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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