Heated debate over AFL grand final tickets has kicked off this week, with fresh calls from Collingwood for a rethink on the way passes to the big game are carved up.

Magpies fans and the club’s chief executive Craig Kelly have expressed their disappointment, with the club promising that its priority one members would receive coveted seated grand final tickets.

Here’s what it’s all about.

Here’s how the AFL carves up grand final tickets

The MCG seats more than 100,000 people, but the two competing clubs, Collingwood and Brisbane have only been allocated 17,000 tickets each for their members.

That’s despite Collingwood having more than 100,000 members and Brisbane having in excess of 50,000.

This isn’t new — grand final tickets are divvied up using this formula from the AFL:

  • Competing club members 16,000 – 40,000 (16-40% of seats)
  • AFL clubs (18) 0 – 7,000 (0-7% of seats)
  • Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) Reserve 16,000 – 26,000 (16-26% of seats)
  • AFL Members 13,000 – 18,000 (13-18% of seats)
  • AFL/Medallion Club Members 3,000 – 5,000 (3-5% of seats)
  • AFL Entitlements/Contractual Obligations 5,000 – 30,000 (5-30% of seats)
  • Competing clubs 0 – 5,000 (0-5% of seats)

Collingwood’s chief executive Craig Kelly said the club’s allocation of 17,000 tickets was “far from enough for our most loyal members”.

“We know grand finals are a case of high demand and limited availability which is why we call on the AFL to increase competing club allocations from 17,000 to at least 20,000 tickets,” he said.

He said the club believed members who had contributed their “hard earned should be rewarded with a fair opportunity to witness Collingwood on the biggest stage”.

A ticketing hiccup also affected some Magpies fans

Around 37 priority one (P1) Collingwood members encountered an issue when they didn’t select a standing room option and missed out on tickets in the automated ballot.

Kelly said the club had worked overnight and “every single” P1 member who had registered for the grand final would receive a ticket.

He also said P1 members who were given a standing room ticket would be allocated a seat.

Mr Kelly also called on ticket sales agency Ticketek to improve their system so that the moment funds are taken out of bank accounts, tickets are released to members immediately.

“We have been informed that 700 members whose credit cards either failed or had insufficient funds are not at risk of losing their allocation. They will be contacted by Ticketek and the Club this morning”.

Calls for member allocations to be boosted

Every September, demand for coveted AFL grand final tickets always outstrips supply, with seats for so-called “average” fans reduced in recent years by corporate areas and other special category memberships.

Mr Kelly said Collingwood was engaging with the AFL, MCC, Ticketek, and other stakeholders to push for changes and improve the system and access for the Pies’ most dedicated members.

He urged other lower-tiered club members and supporters, who would not get a ticket to the big match, to “immerse yourself in the activity that will be happening around the club”.

The AFL Fans Association agreed more grand final tickets should have been allocated to Collingwood and Brisbane fans.

Fans Association President Ron Issko said it was not fair on fans.

“[Fans] that go week in week out, every week, home away interstate, rain hail or shine, and then when it comes to the biggest game of the year, the grand final, some members just can’t go,” he said.

Here’s what Ticketek and the AFL have had to say

In a statement, a Ticketek said the 2023 AFL grand final ballot process was run as planned.

“All aspects of the ballot process, including allocation of tickets, timing of payment and notification of successful entries are all facilitated as per direct instructions to Ticketek, and all have been followed accordingly.”

“Ticketek welcomes the opportunity to engage with the AFL and clubs to review the grand final ballot process and to ensure the best possible experience for members and fans.”

But an AFL spokesman said the league was not planning a response to calls for increased ticket allocations for competing clubs at this time.