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Despite earlier predictions to the contrary, Arsenal support is growing and growing

by Walter Broeckx

At the end of last season we had some people who claimed that the stadium would be empty this season.  Our regular readers will remember that they claimed that the season ticket holders had been voting Wenger out and would not renew.  Later Tony showed that there was no such thing at Arsenal and that the people who didn’t renew was the same number as happens every season.

But to be honest the idea of people not renewing and thus getting more tickets available for supporters who wanted to buy tickets was something I would not find that bad. But that is because I just was looking at my own interest as a foreign supporter. It could mean that I could be buying more tickets with my red membership card and come to more games.

And the most important thing maybe as a board member of our Arsenal Benelux Supporters Club was the idea of getting more tickets available for the supporter clubs.  Every time we come to the Emirates we have to disappoint some members. Not many but every member we have to leave behind is one too many. So the thinking over here was that we maybe could get more tickets this season and take everyone with us.

Is the support for Arsenal going down? Well in Belgium we could see more members coming to our club and also this season we started with more and more new members. And we do this without advertising ourselves in any way. The people who find us are just people who are actively looking for an Arsenal supporters club in Belgium or Holland.

So the article in which Tony wrote that all the season tickets were sold and that the waiting list was still the same should have been a first indication that it would be business as usual. Now I don’t know how things work at Arsenal but I think that every supporters club can name a few games they would like to attend and let Arsenal  know how many tickets they would need. And then Arsenal is sees if they can make those tickets available for the different supporter clubs that ask for that game.

We don’t have to ask tickets for games against Tottenham, Chelsea or Man Utd as we know that they are not available for us. And that is not a problem for us as we can understand that for such games even the local fans find it hard to get tickets. Let alone those of us from across the Channel.

So when our president asked if we could attend the  Newcastle game the first mail back was, “We will have to see because we have received a lot of requests for tickets for that game from the different supporters clubs.”  But after a while we got the confirmation that we would get tickets.

But the bad news was that as a result of the high demand we could only get 20 tickets.  Fewer tickets than we got last year, but more members in our books. We knew this would be a hard decision waiting for us. But then again we told ourselves: maybe there would be some members who could not come to this game on a Sunday? Maybe we had some members on holiday as that is the last day of school holiday period in our country.

So we hoped that we would not have to disappoint too many people. And when we announced on our website that we would have tickets for the game against Newcastle we had some members who have been with us for years saying that for various reasons they could not come with us this time. So a gentle feeling arose on the horizon that we maybe wouldn’t have to disappoint a lot of members.

But the moment we opened the subscriptions for tickets to  our members, our server almost crashed. Now it doesn’t take much to crash our server  but the tickets were sold in an instant.  We had 20 tickets and we would have sold the double. We even had to stop the program on our server after one day because it would make no sense to let people go on ordering tickets if we already had to tell half of the people they would not be able to come along. We still hope to buy some tickets with the red membership cards from some of our supporters who have one. And a silver member in England who couldn’t attend this game came to help us a bit and I thank him in name of our supporters.

So I look at this with a mixed feeling.  I feel proud and delighted that the support for Arsenal in our countries is growing and growing. Despite the “lack of trophies” in the last years. It is our name and our brand that attracts new supporters. But I also feel sad that we have to disappoint so many supporters.

And I feel a bit sad that Arsenal has only the opportunity to give us just 20 tickets when we would be able to sell the double or even more. Couldn’t there be any chance of expanding the Emirates a bit? Some extra seats  somewhere? I know a lot of us over here would love it.

And this story (a little success story of just an ordinary supporters club outside the UK)  shows once again that despite what some say, the support for Arsenal is not going down. No, it is growing in fact. We get more and more demands for tickets, and more tickets and  even more tickets. More and more people pay their membership in the hope they will be able to come with us to London. People want to come to the Emirates and are prepared to pay a lot of money to achieve this. So forget all the stories about not as many supporters for Arsenal. Yes, maybe the plastic fans will have left. Maybe the silverware fans will have left by now. But will we miss them?  I don’t think so.

