Mark Catlin: Portsmouth Wembley ticket policy for Sunderland game vindicated in face of criticism
Mark Catlin surveyed Pompey’s Wembley sell-out and insisted: Our ticketing policy has been vindicated
The Blues filled their Checkatrade Trophy allocation late Monday afternoon, following a day’s general sale.
All 40,300 Pompey tickets for the Sunderland encounter were snapped up within eight days, ensuring the largest attendance in the history of competition under its various guises.
Yet Catlin had faced criticism from some quarters for not restricting purchases, instead allowing season-ticket holders to buy up to six seats a time.
Similarly, those on general sale were permitted up to nine tickets per person.
Yet Pompey’s chief executive points at the sold-out signs as evidence the club’s approach was correct.
Catlin said: ‘I feel we have been 100 per cent vindicated with our ticketing policy.
‘Selling out was our priority – and that has been achieved.
‘If we had limited it to two seats per person – and 8,000-odd season ticket holders purchased tickets – there would have been 16-17,000 going on general sale.
‘From speaking to fans, it was allowing six tickets per person which allowed them to bring along extended family to Wembley.
‘I’ve seen all the comments out there. However, you simply cannot argue with the fact we have sold 40,000 tickets for a Checkatrade Trophy final. That is simply astounding.
‘I was at the Hall of Fame on Friday evening, fans came over and said it was the fact they could bring mum, dad, two kids, wife or next-door neighbour that made them purchase the six tickets.
‘We wanted this to be a big family day out. If you limited it to two – with maybe a husband and wife – where are the kids going to sit?
‘It was exactly the right policy. We had 6,000 tickets available on general sale, so it isn't like season-ticket holders could complain they couldn't get a ticket. They all had a chance.
‘There has been criticism, but in my opinion the policy has been completely vindicated.’
Catlin had approached the Football League for 40,000 tickets for the March 31 final.
It was an ambitious amount considering the Fratton faithful’s ongoing boycott of an unpopular competition.
And Pompey’s chief executive had to convince league chiefs the club would be able to sell such large amounts of Wembley seating.
Catlin added: ‘I was pushing for 40,000 tickets. You have to bear in mind that if I hadn't given that commitment, more tickets would have gone to Sunderland.
‘For me to give that commitment, we simply had to sell them. It was about selling out and getting bums on seats.
‘To get the 40,000 tickets we had to give a commitment to the EFL. Once we had given that and received the tickets, we had to see it through.’