If you are still on that ten year waiting list for a season ticket at the Ems here’s a thought. The stadium just got smaller.
Not much smaller compared with the number of AAA fans who have (at least according to their own propaganda) thrown their season tickets in the bin or failed to renew. But still a bit smaller.
So far 30 seats have been removed for cameras from the general seating areas that the likes of you and I take. Eight have gone in the directors’ box too.
Arsenal’s official take is that “there will be more affected with restricted view, which will only become clear after our first live match, and we do have plans to offer discounts on these impacted seats”.
I must say that if I suddenly found out that I could only see part of the pitch and then said, “oh sorry you can’t see the last third of the pitch, but here’s 33% refund, we didn’t realise until you told us” I’d probably say no thanks to the refund, and demand a different seat, and threaten to sue them for deliberate false selling of an item they couldn’t deliver. Even the offer of another seat would be annoying because I’ve got quite used to sitting next to Stefan.
But neither the clubs nor BT Sprout and Sky say it is their fault. They say it is the Premier League who negotiate everything away promising as they do more and more access and pictures from more and more places, in each match.
One prediction now being made is cameras in dressing rooms within three years – which I think is ludicrous. That’s where the tactical work goes on before the game and at half time and it would be utterly destroyed by cameras intruding.
This whole business of the camera on the manager all the time is ludicrous, and there can be little doubt that much of it is being done to excuse the fact that BT Sprout’s people can’t count above three while they and Sky totally fail to recognise the huge difference in the way that different teams are refereed.
Indeed BT Sprout is now travelling in the opposite direction by having a ref watching the game for them who spends most of his time saying that the ref on the pitch was right. What on earth is the point of that, if not to deflect from the growing discussion concerning the error-strewn performances of referees, and the huge bias that is being shown in favour of some clubs and against others?
Scudamore of the League will have none of it however. “The attending fan is our most important fan” he said, and “We want the stadium full. That’s where the clubs are rooted in their community.’’
But then he threw all that out of the window saying, “Is there a way of making the experience better for the international fan?
“Technology will probably do that for them. Huge screen TVs, super HD, immersion technology with people recreating that stadium experience digitally in their own environment.”
So the Premier League has made its priorities clear, and since they ultimately call the tune as to what the broadcasters can and can’t say that is what will happen.
Last season 95.3% of all seats were sold throughout the Premier League. But there is a concern about the decline in away support, almost certainly not caused by the cost of tickets (the cost for an away fan must be the same as the cost for a home fan in a comparable part of the ground) but the insane times at which matches are put on, both in relation to the time of day and the time of the year.
According to the League most fans live virtually next door to their clubs, but of course that is nonsense. And so to put on a mid-week game in December or January is crazy, given what is happening to our weather. Putting on games at 5.30pm on a Saturday is ludicrous too, and ultimately will have an impact on crowd sizes.
But many clubs don’t give a toss about loyalty – they have debts and they want money now, no matter what the cost.
In fact by focussing on the cost of tickets, supporters groups, clubs and others are ignoring quite simply the fact that the growth in annoyance about football among supporters is to do as much with the way the Premier League hands over power to the TV Companies, as it has anything to do with ticket cost.
But that’s the bit the executives don’t see. They don’t see fans leaving home at 11am to get to a home match, because of the distance. The fans who travel to Arsenal from Ireland, Belgium, and all other parts of Europe. The fans who decide not to go to a mid week winter game because even though they have a ticket and the weather five hours before the game is ok, there is a fair chance that the snow will come down and disrupt road and rail travel.
No, all things considered, the fans who go to the games are always at the bottom of the list.
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