As discussed often in the past few weeks, the selling criteria for the FA Cup Semi Final appears to have been misjudged by the club, and it appears the Reading fans are apathetic about it. However, is this something that could have been predicted when looking at points level data?
The Past 10 Years
Currently, Reading FC have 100,000 members. People seemed rather surprised that the Royals have had such a large figure in their membership, however with Royalty Points now having been run for 10+ years, the club has built up a large amount of casual guests who have signed up to the scheme at one point or another to claim a ticket for a game. This would include at least 18K season ticket holders we had in the Premier League, so over 1/5th of the members have been Season Ticket Holders at one point or another in the past ten years. A high %, but low amount of base considering the growth potential of the club during the Premier League years in the Thames Valley area.
From the selling information that the club released before the tickets went on sale a few weeks ago, the club were "confident" that anyone with over 300 points would be able to get a ticket. This means we can safely assume that there is 31K members who are either season ticket holders, or have over 300 points. Let's break this down further and take a look at where these 300 points members currently sit.
Recent Season Ticket Holders
The widely accepted view is that currently the Royals hold around 12-13K season tickets, with the club not officially confirming the number, it's hard to give an exact figure, so taking the middle of these figures seems to be the most sensible way to look at things. This would mean that there is 12.5K season tickets currently, not all of these will have 300 points, and generally there is between 5-10% churn on Season Tickets each season. Last season will have seen a lower take up by new ticket holders given the turmoil the club seemed to find itself in, they had a tough sell to bring anyone new in. This would probably mean the club found around 400-500 new Season Ticket Holders last season. These 400-500 may have less than 300 points (although unlikely). However the Season Tickets are grouped together, no matter the points, so we will do the same here and presume that all Season Ticket Holders would (and have been) eligible to buy tickets first, no matter their points tally.
Taking off our season ticket holders means that you can then look at the remaining tickets (assuming every season ticket holder had a seat at Wembley… Sorry Wimb!), which would total 19K. This means Reading have around 19K members who have 300 points or more but do not have a Season Ticket currently. This is going to be made up mainly of people who have once had a Season Ticket, but not currently (yours truly, for example). To have got 300 points, you need to have been a member who has either been to approximately 30 home league games, or had a Season Ticket and come to a few cup games in the last 10 years.
Now, if we're safe in the assumption that people with 300 points at least hold some sort of passing interest in the club, if not fandom, we're unlikely to have sold a ticket to every single one of these people. The club probably could have done a ST +1 to anyone with 300 points or more, this would have alleviated a lot of the issues with the slow selling tickets as people with STs would not have faced the choice of buying a ticket upfront without, or waiting and risking getting a ticket potentially where they did not want to sit. However, if 31K have over 300 points, this would have allowed for members with 300 - 500 points, who are likely to only hold a passing interest, and come irregularly to have bought tickets with the fanatics who are likely to have season tickets and go every week.
After these 31K, we are looking at another 69K members in total. Splitting these out using information the club has given us information on has given us the knowledge that there is 19K fans (the same amount with 300 points + without a season ticket!) between 10 and 300 points. This means they've been to less than 3 home games on average a season over the past 10 seasons. Following this, we are then left with the remaining 50K members who were eligible to purchase once the club moved the boundaries down to 10 points, giving us our 100K members.
As you can see, (as many know, and are well aware of) the club has a small but quite committed hardcore group of ticket holders. We have a fanbase realistically of around 30K which you can figure from the member data, and then another 20K or so of people who have got at least a passing interest in the club. The 50K members who have 10 points or less I feel the club can almost disregard from these sort of calculations. After all, if you've been to 1 (yes, ONE) game in the past 10 years at home, you are eligible now to buy a Wembley ticket.
Sadly, the sort of game which could tip many over the edge has been misjudged analytically by the club in terms of points data, and you have to wonder what sort of way they look at and analyse the points totals within their membership.