So it will be not this season that the stadium will be empty. And those of us  over here are just hoping that for our next group visit later this season we get some more tickets. So that the responsible people in our supporters club don’t have to disappoint the Gooners who at the moment are not able to experience the Arsenal live in the Emirates.

Walter Broeckx runs Arsenal Worldwide for supporters of Arsenal outside the UK

20 comments to Despite earlier predictions to the contrary, Arsenal support is growing and growing

  • In wenger we rust

    What happened to tony?? Looks like the scarecrow from Wizard of OZ- imposter!

  • What an outrage!

    How dare you sir!

  • critic

    ha ha ha ha…what a pic tony!! looks like harry potter in his 60’s…. :-p

  • Terence McGovern

    there is a direct quote in the annual financial report from I van gazidas stating that the uptake of season tickets and sale of club memberships was greater up to the end of year point on may 31st than it had been for the previous year.

  • Jonny

    On the idea of where new supporters come from – I have always felt there is a touch of mythology here. Growing up, as I did, in Cambridge – it was a sad fact that most kids ‘chose’ a team when they were in infant school (as opposed to supporting Cambridge Utd or City). The pressure to do so was very apparent, as many kids had Liverpool bags or Tottenham stationary and peer pressure almost seemed to demand that you state an allegiance when asked – even if it was only notional and you had little interest in football.

    Many children of course inherit their team from their family – (usually the dad) who have been dressing their young in the club strip since they were just out of the womb.

    My dad was not like that and, though he is a staunch Arsenal man, he had always deemed it up to us to choose our own way in life. This commendable, egalitarian but rather foolish attitude had already allowed my (much) older half brother to commit to the dark-side and to this day he remains a regular at Shite Hart Lane.

    At 5 years old my footballing allegiance was very much up for grabs and the obvious choice was Liverpool. Many kids in my class had chosen Liverpool because they were the big team of the early 80’s with an outrageous record for winning.

    But this idea that only teams that win seems to to be to have been mythologised (especially over at le Grove who think we are losing new supporters left and right to Chelsea and Man Utd and soon to Man City).

    I think one of the most important deciders is the ‘favourite’ player. This is sometimes someone who plays for England and catches your eye – in the start many support the team he plays for and are then devastated when he then moves – sometimes leaving a youngster with one of his first real life decisions. I do know some guys who ‘left’ their first choice team and ended up supporting the ‘second’. They still retain a fondness for the first.

    I digress. The point is a skilful player, a ‘hero’ can win the heart of a child. Many will be have been won over by Rooney and Gerrard – and I do contend Englishness does hold some sway in the playground.

    That said many will have been won over by Fabregas, by RVP and others.

    Finally, I contend that some will have been won over by our swashbuckling style of play.

    The future looks particularly bright however as Liverpool fade to a spent force and Gerrard moves on their ‘new fans’ will undoubtedly dwindle.

    As, over the coming years, Arsenal finally cement themselves as winners and the dominant force in English football we will be winning hearts and minds on all fronts.

    We will have many of the most exciting English players, we’ll continue to play the most scintillating brand of football, we’ll be winning trophies and doing it all with The Arsenal ethos – one that shows there is a different, more noble route than all those other clubs.

  • Terence McGovern

    There is something vaguely oxymoronic to the concept of “Tottenham stationery”. 😉

  • Gf60

    @Terence. It was probably incorrectly spelt; “T*tt*enh*m stationary” more like it.

    On the attendance and the difficulty of getting tickets issue…anybody know what is happening, if anything, with the proposal to re-introduce limited terrace, standing, accommodation? That could increase the potential to around 70 000 or more.

  • A Casual Observer

    @Johhy

    You are absolutely correct – when I were a lad all the kids supported Tottenham because at that time it was all about the Lane – My older brother was a Liverpool kid (we lived in Surrey at the time)… but to be fair to him our grandparents were scouse – allthough our grandad switched to Bolton becuase he settle there and it was his local team.

    When asked what team I supported I chose QPR as I just fucking hated Spurs because all the other boys went on about them so much – other than that I had no interest in football; insects, fighting and the solar system were my passions.

    Anyway – I chose QPR as Spurs were playing them in the cup final (that went to a replay) and I thought they would all just leave me alone to study bugs or occasionally challenge me to a “who’s the hardest” wrestle if they thought I was on the other side and gloating rights were up for grabs.

