Cityline insists website can cope with demand for Premier League Trophy tickets as Hong Kong football fans brace for frustration
Cityline website has repeatedly crashed under high demand for similar events
Hong Kong football fans are bracing themselves for more frustration when tickets for the Premier League Trophy go on sale on Friday.
Tickets for the highly anticipated event, featuring Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion, will be sold through the Cityline website, which has a long track record of crashing under high demand.
Fans were furious in 2015, when the website was down for most of the day when sought-after tickets for Hong Kong v China went on sale.
Liverpool have a huge local fanbase and have not played in Hong Kong since 2007, so demand is expected to be high for the event, on July 19 and 22. Tickets will also be available at Tom Lee outlets.
Cityline insisted their systems had been upgraded since the Hong Kong-China crash and there would not be any problems.
“Cityline periodically reviews its ticketing system,” said a spokesman. “In terms of capacity, the ticketing system is now double the size compared to 2015. There has also been a number of changes made to the hardware to better handle the heavy demand normally associated with opening sales.
“The outcome of the Big Bang concert ticketing in December 2016 has proven our current ticketing solution is adequate. We will continue to face challenges and we will continue to make improvement in response to market needs.”
Richard Masters, managing director of the Premier League, said he had no qualms about the site.
“We used Cityline last time we came and we did have a huge burst of interest in the first few days and didn’t have any issues so we’re hoping everything will be fine,” he said.
“It can be a very frustrating experience to secure tickets for games, be it the Premier League Asia Trophy, the Asian Champions League or the World Cup Qualifiers a few years ago,” said one local football fan.
“Especially when the seating capacity is limited, the current system is very vulnerable to touts who speculate on reselling them for higher prices. Although they have phone and walk-in channels, the system is also heavily biased towards younger and tech-savvy people, but a good quarter of domestic fans are elderly above 60.
“It is also a very time-consuming practice. I know quite a few fans who actually have to take a half-day leave in order to compete for the ‘F5-reload challenge’ that usually starts at 10 am on weekdays, as the servers are not capable to process the amount of requests that are to be expected for large-scale events.”
One industry insider said: “Cityline’s platform has a long track record of crashing when demand for tickets is high. It not only frustrates the ticket buyer for the event in question but likely damages sales for other events hosted by Cityline which are also disrupted by the site crashing.”
There were angry scenes in 2015 when frustrated fans lashed out over sales arrangement for the Hong Kong-China game.
That match was played at the 6,000-capacity Mong Kok Stadium however, while the Asia Trophy is at 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium.
There were no reported problems for the recent Kitchee-Spurs game, though it was not a sell-out and pre-sales were also available on StubHub.
Cityline was also criticised for its handling of sales for the recent Asian Champions League match between Eastern and Guangzhou Evergrande, when it was reported that many Guangzhou fans bought tickets for the ‘home’ sections of the ground.
Tickets go on sale at 2pm on Friday.