Hearts face probe over ticket adverts

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THE advertising watchdog is considering an investigation into Hearts after receiving complaints that supporters were “misled” over season ticket prices.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today confirmed it would look into allegations that a marketing push for cut-price early bird tickets amounted to false advertising.

If the club is found to have breached the UK Advertising Codes a formal investigation can be launched.

On Saturday, the News told how a record-breaking day of sales at Tynecastle was marred by complaints from fans over a new “dynamic pricing structure” that saw scores try to take advantage of a bargain price offer on season tickets only to find they were paying up to £70 more than was advertised.

Hearts sources maintained that fans were given the correct information and played down the number of complaints.

One of those who complained to the ASA said they were a “loyal Hearts supporter” who believed the club had “failed to act on any of the feedback given by disgruntled fans”.

The fan said: “I was pushed over the edge on Monday when I heard a radio advert offering the lowest-priced tickets for four years – two days after the deal had finished.

“The club have been boasting about how popular this pricing structure is when fans are so aggrieved by it, with many now choosing not to renew at all.”

Douglas Craig is one of those fans who declined to renew his season ticket following the furore over ticket prices. Of the complaints to the ASA he said: “I’m not surprised because it’s been galling when they say it’s going to be the cheapest price in four years but then you find out it’s the opposite.”

Under the new 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 just a few hours after the deal’s launch at 8am on Friday, average prices had soared to roughly the same price as last season.

Hearts would not reveal how many bargain tickets were available at the lowest level because the figures were “commercially sensitive”.

An ASA spokeswoman said it had received two complaints in the last week relating to season ticket sales at Hearts.

“When we receive a complaint we look into it and decide whether or not an investigation needs to be launched but there is no assumption that ads are misleading,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Hearts declined to comment.