Guardian go overboard on wild anti-Arsenal rant


By Tony Attwood

Even by its own uneven standards the Guardian today has exceeded itself.  Under the headline “Cheapest tickets in the English game have risen by 13% since 2011” the daily paper then has a picture of the Emirates Stadium under which is the statement “Arsenal charge £97 for their top-priced match day ticket at the Emirates, the most expensive in England”

Now we might pause here for a moment and contemplate.  The headline is about the “cheapest tickets” but then there is a picture of the Emirates and a note about expensive tickets – which is not the subject of the article at all.


The piece focussed on the BBC’s annual Price of Football survey, which found that the average price of the cheapest ticket had risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since it began in 2011.

Now much of the piece is the usual mishmash of misinformed statistics.  For example they say, “Over the past 12 months, during which there has been increased pressure from supporters’ groups over prices for away fans in particular, the cheapest tickets have risen an average of 4.4% from £20.58 to £21.49 – more than treble the rate of inflation which is 1.2%.”

The problem with such statements is that over the past 12 months there has been demand from fans of Premier League clubs to pay more players.  You only have to think of Arsenal in this regard.   We had the biggest growth of expenditure on player transfers and salaries ever – all as demanded by the fans – and yet the AAA and their allies in the Guardian, Telegraph etc were saying how desperate the situation was for Arsenal and how we needed two more players.  Had we bought them (and the papers are continuing to press for such purchases in January) our costs would have risen by another £35m or more (when salary and transfers are included).

So where does that money come from?  In part TV, in part sponsorship, and in part tickets.  One might well argue further along these lines, but at least putting the broader picture would stop the article being so crazy,

But that is only the start.

If we go back to the self-same Guardian in 2013 we find this (the top 10 priced tickets are shown in order – teams relegated last season have been removed from the list).  It is not a complete list of club ticket prices, but it gives an indication of what is going on.

Figures from the Guardian 18 June 2013
Cheapest matchday ticket,
Arsenal 26 (10)
Aston Villa 20 *
Chelsea 41 (1)
Everton 31 (6)
Hull 20 *
Liverpool 38 (2)
Manchester City 26 (10)
Manchester United 31 (6)
Newcastle 15 *
Norwich 30 (8)
Southampton 27 (9)
Stoke 25
Sunderland 25
Swansea 35 (4)
Tottenham 32 (5)
West Bromwich 20 *
West Ham 36 (3)

I’ve added a guide to the rankings in brackets and marked the little group that have particularly low prices.  It should also be noted that unlike the Emirates so stadia have “restricted view” seats – Liverpool is notorious for this, for example, and yet their lowest prices are among the highest.

Now it is fair to say that “the cheapest tickets have risen an average of 4.4% from £20.58 to £21.49 – more than treble the rate of inflation which is 1.2%.”   But given the headline of the piece “Cheapest tickets in the English game have risen by 13% since 2011” what we should find is a sub heading that says Chelsea’s cheapest seats are over 150% the price of Arsenal’s cheapest.

And all this is before the fact that Arsenal, uniquely, charges £10 and £20 for league cup matches.   Indeed even in the field of replica shirts  (another area where Arsenal are traditionally bashed by the Guardian) they can’t knock us down.   Manchester United and Manchester City charge the most for a replica shirt at £55, with Hull City’s the cheapest at £39.99.

Indeed apparently we don’t even have the most expensive pie.  The Conference side Kidderminster Harriers have the most expensive pie among the clubs covered by the survey at £4.50. In the Premier League, Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Southampton have the most expensive pie at £4.

Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton sell the most expensive cups of tea at £2.50, while Burnley and Manchester City have the cheapest tea in the Premier League at £1.80.

The price of football is controlled by the price of footballers – and they command enormous salaries.   The one thing Lord Sugar ever did in his life, as chair of Tottenham (apart from appointing Christian Gross) which I have applauded was to suggest to the League that some of the TV money that was starting to flow into the game at the time, should be set aside and not just handed onto the clubs.   The clubs rejected it, got the money and paid it to players.

Anyone who wants cheaper, or at least non-inflating prices for football, should push for a salary cap  on clubs.  That would encourage the use of younger players, and stop player salaries growing exponentially year on year.

The Guardian, being a paper read by the more intelligent readers in the UK, could lead such a campaign.  Indeed one might say it ought to lead such a campaign.  But instead it just continues on its remorseless Arsenal-bashing, which has now got to the stage where the facts at the basis of the article bear so little relationship to their ranting sub-headings, that the pieces are becoming collectors’ items, used in psychology courses when the topic of information manipulation comes up.


