Where Do I Sign Up? Part Two - Reserve Seating

June 19th, 2008

First of all, I’d like to thank those who had input into this article; there has been some excellent feedback on part one, and I’ve incorporated some of the suggestions received into this piece. Again though, there is a limit to what we can examine, and items such as merchandise, stadium size, population centres, and the like remain out of scope.

Reserved Seating, like General Admission, is something that is present across all A-League clubs. Members who want a guaranteed seat every game can purchase a Reserve Seating membership and know they’ll be sitting in the same position every week. As a result, it is an option popular with families, older fans, and those who want to sit in the same bay as their friends week in, week out. Finally, a quick note- due to the odd method of fixturing that Football Federation Australia chooses to employ in the A-League, not all clubs play the same amount of games at home. It should be noted that in 2008-2009, Adelaide, Central Coast, Melbourne, and Wellington all play eleven home games. Perth, Sydney, Newcastle, and Queensland play only ten games at home. This should be taken into account when looking at the price of memberships.

So, without further adieu, let us take a look at what the different A-League clubs have to offer. And yes, as of 14 June 2008, there are still no membership details available for the Queensland Roar.

Reserved Seating

Image

Families

For those who read part one of this article, it should come as no surprise to see Sydney FC at the top of the tree for family pricing. A full season of ten home games with Reserved Seating will cost a Sydney family $418. What may come as a surprise is the performance of Perth Glory. At $46 a game, the Reserved Seating membership for a Perth family is actually the second cheapest in the league. Across eleven home games (one more than Perth) Wellington and Newcastle come close, but fail to match the value of the Glory ticket.

The Mariners are not far behind their rivals Newcastle in terms of pricing, but unfortunately for those families in Adelaide- and especially Melbourne- their teams fail to deliver any real value with the Reserved Seating family membership. Indeed, a Melboune family will pay $63 a game with their season ticket- almost twenty dollars higher than a Perth family, and even when compared to Sydney.

Concession

Concession Reserved Seating memberships are a very interesting category. Depending on the exchange rate when purchased, Wellington Pheonix memberships are probably the cheapest given that they are spread across eleven games. However, in terms of Australian clubs, it is Perth Glory with the cheapest Reserved Seating concession membership- only $13 a game. This beats even the previously dominant Sydney FC, who are still good value at $15.40 a game. Again though, it would be Adelaide and Melbourne fans who would feel the harshest done by. Essentially both clubs charge their concession members between $19 and $20 for Reserved Seating every game. This may come as a surprise to those critics who say that clubs in the east always offer the best deals to members; clearly, this is not the case.

Kids

In part one, Perth Glory FC was criticised for supplying the most expensive General Admission membership for children. In terms of Reserved Seating, they don’t even hold a candle to the Melbourne Victory. Victory kids will be able to purchase a seat this year for around $12.60 a game. To put that in context, the majority of the A-League will be supplying the same membership to kids for about $10 a game. In keeping with the overall trend of Reserve Seating tickets, Adelaide United are the second most expensive team for children. In a first, the Central Coast Mariners are the cheapest for children’s Reserve Seating. Even though they have eleven games to cater for, they are the only team to offer a price under $100; at $90, one would imagine that it would a be very attractive offer to those fans who would like to bring their young boy or girl along to games with them.

Adults

Another important membership category, and another win for Sydney FC in the price wars. For just a touch over $20 a game, a Sydney FC fan can have a seat reserved for them at every game. In fact, there is only 90c difference between a Sydney fan having a reserved seat and a Perth Glory fan getting General Admission at every match. Read into that what you will, but it is obvious that Sydney know how to make their offers attractive to the general public; and it must reflect on the depth of their financial backers’ pockets, for them to be able to afford these sorts of price schemes while still paying for the likes of John Aloisi, Simon Colosimo, and Mark Bridge to defect from their respective teams.

