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The problem of empty spaces and wild claims made by a fans group

By Tony Attwood

Now here is a surprising statement.   “Two-thirds of Arsenal fans are urging the club to take the unprecedented step of rescinding the season tickets of those who regularly fail to attend home matches.”

Surprising because it seems a fairly draconian measure.  And surprising to me because none of the people I asked agreed.   And surprising because I couldn’t find anyone who had actually been asked the question.

But there is was, bold as brass, in the Telegraph, headline news.   “Two-thirds of Arsenal fans are urging the club to take the unprecedented step of rescinding the season tickets of those who regularly fail to attend home matches.”

In fact it is bunkum.  There was a survey – it was conducted by Arsenal Supporters Trust – a group that like other supporters groups related to Arsenal has its own particular style and approach to the club, which attracts its own particular type of membership.  It says on its web site it has “over 1000 members”.

As it happens I am a committee member of a different Arsenal supporters group: Arsenal Independent Supporters Association.  We’ve debated the issue of no-shows but certainly didn’t come up with a finding anything remotely like that of AST.

So can “over 1000 members” be said to represent the views of around 45000 season ticket holders, 44,000 of whom choose not to be members of AST?  It seems unlikely.

The point is of course that most Arsenal fans are not members of any of the main UK based supporters groups. Those that are tend to choose the group that represents their views.  So any survey conducted just of the membership will reflect their views because of their original stand.

It is a bit like asking Conservative Party members if they support the 100% nationalisation of the railways, or if they want local authorities to be allowed to raise mortgages on their houses they own, in order to build more.  The members will generally vote one way – a way that is not necessarily indicative of the public at large.

Of course the Telegraph writers know this, but still they push forward and we get  “Asked if Arsenal should remove season tickets from holders who regularly leave their seats empty, a total of 66 per cent were in favour.”

So what does “regularly” mean?  I once missed half a season because of a serious back injury.  So I regularly left my seat empty for half a season.  Do I then lose my ticket?

Every year I go to Australia to see one of my daughters and so miss matches.  I try and sell the ticket on ticket exchange but it doesn’t always sell.  Do I lose my ticket because of that?

I travel around 100 miles each way to get to a game.  And each year I miss one or two games because of the weather, the failure of the train service, or the failure of the road system or illness.  Again, do I lose my ticket because of that?  Or what about the combination of these effects.  Five misses and I am out – is that the plan?

Then in the article there was something very strange.  The Telegraph writing about the Europa game last week says, “The official attendance was more than 59,000 but Arsenal publish only a “tickets sold” figure and there are varying estimates of the true number.

“The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust believes that there were fewer than 30,000 at the match – a figure disputed by the club.”    I was there and to pass the time of day, looked across to the north bank and counted the empty seats.  Multiplying that across the ground I estimated about 10,000 people missing.  So how did AST get their number?  Sadly we are not told.

But let us assume AST is right – with a figure of only 30,000 then no one who could not attend would have been able to sell their ticket on the ticket exchange – because that only comes into play when all tickets are sold out.  If they don’t sell out, season ticket holders can’t sell.

Later in the article the Telegraph does travel some of the distance back to reality by saying, “More than three-quarters of respondents also said that Arsenal did not do enough to support a good atmosphere inside the Emirates and more than 90 per cent called on more resources to be devoted to improving their ticket-exchange scheme.”

At least in those commentaries they said “of respondents”.  I am not sure they told us how many respondents there were.

And let us be thankful for another point the Telegraph made.  “Arsenal are unusual in having a scheme for reselling unused tickets at face value that does not rely on third parties who may inflate prices, but a further series of initiatives are now being suggested. A “donate” option is wanted – and in the process of being delivered upon – that would allow fans to give up their ticket for nothing.”

Now that is a nice touch – and it is good to see the quality of the current system acknowledged.  My friends who support other clubs invariably say “Why don’t we have that?” when they see how Arsenal’s system works.  That doesn’t mean we can’t go on improving the system, but let’s at least acknowledge how progressive the club has been, rather than just knocking it.

