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Published 31 May 2023 4 min read
England Supporters Travel Club

How an away match sale works, from ballots to second sales

Written by:

Richard Weekes

We understand that, whether you’ve been a member for some time, or are new to the club, there is a lot to take in when it comes to the sale process for away matches. In this article, we hope to clearly explain each step, from the ballot process to the post-sale waiting list, so that supporters can better understand the process.

Away Match Registration Process

Before each away match, we open a registration window.  Here, members can register their interest in attending an away match for themselves and up to 3 other members.

If the number of people who register their interest is fewer than the total away allocation we receive for the match, then all registered members will be guaranteed a ticket in Sale Window 1.

If an away match is oversubscribed, I.e. the number of members who have registered their interest in the game is greater than the allocation we have received; we will hold a ballot.

How a Ballot is Conducted?

70% of the ticket allocation will be initially offered to the top 70% of ESTC members, with regards to their active caps, who have registered interest in the match. The number of caps you will require to qualify for the top 70% of the ticket allocation will depend on:

(i) the number of members who have applied for the match; and
(ii) the size of our allocation for that game

The remaining 30% of the ticket allocation will be balloted, at random, to all remaining members who registered their interest.

Whilst we appreciate that no system will please everyone, we believe this structure ensures that the ‘most loyal’ members obtain tickets, while also allowing lower-capped members the opportunity to travel away and build their caps.

All members who are successful in the ballot will be guaranteed a ticket during Sale Window 1.  Tickets in this window are NOT first-come-first-served and only successful members can access tickets during this window.

Will registering in a group affect my chances if some members are on fewer caps than me?

No. All members who are in the top 70%, as referenced above, will be guaranteed a ticket in Sale Window 1, regardless of who else is in their group.

All other members in a group, who fall below the top 70%, will be entered into a ballot on a ‘single entry’.  i.e., they may all either be successful or unsuccessful.  This function is in place for supporters who only wish to attend a match if their friend/family member is successful as well.

For example:

Liam, Tracey, Darpan and Josh all apply for Scotland v England.

Liam and Tracey are top cappers and have been to every game in the last 4 years.

Darpan and Josh are new to following England away and only have 6 caps each.

If we were to run a ballot for this group, Liam and Tracey would be guaranteed tickets in Sale Window 1.

Darpan and Josh are not in the top 70% of capped members for this ballot, they are both entered into the ballot for the remaining 30% of tickets.

Because they are in the same group, and both fall outside of the top 70%, they are therefore entered into the ballot on a ‘single ticket’.  This means that in this instance, both may either be successful or unsuccessful in the ballot.

How does Sale Window 2 work?

Once Sale Window 1 has closed, any remaining tickets will be made available to all England Supporters Travel Club members who have not yet purchased a ticket, regardless of whether or not they registered their interest. 

For the most recent sale, Malta away, there were just over 700 tickets available for Sale Window 2.

This sale is always first-come-first-served and will remain open until sold out.

I’ve entered Sale Window 2 within the first few minutes and seen that there are no more tickets available, yet other members managed to purchase tickets even 20 minutes later!  How is this possible?

When you enter a sale, you either experience one of two possibilities:

  1. You head straight into the sale and can select tickets.  This means you were one of the very first into the sale.  Our sales portal, i.e., the point at which you can select tickets, will accommodate approximately 500 people at a time.

  2. You were not one of those visitors who were navigated straight into the sales portal and are therefore placed into a queue.

If you fall into the second category, then you should be aware of the following:

  • The message you see outlining your number in the queue, ‘Number of users ahead of you XXX’, is the total number of people ahead of you in the queue and does not include the 500 or so who are already in the sale

  • Those people who are already in the sale can purchase up to 4 tickets in total (assuming all members are eligible), so, there is no guarantee that those who are currently in the sale will only purchase one ticket each. This is why tickets may appear as sold out or unavailable during the process of placing your order

  • Like most live event sales platforms, tickets remain in the basket for 10 minutes, so we would always encourage people to keep on refreshing the page in the hope they can obtain tickets when some are released back.  This happens when multiple members, who wish to travel in a group, are trying to enter the sale and obtain tickets at the same time.  Once one of the members has the tickets, others who may already have them in their basket, will exit the sale.  However, in these cases, it still takes 10 minutes for the tickets to be released back into the sale

  • When there are absolutely no tickets left, we will update the sale to say ‘sold out’ and send an email to all members.  So, until you see this in future, keep on refreshing!

Why don’t you penalise members who register their interest, are successful in the ballot, and then do not purchase their ticket?

We appreciate why this question gets asked by members, but here are a few reasons why we do not penalise members for this:

  • We understand that circumstances can change for people.  Work and family may sometimes have to take precedence over football

  • Some people may only want to purchase their flights once they are guaranteed a ticket.  However, they may then find that, once they are successful in a ballot, the price of flights has extended beyond their budget

  • Some members may only wish to attend a match if their family member/friend also gets a ticket. 

    For example:

    Liam and Tracey are friends but registered separately.  Liam is successful, and Tracey is unsuccessful, meaning that Liam may not purchase their ticket, as they both wanted to travel together.

    Therefore, we strongly encourage all members who fit this description to register together so that, assuming neither fall into the ‘top 70% as referenced above, they are both entered into the ballot on a ‘single ticket’.

  • All members who register their interest can also unregister, should their circumstances change, before the registration window closes.  This is something we are going to advertise more during the next registration window to help reduce the number of unpurchased tickets in Sale Window 1.


Why do you allow ALL members the opportunity to purchase tickets in Sale Window 2 and not just those that registered their interest?

The simple answer to this question is that only a very, very small percentage of members who did not register in the first instance go on to purchase tickets in Sale Window 2.  This is something we have monitored over a long period of time.

For the most recent ‘Sale Window 2’, Malta v England, a total of 18 members purchased tickets who did not register in the first instance.  This equates to approximately 0.2% of ‘all remaining members’.

We also appreciate that circumstances can change, and we do not want to restrict access to the small number of paying members who now can attend the game, giving them a chance of purchasing a ticket in Sale Window 2.


How does the Waiting List work?

For most matches, unless otherwise stated, we will open a waiting list.  The waiting list will allow us to re-distribute any cancelled tickets which are returned to us.  Tickets will be distributed on a caps basis, meaning that the more caps you have, the higher up the list you will be.  We will monitor this waiting list right up until match day to ensure as many members as possible get in to watch the match.


Have your say!

We are here to serve the members in the best way possible and are always open to suggestions from supporters.  Over the course of each membership cycle, we hold surveys and forums (both in person and online).  We encourage any member who wishes to discuss these types of topics further to keep an eye out for these events and get involved.