Newcastle are only just behind Sydney, their members paying just a little more and receiving one more game for the season. While all other clubs generally hover around a mark somewhere between $21 and $23, questions must be asked of Melbourne’s pricing strategy. Considering their team failed to make the finals last year, or progress in the ACL, they must essentially be banking on their fans wanting priority to get reserved seats at the new stadium- because their price for a season long Reserve Seating membership for an adult totals about $31.50 a match. No other club charges their members anywhere near as much; Adelaide is possibly the second most expensive- but they only charge $24 a match. If this author were a Melbourne Victory fan- and he’s happy he’s not- he would be asking some serious questions about this pricing policy.

Summary

Image

It must be said, you’d be pretty happy to read these articles if you were a Sydney FC member. If you look at the graph for the average Reserve Seating membership price across all categories, Sydney come out a clear winner, just like for General Admission. You’d also be pretty happy if you were a Wellington Pheonix supporter. Depending on the exchange rate at the time, Wellington members get their Reserve Seating memberships at the second or third cheapest price in the A-League. The same applies to Perth Glory supporters; evidently although there is often a lot of criticism levelled at the club by members, it would seem that- at least in terms of Reserve Seating pricing- they are receiving one of the better offers in the league. Granted, this needs to be transferred into on-field results too, but the club at least shows it understands this area of pricing.

Melbourne Victory have the worst value Reserve Seating memberships in the A-League. Adelaide aren’t that flash either, but when you consider that on average Melbournians pay over three dollars more for a seat every game than anyone else, you wonder how a club with such good General Admission prices tries to attract members to their second tier of pricing. Compared to Sydney FC, who also perform well in General Admission, Melbourne Reserve Seating prices are almost $10 a game more expensive.

It should be pointed out that Newcastle seem to be aiming their marketing of memberships towards those in Reserve Seating more so than General Admission. While they were the worst value per-game for General Admission, they are vastly better than either Melbourne or Adelaide for Reserve Seating, and are only just more expensive than local rivals Central Coast.

General Admission versus Reserve Seating

As you might remember from part one, Sydney were top dogs in terms of pricing their General Admission memberships. This remains the same in terms of Reserve Seating. Melbourne however takes a nose-dive and becomes the worst club for financial value of memberships. The following table shows how the A-League would pan out if the places were awarded for the overall value of a General Admission ticket per game:

Image

Sydney FC are undisputed champions, and they along with Melbourne, Wellington, and Adelaide will contest the A-League finals series. Central Coast miss out by a small margin, whilst Perth finish a mediocre sixth and Newcastle beat only the hapless Queensland, who are disqualified for having no prices whatsoever. It’s a different story for Reserve Seating though:

Image

Again, Sydney FC win the A-League regular season.

However, the margin of their win is much reduced, with Wellington Pheonix and Perth Glory essentially finishing equal second- a recount of points would be needed based on the exchange rate at any one time.

Central Coast have managed to climb into the finals series by finishing fourth ahead of close rivals Newcastle.

Adelaide have dropped out of the four based on what would normally be seen as the most expensive prices- but that title is taken by Melbourne, who take a spectacular dive from second to second last; rooted to the foot of the competition (bar Queensland) by a very long way. One wonders, given their performances last year, if the Victory can afford to maintain this pricing system if they have another lean year in 2008-2009.

Some, but not all, of these clubs also offer a third tier of membership.

These are the top individual seats outside of corporate seating, and will be examined in the third and final instalment of this article; we shall also explore the presence of associate or country memberships across the A-League.

- David Meacock

Where Do I Sign Up? Part One- General Admission

June 19th, 2008

The Hyundai A-League is rapidly building up steam ahead of season 2008-2009. There are a slew of new signings across the league, players such as Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite are showing the young talent we can produce, and Adelaide United are demonstrating that Australian teams can be competitive in the Asian Champions League. All in all, it looks to be an exciting season ahead. This can only be a positive thing for the eight A-League clubs, most of whom are attempting to build on this by starting their 2008 membership drives. With this in mind, it’s interesting to examine what options the clubs are offering their members.

