by Tony Attwood
I wrote in the last article about the issue of measuring club success. It strikes me that this is important because it gives an ideal of a feel supporters have for their club. It is perhaps hard to remember or recognise that before the Emirates and before Wenger, Arsenal was not always a sell out – indeed in the 1980s one could easily come to an Arsenal Tottenham game just on kick off and find a decent place to stand to watch the game. Crowds of 24,000 generally were not uncommon.
Not now of course, so is the fact that there is still a massive waiting list for silver membership and season tickets a sign that Arsenal are successful?
In one way yes it is. But there are many other ways of looking at this. For example, Arsenal’s financial position. For this information I went to the latest news page on the Arsenal Supporters Trust site. This told me that…
£millions Yr to May 14 Yr to May 15 Annual increase Yr to May 16 Actual Estimate Est. to May 15 Estimate Revenues: Matchday 100 98 -2% 100 Broadcast 121 121 0% 130 Commercial 59 78 32% 80 Retail 18 22 22% 22 Player loans 1 1 1 Football revenue 299 320 7% 333 Property 3 0 0 Total revenue 302 320 333 Costs: Football costs wages 166 180 8% 190 Football costs other 70 70 0% 70 Amortisation of squad 40 56 60 Depreciation 12 12 12 Property & player loans 3 0 0 Total costs 291 318 332
Which only goes to show that having posted an article one ought to make sure it reads aright in all browsers (I use Chrome – it comes from Google, quite a small enterprise I’m told so maybe they don’t need to bother with it).
But there is a broader point: for the problem with AST’s enquiries into how we feel about the club is that they often start from the point of telling the reader what to think before the question as in.
Arsenal games at the Emirates often take place with many seats left unoccupied. Please answer the following questions relating to this:
Now I don’t agree with the premise. I think “many” has to be taken in reference to a) what other clubs experience and b) the number of seats on offer. If you don’t do this, all sorts of funny figures come up.
For example, I can tell you that 15,782,940 people who were eligible to vote in the General Election in the UK earlier this year didn’t vote, and you might say that 15 million means democracy is failing. But you also need to know what percentage that is of the UK voting population (34% if you want to know) and how this compares with the UK in the past (it has risen over the last four general elections) and how that compares to other countries (similar to India, much higher than US presidential elections, and two and a half times as many votes were cast in the X Factor in 2010 – although there multiple voting is allowed).
My estimate is that only about 3% of seats at Stadium Wenger are left unoccupied, and these are unoccupied generally because ticket holders don’t turn up for all sorts of reasons, like holidays, illness, the weather, transport problems, family matters, job constraints, sudden changes in the time and date due to TV demands, traffic jams on the M1…
And when they ask…
How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with Arsenal’s football performance over the last few seasons?
… I ask “measured against what?” If that measurement factors in the building of the stadium and giving me a far, far, far better view and general experience at a game than I ever had at Highbury, then yes, very satisfied, because the club has given us that, and kept us in the top four, and of late delivered two FA Cups with the chance of a record-breaking third in a row.
To what extent do you agree or disagree that Arsène Wenger is the right person to manage Arsenal Football Club?
Compared to who? Compared to Ghenkis Khan? Compared to Sam Allerdyce? Compared to Socrates? It all depends on who is available at the time and who would come to a club in which on occasion a noisy few have wanted Wenger out.
When it came to the option of Reducing General Admission ticket process for the period of the new TV contract then 55% gave it a 10, meaning absolutely want this. But at what overall cost? How about
Reducing General Admission ticket process for the period of the new TV contract but with Arsenal slipping to the sort of mid table position that it often occupied in earlier times?
Reducing General Admission ticket process for the period of the new TV contract but with Arsenal magically managing to stay in contention for trophies despite this dip in its income while everyone else is spending more and more and more and…
But still there were some brighter moments in the survey. When asked about Arsene Wenger and the Club’s football performance 84% of AST members who voted agreed that Arsene Wenger is the right person to manage Arsenal Football Club (10% disagreed and 6% had no view). And 76% of AST members voting were satisfied with Arsenal’s football performance in recent seasons.
The AST began asking its rather eccentric approach to questioning its members in 2010, and as a result of their funny polling managed to get just 17% satisfied with the club’s football performance in 2013. In 2012/13 Arsenal came fourth in the league and approached the end of the austerity era. There was an upsurge in 2014 when 51 per cent were satisfied or highly satisfied.
Which basically means AST members who vote tend not to see the wider context of what the club is doing, which is probably why I am a member of Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn and was only associated with AST through Fanshare.
Of course the press lap up the sort of numbers that AST put out (when they are readable that is) and thus the Telegraph, commenting on AST findings said this week, “There have been outpourings of unrest and moments of considerable tension between Arsenal fans over the past four years.” Not around where I sat there wasn’t.
But they too of course won’t think about broader context or indeed numbers. After all, for the Telegraph, six kids pushing each other around before setting fire to a cardboard box in Tottenham High Road is a Mass riot with the city’s streets ablaze.
Now, I started this little series of articles about how we value our club because, as I said in the last piece, the Telegraph ran a review of well run clubs.
In the final of these three pieces I will look at the “conclusions” it gains when examining a few clubs that is says are “well run”. Not surprisingly, my conclusions are a little different from theirs.
We are on Twitter @UntoldArsenal
Anniversary of the day…
5 August 1981: Last game for Sammy Nelson v AIK Stockholm. He was displaced by Kenny Sansom, and moved on to Brighton, having played 339 league games and scoring 12 goals.