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Prices at Arsenal and other grounds for misinformation

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Making the Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

The BBC has just released its survey of the price paid to watch  League football and the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) has responded, pointing out some of the omissions in the BBC report.

I’ll deal first with the BBC, and then put the AISA response after with my own comments at the end.

The BBC found that the average cost of the cheapest adult ticket in the top four divisions of English football has risen by 11.7% – more than five times the rate of inflation.  The average price of the most affordable ticket in league football has gone from £19.01 to £21.24 in the past 12 months.

The survey looked at 166 clubs in 10 divisions across British football, including the Conference Premier and Women’s Super League and recorded the most expensive, and cheapest, season tickets and adult matchday tickets as well as the cost of a cup of tea, a pie and a programme, to calculate the cheapest day out at a football match.

As we have come to expect with such surveys there are quite a few pot shots at Arsenal, without any explanation or clarification.   Thus…

  • The most expensive adult matchday ticket is Arsenal at £126 and the cheapest £6 at Montrose.
  • Arsenal also have the most expensive season ticket at £1,955, while Montrose’s was the lowest at £90.

And then later…

“It is quite shocking that at Arsenal, for example, the cheapest season ticket is only £15 short of £1,000.

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And again…

Arsenal’s cheapest day out (£34.30) comes in exactly £100 cheaper but it is Newcastle who offer the Premier League’s best value day out, with a ticket, programme, pie and cup of tea coming in at £23.

There is a little bit of explanation on the BBC site…

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis told BBC Sport the club was doing its best to offer value to fans with the club’s cheapest league ticket (£26) among the most affordable in the division. This ticket is £9 cheaper than last season.

“We’ve seen ticket prices rise across the game,” Gazidis said. “This isn’t just a football issue.

“If you look at the prices of entertainment across the board they have gone up significantly in recent years and clearly we now have an environment where people are economically challenged.

“What we have done is try to hold those prices down, for example our Capital One Cup prices have been £10 for adults and £5 for children.”

In response AISA (of which I am a committee member) said, “This survey highlights the fact that prices in football continue to rise to extraordinary levels and that many fans on lower incomes are now priced out of “the peoples game”. At Arsenal the club have started to listen to supporters, and the price reductions for cheaper seats are an excellent initiative.

“There are still many Arsenal fans who are unable to attend Premier League and Champions League matches because of high prices as well as many others who struggle to pay the cost of annual season tickets because of the lack of any staged-payment scheme.

“There are also senior citizens who only qualify for cheaper seats if they sit on their own, and move away from long-held seats with friends and family.”

Let me move on to my own view (and I do want to clarify that this is me speaking as me, not as a committee member of AISA – although I do fully support AISA’s position – especially on supporters aged 65 and over).

These are key points but it is possible to go further I believe.   No adjustment is made in the Arsenal figures for the incredibly low cost League Cup matches nor for the fact that Arsenal include seven extra cup games in the season ticket.  If one includes (for example) three League Cup home games at £5, and then the seven FA Cup and European Champions League games which are in fact free to season ticket holders the price per game comes tumbling down when compared to the most expensive club.

Arsenal’s cheapest season ticket then works out at £34.48 per game.  If we look at what one would have got for that in the last couple of seasons it would have included the top games against Chelsea, Tottenham, Man U etc, plus matches against Barcelona, Milan etc etc.

So that is Arsenal v Barcelona for £34.48.   When I went to that game I was offered £450 for my ticket.

Arsenal’s position with the most expensive season ticket comes because of the range of facilities in the boxes and at club level – a far greater range with much better facilities than any other ground.  I have sat in these seats as a guest of O2 and I can tell you I have never seen such luxury and space in a football ground.

Arsenal’s lowest one-off match price for the league is £25.50 (for example this season for Arsenal v Sunderland) compared with £10 for Corby Town, my local club, in the sixth division.   So the Premier League is 2.5 times more expensive than the Conference North – which seems reasonable to me.

But there is more – because what the BBC doesn’t talk about is why.  What is pushing the prices up?

The answer of course is player wages and increased transfer fees caused by the rise in such matters following the activities of Chelsea, Man City, PSG and other clubs with a virtually endless sum of money to spend.

Indeed it always amuses me that members of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal who complain again and again about Wenger, demand that more players be signed, and that players like Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie be given even higher wages so that they are not lured away.   Such a policy would then demand even more money and would cause the prices to rise even further.

But of course we do find that some (not all, but some) people want both sides.  They complain about the price of admission (modest though it is compared with some other clubs, and modest though it is compared with lower league prices) but want more and more expenditure.

Fortunately the clubs are now coming to their senses and are looking to vote for limitations on salary expenditure – and that should bring the current crazy situation to an end.


28 comments to Prices at Arsenal and other grounds for misinformation

  • CB

    Great points.