But AST always blows it, for as Tim Payton for AST is quoted by the Telegraph as saying, “They make supporters pay for seven cup tie credits at the start of the season knowing full well that many do not want the cup games and will not use them.”

This is the second season of football outside the Champions League.  Certainly during the CL seasons – and let us remember that Arsenal has been in more consecutive CL seasons than any team in Europe except Real Madrid – those tickets were much prized.  I can hardly recall empty seats anywhere for CL games.   Likewise very few FA Cup matches are not played in front of full stadia.  A few yes, but not many.  And League Cup matches are outside the scheme.

And there’s another point.  The big problem is with the very expensive tickets – which of course only a tiny number of people can afford.  When people use ticket exchange even my ticket in the upper north was took expensive for many people, and I recall a couple of occasions when I tried to sell my ticket against Man U and Tottenham, they simply didn’t sell.

Plus there is this week’s match.  My season ticket doesn’t apply for that match so on the day of sale I phoned the club and booked the front row, centre in the upper tier of the west stand.  The cost for me as a person aged over 60… £10.  OK it’s against Brentford, and we might put out some juniors, but I paid twice as much to get into Coventry for a seat behind the goal for the Checkatrade match involving the Under 21s.

There are, I think, better targets, as well as more accurate ways of fighting a battle.

Arsenal v Everton: are the officials failing as the media say, or is the media itself under a spell?

Today’s anniversaries

The latest post from our series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal

 

7 comments to The problem of empty spaces and wild claims made by a fans group

  • Nitram

    Tony

    The problem is that this is just standard media practice now with us.

    We start the season with 2 defeats, one fair and square against Man City, the other a tad unfortunately away at our nemesis Chelsea.

    Straight away even at this early stage we had the usual stuff about non of our players being fit to wear the shirt blah blah blah. I think it was pointed out by Untold that EVERY player at one time or another was being attacked in the media.

    Since then, whilst not looking World beaters by any means, we have won 5 games on the spin and moved up to joint 5th spot just one point off of 4th place, and definitely look as if we can at least challenge for a top 4 spot.

    Of course this doesn’t fit with the wishes of the media numb nuts, so what else can they attack ?

    Oh yes, the attendance, lets dig out that old chestnut.

    Typical sickening media attitude of ANY reason to criticise us, and what is even more sickening is a section of our own supporters are quite happy to weigh in with their own negativity at every opportunity.

  • Sean

    “Typical sickening media attitude of ANY reason to criticise us, and what is even more sickening is a section of our own supporters are quite happy to weigh in with their own negativity at every opportunity. Of course isn’t that why they do it to be in the spotlight and everyone has a nickname,now they have a new one on AFTV Turkish as if he’s the only Turkish man there is.They do it all for little 14 year old kids who think they know it all or for rival fans to have a go at us.If one idiot does it than it doesn’t take long for other fucking idiots to follow.

  • Gord

    It is pretty easy for an “Arsenal Supporter’s Group” to say that 2/3 of Arsenal “fans” want to see action on season tickets when the group in question consists of the one person who compiled this survey asking his two (only) friends.

  • MickHazel

    Nitram
    ‘Typical sickening media attitude of ANY reason to criticise us’
    Absolutely, anything will do, as long as it is negative! See Garth Crooks ridiculous rant regarding Lacazettes celebration following the fantastic goal he scored against Everton.
    Whilst acknowledging the quality of the goal he just has to follow it up with….
    “What I don’t get is the appalling disco jig that follows. Why spoil such a wonderful finish with such a spine-chilling dance? What’s wrong with punching the air or running to the crowd?”
    Crooks is truly an absolute prat.

  • Ernest Reed

    An odd survey. Fact remains, if you have paid for your season pass it is solely up to you as to whether you attend or not. If you can absorb a financial loss without care then again, more power to you.

  • Nitram

    MickHazel

    “See Garth Crooks ridiculous rant regarding Lacazettes celebration following the fantastic goal he scored against Everton.”