Before we begin, we should start by defining some criteria. It’s not really possible to examine every aspect of a membership in one article. Should there be a need for it, we may choose to visit items such as membership packs, fanbase size, etc. in future works. For this particular article, we’ll be looking at the ticket prices at each club across a generic three-step system. The lowest tier is General Admission, available across all clubs in the league. The second tier is Reserved Seating, wherein fans get a guaranteed seat at every game. The final tier, where applicable, is the top-level membership. These seats are the cream of the crop as far as single paying fans go, and probably the best tickets bar corporate seats.

One should also note that this information has been collected in a way perfectly accessible to the general public- all prices have been gleamed from club websites and membership brochures, and there has been no communication with any club with regards to pricing. It should also be noted that this research has had to be spread out over some time; some clubs, such as Sydney FC, have had prices and membership details available since post-Easter. By the start of June, only four clubs- Perth, Newcastle, Sydney and Adelaide, had membership brochures available. As of 12 June, all clubs bar one have their full membership information available online. However, with the pre-season cup only one month away, there is still no publicly available membership information from the Queensland Roar. As a result, their prices are missing from this article. Good work, you maroons.

Finally, for the purposes of simplicity the $NZ prices of Wellington Pheonix memberships have been converted using the NZ-AU exchange rate as of 10 June 2008, which is 0.794671 cents to the AU dollar.

General Admission

Image

Families

Families living in Sydney will appreciate the fact that Sydney FC has the cheapest General Admission family ticket of any club in Australia; a very impressive $298 for a full year’s football. Melbourne Victory are the next best, with a price of $370. Perth Glory and Wellington Pheonix come in with prices around the $400 mark, leaving the rest of the teams with prices around $450. Incidentally, Newcastle are the most expensive with a General Admission season ticket costing a family $460. Evidently, Sydney and Melbourne are both trying very hard to attract families to a full season of A-League football, while Newcastle are relying on their recent success to act as a driver for new memberships.

Concession

The same cannot be said of Concession tickets. Here, there are two distinct price brackets. Perth Glory and Wellington Pheonix have the cheapest Concession season tickets in the league, and head a price bracket that sits around the $110 mark. By contrast Adelaide, Central Coast and Newcastle united price their season-long Concessions at around $140-$150. Central Coast charge the most, $150 a season meaning that a Mariners-supporting student pays nearly 50% more than a Perth or New Zealand-based one.

It is interesting to note that the season-long General Admission concession ticket is the only one for which Sydney FC is not the cheapest club. While they are close, this honour would go to Wellington or the Glory, based upon exchange rates at the time. Students on the Central Coast of New South Wales would however have every right to ask their club why their ticket is nearly as expensive as a season-long adult one. To put it in perspective, there is almost a $100 difference between Perth’s student and adult tickets. Yet the Mariners have a scheme whereby being a student saves you only $40. One wonders why this should be the case; perhaps those students attending TAFE or University in the Gosford area are a lot richer than in this author’s own halcyon days of studentship.

Kids

Children form a good part of matchday crowds for A-League teams. The clubs, recognising this, have a membership package suited solely to those under the age of 16. For some clubs, this age is even lower- Sydney for example choose to have their kids ticket apply to those children aged 13 and under. This would go some way to explain why Sydney and Melbourne again have the cheapest tickets in the category. It would also explain why Perth, who set their age at 16 years, have a ticket price over twice that of Sydney- a whopping $100 for a season ticket. As a result, it is difficult to read too much into this category, with the exception being that Perth Glory have the most expensive Child season ticket in the A-League.

This is puzzling; there is a clear difference between a 10 year old child and a 17 year old student; yet for a season membership in Perth, they pay practically the same price. It would seem that every A-League club with the exception of Perth Glory has gone to some length to distinguish these price brackets; therefore it must be asked why the Glory have not adhered to this trend. Perhaps this is something the club can work to address in the future.

Adults

The backbone of any football match, the season-long General Admission adult ticket ensures a large number of supporters through the gate every week; and again, it is Sydney FC who lead the price wars, with a Sydney adult able to see a season’s full of football for under $150. This is $50 cheaper than the most expensive General Admission season pass in the league; that of Perth Glory. Perhaps they are still trying to regain fan numbers after the footballing debacle that was Terry Butcher- or maybe the board have realised the managerial merry-go-round has turned a few fans away. The rest of the teams sit in a group with $180-$190 considered a fair price. In fairness to the Glory though, they are only just above what seems to be the common A-League price for a season-long adult General Admission ticket.