    Plus Arsenal have a new stadium and haven’t increased prices this year (and over the last 7 seasons have increased prices very little, 4.5% in 2008 and similar in 2011 (excluding VAT)).

    HOwever the TV money coming in next year would reduce ticket prices substantially, is that too much to hope for?

  • CB

    Also, why aren’t the press/BBC making more of Tottenham’s prices – you have to go through a dump to watch football at a dump, see cheats like Bale, no CL, no class.

    And few trophies over the last 15 or more years, rarely see CL football.

    I’m sure you can think of other points.


    A well balanced and detailed summary.

    The expectation that you could go to the Emirates and watch a top quality match for a tenner, including a pie and a bowl of tripe for your whippet, is madness.

    Yes, we all need to pressure the board to keep prices as low as possible, but then moaning that we cant afford the next George Best, is short sighted at best.

    The reality is the new TV deal money will go on increased wages across the board. If we can strike some decent sponsorship deals when they are up for renewal, then we can see where the club really is financially.

  • ian

    The Family Enclosure is also incredibly good value at AFC, for the Sunderland match my ticket was £26, my childrens were £10 each so £46 for the three of us.

    Compare that to £20 for adults and £10 for children at both Leicetser City & Peterborough United and its very good value indeed.

    Further more if Arsenal had been drawn away to Coventry City in the Capital One Cup then the Coventry fans would have paid £22 for a ticket as opposed to £10 at The Emirates

  • Hboy

    Couldn’t agree more with you Tony. Arsenal supporters can have plenty of gripe with the Arsenal board and management for various decisions, but to a man they should be utterly bewildered that we as a club could be picked out as a beacon of immorality. You really couldn’t make it up. I bought a ticket for the Southampton game as a Red Member for I believe £25. Taking everything into account, there can be no better value match ticket in this country. And lets not forget this is a stadium in the centre of our capital city, not Newcastle. To not mention the debts that Man City, Chelsea etc accumulate in such an article is where the immorality lies. How in any way shape or form is that comparing eggs with eggs. If these clubs were any other business it would be a closing down sale. Should a business such as Marks’n’Spencers, operating on a sound and sensible financial basis, be hammered for the price of their knickers because they’re sold at 50 times the rate of a pound-shop’s closing down sale?

  • stg

    quote “The BBC Sport Price of Football survey found that the average price of the most affordable ticket in league football has gone from £19.01 to £21.24 in the past 12 months”

    They do state “in league football” so perhaps they do not take into account cup games in this survey but then Arsenal’s season ticket does include cup games.


    Lowest ST £985 divided by 26=£37,88 x 19 home PL games=£719,72 that’s £10 cheaper than Spurs lowest ST

    Highest ST £1,995 =£1,457,87 that’s £388 cheaper than Spurs highest Season Ticket.

    Arsenals lowest match day ticket £26 is £6 cheaper than Spurs cheapest.

    Cheapest day out at Arsenal £34.30 that’s £6.90 cheaper than Spurs.

    50p more for a program & 40p more for a pie at Spurs

    If you pick your Arsenal game right you can have a day out cheaper than Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Man U, Norwich, Reading, Southampton, Swansea, Spurs,West Ham & Brighton.

    I also wonder what will happen to clubs like Spurs & liverpool when/if they do build/move to a new ground will prices increase?

  • Baz

    Stop making excuses for the extortionate prices they charge. Honesty it’s as if some people enjoy being ripped off. It used to be the working mans game now no working class people can afford to go. ITS A DISGRACE and people should be highlighting the fact not being apologists for the cash cow that is Arsenal PLC nowadays

  • Lawrence

    Really good summary of both the media portrayal, and the overall financial balance required at Arsenal. I am fortunate enough to have a season ticket and although the £1000 does make me think every year. I consider two things.
    1: I waited a long time to be able to get a ticket to the games, until we moved to the emirates the season ticket waiting list was decades. Which demonstrates supply and demand at work and in comparison to other entertainment in London is not that bad.
    2: Arsenal and its fans fund our club, Man city and Chelsea fans are being funded by their owners, they get cheap tickets because the club doesn’t have to fund the wages and transfers that they feel the need to see. I am proud that neither I, nor Arsenal football club a charity case watching a team funded by deep oil well pockets. That said those same deep oil well pockets are pushing the price up for us all just to be able to compete.

  • bc

    I go EVERY match home and away. it costs me far less at home matches £37.89 per match than aways which very rarely cost less than £45 per match. admittedly i have to pay my £985 up front for home matches but visiting the emirates is a damn site better experience than visiting places like west ham stoke villa spurs qpr liverpool everton etc. sure i prefer aways but that is because of the whole day out Not the stadia.

  • stg

    Just reading the bbc website and some comments left.
    “West Ham haven’t told the whole truth. The only way you can get a season ticket for £480 is if you had held one for the last 5 years and used the whole 20% loyalty reduction promised by the Icelandic administration in 2009, in the first year ( as opposed to a 5% reduction over 4 years). The cheapest adult season ticket is £600.”

