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Coming very soon – “The Crowd at Woolwich 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.
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.
I would urge everyone who wants a say in what Arsenal does to join Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association so that they can have their voice heard.
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