Summary

Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have the best-value General Admission tickets on average. Sydney’s average General Admission price of $152 is around $50 cheaper than most of its rivals. That is a very large difference. Melbourne is the next cheapest on $178, while the rest of the teams are much of a muchness, their average General Admission ticket price working out somewhere between $200 and $220. Newcastle United have the dubious distinction of being the most expensive club overall for General Admission tickets.

If teams were attempting to make the A-League finals based on General Admission prices, the ladder would seem a little like this:

Image

*Queensland Roar kicked out of the competition due to a failure to release membership information early enough.

There you have it; in terms of General Admission season ticket pricing, Perth Glory have made the A-League finals for the very first time. As usual, there has been some suspect play along the way- the pricing of Kids tickets made it look pretty dire for a while there, but overall some good solid play and a bit of luck- due to Queensland’s lacklustre planning- seems to have got the club over the line.

In terms of General Admission season pricing through, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory have more than accounted for the opposition. It seems fitting that two past A-League champions know how to price their tickets well to attract members. Which makes the performance of 2007 champions Newcastle all the more confusing. The only reasonable explanation would be that the club expects more members now that they’re champions, and wants to cash in on this for some extra revenue. It remains to be seen how this will work out.

Next time, we shall look at how the A-League clubs compare against Reserved Seating memberships. There are certainly some surprises in store, especially for fans of Perth Glory.

- David Meacock

Handy Scraps, Vol 1.

May 5th, 2008

Notes that I want to list simply because I want a central place for them.

CVS Bulk History on a Branch

Step 1.  Hope that you have a version at the point where you took the branch.

Step 2. Select all the resources that you wish to compare.

Step 3. Compare to… <version_indicating_start_of_branch>

Step 4. Voila. Nice SVN-style history.

Step 5. Campaign for SVN to replace CVS.

Step 6. Profit!

Handy regexes

Selecting multi-line java comments
—————————-
/\*\r\n(.*\*.*\r\n)+

Selecting javadoc and multiline comments
———————————-
/(.*\*.*\r\n)+

Turn SomeClass.SOMECONSTANT into “SOMECONSTANT”
————————————————————–
search for SomeClass\.(\w+)
replace with: “$1″

Michael Clarke

January 7th, 2008

You won this test match for us Pup, but you didn’t win any admirers.

Grassing a catch but appealing for it anyway, and standing your ground when it was the most obvious nick in the history of batting dismissals does not show you in good light for a future captaincy role. Your time out of the game was supposed to bring you back a more mature player. Instead, you seem to have come back a harder, dirtier player. The two are not one and the same.

I don’t need you to walk like Gilly does; but to stand there when it’s clear to all that you’ve nicked it- in comparison to Andrew Symonds’ missed dismissal, where it wasn’t clear at all (and he had every right to therefore stay) - is just beyond bad sportsmanship.

Enjoy the headlines proclaiming you as our saviour- they hide the more unsavoury truth.

Notes on Enterprise Architect

September 21st, 2007

What I don’t like:

  • I want to create a constructor, but more often than not I forget to remove the void return. Hence it creates a method called ClassName with a return type void on code generation. Surely it should be smart enough to realise that this is a constructor-like signature?
  •  I want to be able to delete elements from my design easily. Why can’t I? No, really..WHY?
    • Selecting multiple classes from a class diagram and hitting delete only removes them from the image, not EA as a whole. Ok, I don’t mind that so much… it’s a half decent failsafe. But WHY OH WHY isn’t there the ability to click on an item in the project view tree and press delete on my keyboard? What is this CRTL-D bollocks?
    • Better still, why on earth can’t I delete multiple items at once? This is ridiculous.
  • Seems I can’t attach relationships to each other easily and then move them all about at once. This drives me insane.
  • Clicking on the same spot of a class seems to bring a different prompt/dialog/result each time… gah.
  • Overall, it’s just the worst HMI/HCI I’ve ever used in a mainstream application.

