It doesn't take much to confuse me, and the Jack Army Membership scheme was no exception. At first I wasn't sure how it differed from other club schemes like the 1912 Foundation and the Swans Supporters Trust, though after asking questions and actually taking the time to read the website, I now know what it will mean to be a member of the (regulated) Jack Army, and you will too after reading this blog ... maybe.
If you aren't already aware, the Jack Army Membership is a new scheme aimed at allowing supporters who become members the chance to have priority when buying home and away tickets next season.
There is one tier of membership, at different prices: £10 for season ticket holders, Vice Presidents and Premier Club members and £25 for non-season ticket holders (make sure to add the, these days, obligatory £1.50 “admin fee”, for the £1.50's worth of “admin” that will no doubt take place).
The benefits of being part of the scheme are obvious for those who were not able to obtain a season ticket, for whatever reason: priority. Come the Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea games to name a few, you will need all the help you can to get a ticket. Though the club do state on the website that becoming a member of the Jack Army is no guarantee of tickets, it will give you that edge over those who don't want to pay the £26.50 now. Plus it will, in theory, give you priority on away tickets which will be in just as big a demand (if not more due to limited numbers) as home tickets next season.
So what are the benefits of paying £11.50 if you're already a season ticket holder? Well you may have a plastic friend who wants you to get him/her a ticket, but I can't really see you getting Jack Army Membership for that reason! No, it seems away tickets are the main reason a season ticket holder would become a member. That and cup matches.
On the topic of cup matches, thankfully next season we won't be too upset when we don't pull a “big name” out of the hat for the FA Cup / Carling Cup as we'll be playing them every week! One of the biggest names we would all love to pull out is Cardiff, as this is one classic derby match that everyone will miss next season. If Swansea do face Cardiff next season it'll be in a cup match. A good enough reason alone to join the Jack Army scheme, season-ticket holder or not.
To me, despite the initial confusion, the membership scheme seems adequate for a club that probably didn't expect ticket demand to be this high for a few years yet.
As many were crying out for, a loyalty scheme was probably a better way of dealing with the demand; that way those who have actively supported the Swans for years (buying their fair share of home and away tickets) will rightly have priority. However, this really needed to be implemented a few years ago for it to mean anything. The club have announced plans for a loyalty scheme to come into force at some point in the future, but until then this is the next best thing.
The only problem is that by this way of doing things, a truly loyal Swansea City supporter now has the same priority as somebody just joining to get tickets “for Man Utd and the big games and stuff” (not sure who I'm quoting there, though I reckon it's been said by plenty in the past few months).
Ultimately, if you have the money, become a member. Even if you don't plan to go to many games (if you live too far away, etc), this is a good enough reminder why:
When the loyalty scheme comes into force the priority could be as follows:
Those with the most loyalty points, THEN season-ticket holders (with Jack Army Membership), THEN non-season ticket holders (with Jack Army Membership), THEN season ticket holders (without Jack Army Membership) AND THEN, finally, general sale.
There's more chance of Gorka Pintado scoring a hat-trick against Man City in the opening game than you have of getting a general sale ticket!