    I wonder how many others have mislead the report?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    The BBC do a lot of things very well but sadly properly informed journalism when it comes to sports, isn’t on the list.
    This is just more lazy, poorly researched rubbish that serves no purpose except to give ammunition to the BBC’s critics.

    Of course, fitting the sentence “on the face of it Arsenal’s most expensive ticket has the highest cost but offers more value for money” into a piece like this dilutes the shock value.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I know jealousy is a bad thing but somehow I felt it running in my brain for a moment when I read your comment. Oh how I wished I could be in your place…

    But in the week of 10 November I will be feeling your day in day out experience myself as I will go to Schalke on Tuesday and come to the Emirates on Saturday. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂

  • insideright

    I think I’m right in saying that Wigan are held up as some sort of paragon of virtue because they charge the least. What that means is that their owner has to subsidise wages (it’s called financial doping) and, despite being cheapest, they still don’t come anywhere near filling their comparatively small stadium. The same could be said for a number of other clubs.
    Arsenal have a sales rate of about 99% within the second highest capacity in the EPL. So which is the better run business?
    What these figures would say to an impartial business analyst is that Arsenal could charge more (which they now do for category A games) and that Wigan are charging too much!
    One last point – last seasons ticket price hike was made up of a rise in VAT (Govt instigated) and, for many of us, the inclusion of access to Arsenal Player into the cost of the ticket i.e no real price rise at all.

  • nicky

    It’s a pity that because of the high cost of visiting London, (for football matches), a system of London Weighting in reverse can’t be introduced!
    On the other hand, while clubs like ours have a ST waiting list of many thousands, there can be no real incentive to reduce or even hold ticket prices.

  • Ong Bing

    If Arsenal tickets expensive, why we have so long waiting list? Value for money not lie….

    Arsenal stadium is newest, comparing with MU, Chelsea, Pool, MCity and Spuds, and it was in London, so it was reasonable Arsenal tickets more expensive.

    I am proud as Arsenal fans, our tickets expensive, stadium always full, waiting list so long. It means the price is worth it!

    Because gold always more expensive than bronze….

  • Stuart


    That’s some good working out and comparisons there, maybe you could do an untold article on EPL clubs ??

  • bjtgooner

    Tony – good review. Do we know the author of the BBC report?

    In more general terms my impression of the BBC is that the organization has gradually degenerated in the quality and morality of its programs and reports, the present one being a typical piece of misinformation. Unfortunately for the overall reputation of the BBC they have lost quality not just in sports coverage.

  • Stuart

    Off topic but what do peopple think of this?

  • Asif

    Stuart – that, I think is an effort to insure that Rednose walks away with his XXth title while the rest keep on working harder legitimately…

  • Shakabula Gooner

    It does seem as if increasingly, comparing the face value of tickets between clubs and across the 10 divisions in England leave too much out to be of any qualitative value to marketing and differentiation that has occured in the industry over the last 10years.
    The “value for money” experience which will include the quality of the hospitality and of the matches accessed, not to talk of the the per unit cost of all the games packaged in volume and up-front purchases of season tickets calls for the development of a more qualitative tool to do an objective analysis.
    This type of measure may be better carried out by a commissioned and independent marketing consultant than (with due apologies) by bread-and-butter journalists or to fans.

  • createstrain

    loved the forth to last paragraph.

    Woolwich Peripatetic- i dont think its lazy, i believe they go about their job perfectly. i live in the uk and i dont know if many other countries pay a tv licence but we have to. why? well the bbc of course. if they can do that then i would imagine they care not about promoting debt. and arsenal are the opposite to that. so they move motd up norf and spread misinformation about us knowing the influence they have on your typical 8-5er.

    stu – yikes. so blatant. well done manure fans. you’ve brought well this year.

  • bjtgooner

    Stuart – the tentacles of Red Nose continue to spread and surely for only one purpose – the prevention of fair play!

  • MK

    I was thinking as I read it that the BBC writer was deliberately having a go at Arsenal, not explaining why it is more expensive (that it includes additional cup and champions league games) is particularly poor journalism on their part.

    They even interviewed Gazidis who would surely have pointed that out to show the club in a better light, yet not a mention in the article.

  • stg

    You have seen the headlines and you have probably seen the table. Arsenal charge the highest prices blah blah blah yes we do and as has been pointed out on many blogs about it(7am gives a good write up) it is down to market forces.
    Some interesting things have been pointed out many lower league clubs have or do special prices for some evening games or games that they know will draw a low crowd. These special prices have been put in the survey although they are not available for every match. The West Ham £480 season ticket is not available to everybody you have had to had a ST for 5 years and used the loyalty 20% given in 2009. The cheapest ST to normal fans is £600.