The anniversary file for October is here, and the complete index to the Anniversary file is here   The latest articles and today’s anniversaries are on the home page

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48 Replies to “Guardian go overboard on wild anti-Arsenal rant”

  1. “The Guardian, being a paper read by the more intelligent readers in the UK,……”
    Evidence please, Tony.

  2. It is interesting that the media are now at least beginning to include comment on the number of games a season ticket buys. For us, as we know, this is 26. Further, it excludes Mickey Mouse cup games for which, for example, I recently paid £10 for the privilege of sitting a few rows behind the bench around the half way line. Not half bad value, I’d say.
    Of course, we don’t expect the denizens of Fleet Street as was to present anything close to a well formed analysis but it seems they are not being as barmy as usual.
    Yet. I expect that to come in the ensuing days as they are clearly lining up for an assault on the club at the AGM.

  3. Thanks for putting things into perspective as usual Tony.

    Whilst reading the article on BBC this morning (of course thinking simultaneously how blatantly manipulated their statistical analysis on the subject were), I was sure there would be an article on UA which would give a true picture of the whys and what-fors as well as solutions!!

  4. ClockEndRider,
    Tony reading it? 😉 🙂

    Serious now to be honest as I don’t live in England I am happy that I don’t have to read any of them from what I hear and see from others. They all seem rubbish to me.

  5. Walter,
    Wholeheartedly agree. Haven’t bought a paper for years as I don’t need to be told what to think and have sufficiently formed critical faculties to synthesise information from a number of sources.
    I’m sure Tony was being tongue in cheek!

  6. The BBC has an interesting table setting out cheapest and most expensive reason tickets, match tickets and general cost of a day out. Interestingly, Arsenals cheapest day out is not among the most e pensive.
    Unfortunately though, they fail to point out what you get for the season ticket price. I believe that at Spartak Chelski they have to buy CL games separately and these can only be bought as a package of all of them. Clearly this would further narrow the price gap if it is indeed the case…..

  7. tz true. very true! I can’t even fathom why they wanna keep being on Arsenal’s case….guess its just a case of envy or maybe, jealousy. we will keep being the pioneer of many good innovations…no matter what they do…or say!

  8. To The BIAST Media: Sticks and stones (kicking actually) may break our bones, but words will never hurt us! 🙂

  9. As usual this survey is a load of boll***s

    Whoever puts the survey together clearly cant read. Or if they can they don’t, for convenience or more likely for fear of not having a story, wont question the information in front of them.

    I apologise but it is relevant so I copy a link to information as to the actual cost of tickets at Chelsea.

    As will be seen there are restricted view tickets available at every game for £23.50 yet the claim is the cheapest available is £41.Which as it happens is still incorrect if you dis regard the restricted view tickets.

    I pay £900 for my season ticket at SB. My seat is on halfway 28 rows back.

    If I purchased CL tickets they are £35 a game. I don’t have to buy them nor do I have to buy FA cup tickets or CC tickets.

  10. off topic:

    On a sad side note I just realised it is one year ago that we lost our regular contributor Adam Brogden after a car crash. I think he would have given us much more insight in the dark world of transfer deals if he had been given more time on earth.

  11. No mention anywhere that an Arsenal season ticket gives you entrance to 26 games rather than most clubs figure of just 19?
    Or that inflation was announced yesterday as being at 1.2% (and debated on Newsnight last night as being ‘dangerously low’) while prices quoted in the (originally BBC) analysis were arrived at some time ago under higher inflation levels?
    Ticket prices also include VAT which was raised by the Govt. some years ago from 15% to 20% – not clubs fault.
    And, of course, no evaluation of value for money in terms of quality of football or comfort of stadium.
    My experience of journalists is that many got into a words based job because they are innumerate. Sweeping statement? Yes but don’t let it get in the way of a ‘good story’ right?

  12. Aah, the ever forgiving media!It comes as no surprise that yet another rag decides to stick the knife in a little deeper. It is an inevitable outcome unfortunately. There has been a witch-hunt of Arsenal for many years, which sadly has ramped up to outrageous proportions in the past three or four. It is easy for newspapers to get across any message they want, because once committed to print there are millions of gullible fools who believe that if it’s in the paper it must be true. Saps!

  13. Another brilliant article by this site. This is fast becoming my favourite Arsenal site ahead of Arseblog. Not there yet but I can see it doing really well. Keep it up!

