BOTH Hearts and Hibernian will receive a small additional supply of tickets for the Scottish Cup final, as uptake from holders of Hampden debentures has been lower than at first expected. But chances of a public sale remain small – and, such has been the demand from Hearts fans, that the Tynecastle club has already tightened the criteria for those eligible to buy tickets.
Initial indications from the Scottish Football Association were that few of the 5,500 Hampden debenture and lounge seats would be available, such was the interest in the 19 May match from those with a right to buy them. However, that interest has fallen some way short of a total sell-out, meaning that the remainder can be split equally between the two Edinburgh clubs.
Although it has yet to be determined how many additional tickets will go to each club, it is expected to be well in excess of 1,000 each. And, although Hibs and Hearts agreed that their initial sale of tickets would be 20,000 each, both clubs have in fact already received several hundred more than that.
A small proportion of that extra allocation will be used to ensure that members of staff are able to attend the match, but the bulk will be put on sale. As a result, the total number of tickets sold directly to supporters could reach 44,000 out of a ground capacity for the game of 51,063.
Tickets have been on sale at Easter Road and Tynecastle since last week, with priority going to season-ticket holders. Hibs supporters who have a season ticket for 2011-12 and agreed to renew for next season were offered two cup-final tickets each.
Hearts, who at present have roughly 3,000 more season-ticket holders than their city rivals, are operating a loyalty-points system. Points can be gathered by attending matches by anyone registered on the club’s system, but the fact that having a season ticket is worth 20 points means in effect that fans who just
attend the odd match have little hope of being able to buy a Hampden ticket. Hearts’ initial plan was to have a period of a week in which tickets would be for sale to those with the highest level of loyalty points, then to open the sale up to those with between eight and 39 points. People in that latter category were due to have that chance from today, but the club has now raised the threshold from eight to 20 points.
The change has left many fans disappointed, but the club say the decision was made in response to a significant increase in season-ticket sales over the last week, meaning that far more fans than expected came into the upper points category. Upwards of 1,000 season-tickets were sold last week.
According to a club source, the decision was taken reluctantly, and made because it was thought better for fans to be told beforehand rather than when they turned up at the ticket office. “We are trying to manage the situation as best we can,” the source said. “There could have been hundreds and hundreds of fans left raging that all the tickets had gone. It’s better to let them know now rather than later.”
The club hope that those with more than 20 loyalty points will be satisfied that they are receiving priority.