Chelsea plans online ticket-ordering service

Chelsea Football Club has signalled plans to launch an online ticket ordering service as increases in ground capacity threaten to create excess seating capacity for less popular home fixtures.

Chris Manson, special projects manager, says Chelsea hopes to be the first football club to emulate a growing number of other non-soccer entertainment venues, such as the Verona Opera House, in offering booking facilities over the Net.

The club, which will see ground capacity leap from 28,300 to 34,000 next season and to 45,000 by autumn 1998, is currently regularly sold out.

But executives are anticipating it will be left with excess seating at many fixtures once ground improvements are completed.

“We are installing a new ticketing system, and as part of that we will do online ticketing,” says Manson. “With 45,000 seats, we would still expect to sell out the big matches, but we will have to market some of the games with lesser appeal.”

The aim is to put late-availability tickets up for sale through the Internet, while Manson suggests online ticketing will also be extended to kiosk sales at the stadium and at remote sites around London.

While fans will still be req uired to collect their tickets from a cinema-style ticket collection-point ahead of kick-off.

Chelsea believes the move will improve distribution of ticket sales and ease pressure on its current telephone-based ticket-buying systems. The club, which launched its Website in February, is expecting to launch of a full electronic merchandising service for club para- phernalia over the summer.

Torin Douglas on the Web, page 19

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