  14. Mike T makes the same point as Chelsea supporting friends of mine; CL tickets can be bought seperately. Assuming Chelsea get to the Semi-Final of the CL that is an extra £210.00, add one FA Cup tie at the same price it will take his outlay to £1145.00, not far short of “expensive” Arsenal. Also, I note Mike T has to tell us that he is seated in row 28 near the half-way line. In a rectangular ground like Stamford Bridge with its shallow sight lines he is very fortunate to have a good view. At Ashburton Grove 64,000 have a very good view. Which may go some way to explaining why Chelsea want to build a new ground. Of course they will not raise season ticket prices to pay for the improved conditions at, wherever the new ground is, will they?
    Of course I wish all clubs in the Premiership asked reasonable prices but until football is restructured so they are no longer money-making or money-laundering exercises it’s not going to happen.
    The consequence: I first went with my Dad to see Arsenal when I was eight; I took my son when he too was eight, and I plan to take my six-years old grandson soon. We are keeping the father/son tradition going, goodness knows how. But many others cannot or will not, which means that youngsters will no longer come to the grounds. The average age of Premiership season ticket holders is now 42!!! Which means there is a very low number of young season ticket holders out there.
    Can BIG clubs like Arsenal afford not to encourage young supporters along? What will Premiership clubs do when current season ticket holders say enough is enough and there are no young suporters, and business has moved on to the next fashionable pastime?

  15. John Harris,
    All excellent points, well made. I suspect the answer to your final question is “we’ll worry about that when it happens”.
    Football administrators, both in the clubs and the PL/FA are not renowned for their foresight…….

  16. This comparing ticket prices at clubs is ridiculous. Would you expect to pay the same price staying at a small hotel in Blackpool as you would for staying at a brand new luxury hotel in the middle of London? Of course you wouldn’t so why would you expect to pay the same at Hull or Stoke as at the Emirates.

  17. Mick,
    Because the media want to present a story and they know that most people work on the basis of the politics of envy and are incapable of reasoned thought.

  18. The Mail are giving the club a roasting today, seems straight from LG, who are in partnership with them.

  19. @Tony

    Nobody in the media calulates the cost per game for a season ticket and then compares like with like. If they did this they would have a different story in some respects. I like you was irked when I read the BBC post this morning. ALso prices should be compared to other forms of entertainment. I have just paid £80 per ticket to see see Wicked as a birthday treat for my daughter. My cost per game, as a season ticket holder, compares favourably to this. The same goes for gig tickets.

    That said, costs are an issue especially with disenchanted Arsenal fans. Whenever I have a discussion, invariably sticking up for a player (e.g Ozil) or the Manager, costs are thrown back at me. “If I got paid £8m a year…..” or ” For £41m pounds he should be doing better….” or “4th isn’t good enough for the highest prices in football” or, the most common at this moment in time ” we are cash rich why do ticket prices have to go up by 3%?”.

    I have a degree of sympathy with the price rise comment though not in its relation to cash reserves specifically. In this regard the club constantly fails to communicate effectively, and on occasions seems to be dissmisive in explaining these rises to fans. Some of our fan base dont help themselves though in how they pose questions to Arsenal. The effect are poor relationships and a poor perception with some of our fan base. What will the club do in response to these articles? Let’s see how visible Arsenal’s response is going to be?

  20. You can take the Guardian out of Manchester, but you’ll never take Manchester out of the Guardian

  21. Tony,

    I had to laugh at your comments regarding Guardian readers being intelligent. Any person that believes more than 25% of the baloney produced by the media is not ‘intelligent’.

    The Guardian reporters are of a particular political and social slant and they allow that bias to distort facts to support their agenda. If a person takes everything the Guardian prints as fact, they are not intelligent at all, they are idiots. The same for every Newspaper.

    Intelligence is an ability to assimilate a variety of information from various sources and use that information to present a balanced opinion based on all the facts available.

    This is why I am not surprised at the utter tosh that is being produced by all the media outlets about ticket pricing and about our club in general.There is no attempt to establish the facts and offer a fair appraisal of the ticketing costs. For example, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that we have Club Level. They probably have no idea what club level is. Therefore, they are writing a piece of fictional junk and circulating that as fact.

    Just saying.

  22. Glad to read mention of a salaries cap in professional football. That, together with an associated lowering of ticket prices, is long over due.
    These two escalating monstrosities are a disgrace to the game and demonstrate sheer greed.
    Inevitably, the obscene bubble is bound to burst, because football supporters can only afford a limited cost in order to follow their favourite team.

