No, this isn’t a reference to AFCW’s current journey to relegation, although you’d be forgiven thinking it was.
Nor is it a Wycombe preview, where I’ll let Mark Bowen do it for me instead.
I’m at Reading v Swansea tomorrow, so the next update will be Tuesday. I believe I’ve got the better deal.
But this long diatribe is about something that has equally pissed people off in great measure this campaign.
On Friday evening, while we were spitting blood over Crewe, the club released its findings and recommendations into the ticketing fiasco this season.
Well, not so much “released” but sneaked out, almost hoping nobody would notice.
Unlike the decision makers, a fair number of our supporters have their eye on the ball and spotted when it got uploaded straight away.
Or they really are that sad by waiting for any update that gets published.
But as the reaction already from those who read the findings proves – it’s a doozy…
It is officially titled “AFC WIMBLEDON TICKETING POST IMPLEMETATION (sic) REVIEW (PIR) FINDINGS / RECOMMENDATIONS”.
For the purpose of this writeup, it will be called the “TICKET FUCKUP REPORT (TFR)”, which is a much more accurate title.
If you haven’t read it yet, do so. I won’t ask questions, but you might need something stronger alongside your chocolate egg.
The first thing you might notice even before you start reading it comes from the very file name.
If there’s been seven previous drafts, there’s clearly been a lot taken out/reworded by the lawyers.
Even when I initially skim-read it on the tube back home Friday, it struck me how it was only four pages long.
Not because it didn’t have much else to say, but there’s clearly much more that can’t be stated.
You don’t have to scroll too far down the first page to see how shoddy and haphazard it was.
Why weren’t the requirements for Securitix (the ticketing platform bods) supplied? Did they not write a document to begin with?
But then, you look at how many documents were requested and not received. Fifteen were asked for, and eight weren’t forthcoming.
The TFR has a limitation, as it admits : it didn’t have time to interview everyone, though I note they weren’t able to interview those who have left.
Presumably that refers to the woman who worked with Joe Palmer at Sheffield Wednesday, and who later walked briskly through the exit, under the cover of darkness.
I don’t know whether that was a legal reason or not, it’s not like anyone would have been interviewed under caution by the police.
More’s the pity, really.
I appreciate that there has to be slack in moving back home under the Rona’s dark shadow, and that we’re even watching our blue/yellow idiots going down on our own turf is the main thing.
But when it starts going through the Key Findings and Recommendations, it almost reads like a horror movie.
How can you not know what you require to begin with? It’s a ticket system for a club in League One, not a report on some newly discovered quantum physics.
It’s amazing one has to ask some very basic questions. Like how can you select Secutix without seeing if anyone else could do the job just as well?
As for contacting Brentford after we’d chosen our provider to see what it was really like, it’s icing on the cake stuff.
I would have killed to see the reaction of the Bees representative who had to take that phone call from AFCW, put it that way.
Already, you see that we rushed into this pretty much without thinking. That, sadly, is par for the course with this club, and nobody should be remotely surprised.
These are the same people who sold Ollie Palmer just to make a quick buck. Look where that decision is taking us.
Those into IT will be sobbing uncontrollably in a darkened room at the discovery that it wasn’t tested.
That’s basic IT Project 101. Even SW19 proof-reads this before pressing “Publish” (yes, really).
Your editor does UX testing on the side, which is basically looking at websites (live and prototype), seeing if it’s usable or not, and whether it’s easy to follow.
I would have spent a good hour picking holes in it when it got released to an unsuspecting public, so Satan knows what the nuts-and-bolts IT guys were thinking.
It seems they try to mitigate this by saying we didn’t have much time to put it in.
I also assume that will be the excuse why some actual IT professionals within the fanbase weren’t consulted.
Personally, I think that’s bollocks. If you look at the dates of some of the requested documentation, we started this project in 2018.
I don’t think the Rona was as much an obstacle as some will make out. Between March and May 2020 there were bound to be some experts sitting at home collecting furlough.
