take exception to is the guarantee that 1893 Club members will get tickets to all games. As far as I know, the members pay a premium to access a lounge pre and post match, but are otherwise regular season ticket holders. I also pay a premium to sit in the South Stand Upper, but don’t expect my opportunities to be any greater than those in the East Stand. The fact the club didn’t mention it is strange, like they’ve being held to ransom by octogenarian ultras.
The discord might be helping our gradual recovery, there’s been a cosy oneness about the club for the last few months, but it’s a bit like a deeply loving marriage where the sex is underwhelming. We’re endlessly forgiving and understanding and we know ‘that’ doesn’t happen all the time, but in the dead of night we lie awake wondering what we’re doing with our life.
Nobody wants open warfare, which is ultimately destructive, but a diversity of views is no bad thing. We’ve now negotiated a tricky batch of games with fairly limited damage, the one that mattered, against Swindon, weighs heavily towards the negative but that was a last minute and freakish defeat. Otherwise, there is evidence that we’re turning the corner.
The 0-0 draw with Blackpool may have been the best result of the whole batch given the form of the Seasiders and the clean sheet. After the game Karl Robinson claimed a degree of victory for the clean sheet, saying that he always said we’d get there. It reminds me of the joke about the magician whose trick was to be hit over the head with a hammer, then after six months in a coma he opens his eyes and exclaims ‘Ta-da!’. It’s not a real triumph to ‘get there’ by stringing together a series of draws 35% into the season, if we have ambition to get promoted, then we need to be better than that.
It does seem the season could be defined in the upcoming games, they appear winnable, the key now is to win them. It remains true that at this stage I’d be happy to tread water this season if access to games is limited. Of course that might change on Tuesday when I push through the turnstiles for the first time in nine months.