    Alas they all came and slapped me on the back and said my team played well – etc.

    Only later did my brother switch to Arsenal as that was the local team in North London (where our dad lived) and I soon followed – at first just looking up results and watching on TV and then going to matches regularly when my season ticket arrived – needless to say I was delighted to hear that they hated Tottenham too!

    Funny how it all works out in the end.

  • Jonny

    ACO – “insects, fighting and the solar system were my passions”

    LOL – what do you do now?

  • A Casual Observer

    Sigh… I write computer software.

  • Jonny

    Terence & GF60 – I have this very clear memory of someone in my class having a ruler with Tottenham players on it Hoddle, Ardiles, Archibald etc.

    Sorry, just off to clean my mouth out…

  • Jonny

    So not a cage fighter, astronomer or an entomologist then!!

    Damn – where did all our childhood passions go?!

    At least we support the best football team in the world.

    :0)

  • A Casual Observer

    I discovered at an early age that I couldn’t be an astronaut due to my colour blindness and asthma – although the asthma went as I hit my teens, the eyes remained the same.

    Not sure how I got into I.T. to be honest… I was 17, just needed a job and if I couldn’t travel the stars then it didn’t really matter what I did.

  • My home as a kid was in Devonshire Hill Lane, the road that runs parallel to White Hart Lane, and on the walk home from school each day I walked by the White Hart pub.

    We chose either Arsenal or Tottenham (although a couple of boys chose the Orient either to be difficult, or because of their father).

    Tottenham were doing better than us in those days, but still the Arsenal numbers were larger, and absolutely no one but no one supported Man U or any other team. It really was local football and local rivalry.

    It was said that from the flat where I lived you could hear the roar when Tottenham scored, so generally it was quite a peaceful environment.

  • Terence McGovern

    ACO I am sorry to hear that your colour blindness may prevent you from appreciating Tony’s new pic in all its glory hehe!

    GF60 There has been soem talk that in theory, the design of the stadium does allow for the development of another tier but so far it is more than hearsay.
    One would think after a few smokes that the easiest way would be to just fill in the areas where the rim of seating dips etc but I am sure that it would be more complicated than that.

    I believe that we would fill another 20-25,000 seats. I also believe that if we had these, a few thousand should be allocated towards local schools at massive discount to get a new generation in to experienec the joys of a live game. Alot of the younger generation do not realise that there is more to football than SKY.

  • walter

    “It was said that from the flat where I lived you could hear the roar when Tottenham scored, so generally it was quite a peaceful environment.”

    I almost fell from my chair when reading this. LOL!

  • walter

    I also have heard that the seats could be changed for a smaller type. Which could ad a few thousand places in total. But also just a rumour I once picked up somewhere.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Do you try the online ticket exchange Walter? It’s where season ticket holders can sell a game to someone else in lieu of a rebate on next season’s seasons ticket, with the club getting a small administration fee?

    Of course, you won’t get a bloc of 20 together, but if coming is the most important thing??

  • atotxa

    Going of the point ever so slightly, but I’m trying to contact my local arsenal supporters club, here in longford, Ireland. I’ve emailed the contact email listed on the Arsenal website, with no avail. I’m just wondering whether anyone has any alternative suggestions how I might get in touch with them. Long shot I know, but in Gooners I trust!

  • Amerigooner

    One thing I will say is that the Arsenal America (and NYC in particular) Supporters group is alive and thriving here in the US… but not much thanks to the actual club, though! It’s sort of surprising given that Kronke is the largest shareholder, but the club have done sort of a mediocre job promoting the club here in America. ManUre of course are the big club of the casual fans (it’s the only English club many of them know), but Chelsea has done a surprisingly good job promoting themselves, touring, and having the Chelsea TV channel here in the US. If you didn’t know better, you’d actually think they were a big club and not just a bus stop in Fulham! Stan and the board really do need to convince Arsene to start doing some touring here on occasion, and they need to get a bigger US TV presence. There really is a lot of progress that needs to happen in the Commercial Office at the Emirates. It’s a shame, they could call me, I’d work for free to help them!