In short, it’s about as powerful as it is not usable. There’s got to be better options? Perhaps I’ll stick with Umbrello or ArgoUML in future? But of course, they’re not as feature-rich. Further investigation required.

What I should have already known about OO…

September 3rd, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to partake in a course on Object Orientated Analysis and Design. Over the course of 5 days, I managed to get a clearer understanding of OOD than I had in 4 years of University. The key? The obliteration of buzzwords, and the abstracting away from the technical implementations of OO. With what seems in hindsight a logical choice, our presenter seperated OO into two parts: Abstract OO and Concrete OO. The Concrete part of course deals with the language-specific features of OOP; Encapsulation, Dynamic Binding, Inheritance, and so on. Abstract OO on the other hand deals with the three foundations of the concept, as opposed to the implementation of it. These are Classification, Specialisation, and Polymorphism.

Now when I went to university, OO was taught hand-in-hand with a language. I’m starting to think that this should not be the case. The risk here is that the student, as I did, forms definitions for terms like Polymorphism in a Java/C++/C#/etc-only context. In reality, no language is the same and there are subtle differences in the way that each implements OO concepts. By splitting OOP into concrete and abstract concepts, the idea of Object Orientation itself is also much easier to grasp. I can now explain, without using buzzwords or just repeating the question, what terms like Specialisation actually mean. The same could not be said of me while I was at University- and the worrying thing there is the fact that I still scored quite highly.

What that means for the students who didn’t score quite as high as me is worrying- especially those who didn’t bother to learn things like UML- have they just spent <insert ridiculous amount of money here> on a 3 or 4 year degree without actually learning anything?

Dammit Hibernate, that data is stale!

August 21st, 2007

Problem

A user operation has changed the status of some entities in our database. Hibernate, while wonderful and all, is retrieving stale data from its cache instead of from the database. How do we force Hibernate to look at the database, or realise that the data has changed?

Solution

Well, first and foremost, this isn’t Hibernate’s problem. From http://forum.java.sun.com/thread.jspa?threadID=700590&start=15&tstart=0

“hibernate can’t magically know when the data changes in the database, how can you expect it to notify your application?”

The system I’m working on has a long-session setup, where the underlying database can be modified without Hibernate’s knowledge. This would seem to be a problem other people have encountered:

“The long EDT session caches fetched objects. What if the database changes from outside the application and you want to display the changed data? Your only chance is to close the session, delete all objects, which were attached to the old session and are potentially stale, open a new long session and retrieve all the data to be displayed again.” http://www.javalobby.org/java/forums/t20533.html

So, this particular developer recommends closing the session and opening it again. The problem being for me, that there are other objects in this session that will be potentially lost when it is closed and reopened again; not to mention the chance that a user somewhere else may try to make a change impacting the session while a session is closed! Which brings us to Session.refresh(Object):

“* Refresh() is OK for telling HIbernate to update the in-memory contents of the object, but there are three problems with it. One is that there is a bug with cascading refreshes, so that if you try to refresh an object that has a to-many association where one of the items in the collection has been removed on the server, it will fail with an exception. This is not too bad, you can solve it by disabling cascades and doing it all manually. Two is also a minor point, which is that the docs recommend not using this method. They don’t say why. Three is that it does an immediate SQL fetch for each refreshed object, so it is very inefficient to refresh batches of objects, and since there is no refreshing query capability (see first point), there is no efficient way that I can see to refresh a list of items. This is especially bad with the prior point about sort ordering, because it means that I’m much more likely to need to have to refresh all the items in a list.”
http://forum.java.sun.com/thread.jspa?threadID=700590&start=15&tstart=0

“If you want reload objects which changed out of hibernate (database triggers, other application etc) you can use : session.refresh(ent).
Unfortunately, you have to refresh only one object/entity with this method, but it’s only what hibernate offer - hibernate have great caching mechanism and refreshing complete session can be performace downgrade.
You can call rebuild session factory, of course, but it is time consuming operation.”
http://www.myeclipseide.com/PNphpBB2+file-viewtopic-t-13552.html

Very well. Looks like it might be time for me to try refresh(). My one concern however is that it’s only for one object; and my database is modified by an import operation, so when 100,000 items are imported… well, let’s just see how long that takes.

