- Preliminary final against Melbourne Storm moved to a larger venue
- NRL is struggling to sell tickets for the final
- Thousands of passes were given away, angering Penrith supporters
Penrith Panthers fans have been left angry and penniless after scrambling for NRL finals tickets, days before the NRL gave away thousands of tickets for free.
Earlier, Panthers supporters were angry after their preliminary final against the Melbourne Storm was moved to Accor Stadium, while the Brisbane Broncos were allowed to stay at home at Suncorp Stadium.
Then those who paid for tickets for tonight’s match got a rude shock when the NRL started handing out thousands of free tickets to avoid an embarrassing turnout at Homebush.
News Corp has reported that the NRL only wanted to sell around 30,000 tickets for the final, leaving 80,000 empty seats and a huge embarrassment to the competition.
Early in the week the NRL offered fans two-for-one tickets to the match if they bought tickets for the NRL grand final.
Panthers fans were forced to shell out big bucks for tickets to the preliminary final before the NRL started giving away tickets to fill Accor Stadium
The Panthers had previously complained about not being able to play their grand final on their home ground in Penrith
Accor Stadium seats 80,000 people, but the NRL only wanted to sell 30,000 for the preliminary final, which would have been a disaster for the competition
‘The NRL would like to thank you for your purchase of the 2023 NRL and NRLW Grand Final. As a token of your appreciation, you can enjoy an exclusive ‘2-for-1’ ticket offer for next Friday’s match between the Panthers and Storm in the Accor Stadium,” read the message shared on X, formerly Twitter.
That offer was extended to all Penrith volunteers and junior players, with the code Panthers241 handed out on Wednesday.
On Friday, the NRL gave away four free tickets with the code NRLCHARITY4.
In addition to these free tickets, people on Tina’s mailing list, the Tina Turner Musical, were also offered up to four free tickets with the code NRLTINA4.
“We are incredibly excited about our performance at the NRL Grand Final on Sunday, October 1,” the email said.
‘As a valued member of our TINA audience, you can enjoy an exclusive free ticket offer for next Friday’s NRL Finals match between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm at Accor Stadium Sydney.’
More tickets were also given away in the community, with several fans reporting free tickets being handed out at healthcare facilities and other workplaces.
“I can’t believe I paid for a ticket for them only to give away freebies to every second person,” said one fan.
Panthers Juniors started the ball rolling earlier this week with two-for-one ticket offers, which quickly became just free tickets, with our passes available to each individual
Tina Turner fans received free tickets, while Grand Final ticket holders also received free entry
‘Healthcare workers were offered four free tickets to tonight’s match, and the NRL has completely filled the ticket sale! Should have just left it at Penrith stadium, better atmosphere and probably better revenue now as how many freebies have they given away just to make it look better on TV,” another posted.
“Hey @NRL, what about those who spent hundreds or thousands on tickets both weeks? Great way to repay the loyalty. This is one of the reasons why your administration has so little control. Can we also claim?’ asked another.
Panthers fans were left under the impression that the match had been removed from their home ground of Bluebet Stadium, or at least moved to the smaller – and closer – CommBank Stadium in Parramatta.
‘When is the NRL going to listen to the fans? I would never get full,” one fan wrote.
“Parramatta Stadium was the solution for this match,” another suggested.
However, impartial NRL fans were quick to blame Panthers fans for refusing to hit the road to see their team in action.
‘Shameful that people in Sydney just don’t want to travel to see their team. Says more about the fans than the NRL,” one fan wrote.
“Not really surprising that Penrith is one of the smaller fanbases in Sydney, and historically they never travel outside of Penrith, despite a team whose fanbase doesn’t even watch the sport,” another posted.