RedAction and other fans’ groups choose to ignore the older supporter

By Tony Attwood

REDaction, the Arsenal supporters grouping that focuses on the atmosphere at home and away matches has published the results of a survey of over 2,000 Arsenal fans in relation to issues such as kick-off times, ticket prices, and access to live football for younger fans.

Of those surveyed (and of course such surveys can’t be balanced – in that they are not like surveys of voters before an election – but that’s not to say they are not without value) over 97% of fans want to see some of the additional money from the new TV deal used to reduce ticket prices.

In a sense this is a non-brainer when the question is would you like cheaper tickets?  Of course we all say yes.  I pay about £1400 a year for my season ticket and I’d like it to be £1000 a year.   But what if there was a choice?  What if Arsenal reduced their price to me, but it meant that they were less able to buy another Ozil or another Alexis?  If it were an either/or would I change my mind?  Maybe I would.  Maybe not.

And if I agreed, who should get that benefit?  The away supporters, season ticket holders, the young, the old…

Perhaps more interesting is the 96% support for standard pricing for away fans.  As matters stand Arsenal fans generally have to pay far more to attend away grounds, than fans of other teams have to spend to have a seat in the Emirates.

I certainly noticed that this season, when my seat at Leicester cost me something like £10 more than Leicester fans had to pay for their seats in the return match.   Plus the Emirates provides better facilities than Leicester, from much more space inside the ground around the bars to action replays on the screens.

The next idea was also interesting – that the TV money should be used to compensate fans for inconvenience of moved matches via lower ticket prices.  We have the insanity at the moment of the Man U cup match being played at a time which makes it impossible to get a train back to London.  Arsenal are, I understand, putting on subsidized coaches.

What would be good though would be that monies like this are ring fenced, so that some clubs don’t get away with just using it on the ever higher player wages, instead of returning it to the fans.  And what about home fans like Blacksheep and I who travel from the Midlands for each home game.  Do we get helped?

Ever changing dates and times of matches is something that is just never considered – and yet for season ticket holders who want a life alongside football, this causes chaos.

There is also the thought that some TV money should be ring-fenced to provide cheaper tickets for younger (16 to 21 year old) fans.  Now I am not sure how the whole youth pricing system works at Arsenal, but from what I have gathered it seems that the pricing for the Family Tickets is very reasonable.  Perhaps someone can help out with details.

But it is desperately sad that RedAction and the other supporting bodies had nothing to say for the older supporter.   Generally in our society there is a recognition that older members of society have often done their bit, paying tax and national insurance for years on end, and now are living on lower incomes in terms of pensions.

Every single  Premier League club except Arsenal allow season ticket holders over either 60 or 65 years of age, to keep their season ticket seat but have the seat at a discount.

This is honourable and reasonable.  These supporters generally have supported the club through thick and thin, being there for the great times with the Doubles and the like, but also still supporting through the dire moments of the Billy Wright era, the last 75% of the Bertie Mee reign, the conclusion of the George Graham era, Terry Neill’s seven defeats in a row, etc etc.

And yet, when their income declines these supporters find no reward from Arsenal FC for their lifetime of support.   Yes, they can move into the Family Enclosure, but that is, I think, an insult to the elderly who want to retain their season ticket place, not a support.   That most certainly should change.

I don’t know why the groups of supporters making their plea for changes in seat prices can’t think of the elderly as they can think of other groups.  Perhaps if anyone reading the site is a member of one of those groups they can let us know why they have ignored the elderly in their approaches to Arsenal.  Are older supporters less important than away supporters?

Yes, the balancing of prices for away fans is a good idea, because it will generate more money for Arsenal, and that money could readily be used to help with travel arrangements as the club has done for the Man U game.  But if one is going to campaign on this sort of issue I think wider concerns need to be considered.


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16 Replies to “RedAction and other fans’ groups choose to ignore the older supporter”

  1. Just thought you should be aware that the older supporters are not all on a lower income (pension). The current older generation, on the whole, is far better off than you know (that’s why politicians pander to them at election time) and it is the younger generation that have the least amount of disposable income. I think that reducing season tickets is a great idea, but should be fairer across the board, with those on lower income (irrespective of age) being able to pay less than those who can afford a little more. That said we should all see some benefit for the inconvenience we have with the fixture changes for TV throughout the season. We have had so few Saturday 3pm kick offs this season I’m starting to think they don’t exist anymore!

  2. Tony, I think you are being more than a little harsh in criticising REDaction and the other groups in your article, especially in the headline. Perhaps it’s “click bait” but I’ve always thought you were above that type of behaviour. The supporters groups are to commended for actually getting together and doing something rather than sitting round and moaning how the fans won’t benefit from all the extra TV money. Which groups of people should benefit is a reasonable argument and whilst there is some validity in your comments about the older fan (I think I probably fall into that category having just passed my 63rd birthday), I would rather we assist the younger fan as they are the next generation and will be the people who are responsible for introducing the generation after that. Incidentally, I recall you used to be involved in AISA – their absence in this initiative is conspicuous by it’s absence. Would you care to comment on why this might be?

  3. I would think that the Family Enclosure would have better security and safety conditions for older people in case of an emergency. It is bad enough with younger people in an emergency, imagine it with older people.
    No doubt the TV money will in part be used to keep the stadiums at a level fit for PL games, and some of these levels need to be addressed, like making playing areas the same size, decent grass/playing surface, facilities etc.

