Is Arsenal’s ticket policy really so awful? Compare it, perhaps, with Man U and Bournemouth

By Tony Attwood

It is of course commonplace to claim that Arsenal have the most expensive tickets in England, Europe and the world, the solar system, the galaxy, the Local Cluster, the universe and the multiverse, although none of these claims is true when like is matched with like.

Pricing is a complex issue, and although I have my own gripes (for example, why are older supporters with season tickets not given a discount when they are in every other ground in the premier league), there are good things there too, like the fact that League Cup games are not on the season ticket, thus allowing tens of thousands of non-regulars to come along and pay £10 downstairs and £20 upstairs for seats.   And the fact that for the away games, our supporters have the cheapest prices in the league.

But of course one can only judge a club when comparing it to other clubs, and in this regard there is no doubt as to who comes bottom of the league in terms of looking after fans vis a vis ticketing.  It is of course Manchester Disjointed.  They might have cheaper seats in parts of the ground than Arsenal, but the way they treat people is something else.

In their latest adventure with their own fan base (most of whom seem to live in Cornwall and the Outer Hebrides), Man U have banned a season ticket holder of over 30 years standing from applying for away game tickets.

His crime was not invading the pitch, holding up a placard dishonouring the manager or anything else like that.  It was having a ticket but failing to turn up or inform the club that he was not going.  In fact, now I come to think of it, they are imposing greater punishments than existed when I was at school for turning up late.

One supporter it seems became ill on the day of an away trip to Hull.  He was unable to travel, and so ill in fact that he couldn’t call the club to let them know so they could offer the ticket to others.  The rules say, no show, no phone call, lose your right to future tickets.

The supporter appealed – saying he was too ill to call – and that appeal was not allowed.  He’s out.

Of course this is not the first time Man U have played such games.  Another aspect of their season ticket policy meant that everyone had to purchase tickets for every FA Cup game – including a year or so back, for a replay against Cambridge United.

Anyone who fails to comply will have their season ticket suspended.

Despite the disparity in positions in the league, Man U apparently charged the full whack for the price, meaning £50 was the regular going rate.

Now if we compare this with Arsenal – we get a set of cup matches included in our season ticket (six I think; I go to them all, so I don’t actually remember).  These tickets exclude league cup games which are not counted, so for each of the years at the Ems they have meant three champions league games, and then a mix of champions league and FA Cup matches thereafter.   If we don’t play that many home games, there’s a credit.  If we play more we can buy our seats or not for each game on an individual basis.

Also, all the way through the process if you don’t want to go to a game you can sell your ticket on the ticket exchange.

For Man U on the other hand if the club fail to beat a League Two team the supporters are then forced to buy tickets at top prices for a midweek replay arranged at short notice.

In this particular case Manchester Dontcareless sent communications to supporters saying “The deadline to buy your seat for Cambridge United is 8 p.m. tonight. Please note that not buying this ticket will result in your Season Ticket being suspended for the Sunderland game.”

Not really the way to treat people who have already stumped up a lot of dosh for a season ticket in my view, but maybe if you live in Cornwall, that’s what you expect.

In another piece the Mail covered the Manchester United season ticket holders story by revealing that they had to pay for a Champions League qualifier… despite not knowing opponents or the date.

Now in one sense I do that when I buy my season ticket, because it is part of the price.  But I know that, that’s how it goes.  I buy the ticket knowing that it includes the cup games.   But Man U’s forced opt in seems cackhanded to say the least.

Recent stories from Untold Arsenal

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What organisations and what people really have the power in football?

There is no open window, but there are ten transfer rumours for Arsenal next January

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Revealed: the psychological condition behind the anti-arsenal-arsenal

Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek 06 – with video evidence

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9 Replies to “Is Arsenal’s ticket policy really so awful? Compare it, perhaps, with Man U and Bournemouth”

  1. Although I’ve never visited the Ems, which is in my bucket wish list if I’m opportuned to visit London noting that from Nigeria to UK is quite a journey, I think what the press does is to look at each club’s most expensive ticket and use it as a benchmark to judge.

    By doing this, the press don’t put into consideration the number of extra cup games, cheap away games, cheap league cup games and other gains supporters are enjoying.

    They also fail to acknowledge that ticketing range of prices is different for different matches or that viewing in some stadia is more enjoyable than in others.

    There is a saying in Nigeria which translates to “if you decide to go for a ride in a mini-van or a limo; the price of the ride ain’t the same even if you still get to the same destination”. It’s obvious the Ems is the Limo in this case

  2. Noooooooo….just received a mail from ARSENAL.

    ARSENALs first live screening in Mumbai (Bombay), India. For that game against tiny totts…….not fair. If only I’d known this a week earlier. I’d already signed up (well part of the organizing group I am) for a trekking that weekend, which I’ve been promised will end with enough time for me to reach home for that game….


  3. #very sad.

    I’ll only forgive you in one condition. …

    If you come to India this summer, ARSENAL?

  4. I’ve been an Arsenal fan for almost 50 years! I wish I lived in London so I could be a season ticket holder.
    I’d like to say thank you to Arsenal Wenger for making us a BIG club. Those of you in the AOB should learn from history.
    Thanks also to Untold-Arsenal. A great fact-based Arsenal site.

  5. May I say that I wasn’t trying to gloat about having a season ticket – I do understand that it is a great privilege and I value it every time I enter the ground.

  6. So it’s OK to live in Northampton or Belgium or Nigeria etc and support Arsenal but if you support Man Utd you should live in Manchester? Another stereotyping article that ( even though you deride it ) takes it’s information from the media.

  7. may be we need to look at why ticket policies have been developed too diversely. I feel the man utd way is cruel. sounds like some unhappy fellows at man utd games just sit to pass time coz they don’t want to lose their season ticket

  8. Tony
    I have seen various sites that try to compare season ticket prices and agree it is very difficult to get a true picture. This would only really be possible if we knew the price for each and the number of each and what they include.

    For me the tiered approach (6 cat c , 14 cat b, and 6 cat a) in a similar spot as you (but more in the gods) makes sense as it does mean that if unable to get to the game it gives a fellow fan the price proportionate to the opposition through exchange, and for a cat c game a very reasonable discount from the average (£54), perhaps increasing the take up of these seats.

    It is misleading when most comparisons fail to recognise additional 7 games (Inc normally four CL) but it has to be the case that when these are taken out the now circa £700 lower tier tickets are still looking expensive but more reasonable.

    We also perhaps should consider that if we played one of the category c teams (eg Bournemouth) each week it would be nice to think the lower tier season ticket would be around £500 which is less than they are charging (and they must have some category D games in there), or £700ish for much of upstairs.

    Looking at it this way just shows how lucky mufc fans should feel at their ticket prices. I would like to do a full and proper comparison but alas don’t have the information or time readily available.

    There is of course smoke and mirrors in this and it is a bit rambling but it is a topic I find sadly fascinating and can only disagree with most analyses.

    I would just say that our system of pay upfront does give us the incentive to attend midweek without a heavy hand and threats behind the scenes. These are often difficult to get to (Many of us would have to leave work early and not get home til gone midnight)and we can use exchange without much penalty. To open more tickets for local non season ticket fans and reduce the number of empty seats perhaps there could be more of an expectation to do so and maybe those who can just never attend could have a permaout facility.

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