Monday, 22 Jul 2024

Matt Silvester: Head of Ticketing, Memberships, and Hospitality at Southampton FC

Matthew Silvester is the Head of Ticketing, Memberships, and Hospitality at Southampton Football Club. He took on this role in March 2020, after being with the club since 2018. In an interview with Sascha Gustard-Brown, Silvester shares his experiences with stadium moves, implementing a new ticketing system during the pandemic, and the importance of listening to supporters in a ticket sales role.

The Journey into Football

Growing up, Silvester was always passionate about football and knew he wanted a career in the industry. He pursued a Business Management degree with a focus on sport and business. When searching for a placement during his second year of university, he sent letters to numerous football clubs and sporting organizations. Arsenal eventually offered him a role, working on the Emirates Stadium Project. This experience sparked Silvester’s interest in stadium moves and led him to work at West Ham United before joining Southampton FC.

Working on Stadium Moves

Silvester had the opportunity to be involved in two major stadium moves during his career. At Arsenal, he was responsible for scheduling supporter appointments and showing them their seats. He vividly recalls the excitement of supporters as they experienced the brand-new Emirates Stadium for the first time. Similarly, at West Ham, Silvester witnessed the club’s transition from a 35,000-capacity stadium to a 60,000-capacity one. Although there were challenges during the move, Silvester and his team worked hard to improve the situation and ensure supporters were seated where they wanted to be.

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Progression at West Ham

Silvester’s role at West Ham evolved from a Sales Executive to overseeing the ticketing system. He found satisfaction in being part of multiple projects and taking on additional responsibilities. Silvester also highlights the importance of teamwork and collaboration within a football club.

Choosing Southampton FC

Silvester opted to join Southampton FC because of the club’s ambition and willingness to embrace innovation. He saw an opportunity to implement new ideas and encourage supporters to attend games. Silvester appreciated the freedom and responsibility that came with his role, which extended beyond ticketing to include memberships and hospitality.

Head of Ticketing, Memberships, and Hospitality

Silvester believes the ticket office is an essential department that acts as a bridge between the fans and the club. He emphasizes the importance of knowing the supporters, gathering feedback, and relaying it to other departments within the club. Silvester’s responsibilities at Southampton FC include managing ticket sales, overseeing the ticketing system, and ensuring smooth operations at the stadium. He also focuses on improving the overall product, comparing it to offerings from other clubs and organizations in the sports industry.

Successful Sales in Football

According to Silvester, successful sales in football require listening and understanding the audience. While some customers may resist sales efforts, it’s essential to strike the right balance and know when to make appropriate offers. Silvester also emphasizes the importance of customer service and personal connections with supporters. Football fans are emotionally invested, and engaging in conversations about the sport and the club can lead to meaningful interactions.

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Career Advice

Silvester suggests that individuals interested in a career in the football industry should seek opportunities to work matchdays. This experience provides valuable insights into supporter engagement and the operations of a football club. Silvester highlights that many senior positions within clubs have been held by individuals who started in the ticket office or as casual staff.

Career Highlights

Silvester’s career highlights include being part of the Arsenal team during their move to the Emirates Stadium and witnessing the fans’ reactions to their new home. At Southampton FC, he takes pride in successfully implementing a new ticketing system, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. Silvester is excited about the future and aims to continue learning and making a positive impact in his role.

The Future

While Silvester doesn’t have a specific long-term career goal, he is open to new opportunities and challenges. He expresses an interest in working abroad, potentially in the Major League Soccer (MLS). For now, Silvester is focused on his role at Southampton FC, eager to welcome fans back and implement new ideas to enhance the supporter experience.

Interviewer: Sascha Gustard-Brown
Sascha has extensive experience in supporter engagement, having held positions at Luton Town Football Club and West Ham United. She currently works on supporter engagement projects in sport and freelance writing in football.