HEARTS have apologised to fans over a controversial season ticket campaign which sparked complaints that supporters had been “misled” over prices.
The SPL club yesterday issued a statement on their website saying they had “learnt lessons” from the debacle and expressed “regret for problems that arose”.
The admission comes just days after the News revealed the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was considering whether to investigate the club over their new “dynamic pricing structure”.
Under the system, ticket prices rise over time depending on demand. Fans were promised “the lowest season ticket starting price for four years” and were urged to buy early to maximise savings.
But after just a few hours of the deal being launched at 8am on Friday, March 23, average ticket prices had risen to roughly the same price as last season.
The ASA confirmed it had received two complaints from supporters who claimed they had been “misled” by a marketing push that saw scores try to take advantage of a bargain season ticket price – only to find they were paying up to £70 more than was advertised.
If the club is found to have breached the UK Advertising Codes a formal investigation can be launched.
Following talks with irate fans’ groups, a spokesperson for Hearts said: “At no point has the club set out to cause the problems that some supporters have experienced.
“We do regret any problems that arose, and would like to apologise for any difficulties that were experienced.
“We have worked hard over many years to establish a unity of purpose with supporters, designed to protect and promote the club. This common cause has meant that Tynecastle has remained a place that opposition teams often face with trepidation.
“We have learnt lessons but do hope that above all else, fans remain supportive of the club at a time when it is most needed.
“We will also be considering improvements for next year’s season ticket campaign which should make the season ticket purchase process much more manageable”
The club has now agreed to extend a price freeze on season tickets for the coming campaign until 5pm on April 30 to ensure supporters can renew with “price confidence”.
It is understood Hearts are “unlikely” to use the dynamic pricing-structure again.
Steven Kilgour, general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, said: “I attended the talks and we came to understand that [the club] had to do it.”
He added it was a “good thing” the club was to review their season-ticket pricing structure.
One Hearts supporter, who made one of the complaints to the advertising watchdog, welcomed the apology but said for many the gesture was “too little too late”.
“What I always wanted was an admission from the club that they got it horribly wrong and this statement seems to do that.
“I do think though that the increase in ticket prices, especially for concessions, will still prevent a lot of people from renewing. It’s very possible that the club will hurt from this blunder for some time.”