In a post-covid world, bringing fans back into the stadium environment is a serious challenge. Roboticket have a ticketing solution that automatically creates a social distance buffer and provides clubs with a workable platform to achieve the maximum capacity. Michal Pyda explains.

The Challenge
Ticketing software development company, Roboticket, faced the challenge of helping its football partners welcome back their fans to the stadium.


At the very beginning there were no guidelines set by the FA on how this should be done but we knew that this day would come and thankfully it came sooner rather than later.


The information from the FA and the government that was available suggested that
it may allow the selling of 25% of a stadium’s capacity with a two meter social distance buffer, so we started to think, together with our partners, about how to do it wisely, efficiently and most important, safely.


However, we didn’t want to implement the standard chessboard set up in the stands. We wanted to do it more cleverly, to really show that things can be done better and that technology is no limitation.


Lockdown had been lifted in Poland and in Denmark, where people could go to restaurants and pubs and socialise together in small groups so it made no sense to separate everyone in the stands with a two meter distance if they were travelling to games together.


One of the issues we addressed with the Polish FA and to our partner clubs was the
need to allow people within one transaction – meaning people who share a household – to sit together. Based on this assumption we would shape our algorithms to allocate people in the stands that maximised the capacity of the stadium and whilst creating safe social distances between every fan or family group.


So the ultimate challenge was to develop an algorithm that allowed the creation of automatic buffers around seats according to the rules set by different countries.


Concept Development
Considering those two major challenges; creating a safe distance between people and allowing people to sit together, we began thinking about how to bring this idea to reality.


Pre-covid, the normal situation is to maximising attendance whilst minimising the gaps between fans sitting together so we already had the mechanisms to keep people sitting tight on the stands. In order to create an automatic buffer between each transaction we implemented a reverse version of the algorithm covering complex geometrical models allowing us to shape any buffer around each transaction.


Crucially this mechanism is flexible so it can be adapted to work around any changes to social distancing rules that are created by law or the FA. This customisation is also required to be adaptable to the individual requirements across different territories. Today we may have a two meter separation rule but tomorrow it might be one meter so the mechanism needs to be flexible.


In addition to this adaptability it is required by law that every ticket should be personalised. This means every ticket needs to be prescribed to an individual by name, surname and in some countries, by their social security number. This would normally be a barrier to purchase but in these circumstances it is necessary to create a safe environment.


In Practice
Fans returned to stadiums in Poland on 19th June and the first club to use the solution was Lech Poznan with a stadium capacity of 41,000. Every seat sold is precious to clubs in the current situation but we didn’t know how people would react to being able to go back to the stadium. Would they really want to buy those tickets and attend the stadium or would they still be afraid? We hoped that one of the main draws would be the ability to attend games with their families.


The solution we created was available in Roboticket one week before the league’s resumption allowing fans that shared a household to purchase tickets together and to keep in line with the law on social distancing. Automatically creating a buffer around multiseated transactions was key to selling more tickets in a safe environment.


Our clients were able to increase ticket sales by 18% in comparison to the standard chessboard set up used at other venues. Not only was the club able to safely maximise its capacity it also allowed them to derive more revenue across their matchday operations.


Lech Poznan together with Lechia Gdańsk, had a total crowd of more than 55 000 fans in COVID setup using the roboticket’s auto allocation algorithm.


Lech: 6k; 9k; 8,5k; 8,3k; 9,5k – total covid croud = 41 300 people for 5 games.


Lechia: 4k; 5k; 5,7k = total 14 700 people on the stadium for 3 games.


The league has now concluded and the clubs are preparing for the season ticket sales.


Image: Przemyslaw Szyszka Lech Poznan