  23. Nicky.
    I agree wholeheartedly that players wages are a complete joke and an insult to everybody that has a ‘proper’ job. However, there is no way a salary cap will be introduced. The point of FFP was to try to introduce an artificial salary cap, simply by forcing clubs to control what they could afford to spend. Will it work, I doubt it. The press still seem to hold up Chelsea and Man City as some kind of role models, while beating Arsenal up at every opportunity. Adrian Durham was on the radio the other day claiming the fine on Man City was unfair as wealthy owners should be bale to spend what they want. It is this kind of attitude and ignorance that pollutes the subject.

    Some people are oblivious to the fact that clubs that are financially doped, like Man City and Chelsea, (Real Madrid, PSG etc) are responsible for these obscene wages and the reason why ticket prices remain high. A typical decent players wage is between £50,000 per week (£2.6 million a year) to £250,000 per week (£13m). And Raheem Sterling is feeling too tired to start a game, what is it coming to really.

  24. If “The Guardian, being a paper read by the more intelligent readers in the UK” is true, then that might explain the constant attacking of Arsenal, for they read it in their paper.

    Seriously, all the people who get paid lots of money to do a job, are usually not in control of their own lives any more, they are at the beck and call of those who do the paying.

    I would rather say, some of the most intelligent read Untold, but you cannot blow your own trumpet, hell, why not if it’s true?

  25. A piece culled from Robert Peston’s BBC website column:
    “Arsenal has the most expensive match day ticket at £97, and the most expensive season ticket, at £2013 (and that excludes its even more pricey premium season tickets, called Club Level).
    Also Arsenal’s cheapest season ticket, of £1014, is actually more expensive than the priciest season ticket at all but two other Premier League clubs.”.
    Apparently, not only is he an Arsenal supporter of many years standing but he is business editor at the BBC. And to yet he doesn’t have the wit, the energy or the skills to analyse the work put together by those presumably reporting to him. Frankly, the man is just a slightly upmarket Piers Morgan. Yet another charlatan masquerading as a journalist.

  26. We have be discussing / debating on all the aspects that Arsenal FC have been unfairly dealing with, ie fouls, decisions etc. Anyone with a pea brain who comes and reads the articles, which have been presented with research and analysis, thinks that we are just a bunch of wingers. I have been visiting this site and occasionally commenting on this site for a good few yrs but I think most of the readers will agreed that things haven’t changed that much. If at all its gotten worse. I mean the refs etc. That does not mean that people like Walter and others stop the good work. What bothers me is that why isn’t AFC doing something about it? Now the publishers will know if some1 important have been reading their articles based on the IP address or something clever, but surly? We are told that it might be behind the scenes, which is a whole lot of bollocks, because if it were working, it would be visible.
    I am surprised that AFC does not have a TV channel [it used to when setanta was there] where they could highlight, debate all that’s wrong.

  27. Gouresh you make a very good point.
    I have said many times that Arsenal seem happy to roll over and let anybody who wants to, write nonsense about the club. There have been numerous occasions when they could produce a simple press release that rubbishes something that has been printed. I am proud of the fact that we are a classy club but sometimes I just wish we would grow a pair and tell it like it is. So much utter garbage gets recycled as fact, that ultimately ends up with us fans getting angry and upset. I am sorry but Arsenal Football Club could do a lot more to address some of the unbalanced reporting we get. The fact that we do nothing does not go amiss.

  28. Its pretty expected that the media would take this angle, however you have been extremely generous to Arsenal in the other direction.
    There are a lot more factors to consider in term of pricing and how reasonable it is. When looking at cheapest tickets and most expensive tickets it is really important to know how many are on offer at those prices. Its pretty easy to have the cheapest ticket – just offer a handful at £5 on a first come first served basis. Job done.
    I have not seen an analysis on the average price of tickets and volumes of tickets available at each price range. Also bundling in more matches is all well and good but its not so great when there is no option to remove those extra matches from the ‘bundle’ and pay for less.

    I find it disgusting that prices have gone up – and that includes Arsenal – when so much extra money has flowed in to football. Even with increased wages, the extra money from TV rights means that every club has been given a boost to profits and none of the ‘windfall’ from Sky has been passed on to fans. Quite the contrary.

    Their is one school of thought that if the fans will pay the price is fair. I have never bought into that because a fan is so emotionally attached to their club. Its not like a fan is going to go and support someone else because they can’t afford tickets any more . No, they will just have to stop going. That is what is going to kill the money train. Eventually enough fans will be priced out and not enough will be there to take their place. in generations to come, kids who have never been to a game because their parents could not afford it will not go to games either. The support WILL eventually dry up. But football is a money now business driven by pure greed. That includes Arsenal.

