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Season tickets: how long is the waiting list?

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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46 comments to Season tickets: how long is the waiting list?

  • Lionheart

    Bollocks I know four different people who applied and got a season ticket only last year and all had different seating requirements, and to add to that they all got them not because they want to see the team now,but in the future, 3 out of the 4 have given or sold 90 percent of the games this season to other because they don’t want to watch the team ATM, so no there is no waiting list

  • George

    I joined the waiting list last week at 35,401 so its still pretty healthy.

  • Shard

    With the offer of the opportunity to be on the waiting list by paying 4 pounds per season for 3 years, I am wondering whether to apply for it.

    There are two problems with that for me. The major one of course, is that I don’t live in England. I don’t plan to either, but then if it takes something like 7 or 8 years to get the chance of a seat, who knows what’ll happen by then? Tony, you mention deferring getting a seat till the next year. Is it possible to do this? How many times can a person say he wants to stay on the season ticket waiting list, but not take his seat?

    The second problem, and which is more immediate for me, is now that the Arsenal Player will be available for free, and since I have no plans to go to England next season, should I even renew my red level membership,let alone make a commitment to renew it for 3 years to get on a wait list.

    Sigh.. The big decisions in life 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    Shard,
    I understand your problem.
    For the moment I cannot afford to go each home game. My home situation is not allowing this.
    But I have thought about the time when I retire and would have plenty of time in the week and then I would consider a season ticket.
    The things I now do in the weekend (ref my own game, do the shopping, …) would be things I could do in the week and then would be free to go over to London as it is not that far away. Oh well a 16-20 hours trip depending on the transport system I would use but not impossible.

    But retirement is still a few years away so not yet a problem. I think in some 5 or 6 years I will have to consider those things to be able to have the chance to have a season ticket when I would retire….

  • WalterBroeckx

    They also use the “I know” version Tony. 😉

  • Shadi

    I bought mine last November. and i am 33191.

  • bc

    well my newborn son has just jpoined the waiting list. he is number 42,*** i cant remember the last 3 numbers but i can tell you that the only people who got tickets last seaon were either on the waiting list or went for club level

  • Chris

    I have been hanging on to my Season Tickets in the hope that Wenger leaves one day.

  • ian

    @Lion Heart

    My sons have been on the waiting list for 3 years and are around the 25,000 mark. Are you sure your friends didn’t end up at Tottenham?

  • JW 17

    Your numbers make sense. I moved up from 26,000 to 23,000 this year. When I first signed up in May 2010, I was 46,000. Those first yeara I moved up pretty rapidly. So I would suggest the latter above 30,000 may not be as sticky.

    Coming over here on an expat assignment, I got on the club level waiting list my first year and had tickets for 2010/2011. So that might explain Lionheart’s situation. You can get it faster, it just winds up costing you.

  • Jed

    @ Chris

    Me too. A few of the people near me (west upper) have said they won’t be back next year, but I’m too addicted to give up my seat.

    Will this be the summer that AW awakes from his transfer slumber? I hope so but shan’t be putting any money on it.

  • ian

    @ Jed

    If the rumours are true that Wenger has money to spend then I think he will, not sure who he will buy though as he is seemingly being very loyal to a lot of players.

    We also have the benefit that many players are now out of contract (Arshavin, Squillaci, Bendtner (I think) and Chamakh among others I may have missed). The benefit of not having their salaries as an expense this coming season will be huge.

    I could run a long list of the current team that did not look up to it at the start of the season that have shown in the last 1/3 of the season what they can do.

    Question is which of those need replacing and which will be bale to continue their improvement and then where do we need to add value.

    Its a call i cant make, although i would sign Bale and put him in the Next Gen series just for the hell of it!

  • WalterBroeckx

    don’t hold on to it. Just give it to the ones who want to support the team in all circumstances…

  • FunGunner

    Great article tony, always good to see an article backed up by credible info.

    @ WalterBroeckx
    May 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    don’t hold on to it. Just give it to the ones who want to support the team in all circumstances…

    Great advice Walter. And if the waiting list is dwindling non-existent, as they claim, it will be dead easy to get another season ticket when AW decides to leave.

  • nicky

    In view of the vast UK following enjoyed by Arsenal in excess of decades, I wonder why the Emirates wasn’t designed for greater attendances.
    When one of the two Manchester clubs can squeeze in 75,000 it seems to me that the most popular Club in the metropolis could easily manage to equal this figure.
    Maybe the Stadium was designed to cope with a future extension?

  • Rufusstan

    @Walter — Agreed, I’m still at 23,000 or so and anything that could help would be appreciated.

    @Lionheart just checking, the team these people watch (occasionally) are playing in Red and White Correct?

  • Rufusstan

    Nicky– as far as I remember, 60k was the biggest they would let us get away with.

    I have vague memories from back at the time that they designed it so they could add more seats later, but the issue is more about travel links, policing and all that sort of stuff.

    Been a while so I might be wrong.

