What I would like the directors of Arsenal to do in the New Year

By Tony Attwood

It is very simple.  Not something that will cause the good gentlemen (for there are no ladies) of the board any inconvenience.  At least no more inconvenience than is caused to those of us who pay a fair amount of dosh for our season tickets.

I would like one of these good gentlemen to attend a match – a regular league match – in the upper tier.   So not in their regular directors’ box nor in the VIP areas at Club Level.   But in the upper tier.  If getting a ticket is difficult they can have my seat for the match, and I’ll sit in the directors’ box.  And maybe after the swap the director can give me a report based on my request below – and I’ll write a piece based on the wonders of the directors’ box.

Then at half time I would invite the director to get out of his seat as the whistle goes and make his way to the gents, in order to go about his business.   He will find it is a little time consuming.   Or very time consuming.   There are certain design problems, in some areas such as the hand driers being in such a place that one needs to fight past the queue of gents trying to use the facility.  But mostly it is the queues.

And then (or indeed before if he wishes) I would like the director to go and buy a cup of coffee.

To do this he will join a queue.  If he is not fortunately sitting in a seat right by an exit, he might well find that the queue is rather long.  Long enough to take up most of half time in fact.  Or indeed longer.

And approaching the place wherein the coffee and other items are purchased, he will quite possibly find, if it is an ordinary match day, that although there are perhaps ten or even twelve tills available at which one can place and then pay for one’s order, only two thirds of  them are being operated.

Quite why this is, match after match after match after match I don’t know, but I suspect that in order to maximise their profit, the company that has the franchise for selling coffee and pies and the like, only employs a percentage of the staff needed.

Or maybe the working conditions are so bad that people refuse to work there.  It’s hard to say.

Either way, not every till is operated, meaning that all the queues are far longer than they should be.  However – and this is the real twist – there are no signs to say that certain tills are not working, and therefore throughout half time one will find lots of people attempting to queue at places wherein there is no service.   And it is rather hard to tell this is the case because the person who takes the order first takes your money, and then turns away to complete the order, before returning and giving it to you.

So seeing an empty till can mean that you have found a till that is not being serviced, or one that is being serviced but for which the serving person has just wandered off in search of your food.

Now having visited the gents and the bar area in whichever order he chooses the director will then want to return to his seat, and may perhaps at this point notice some grumbling by other supporters as he steps along the row having missed the first five minutes of the second half.

And in the end maybe the director will think, well this isn’t really worth it is it?  So perhaps he would stop using the bar area if he was a regular at the ground.  And then of course if others followed suit, all that would happen would be for the company running the franchise to reduce their staffing levels still further…

Yes I really would like a director or two to see what it is like to be a regular supporter in the ground.  Will any be willing to take up the challenge I wonder?

8 Replies to “What I would like the directors of Arsenal to do in the New Year”

  1. Tony,

    They can have my seat as well for the purposes of this exercise. I try very hard not to consume too much liquid before a match to avoid the excessive queues and haven’t had a coffee for years so disgusted was I with the one and only one I bought. On a cold day I will have a Bovril but that’s the extent of my in-stadium purchases.

  2. I’m afraid it was ever thus Tony.
    From wayback before the invention of coffee, when bladders were only the inner tube of footballs.
    At Anfield I’m told that a guy in a jam-packed stand was taken short, was advised to pee in the pocket of the guy in front of him. When he objected on the grounds that the recipient would know, the reply came “you didn’t know when the guy behind you peed in your pocket”. 😉

  3. apocryphal maybe but the guy that ordered a pint of bitter and got a slice of pizza made me laugh . And don’t just think it’s a problem upstairs it’s the same below. In fact sometimes it’s quicker to run up the steps and use the toilet than it is to queue downstairs.

  4. The facilities do not have efficient systems to cater for customers. The directors probably think that the customers have sufficient value being members of the club. A properly run catering system would be able to serve all customers within 10 minutes. The staff do not seem too concerned with efficiency but have been trained to ensure payment is received prior to delivery of product. The pies were good quality but are now just rubbish & not value for money. In fact I find the stalls outside the station are much better value.

    The toilets are usually clean but some fans do not deserve such facilities. Systems to allow user flow through the toilet facilities need to be put in place to make more efficient time management & hygiene.

  5. To be quite honest, along with the queues, the price and quality of the food is such that I haven’t bought anythin in the stadium for several years. Not only is this about the poor customer service but surely it results in lost revenues for the clubs. One does wonder whether any sort of evaluation goes into this aspect of the business or whether the amounts of money involved are relatively minimal when compared with tv revenues etc., so the paying customer isn’t really a concern as long as we keep turning up!

  6. OT: The News Medja

    NPR has a short blurb (I think there is some audio stream associated with it, which has most of the content I gather), which looks into the cost (to society) if a newspaper “stops operating”.


    In what little is presented here, it is suggested that newspapers tend to fill a role similar to police departments.

    I would suggest that nobody feels that newspapers fill a police role in sports. Or, maybe just vanishingly few people feel they have that role.

    The article does have links to more information.

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