By Tony Attwood
It is of course commonplace to claim that Arsenal have the most expensive tickets in England, Europe and the world, the solar system, the galaxy, the Local Cluster, the universe and the multiverse, although none of these claims is true when like is matched with like.
Pricing is a complex issue, and although I have my own gripes (for example, why are older supporters with season tickets not given a discount when they are in every other ground in the premier league), there are good things there too, like the fact that League Cup games are not on the season ticket, thus allowing tens of thousands of non-regulars to come along and pay £10 downstairs and £20 upstairs for seats. And the fact that for the away games, our supporters have the cheapest prices in the league.
But of course one can only judge a club when comparing it to other clubs, and in this regard there is no doubt as to who comes bottom of the league in terms of looking after fans vis a vis ticketing. It is of course Manchester Disjointed. They might have cheaper seats in parts of the ground than Arsenal, but the way they treat people is something else.
In their latest adventure with their own fan base (most of whom seem to live in Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides), Man U have banned a season ticket holder of over 30 years standing from applying for away game tickets.
His crime was not invading the pitch, holding up a placard dishonouring the manager or anything else like that. It was having a ticket but failing to turn up or inform the club that he was not going. In fact, now I come to think of it, they are imposing greater punishments than existed when I was at school for turning up late.
One supporter it seems became ill on the day of an away trip to Hull. He was unable to travel, and so ill in fact that he couldn’t call the club to let them know so they could offer the ticket to others. The rules say, no show, no phone call, lose your right to future tickets.
The supporter appealed – saying he was too ill to call – and that appeal was not allowed. He’s out.
Of course this is not the first time Man U have played such games. Another aspect of their season ticket policy meant that everyone had to purchase tickets for every FA Cup game – including a year or so back, for a replay against Cambridge United.
Anyone who fails to comply will have their season ticket suspended.
Despite the disparity in positions in the league, Man U apparently charged the full whack for the price, meaning £50 was the regular going rate.
Now if we compare this with Arsenal – we get a set of cup matches included in our season ticket (six I think; I go to them all, so I don’t actually remember). These tickets exclude league cup games which are not counted, so for each of the years at the Ems they have meant three champions league games, and then a mix of champions league and FA Cup matches thereafter. If we don’t play that many home games, there’s a credit. If we play more we can buy our seats or not for each game on an individual basis.
Also, all the way through the process if you don’t want to go to a game you can sell your ticket on the ticket exchange.
For Man U on the other hand if the club fail to beat a League Two team the supporters are then forced to buy tickets at top prices for a midweek replay arranged at short notice.
In this particular case Manchester Dontcareless sent communications to supporters saying “The deadline to buy your seat for Cambridge United is 8 p.m. tonight. Please note that not buying this ticket will result in your Season Ticket being suspended for the Sunderland game.”
Not really the way to treat people who have already stumped up a lot of dosh for a season ticket in my view, but maybe if you live in Cornwall, that’s what you expect.
In another piece the Mail covered the Manchester United season ticket holders story by revealing that they had to pay for a Champions League qualifier… despite not knowing opponents or the date.
Now in one sense I do that when I buy my season ticket, because it is part of the price. But I know that, that’s how it goes. I buy the ticket knowing that it includes the cup games. But Man U’s forced opt in seems cackhanded to say the least.