  • nicky

    @Rufusstan,
    I hadn’t thought about the travel aspect.
    One wonders now whether Dein the Elder’s plan for Arsenal to use Wembley as its home, might have been the answer.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nicky,
    I also remember that the Police and the Underground said that an extra 10.000 would be too much in that area. I think at first Arsenal would have to pay for the underground works to take place before they could put in more people. But maybe at the time they had to make a decision that extra cost would have been the bridge too far?

  • Lionheart…what your saying is not possible unless they were allocated seats at club level.
    To prove my point, just ring up the season ticket line and ask if you can buy a season ticket for next season.
    Believe me, there is a huge waiting list and I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit with your skewed ideas of what the majority of Arsenal supporters think about our club.
    We’ve just finished above the team I believe you support again and also qualified for the champions league (via playoffs) for the seventeeenth time in a row…no other British club can match that.
    Oh and before you start going on about not winning anything for years, just ask any Wigan supporter if they would swap the FA cup for a premier place and then ask a true gooner the same question.
    Anyone who says no must be completely bonkers, just like trying to convince us that you can pick the phone up and get a season ticket just like that!!!!

  • FunGunner

    @ nicky
    Renting Wembley would have been barking mad, I believe. Money down the drain, no control, no identity and our landlords would totally have us over a barrel.

  • nicky

    @FunGunner,
    Point taken. I only asked.

  • Marc

    I joined the season ticket waiting list about 6 years ago. Last summer I was offered the chance to apply for a ticket, on a first come first served basis so no guarantee I’d get one. I deferred for a year and was called about 2-3 weeks ago asking if I’d take the ticket this year if offered. I don’t think the list is as long as when I joined but to suggest that you can just go and get a ticket is stupid.

  • FunGunner

    @ nicky
    Wasn’t having a go, I promise! 🙂

  • dan

    Guys what the score with Ryo, is he staying?

  • Adam

    One of the small regrets I have, is not taking up the offer of working on the Emirates when it was being built, they never offered enough money (no pun intended), A lot of us that built Wembley absolutely pillaged the place (it went over cost, on purpose), same with Terminal 5 Heathrow (god what a cash cow that was).

    Anyway knowing how hard it is to build something that size, on-time and to budget, I must congratulate Arsenal for the accomplishment.

    On a different note, I hope we see more of Eisfeld next season, he looks a technically sound player.

  • Stuart

    Jed
    I hope they do give up their seats rather than loan their season ticket out. I can get moving on up the list all the quicker.

  • Stuart

    Nicky
    I recall reading that the stadium has been designed to allow expansion. Not sure by how much though.

  • The font

    I would also like to thank Adrian downpipe of talk sport for all his inteliegent comments on mr wenger I think he single handedly. Drove mr wenger to be recognised as undoubtably the best manager arsenal has ever had and to thank his bosses at the station for hiring someone with such foresight and knowledge of the game they must be very proud

  • nicky

    @Stuart,
    I daresay as we come towards the Arsenal Stadium being debt-free, the availibility of funds for new blood will look more and more attractive, particularly to most fans.
    On the other hand a perpetual waiting list of tens of thousands seems far too high and a real test of loyalty.
    Something should be done to reduce this figure without undue delay.

  • Rufusstan

    @ Nicky — Dein’s plan for Wembley was useful in that the CL games there proved we could get 60,000+ at games. To be honest, Wembley was probably a better short/medium-term solution for us as we wouldn’t have gone through the last 8 odd years, but long term…..

    @ Adam — something I heard was that McAlpine went out of their way to make sure that the Emirates was on time, budget and to standards, almost to prove a point. Like a calling card next to Wembley.

    On the players bit, who gets promoted, released and loaned is half the fun of the off season. There are a bunch of guys for whom this year is crunch time: Eisfeld, Nico Yennaris, Afobe, Miquel, Ryo, Joel Campbell all hit 21 and take up squad places next year, so they need to make their case this year upcoming.

    And then there is Frimpong for whom it is this year.

  • Adam

    @Rufusstan, I can tell you some stories about Wembley, my name is all over the concrete of that place. Couldn’t help myself. When we was on T5 & Wembley their was a quiet agreement between the trades to take it slow and wait till they threw the overtime at us, to get the thing finished.
    Sad, but a true reflection of the times.

    On Wembley we was threatened with the sack if we spoke to the reporters who were always hanging around.

    I heard the majority of work at the Ems was on price, so maybe that had something to do with keeping to budget and timescale?

    I was subbing off of a firm (at Wembley) called MJN Colston who were also at the EMS, have worked with them on a few projects, but as I said, I turned down the Ems, silly really.

    Anyway, I’m off to catch up with Game of thrones.

  • Pad Gooner

    I think not opting for Wembley is a good move. I don’t know about now, but until recently Wembley had one of the worst surfaces. As a club we would have had no control over quality of that pitch and it would have cost us as we play fluid football.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @Shard,

    Well thats a headache even I had…..before I renewed my Red level membership at the first notice. I dont know how but during this time I always have spare cash and renewing my membership is always first on my agenda in summer.

