It's been a bad week for Reading Football Club. On Monday the club's twitter account had another harmless embarrassing Dad trying to be cool moment. On Tuesday the team put in one of the worst home performances in recent memory. Today Reading FC Women were disqualified from the Women's FA Cup for fielding ineligible players. So all in all not a great week and we haven't even had the tough away trip to Ipswich yet.
However, the club did redeem itself today by announcing the ticket details for the much anticipated FA Cup Sixth Round tie away at Bradford City.
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First of all, well done to the club for agreeing the sensible ticket prices with the Bantams. Most football fans would argue that £15 is the sort of price football tickets should be, but that's an argument for another day.
Secondly, the club have played a blinder with the away allocation. The usual away end at Valley Parade is the TL Dallas Stand which seats 1,840 fans. Now I don't know if that was offered to Reading, but if it was, and given our usual away followings, it would have been perfectly reasonable for the club to take it. Instead Royals fans will be seated in the East Stand with an initial allocation of 2,709, with first refusal on an extra 1,600 depending on demand.
The club have seen the excitement of fans and taken a gamble which gives every fan the opportunity to go. They have effectively laid down a challenge to Reading fans: we've seen your excitement on Twitter and Facebook, now prove it by buying tickets.
The final blinder by the club is the way they are selling the tickets. Season ticket holders can buy from tomorrow, before they go on general sale on Monday. Royalty points do not come into the equation.
Some fans will argue royalty points should be used, some will argue they should go on general sale straight away. But one thing fans should not worry about is missing out on tickets. I may be proved wrong, in fact I hope I am proved wrong, but Reading will not sell 4,000+ tickets. In fact I would be surprised if we sell 2,500+. If you want a ticket you will get one. The three day window gives season ticket holders some priority whilst still giving other fans a chance to get their tickets as soon as possible.
The final thing to say on the whole tickets issue is the number of away fans Reading take. We would all love it if we took 4,309 fans, but if we don't it will not be the disgrace that some fans are suggesting. On Tuesday there was just over 14,400 home fans. 2,000+ fans would therefore be an excellent following for a club of our size.
It might be the biggest away game since Southampton in 2012, but the early kick off time should not be dismissed so readily. Whilst some of us are lucky to be able to afford the time and money to make the journey, there are others who would love to go but are unable to.
We may not have the most passionate or biggest support but it's not as bad as often portrayed. The away following we took to Derby in 2008 remains one of the loudest example of football fandom I have ever heard (I was sat in the home end) at the Madejski Stadium and in Europe. Reading fans can travel in numbers and be loud as anyone else. Let's hope that's the case at Bradford, but if it isn't then there are far more important things to worry about.