    I saw that Mick. I would say ‘unbelievable’ but the man has history.

    This from Garth Crooks on the 5th/2/18:

    “But are the Arsenal fans or manager Arsene Wenger, for that matter, going to destroy another top-class player in order to play in a particular manner?

    “Alexandre Lacazette looks as if he has now become surplus to requirements because of Wenger’s insistence that two up front cannot work. Correction – two up front does not work for him.”

    And regarding that we had responce in an article from Tony back on the 3rd of September with the headline:

    DID WENGER LACK THE NERVE TO PLAY AUBAMAYANG AND LACAZETTE TOGETHER ?

    by Tony Attwood

    On the Star’s web site today this appeared from Garth Crooks:

    “The very suggestion Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can’t play together as a pair at Arsenal sends me apoplectic,” Crooks told the BBC Sport.

    “The fact of the matter is Arsene Wenger lacked the nerve to play the two up front on a regular basis, and if Unai Emery had started his first two games of the season with both men in his line-up he may have had different results.”

    “Managers deserve nothing (and often get nothing) when they sacrifice a striker with massive goalscoring credentials for midfield mediocrity.”

    Tony’s responce:

    I wondered about this because my memory was that after Aubameyang was signed Lacazette was often unavailable. So I went back and had a look at the record. It runs like this, starting at the beginning of February. You may recall that Aubameyang was not allowed to play in the Europa, so that removed those games from the reckoning.

    So here are the matches after the signing of Aubameyang (starting in fact 1 February) which came at a time when Lacazette did not seem to be performing at the height of his powers…

    Arsenal v Everton, Lacazette on the bench did not come on
    Tottenham v Arsenal Lacazette on the bench but did not come on
    Arsenal v Man City (Lacazette injured)
    Arsenal v Man City (Lacazette injured)
    Brighton v Arsenal (Lacazette injured)
    Arsenal 3 Stoke 0 (Lacazette as a sub on 60m)
    Newcastle 2 Arsenal 1 (both played)
    Man U 2 Arsenal 1 (both played)
    Arsenal 5 Burnley 0 ( Aubameyang 2 Lacazette 1) (both played)
    Huddersfield 0 Arsenal 1 (Aubameyang scored) (both played)

    So from the time when Lacazette recovered – well enough to be a sub against Stoke, there were then after that our games left and both players played in those.

    Before then there were the Europa games that Aubameyang couldn’t play in, and the games in which Lacazette was injured.
    And before that, Aubameyang wasn’t at the club.

    So I think Mr Crooks saying Mr Wenger “lacked the nerve” to play both men is not correct. More to the point, Mr Crooks I think may be mistaken and should perhaps offer an apology.

    …….So there you have it. The man is quite simply a Malicious ignoramous.

    How these people earn money by simply making things up and talking out of there arse is beyond me, but they do.

  • Nitram

    Forgot my conclusion:

    “But are the Arsenal fans or manager Arsene Wenger, for that matter, going to destroy another top-class player in order to play in a particular manner?”

    And which top class players in particular did Wenger ‘destroy’ Mr Crooks, especially given every player he bought was apparently rubbish in the first place ?

    “Alexandre Lacazette looks as if he has now become surplus to requirements….”

    Was that a doppelganger I saw yesterday then Mr Crooks ?

    As for this ridiculous whinge:

    “What I don’t get is the appalling disco jig that follows. Why spoil such a wonderful finish with such a spine-chilling dance?

    And pray tell, how does the celebration spoil the magesty of the finish Mr Crooks?

    Mr Crooks employers must be aware that he was factually inaccurate about the playing of both our strikers by Wenger.

    Mr Crooks employers now know his prediction of Lacazzette leaving was completely inaccurate.

    Mr Crooks employers must know that following a fantastic goal, choosing to focus on ridiculing the celebration for no reason what so ever, is purely malicious.

    The fact he can continue in such a way suggests to me that Mr brooks ignorant, inaccurate and malicious rants, are all done with their blessing, and quite likely at their behest.

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