Picture a fan walking into a shopping mall to buy an electronic ticket. A day later, he goes to Silver Stadium hoping to witness Silver Strikers in action.
At the gate, there are no python-shaped queues, let alone jostling, pushing and shoving. He just swipes his card on the machine at the gate which clicks open for him to enter.
That is the power of electronic ticketing (e-ticketing) which Silver are dreaming of. It is smart and convenient. Silver have embarked on this project.
This is in sharp contrast to the scenes of scrutiny that, from a distance, make fans trying to gain entry into stadiums look like terrorism suspects being bundled into Guantanamo Bay.
It took Silver sponsors, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM’s) audit, to say enough is enough. In RBM’s publicist Ralph Tseka’s words, gate fraud was denying Silver income.
“Therefore, it was decided that in order to improve on revenue, entry tickets to the stadium will be pre-purchased, they will be pre-sold at designated places. The holder of the ticket will just have to swipe the ticket and then the gate will open,” Tseka told The Nation on January 10 2013.
The larger picture from what Tseka said is that e-ticketing operates where there is a functional advance ticket system structure which fans are pretty aware of.
Therefore, this system calls for aggressive marketing.
Not only that. The card needs to be swiped into a machine for the turnstiles to open. Before the Bankers can think about the tickets, they have to overhaul the stadium’s turnstile and fix electronic gadgets that can read the cards.
The application of electronic ticketing requires the installation of ‘turnstiles’ and supporting devices for detection of ticket validity, reported Tanzania’s Guardian newspaper recently.
Additionally, electronic ticketing involves computer software usually sourced from abroad. To operate, it requires a mobile phone chip, like a smart card recharged and debited in match ticket purchase.
Not that Silver must be discouraged; they just need to be prepared to invest a lot in the project whose concept Football Association of Malawi (FAM) chief executive officer Sugzo Nyirenda has bought.
“At the National Stadium in Kenya, they have also gone electronic ticketing and it has gone a long way to address the challenges of gate collections,” Nyirenda said recently, expressing hope that government would buy the concept.
Talking to The Nation in January, Silver chairperson Dr. McDonald Mafuta Mwale, assured that RBM is expected to meet the cost of the ambitious project. On Tuesday, Mwale simply said the sponsors were still pursuing the project.
Tseka put matters in perspective, saying the project is at a suggestion stage. One can only hope the project will be a success. E-ticketing seems to be the only way to cure the football cancer eating away at football revenue.
FAM and Silver in particular need look no further than Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) who have also embarked on e-ticketing project in the venues that host Vodacom Premier League and national team games.
But if challenges Kenya and Tanzania football has experienced to go the e-ticketing route are anything to go by, then the Bankers better brace up for massive technological investment
Tanzania’s Guardian newspaper recently reported that the TFF had earlier announced publicly that it would introduce electronic tickets during the second phase from January 26. But in the recent weeks, there has been little or nothing heard of the said e-tickets.
Early in 2012 Tanzania’s CRDB Bank won the tender for providing the ticketing mechanism but rolling out has been a challenge. TFF information officer Boniface Wambura told the paper that it was difficult for him to confirm whether the project would take off as per original plans.
In Kenya, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) CEO Lordvick Omondi Aduda recently urged club officials to use e-ticketing system, particularly during big matches, to curb the sale of fake tickets which denies clubs revenue.
The system has been successfully tried during local premier league matches. Gor Mahia secretary general, George Bwana, said his club is considering starting using e-ticketing for its matches from next year.
Whether Malawi is ready or not for e-ticketing, it seems this gate management phenomenon cannot be avoided.