By Tony Attwood
One of the regular games that the AAA likes to play is to suggest that because of the perceived failure of Mr Wenger as a manager, and the board of directors, the Emirates will soon be less than full.
Now to make this argument work the AAA propagandists have to suggest that two things are happening.
The first is that existing season ticket holders are not renewing, and the other is that the famed waiting list has fizzled out and that if you want a season ticket you can go and get one. Indeed one story (and you can always tell its a story because the person writing it starts out by saying “I heard…”) is that this season, and last season, they were selling season tickets at reduced price, just to try and keep the stadium full.
Now Arsenal are quite conservative as to how they release information about the club and its ticket sales, and it is normally difficult to get any information at all.
However through a source that I personally regard as totally reliable I have been able to gather some information on the current state of play.
So here goes.
The waiting list for season tickets is about 45,000 people long. That number accounts for all positions in the upper and lower tiers, but not for Club Level. So it includes people who only want lower tier seats behind the goal, as well as people who will accept nothing less than upper tier on the half way line.
About 7000 people a year are dealt with on that list of 45,000, so that suggests that it takes people about six or seven years to move from the application form to being offered a seat.
What is happening at that point however is interesting. Not everyone who is offered a seat then takes up their seat. Some sadly have passed on in the interim. Some will have moved further away, some will have changed jobs or changed their financial situation… so there are always a lot of people who are offered tickets but who don’t take them up.
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There will also be people who reach the top of the list but can’t find a seat that is right for them, so they defer until next year. But overall about 7000 people a year reach a high enough position in the list to be removed from the list either by saying they are no longer interested or by accepting a seat.
Now we know from previous years that this action doesn’t always accord with a person’s number on the list, and I believe (although have not been able to confirm officially) that different types of supporter get allocated different numbers in the list. Thus a person wanting one adult and two children in the family enclosure might get a different type of number from a person who wants two adult seats next to each other, and so on.
Thus a person can move from (for example) number 30,123 on the list to number 9,125 on the list, not because 21,000 odd have dropped off the list but because they want two seats, and the band of numbers allocated for two seats finishes at 30,000 and then starts again at 10,000. The numbers between 10,000 and 30,000 might be reserved for people wanting one seat or three seats.
Looking at the total picture the “drop out” therefore is not 7000 a year. 7000 might be offered tickets but only a proportion accept them. So it is quite possible that each year 3000 season tickets become available, but 7000 people are cleared from the list because over half of those who went on the list six or seven years ago, are no longer interested, or no longer able to take up their allocation this year.
Thus we are looking at a churn rate of maybe 5% of the total crowd at the Emirates, or around 7.5% of the season ticket total.
This is quite an extraordinarily low number when you consider the wild (and factually untrue) tales about Arsenal having the highest ticket prices, the £100 ticket (another falsehood) and the hopelessness of Arsenal’s cause, having not won a competition since the Norman invasion and the worse manager of tropps since Harold II. Goodness knows how big the waiting list will get when we do win a competition.
The message therefore must be, first, don’t believe the stories the AAA tell, and second if you are thinking of having a season ticket, apply to go on the waiting list now.
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The sites from the same team…
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- The Arsenal History Blog from the AISA Arsenal History Society