Teaching People About People

April 10th, 2007

One of the more common problems you think you’d encounter in the software/IT industry is the need to interact with workmates with little people skills. Indeed; the stereotypical image of a software engineer or programmer is one of a sad little man stuck in a cubicle away from the outside world, with only his compiler for company and a big mug of coffee. His most frequent interaction with people would be his boss quickly telling him how he needs to work harder, or perhaps a discussion with another, equally reclusive geek around the coffee machine.

Reality is a lot further from the this image than a lot of people think. That said, there are those among us who are quite happy playing dungeons and dragons and not really talking to people- and good for them. But there is an underlying problem with our workforce and its people- and it is one that most likely affects many other industries.

University can teach a graduate about many things. It can teach you about compilers, coding style, design, and the theory of programming and software engineering. It can teach you about how to drink quickly and have a myriad of adventures with the opposite (or perhaps same) sex. What university does not teach students is what to expect in the real world; how to behave in a professional environment, how to deal with a difficult workmate in a professional manner, or overbearing boss with unrealistic deadlines.

Work experience is often touted as a solution to this problem; it is not. Even work experience struggles to assist; often, the work experience “kid” is given menial tasks, not taken seriously, or treated as someone who brings youth to an organisation but no real talent or ideas. Part time jobs can’t hold a candle to a full-time position for much the same reason; and besides, there’s nothing like the day-in-day-out grind of the real world to shatter the ideals and expectations of a recent graduate.

What graduates and new starters need in this position is a scheme that allows them to settle into their environment. Not just a mentor who shows them the water cooler, parking bay and stationary bin, but a friend and experienced hand who can guide them through what is expected of them in their position, how much time they have to strive towards that, what they are and are not doing right, how to behave in a professional manner, and most of all someone a newbie can trust.

The unfortunate thing is that this doesn’t happen nearly enough, or with enough quality or care, in the industry. As a result, mistakes aren’t highlighted and corrected at an early stage in your career. Graduates are faced with people that have no time for them, or their mistakes, and certainly don’t have the time or care to talk to them about things. These graduates often have no way of knowing how to deal with these people; they were taught how to talk to a computer, but not necessarily a customer.

So how do we solve this dilemma? Universities would argue they’re there to help students learn how to ask better questions, and not to train them in the ways of the workforce. Organisations would argue that universities are sending them graduates who have little practical knowledge and no idea of how to act as a professional. And graduates will just sit there confused, wishing someone would take responsibility (while perhaps taking none of it themselves).

My best guess is probably that there has to be a coming together of all three elements. Universities have to start taking responsibility for the production of graduates with little practical knowledge or qualifications- some do this more than others- and look at ways to produce graduates with an ability to adapt to changing situations and technologies, and an ability to communicate well with others. A recent discussion with an academic member of the University of Western Australia’s Arts faculty yielded the interesting information that companies in the business of journalism don’t actually want journalism graduates. They prefer intelligent, politically-savvy students with a good understanding of a wide range of social issues as opposed to a student who has been ingrained into a particular style of writing and editing.

It is more than likely that the same applies to other industries. Industry has its role to play too, however. The onus is on companies to provide good graduate programs or mentoring schemes to help students adapt to professional life, and fill any gaps that university education may have not quite have had the time or resources to cover. Until this happens on a regular basis and with good results in large companies, I simply have to recommend graduates start small, where they may have more opportunities to learn quickly in a more intimate, people-driven environment.

Finally, there is also an onus on us, the graduates, to look out for what companies want in their new starters, and to learn at university what we need to be able to freely adapt in an ever-changing environment. Finally, we need to realise that there are some people who just have really, really crappy attitudes and/or unrealistic expectations of you out there; and that these people are the ones that we’ll have the most trouble with, not the quiet, socially-maladjusted geek in the corner. The key is to try and not let it affect you to much, and then one day, when you’ve coded enough, studied enough, and just done enough hard work, you might just be able to spring a suprise on them.