The club should have outsourced what was needed, and find out what they didn’t know in the process. It was a good time to take stock, and we didn’t do that.
And that’s not hindsight either. AFCW is pretty poor generally at tapping into some good knowledge within its support base.
Some people who are high up in their chosen fields have been frustrated that they could do their job gratis for the club, but are rebuffed.
Presumably it’s who you know at AFC Wimbledon, and not what you can actually do.
I seem to remember Joe Palmer pointing the finger of blame at our ticket provider when the first ballsups occured at the Bolton game.
But there’s no single go-to bod to liaise between the club and Secutix.
Indeed, it doesn’t seem like there’s much in the way of support full stop. Staff aren’t trained nearly enough, nobody is able to answer a lot of questions that might pop up.
It has the air of us getting a cracked copy of the software through torrents, then us not being able to find the documentation off some dodgy Russian site.
You have to ask yourself why it got to this stage, and I think it got let slip in section 12. I quote:
The system was implemented very “informally” with few key people seemingly making decisions.
That’s AFCW all over, isn’t it?
That they can’t decide whether there was any formal scrutiny or not between the various boards says it all.
I would be snarky and suggest that the implementations planned for 22/23 aren’t quite so important if we’re in L2, but I won’t.
And if we do well next season, it will be tested again quite thoroughly.
The issues of entry into PL have been noted, and I’ve seen first-hand people not being able to scan their tickets in the queue.
It’s quite worrying to read that there’s no obvious backup to what happens if the turnstiles stop working.
I can’t remember it happening (so watch it happen either tomorrow or Accrington), so the club has got very lucky there.
But it’s just another illustration of how haphazard it all is.
The TFR recommends that people who know what they’re doing should get involved in a future project like this.
Such an obvious statement, which is why it’s genuinely scary how much it needed to say it.
Reading this after the Crewe game was draining. Reading it again this morning, on this sunny Easter Sunday, and it’s difficult to decide what’s worse about it.
That it’s so horrific, or that you are completely unsurprised at its findings.
Many if not most people reading this will have had at least one issue with the ticket situation this season.
But as much as the TFR exposes the weaknesses, it also highlights a major flaw within AFCW itself.
The amateurism of the club’s admin and decision making is a cultural issue. And has been for a good number of years.
The scale of the clusterfucks is amazing, but this has come from an organisation where everything still has that make-do-and-mend feel.
The Mandy-in-the-office trope would almost be funny, if it wasn’t for the fact that at times, it really is Mandy in the office sorting things out.
Yeah, yeah, Covid and staffing issues and all that. And I believe it’s got better on that score.
But we’ve twice lost points because our admin has been so poor in registering players. That mindset still hasn’t gone away even in 2022.
The TFR could have been written ten or even fifteen years ago, and it would have come to similar conclusions.
Why? I don’t know, to be honest.
I can only guess there’s a degree of, “I know best” among certain decision makers, who think only they can bring through something like this without outside help.
I won’t go as far as accusing them of wanting the kudos over delivering such a big project, but if I did – I’d probably be correct.
The TFR doesn’t pinpoint the blame at individuals, although I fully expect certain people are more at fault than others.
It’s a systematic failure for sure, but every system on the planet is full of human beings.
The whole thing just ties up with the on-field crap, and the all-round way this club has (mis)handled returning home after three decades.
If there’s a good thing to come out of this, it’s that we can no longer tinker around the edges. Or pay lip service to changing it.
Just as sacking MR has made us realise that our focal point must always be the football, mucking up a major source of income has real-world consequences.
I don’t think you can calculate how much goodwill has been lost by supporters over the way they’ve had to deal with this.
That feeds through into whether they will even go to games, which affects attendances and therefore the bottom line.
Some may say that it’s good we’re even getting such a report published in the first place, when other clubs wouldn’t have done.
Personally, I’d rather us just be good at implementing this stuff in to begin with. Then we wouldn’t need to publish such responses.
Or to put it another way – we need to start being a professional football club. Now wouldn’t be a bad time to start…