Hearts fans cry foul over ticket deal ‘own goal’

Mark Farquharson with his ticket
Mark Farquharson with his ticket
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A RECORD-BREAKING day for Hearts season ticket sales was marred by complaints from furious fans who felt “misled” over an early-bird discount deal.

The club’s new “dynamic pricing structure” came under fire after scores of supporters who arrived early to take advantage of a cut-price offer found they were paying up to £70 more than was advertised.

Hundreds took to online fans’ forums to vent their fury, with many vowing to give up their season book, but club sources maintain fans were given the correct information and played down the number of complaints.

Under the new system, ticket prices rise over time depending on demand. Fans were promised “the lowest season ticket starting price for four years” and were urged to buy early to maximise savings.

But after just a few hours of the deal being launched at 8am yesterday morning, average ticket prices had soared to roughly the same price as last season.

Fans told how a platinum adult price offered at £380 had jumped to around £470 several hours later.

Hearts declined to comment on how many bargain tickets were available at the lowest level before prices began soaring because the figures were “commercially sensitive”.

On their website, Hearts announced that the 2000 launch-day sales was the highest ever achieved.

But fans complained of an “easyJet-style” marketing ploy that encouraged panic buying and could alienate the Tynecastle support.

Steven Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said: “Hearts have not handled this at all well and I think it could be a massive own goal.

“There was a warning on the website that the ticket prices could go up at any time, but no-one thought it would happen after just a few hours.

“It’s no secret that Hearts, as well as a few other clubs in the SPL, are struggling financially.”

Diane Scougall, 47, a season-ticket holder for 15 years, said: “It’s as unscrupulous as easyJet-style advertising where you go to buy a cheap ticket for £1 and realise it only applies to three seats on the plane.

“I would say there’s a case for this being outright false advertising. It’s shady, if not outright crooked.”

A Hearts source revealed that prices would not be lowered in the coming weeks to ensure “fairness”, adding: “Demand will dictate the price and prices are raised accordingly. We tried to make supporters aware as early as we could and gave them as much information as early as we could.

“The number of complaints compared to sale today is about 0.001 per cent. If we do it again next year, we will take on board complaints for all those who didn’t enjoy the experience.”