Courtesy of futaa.com
Sunday 9th September was in every way going to be Gor Mahia’s Fans tipping point for the 2012 season. Everything was right; the club is in form winning back to back matches, a win against SoNy Sugar would take the club to second just behind arch rivals AFC Leopards, it was a Sunday, the English Premier League (EPL) was on a break and this meant everything was right for a deluge of fans to flock the stadium. The time for Fair weather fans was here
But somewhere along the way, something went wrong and the fans overwhelmed every plan put in place and gained free entry into the stadium after breaking the VIP car entry gate. A step by step look into the day may inform the ongoing debate about the game and the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness witnessed at purchase of tickets and entry into the stadium not only for Gor Mahia but Kenyan football in general.
Every match organization principally involves the Home Team, The Police, The Ticket Agents and the stadium owners. Each party has their role to play and when one fails; it inevitably spills and embroils all the others. In many instances, the ticketing agent takes a lot of the slack because they are the people fans meet first and foremost and tend to be the most conspicuous.
Tickets for all Gor Mahia matches this season have been printed by the club and handed over to Ticket Masters for sale. The argument has been that one party cannot print and sell the tickets at the same time; it represents an opportunity for fraud. This may be true depending on the party one is dealing with and if a client chooses to limit our role to sale and verification, we have no problem with that.
Find tickets at the Stadium
This Sunday, tickets were handed over to Ticket Masters at 8:00am at the city stadium. 2,000 VIP and 6,000 Terrace tickets were registered then stamped and issued for sale to five of our cashiers. Three cashiers at the Booth at the Terraces and two cashiers at the Booth at the VIP. Sales began at about 10:00am. Attempts by ticket Masters to send some tickets to Kenya Cinema for sale were stopped by Gor Mahia Security people with the allegation that they could not guarantee what happens in town and since it was not a week day, all fans would find tickets at the stadium.
Arrangements for the match ticketing security were put in place including stationing of police on horseback to help in crowd control especially ensuring everyone was in queue at points of sale and points of entry. This arrangement had been agreed at match security meeting on Tuesday and only waited execution.
Up to about 2:15pm, everything worked and anyone who arrived then will attest to the fact that there were queues that were flowing. At about 2:25pm, Gor Mahia’s Security consultant, one Paul Obonyo who only got his job two matches ago went and ordered all police officers to withdraw from points of sale and entry. The queues collapsed as some fans jammed the points of sale and entry.
By 2:45pm all points of sale and entry were gridlocked, nobody could buy tickets and no one could gain entry into the stadium. The crowds outside kept swelling and gathering, 15 minutes into the game, the crowds outside had become impatient and made their way into the stadium through the VIP Car Entry Gate.
After the situation was contained by the police on horseback, a rumor that tickets had run out was started and without consulting Ticket Masters as to the availability of tickets at the booths, some tickets from old matches were issued to some Gor Mahia Stewards for sale. These individuals started running all over the place with tickets selling to anyone willing at whatever price they agreed on.
At some point, Nkaari Martin captured one steward selling tickets to people on a queue at the official point of sale yet the registered tickets for the match had not run out. The steward was handed over to an official at which point he was asked to stop. In total, two VIP books were issued of 100 tickets each and seven terrace books of 100 tickets each. All the terrace tickets were returned where only 227 had been sold. The VIP tickets are yet to be accounted for.
Who is in Charge?
When a client chooses a ticketing agent, he ordinarily should provide room for planning and execution. The moment the client does not provide enough room for planning and execution or the client provides the room but his stewards get in the way of the execution, little can be done. At Gor Mahia matches, the security people who are people without any security experience whatsoever tend to overwhelm every plan put in place and formulate their own and coerce agents, officials and police into their ways.
Why would a security person who is not elected by fans have so much power as to order police to vacate positions agreed on at a Security meeting? Why would security people cancel plans for a point of sale in town? Where do they get the power to order for extra books from previous matches and go on and sell them without the Ticket Agent’s knowledge and consent?
My answer is simple, they thrive in chaos. They hope for as much chaos as is possible because that is where loopholes for private gain abound. While there are some honest security people, the vast majority of them are there to cash in and this is a fact that has never been said and addressed. If the club is to contract an agent for a job, give the agent the power to execute their plan so that they can take responsibility for all that goes wrong.
Why is there more elaborate ticketing plans when Gor Mahia is playing away to other teams? Simple, there is more room for planning and execution. The excuse that advance ticketing was canceled because of fake tickets is a blatant lie. In its history with Ticket Masters, Gor Mahia has not encountered any fake tickets because ticketing fraud from fans is easy to contain. What is difficult to contain is internal intrigues and suspicions of who is trying to steal from where.
Tickets are not sold in advance because nobody trusts the other and we would all rather do things where everyone can see what the other is doing. The greatest threat to ticketing anywhere in the world is not the external threat but the internal one and in our quest to contain it, it leads to haphazard plans that have no contingencies meaning should threats appear, we have no way of containing them leading to loss of lives and property including club income.
Gor Mahia is a great club with a lot of potential that sometimes gets lost because of bottlenecks in management process. It is a club one cannot help but love and marvel at. Working for Gor is a great honor in as much as it is a profitable enterprise. We at Ticket Masters owe Gor Mahia a load for making our company what it is today and we strive to only advance its worthy cause. That is the ideal.
In practice, various interests and conflicting visions and authority get in the way and that is when things turn awry. For Gor Mahia to achieve efficiency and effectiveness it is these contradictions that must be solved and then maybe people can have the power to execute their mandate and be held responsible for it.
Written 11/09-12 11:38 By Nkaari Martin K