  4. It might mot be a bad idea for the premier League to issue a directive mandating a quality of standard of playing surface which could be easily payed for, with the new increased revenue. We either have the best league of we do not and some of the pitches at supposedly big clubs are a disgrace to the league.
    Also perhaps those in charge might consider sourcing out the 20 most consistent referees in Europe and making it seriously worth their while to move their effort to the premier league. Then we might see a serious improvement to the quality on display.

  5. As an older supporter and Gold member on a state pension supplemented by a work pension I feel qualified to comment. Also living north of Cambridge I have a longer and more costly journey to the Arsenal than when I lived in North London.
    I don’t complain about the cost of going to games nor travel, after all it is my choice, but being on a much lower income (take note Marian) than I was when I was at work perhaps I should. The only thing I have at the moment is more time to follow my beloved Arsenal and follow them I do, home and away. Like many retired people I gain by owning my house and not having a mortgage but I estimate I am still many thousands of pounds out of pocket compared to when I worked.
    I appreciate the lower prices offered by other premier league teams when I attend away matches and would certainly appreciate it if Arsenal offered the same at the Emirates. Does anyone know if we offer reduced rates for pensioner supporters from other clubs in the away end? If so then I do not understand Arsenal’s insistance that we move to the ‘family enclosure’ to obtain discounted season tickets.
    Will I continue to pay my season ticket renewal no matter what the cost? Of course I will. Arsenal is in my blood and always will be and whilst I am physically able to do so I will make my way to matches, but I do wish there was consistency of treatment to those on reduced incomes by all clubs including Arsenal.

  6. para
    The family enclosure isn’t a defined enclosure as such. It’s just an extension of the areas surrounding it and has no extra security or safety features.
    I had a seat there for three seasons and thought it was fair value.
    Arsenal could/should still finance the refurbishment of Holloway Road and Drayton Park stations to ease congestion at Arsenal & Highbury stations post match. My understanding is that this was written into the original planning application for the stadium. Still not too late.

  7. As a pensioner living in London I get a Freedom Pass which gives me free travel to and from home games. I reckon that, compared to how much I used to spend on petrol and parking, I’m saving £500 per season. I’ve had that pass for five years and it’s just been renewed for the next five.
    Neither do I, like mickess, have a mortgage anymore.
    What does make sense to me is to get more youngsters involved and hooked on our Club and the cheaper ‘Young Guns’ tickets make a great deal of sense and could, maybe be extended in some way.
    As far as away support goes it’s always good to see a large away following – although if travel was (for instance) paid for, an even more positive attitude to supporting the team and manager might reasonably be expected.
    An overall ticket price reduction doesn’t make macro-economic sense unless you can sell a lot more seats that way. And it’s pretty obvious that Arsenal can’t.

  8. I am an arsenal suporter,Ihave been since I was a young lad in1940’sArsene Wenger to my mine is the best manager arsenal has had in the moden times. the price of tickets reflect the the current demand of the majority of affluent peaple who have the disposable income that the majority of working peaple in the lower paid jobs do not have. until the demand starts to wain I am afraid things will not change.

  9. Richard is correct although a reduction in ticket prices would be welcome , as the stadium sells out regularly it is not going to happen. As a kid in the 50’s I remember seeing the reserves play at Highbury , perhaps reserve football could be made more accessible and not played behind closed doors at London Colney if not at The Emirates but closer to home to engender the feeling of belonging for local youngsters. As a child, supporting the Arsenal was a family thing and in those days most of us lived within North London and it’s surrounds , I went to school in St John’s Wood and the class support was fairly evenly split between Chelsea , QPR , Spurs and ourselves and that’s only about 5 miles but as with everything else Londoners have moved out ,firstly to the home counties and now to a radius up to 150 miles . This means that as time goes by the family link is likely to diminish , the club needs to address those close to home they need to make and help the locals to follow the club and feel involved. They could also do more to develop the Arsenal player system show reserve and youth games on streams. These are the changes that could be implemented at little comparative cost but would give gains in the long run .

  10. I agree with Tony that retired Arsenal season ticket holders should be able to keep their seats at reduced prices, especially as every other premier league club allows this. I cannot understand why Arsenal has a different policy on this one and I think it should definitely change.

    Many pensioners are much poorer than when they were working, especially the ones who did a manual job with firms that operated no company pension schemes. And many pensioners live in rented homes and still have to pay rent forever.

    But many young people are very poor as well, especially those without a job or with a job on a tiny wage, or with part-time work. For this reason I think it would be very positive if more matches had cheaper tickets.

  11. @ Marian

    Listen and learn. I had my first season ticket in 1968 as a teenager living in North London. I now travel 200 miles to each home game. I will be retiring shortly and as I’m not a banker, estate agent etc etc I (like the huge majority of retired people) will have a considerably smaller income than I do now. In fact, if you really want to know my income would when I’m 65 will be less than 20% of what it is now and having worked for a charity for some 40 years I don’t have a nice little nest egg either.

    I will not have a choice of continuing to go to see the club I have ‘paid into’ for nearly 50 years. I will simply have to relinquish my season ticket.

    Your comment is extremely ill advised and shows a level of ignorance which I find quite distasteful. But wait, I will have politicians pandering to me so I should be grateful………………FFS

  12. Tony – this survey was apparently in conjunction with AST, The Gooner and the BSM.

    I am really surprised that REDAction should associate itself with BSM who are, to my mind, a real cancer at the club. The AST aren’t great either, but I think it is fair to say that it is an organisation set up for good reasons which has been hi-jacked by one or two people with agendas.

    But BSM? No….

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