  29. @Proudkev, I have many times made the same thought of – why doesn’t Arsenal FC counter in a diplomatic way (at least)…this negative and almost provocative media!

  30. Now they have an MP indirectly (maybe coz she also has half/incorrectly ‘chewed’ statistics fed to her) having a say!!!

  31. If Arsenal FC took the trouble to rubbish all the incorrect media outpourings about the Club, it would need a new PR section and extra staff.
    Like the Royal Family, the maxim “Never explain, never complain” is probably best.

  32. Untold Arsenal and (and one or two other web sites) are the only things worth reading about Arsenal.

    There was a journalist from the Daily Mirror called John Cross at the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association AGM tonight. By the way, there were also other speakers, including Nigel Winterburn, and the meeting was very interesting.

    But anyway, about John Cross. He was asked a very interesting question, which was aren’t journalists stuck in the 1950s, when football was blood and guts and you had to practically kill somebody to be sent off, and don’t they praise this kind of play when they should really have moved on?

    He completely sidestepped the responsibility of the press and placed all the responsibility on the views of the fans. No indication that the views of the fans might be shaped by the mass media.

    That’s journalists for you – slippery.

  33. Shows you how deluded even the minister of Sport Helen Grant is.
    this is an actual quote “I know, for example, West Ham run their ‘kids for a quid’ promotion. This is the sort of thing I want to see more of.”
    Ok Helen what about their usual price for kids Category A (7 matches)cheapest £32 Category B (11 matches) cheapest £25 category C (1 match)£15.
    Lets compare this to Arsenal’s kids prices Category A (5 matches)£24 Category B (14 matches) £10 . Also the group stages of the Champions League
    are also all £10 . I do not see any mention of Arsenals kids prices anywhere in any of the articles although I believe them to be one of the cheapest in the premier league ,why is this ?
    Is minister of Sport Helen grant just badly advised or a West Ham supporter in disguise.I think they run their ‘kids for a quid scheme’ once or twice a year , the rest of the time they rip their young supporters off but there is no mention of this ?

  34. When I read our local paper this morning , the ‘Arsenal have the most expensive tickets ‘ article got my attention , along with the mention of the up coming AGM as well as the AST’ and Tim Payton going to confront the majority shareholder in a very negative slant , I groaned and went , “Not again !”, to my wife . Was thinking of ranting about it all on here.
    But then I was reminded of the one year anniversary of Adam’s passing away and decided to chill out and take time out and reflect on the more important things in life. In truth I really don’t bother nor care for supporters ‘groups who seem to have lost their way .
    I will support the Arsenal in whatever way I can and in my own terms , not to follow others agendas .
    I will always shout out Arsenal’s name from the rooftops , but will never ever contemplate jumping off one if ever this dream turns bleak !

    Here’s a nice quote from Leonie Dawson – for Adam ,RIP .
    And everyday the world will drag you by the hand , yelling , ” This is important ! And this is important ! And this is important !
    You need to worry about this ! And this ! And this !
    And each day its up to you to yank your hand back , put it on your heart and say , ” No , this is what’s important .”

  35. Healing Light quote –

    Today’s Message –
    Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.

  36. @ Walter – It also helps if you get ‘some’ and I got me some this morning and really don’t feel like ranting !
    Maybe later !

  37. I have been banging on about this subject for a number of years now on forums and twitter but I am shot down by the usual Tim Payton type of supporter who would rather knock Arsenal than try to look at the subject objectively and without bias. I think the only true way of showing the true cost of tickets at football is by showing the cost of away tickets, these are not subject to early bird or kids for a quid price fluctuations.

    RE the chelsea ticket ST price of £900 if you were to buy 7 cup games (2013 for example 3 knock out rounds CL, 1 last 16 & 1 QF CL and 1 FA cup game) that would add another £319 to your ST making it £1,219 roughly the same price as my friends ST at Arsenal in block 2 lower tier.

  38. So following on from my comment yesterday the AST (Tim Payton) weigh in with ‘cash reserves’ argument and Arsenal Football Club decline any interviews. It’s not often I criticise the club but their lack of action in responding, even if the answers are hard for some to take, is difficult to understand.

  39. My match ticket costs around £26.

    I am absolutely delighted with the value for money I receive, being able to watch the quality of football produced by Arsenal is an absolutely first class.

    Only fly in the ointment is the very poor standard of play and tactics used by the opposition, nearly always spoils the enjoyment.

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