    Another thing to have a look at is the prices from last season Arsenal have lowered their cheapest match ticket by £9. Making Arsenals cheapest day out just under £10 cheaper than last season(was £44 now £34.40) Yes they raised the highest tickets by £26 but as the Chelsea & Spurs games have shown they still sell out at that price(market forces).

    Lets have a look at other teams-
    Chelsea last season had its cheapest ticket at £23.50 this season it’s £41 making Chelsea’s cheapest day out now £49.60 up from £26.50 that’s £23.10 difference.
    Newcastle’s cheap ticket has gone up by £5 making their cheap day out go up by £6.50 in total. Their expensive tickets have risen from £37 to £70 that’s an increase of £33.
    Wigan have put the price of their cheapest ticket up by £5 this season to £20 this despite the fact that they regularly do not sell out the dw stadium and have an average crowd of 18,000 that’s 7,000 less than the stadium can hold. Could this be seen as fleecing their loyal fan base?
    A lot was made of clubs who have lowered their ticket prices Aston Villa were pointed out as a team who were doing their bit it these hard time but perhaps it has more to do with the 10,000 missing supporters who regularly did not turn up last season and does reducing your ticket prices by £1 or £2 make that much of a difference so far this season their average is only 2,000 better than last season.

    Yes you can go and watch Manchester United for £30 have a cheap day out for £38.60 and pay £50 for the most expensive ticket but as a united friend of mine who now refuses to go you are stuck way up high in the stand with a poor view and no leg room. Yes the ST are cheap but they fleece the fans for CL & FA cup games(his words not mine)

    I’m not saying everything is rosy at Arsenal pricing wise but perhaps a close look is needed behind the media headlines.

  • Jambug

    Unforetuneatly pointing out all the floors in this report by the BBC is pointless, mainly because the author without quistion knows these floors already, it just does’nt suit to be even handed. It’s like Talksports Adrian Durham, he has a daily slot in which he basically slags off Arsenal. He’s reknown for his often repeated comment that every Arsenal season ticket comes with a free ‘slap round the face’. As a side issue regarding Durham, twice over the last couple of months he has accused Arsenal of unscrupulously withdrawing players from England duty under false pretences. He did it with the ox in August and Gibbs this month, both of whom missed subsequent Arsenal games with the supposedly ‘made up’ injuries. Did he appolagise? Huh !!! What chance have you when the biggest sport radio station, the biggest paper and the national TV channel are so blatently anti Arsenal. Whatever happened to media impartiality?

  • STG

    Jambug the media as a whole are just hypocrites if you listen, read & remember you will notice a pattern of hypocracy among them. Take this weeks talksport pet subject Gareth Bale, he has been described as one of the top 3 or 4 players in the world and being ONLY 23 he has still a lot to learn. Now compare this to a player who last season had much better stats for the season who is also only 23 and should be the finished article but is underperforming and is very inconsistent (Theo Walcott if you hadn’t guessed). They were praising Harry Redknapp for finding this world class player when if you look at what happened Bale was dropped as fullback because he could not defend but because of injury’s he had to play him as a winger a huge slice of luck for Mr Redknapp.

    The medias reaction to the BBC survey is interesting yes a few headlines about Arsenals ticket prices and a few comments about how great Wigan & Villa etc are because of their pricing structure but in truth there has been very little actual in depth reporting of the survey. To me this shows it could be down to two things 1)it is a well written and researched survey that blows the lid off how much ticket prices or 2)it is a poorly researched survey that will not stand up to close investigation with clubs malipulating the figures at some levels to show them in a good light. I know which one i am plumping for.

  • STG

    I had the plesure of visiting Watford Town yesterday, it was family day so tickets were down from £26 to £10. I took my two boys along one classed as an adult 16 and over and the other a child so 3 tickets set me back £21 instead of the normal price which would of been around the £51 mark.

    We had good seats about 10 rows from the pitch side just to the left of the goal an excellent view. That though is where the good stuff stopped. Before kick off I nipped to the bar for a pint of bitter £3.70 not bad I thought……until I tasted it I had to throw half of it away. I would of taken it back but by this time the bar was very busy and the few bar staff were rushed of their feet.

    The game kicked off those who watched the Norwich v Arsenal match and thought that was poor may I suggest a nip down the leagues to see worse. You may think I am using a sweeping generalisation but when the Watford season ticket holders next to me and behind me said that this was one of Watfords best games of the season then I think I am justified in my generalisation. Half time came and my youngest wanted a drink so off he trotted and came back with a hot chocolate(£1.70) well I say hot chocolate very hot water with chocolate flavouring would be a closer description.

    Would I pay £26 for a normal adult ticket at Watford no I’m sorry. I know Arsenal are criticised for their high prices but the quality of ground, seats and in the end football is more important than the price