  • Praveen Kartha P

    Hi,

    I want to get something cleared, I am a Arsenal fan from India and wish to come to UK to see a match next year. So wrt this article, is it impossible for me to get a ticket even for a match? Is it so that i may get a ticket only if some season ticket holder sells me one?
    Please clarify?

  • Stuart

    Praveen,
    Some matches go on general sale although it is rare. Your best bet is to check Twitter, people are always promoting spare tickets on there or you will also be able to get a ticket from a tout outside the ground. Other than that, the choices are limited (unless I am missing something).

    If you don’t wish to buy a spare from a season ticket holder or tout, the capital one cup is relatively easy to buy for, I can’t recall a time when I’ve not been able to get a ticket for this, even when we were at Highbury.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Praveen,
    Or you could become a red member and then you can buy a ticket when they come on sale for red members directly on arsenal.com

    But you then have to be quick most of the time as they sell quickly

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Praveen, red member tickets go on sale a calendar month before the game (in broad terms), the red membership also gives you full access to Arsenal Player. It is difficult to get tickets for the Class 1 games (United, City, Chelsea, Spurs and the Champions League knockout games) but quite do-able for the rest. Mine costs me £33 per year which I don’t consider exorbitant.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Oh one other thing as a red member you have access to the Club’s ticket exchange scheme which can give you access to games at much shorter notice.

  • Rufusstan

    Praveen, to add to Walter/stuart….

    We have 35-40,000 Season tickets, then remaining tickets go on sale to Silver members 2 months before the game (these are the senior members, usually 8+ years as a red to get one). Think they are capped at 25,000, so in theory they could sell out the stadium; but often don’t. Even when they do, a couple of thousand seats are held back for Reds

    Whatever is left goes on sale to Red members a month before the game and it tends to be a scranble to grab the one you want. Big games sell out in minutes, smaller games you have much more time if you are willing to take seats anywhere.

    The ticket exchange is a good second option. You can often get a better seat from a season ticket holder who doesn’t want to/cannot go than you would on Red sale — especially for lesser games. If it is a big game it might be your only option. The big risk of course is it can be time-consuming and unpredictable (never have got tickets to United off of the exchange, but have got seats in block 6 for Chelsea and Spurs).

    In the end, Red membership really is the best way to grab tickets, unless you have a supporters club nearby. Any other option is going to be expensive and potentially risky. Adding £26 for the red membership on a major trip is worth it, even if you obly use it once.

    A couple of other thoughts:

    Stuart is right about the League cup games, they are not on the season ticket, and are really cheap. You tend to get a lot of kids and a big away section so always a good atmosphere. Downside is potentially weak opponents, and Arsene playing a lot of kids.

    It might just be my perception over the years, but getting seats for midweek games is a hell of a lot easier; especially from the exchange. Timing and travel make them really hard for a lot of season ticket holders.

  • Praveen Kartha P

    Thanks all for the comments, I will book my tickets as soon as fixture list is released for next season. I will probably join the red club membership. I jus wanna get into the stadium:-)

  • WalterBroeckx

    Hope it works Praveen. And if possible write a short report and send it to Tony. I think he will like it and maybe we can publish it 😉

  • Ong Bing

    I hope you can gets your tickets Praveen. Is a dream for overseas supporters like us to watch Arsenal in Emirates. I don’t know when, but someday I will go to London too.

    This summers Arsenal will come to Indonesia, but sadly I can’t go to Jakarta to see them.

    I hope they not get injured, because our stadium surface is poor, event national stadium.

  • mick w

    I’ve had a season ticket since they started them on the old North Bank many years ago. I don’t get to many games now cause I live in another country, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything, and long may Wenger continue. Please keep a note of all those who want AW to go so we can run their noses in it when we lift the title next year. #AKB!

  • Travis

    From a Vietnamese gooner who never have a chance to watch a game at the Emirates stadium : You can’t imagine how happy I am when Arsenal decided to come to my country during this summer’s Asia tour. This could be the one and only time in my entire life that I can see my beloved Arsenal in real life.

    Thus, you can imagine what if I was a season ticket holder just like you who can watch all home games whenever you want.I would come to every game no matter who is our manager, who is wearing the red and white shirt, who is our opponent or which league we are playing at. That is a favor from God.

    You should consider yourself very lucky to have that favor, not hold on to it as if it is a burden.

  • Clock end

    I can confirm that the season ticket waiting list is not 45k, at the moment it’s 30k this is why AFC are asking red members for an extra £4 to join the waiting list. I was 23k when mine was offered last year and 4 weeks ago was called by AFC asking if I would like to take up 2 more ST, (ones I had deferred for a season) I explained I would take up a second ST only if i I’m moved to the lower tier.

    For those have have attended most home games season 2012/13, would of noticed the empty upper tier, for most league games, I think the prices of ST are turning people away, that said a ST is a gateway to away games which are 100% 100 times better then home games, so my ST with plus 25 away credits is never going to get given up, but instead sold on, while I only attended away fixtures.