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Football Welcomes I D Access Cards

Sep 8, 2008
As the costs of access cards have reduced, and as their acceptance into general use has become more prevalent, electronic access cards are now being used in ever larger numbers by large buildings such as football stadiums and even in giant conference and event centres.

One case is the introduction of smart access cards, or electronic identification cards, to Watford Football Club in the UK. This football club chose to move to an identification card system for quite a number of reasons. They mentioned that they were sending out thousands of entry tickets for each match, which was incredibly wasteful, and even could be seen as being harmful to the environment. A large number of the fans who came to the Watford stadium were regular match goers, and it did not make any sense for them to have to obtain a new ticket for each game they attended.

With the use of a combined identification card system and a standard ticketing system for less regular match goers, the number of tickets issued for each match greatly reduced.

A large problem at football matches is the queueing for entry before a match. With the older ticket system, each ticket had to be inspected, one at a time and by stadium officials. By moving to the electronic identification card system, the club greatly reduced the queueing time, allowing a much smoother flow of fans to their seats.

The cost overhead of ticket attendants was very large for the football club, and the potential for fraud or ticket theft was very high with the older ticketing system. It is unknown how many forged tickets had been made over time. With the introduction of smart cards, theft or fraud of this type was removed entirely - regular game goers can now smoothly get to their seats with the minimum of fuss and a largely reduced entry staff needed.

The use of a modern computerised access card system has meant that it is possible for fans to pay in advance for their tickets, and the computer system can automatically check whether they have paid for a particular match or open training session before allowing them access. It also allows for a careful control over those allowed into a particular game - there is the potential for fans to be disallowed entry for particular events.

Stewards are still available at the club stadium so that if there are any problems with access cards they can be resolved. They are also needed to ensure that people do not try to break or circumvent the turnstile systems, but overall this need is greatly reduced.

One of the limitations of this system is that other clubs around the country have not adopted the same system, and therefore there is no unified system of access to football club games. Away games for Watford fans mean that they have to purchase traditional tickets again, but this is unavoidable at the moment.

A huge advantage to the Watford football club access cards is that it is now possible for the club to keep a track on the usage and attendance of its most loyal season ticket holders. The club is planning to use this information to assign tickets on a fair basis for the matches which are high profile. The club is said to consider fairness one of the most important factors in this, and it chooses to use the access cards as one of the factors in deciding who gets to see heavily over subscribed matches.

The cards themselves may well become collectors items for the avid fans - they are stamped with various information such as names, dates and particular turnstile entry points and if (and when!) the club wins a major title again, the cards in circulation for an event will become highly collectible.
About the Author
F.Bradfield is an author and publisher who provides content for 'The Cardnetwork' (http://www.thecardnetwork.co.uk), the premier supplier of ID Cards,
ID card printers and supplies in Great Britain.
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