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Season tickets at Arsenal – just how big is the waiting list? At last, an answer.



We’ve debated this issue over and over again – how big is the waiting list at Arsenal for season ticket in the main part of the ground (by which I mean upper and lower tiers, not Club Level and Diamond Geezer Level).

The Anti-Arsenal Arsenal (AAA) web sites have suggested since the start of last season that the waiting list has gone, with some 80% of regular supporters giving up their season tickets.  Indeed last December I was confidently told that it was possible to call up Arsenal and buy a season ticket straight off.

In trying to unravel this I believe we have established quite clearly (although not directly relevantly to Arsenal) that there are season tickets available all over Very Old Trafford (100 years old this year) – and they have indeed suffered a total collapse in the number of applications over the past four years.

They too had a long waiting list for tickets only four years ago, so the questions, could it happen at Arsenal and indeed, has it happened at Arsenal, are highly relevant.

The comments from the AAA are all based on hear-say.  One AAA site has said that several people have offered the site season tickets to pass on.  Another has reported a single person saying he has moved right up the list from number 45,000 to being offered a ticket in one season.

But neither site offers any evidence.  One person says he went from 45,000 to an offer, two or three people offer up their tickets for re-sale through a web site, one guy tells me that he knows for sure that tickets are available.  What we needed was hard evidence.

Indeed it is not just that these cases are all just the say-so of one person in each case.  They are all a bit odd.   None of the people I know, and none of the people who sit around me, are leaving their seats.   And as for offering your ticket to a web site, the terms and conditions of a season ticket make it quite clear that you must not pass the ticket on to another.  And why would you?  If you don’t want the ticket you don’t renew.  And if you believe there is no waiting list, as the AAA sites believe, then there’s no problem.  Give up your season ticket along with all the other anti-Wengerians, wait for a year or two, and then have your choice or a seat when a new manager is in place.

So what is the evidence from Arsenal?

It appears that there is not one waiting list for seasons, but several.  Which one you are on depends on how many tickets you want.  You can apply for one, two together or three together.   The number you apply for determines which list you go on.

The most common application is for two together, simply because most of us tend to be fairly sociable people and we like to go with a friend.  The pressure on the two together has risen also because of the increase in the tendency for men and women to make going to the football part of their social lives.  Twenty years ago this was much less common.

Thus when I got to the top of the list and the letter arrived with the news, it was all recorded and understood that I wanted two tickets next to each other, one for me one for the good lady.  I had been on the two-together list all the time.

Because of the need to find two together, where Arsenal do have two season tickets together they hardly ever let them go as singles, because once those seats have been sold as singles they will never come back to the club as a pair.

When it comes to the allocation of new seats each summer the club runs the separate lists (the list for singles, the list for pairs etc) separately, and these lists are numbered separately.  I don’t have the details but if you imagine it working like this…

Number 10,000 to 15,000 are all singles

Number 15,001 to 20,000 are doubles

Number 20,001 to 25,000 are singles

and so on.   Because of this it is quite possible to be on the waiting list for a single at number 22,000 and then suddenly find yourself at 12,000.  It doesn’t mean you have moved up 10,000 places – it just means you have moved across one of the other lists.

The number is put together like this to avoid too much public discussion about the system.  If I had been on the D for Doubles list I might be miffed by the smallness of my move each season.  Being on a general list the way in which I moved along the list was encouraging.

Very roughly speaking (and I really don’t have access to the exact numbering) I think that if you send in two applications together you go into the Double Waiting List at around number 40,000, and with a single, you go onto the Single Waiting list at around 60,000.

There’s another issue – the lists don’t move at the same speed.  I think there are more double seats than any other type of seats, and I believe that double people are more likely to drop out.  Not only is this because there are more of them, it is also because they go as a couple, and if one person in the couple sadly passes on, gets made redundant, or moves, they both stop going.  Not in every case of course, but where going to the game is part of a social family activity it is quite likely.  So more doubles give up their seats each year, which means that doubles move down their waiting list faster than singles.

Putting all this together, and looking at the evidence sent in my readers the last time we discussed this, it would seem that we have probably around 45,000 people on the waiting list – people who did not get offered a ticket this year.

Now here’s another fact.  If you get to the end of the waiting list and you don’t take up your ticket for any reason, you lose your place and drop off the list.  So if you are on the list for a single ticket and suddenly you find your number goes down by 10,000, it might be that 2,000 have left their seats this year.  But the club has to go through 5,000 names to get 2,000 people who are still willing to sign up.  The others might have died, moved, lost their jobs, or been AAA supporters all the time and so never seriously wanted a season ticket under the present regime.  What’s more you might have jumped 5,000 on the list because you moved across a set of numbers allocated to doubles.

In fact, I don’t think it is 10,000 coming off the list a year.  My estimate (and I don’t try to suggest this is anything more than an estimate) is that it is more like 5,000 seats a year becoming available – with the majority being available as doubles.

So my estimate after all that is 5,000 new season tickets a year, 60,000 or so on the waiting list, but only around 65% of those offered a ticket take it up, meaning the average wait is around 8 years.  You might appear to be moving faster up the list, and because after 8 years some people decide they don’t want their ticket, but part of the reason for the jumps is because of the segmentation of the list.

