The Sports Direct sponsored Northern Ireland Football League season got underway at the weekend with Sport for Business member Future Ticketing working in partnership with eleven of the clubs taking part..

NIFL Premiership side Loughgall and Championship team Portadown are the latest additions to the Future Ticketing portfolio in the league which also includes Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon, Glentoran, Larne, Linfield and Newry City.

Loughgall in Armagh is rated as the smallest settlement in Europe to boast a top-flight side.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved with teams in the Irish League,” said Rory Traynor, Client Success Manager with Future Ticketing.

“Clubs and their fans have really embraced the digital transformation in recent years, and that can be seen in the practices that are in place and which are now second nature to all involved.”

“This year in particular I have noticed a massive uptake by the fans in digital season tickets, with clubs actively trying to reduce their plastic use where possible, and fans have really got on board with this. Future Ticketing has helped facilitate this with our digital ticketing app that is available to all of our partners.”

Last season was a record-breaking one for attendances in the Premiership with some 360,000 fans going through the turnstiles.

The indications are that numbers will surge once again and Future Ticketing has developed a priority access system for travelling fans.

Future Ticketing’s advanced applications allow clubs to identify the most loyal fans and reward them accordingly.

“It’s great to see clubs cooperating closely together on this,” added Traynor.

“No matter how fierce the rivalry is, all clubs want to provide their fans with the best product and solution available, and away ticket priority access has become a huge trend in the past year.”

Ticketmaster is in the news this morning with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission monitoring compliance with an order limiting its use of exclusivity clauses and upfront payments in relation to sporting and other live events.

The ticketing landscape is always one that causes consternation at the busiest of times but is an essential revenue stream 365 days of the year. It is one we will be following with interest.