This is all unofficial information – but hopefully it is slightly more accurate than the notes that say “3 season ticket holders have illegally offered me season tickets to sell on, and since I have no regard for Arsenal’s rules, I’m doing it for them.”

Tony Attwood

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16 comments to Season tickets at Arsenal – just how big is the waiting list? At last, an answer.

  • Lee

    Told u this in ur last blog

  • va cong

    woohoo finally some sense!!!

  • Hadley

    I read this on another site, off topic but makes great sense IMO. Get involved!

    “I propose that Arsenal fans World wide post letters once a week for the next four weeks to UEFA & FIFA complaining about Barcelona FC’s ‘tapping up’ of Cesc Fabregas. Also post a letter just once to Arsenal FC requesting that they formally complain to UEFA & FIFA. I have drawn up 3 template letters that I will email to willing participants. All you need to do is type in your own Name & Address before printing off & posting. Momentum will be boosted by you forwarding the email to every one of your Arsenal FC fan family & friends, encouraging them to participate.
    The aim of repetitive letters is to create an Admin headache for UEFA & FIFA with thousands of letters received from all over the world & display the strength of feeling from Arsenal FC fans. The purpose of the single letter to Arsenal FC is again to display the strength of feeling from us fans.
    My email address for this campaign from where I will email you the letter templates is …….. ArsenalFansHateBarcelonaFC@gmail.com

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Nice work Tony.. Hey if you did it for fun its great.. But if you did it to refute the allegations, I guess they dont deserve such in depth analysis..

  • David

    I’m 28,603 on the waiting list and have been waiting for it to update this year. I was 44,000 odd when I registered about three years ago.

  • sameep

    Nice one, you are one of the very few on internet who speak sense…

  • Cujo

    I remember reading this AAA blog which claimed the waiting list was reduced to nothing over one season. This blog constantly spews negativity. I dont read their blog anymore. Yay me! love reading your blogs Tony. Always balanced and fair 🙂

  • Marc

    I’m in a similar position to David. I joined in October 07 at 42329 and I’m currently 32704, so far the number hasn’t been updated for the new season yet.

    To claim Arsenal are in crises (Again, I forget how many times now) after the worst recession in 70 years and still have a minimum in excess of 30,000 on the season ticket waiting list isn’t to bad. Just think what the number will swell to when we start to win things again.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I can’t speak for top or lower tier, but I can tell you that Club was offering deals to current incumbents to refer new people to take up the slack as some of the corporate 3/4 year deals were not being renewed due to the recession.

    Quite a few club tickets are now clearly sold to agencies who sell them to tourists in London for a long weekend. This is clear from the radical increase in foreign languages (notably Dutch and eastern European) heard at Club Deck as compared to the first year.

    I know there was a waiting list last season, but it was a reasonable chance to get tickets for this season coming if you went on the waiting list in January. That wasn’t the case the first couple of seasons due to the 3/4 year corporate sales.

    I suspect also with the new American influence on the club that more US corporations are being targeted, as opposed to the many UK institutions who supported the Club in the first 3 years at club class. More US accents are being heard and I am sorry to say that the tone of what some of them say implies that it’s nice for the US to own a ‘lil ol’ English club’…..not surprising, but annoying nonetheless……..

  • Ben

    I have 4 seats in club level & 4 in north bank lower (god I enjoyed being able to say that again) my sons have three of the seats in the north bank,one of them has now emigrated so I have sold his on to a friend who is on the waiting list rather than give it up & lose it forever. I suspect that others do the same as they can get them back as & when required hence tickets for sale through websites

  • Arsefactor

    Does anyone have any idea how big the silver membership waiting list is? and also how quickly it moves (roughly)?

  • Tim

    I joined the waiting list with my wife (so on the doubles under your calculations) in Dec 05 – Started at around 40000, now around 15000. Number hasn’t been updated for this season so based on other comments I think your 5000 a year sounds about right.

    Impossible not to love this blog which oozes a desire for facts and rational discussion – keep it up (please)!

  • Sharmaine

    @David and Marc, are you on the waiting list as a double or single? I’ve been on the waiting list as a single since April 07 and I am 31k on the list so far, but after reading this I am contemplating getting another one. I don’t really have anyone in mind to take up the second one at the moment but alot can happen in 5 years I suppose

  • Adam arsenal gunner semakula

    Hello all, it’s the day before we kick start the 2012/13 season, RVP is up north with united, I after only 5 years on the season ticket waiting list I was offerd one by the club, witch I took up without any question,, but from what I got from the whole thing us that not many people are renewing or taking up season ticket offers, my position was 12500, and my mate was 19000 and was also offered a season ticket, so my question is have new and old school fans being push out of Arsenal fc?? I know many people who rather go to away games then home and with most pricing not being the issue,, although I must say away days wherever we go are the best,, please someone tell me what’s going on ???

  • Stuart

    Adam,
    When were you in 12500th position?

  • Adam

    Just to let you all know I was 20000 and was offered 2 season tickets for the 2012/13 season, the waiting list is not has long has Arsenal Fc say.