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We care, but we don’t always make it to the match

By Tony Attwood

I have been looking at the document put out by a couple of supporters’ groups and supported by various web sites, under the heading “We care do you”.

I’m going to wrap this little sequence of articles up now with one final issue.  The statement in the We Care paper that reads, “There are thousands of empty seats blighting almost every game.”

My first thought is that this concept is based on the notion that Arsenal’s ground holding just over 60,000 should be full for every match.   But why should it?   That thought assumes that there are enough people who want to come and watch Arsenal live – even when the game is available on TV and (for those who don’t have Sky or BT) can be seen for the price of a soft drink or a pint in any one of hundreds of pubs.  (I live in a rural area, yet there are six pubs within three miles of my house that show Sky and BT).

As I said in an earlier article, in the days of Highbury, before it was all seater, most of the time the ground was nothing like full – and in some seasons the average crowd dropped down into the 20,000s. Which suggests there is no natural audience for Arsenal of this size.

Of course some people who buy season tickets don’t go to matches and don’t sell their ticket on.   I’ve been in that position sometimes – not selling on either because the game doesn’t sell out or because I simply can’t get to an internet connection to sell the ticket on, when ticket exchange clicks in.   I’ve also not attended and not sold on because of the weather conditions suddenly making the 100 mile journey to the ground and the return journey several hours later look very dodgy.  Or because the train has been cancelled at the last minute.  Or the train back late at night means I get home at 2am and have to get up again at 6.30am.  Or I’ve been taken ill.  Or my companion has been taken ill.  Or one of my children.  Or… ok maybe it is just me who has a life beyond football, but these things can happen.

But there is another point and I think this one has much broader implications.   And that is… the numbers.

How many people don’t show and don’t sell on?   Virtually none, anywhere near where I sit – largely because I am fortunate enough to have a superb seat and the demand for those seats is very high.  So just because some seats in some parts of the ground are not occupied – that does not mean it is the same everywhere.   When I look down to the lower seating which gets wet when it rains, I do see empty spaces on rainy days – but that scenario is not replicated in every part of the stadium.

I dont attend and don’t sell on once or twice a season either because it is a last minute decision, or because the game isn’t sold out, so quite reasonably it seems to me, the club does not invoke ticket exchange.  As it happens I can’t go to the Burnley game at the start of the season – but ticket exchange is not offering to take my ticket for me, at the moment I am writing this. If it doesn’t sell out, it will be an empty seat.

If I miss one game a season and can’t sell on, that is a 4% lack of occupancy.  Would the plan be forcibly to remove my season ticket because I have not turned up for a match when I can’t sell on?  In fact, with the Burnley game already being impossible for me, I can also see coming up a trip to Australia to see my daughter.  That can involve me missing up to three games.  Chances are one of those will not sell out.  So I am at two games or 8% non-occupancy.  One more because, I’m unwell, or the train is cancelled or the weather very bad or any other last minute reason and I am on 12% non-occupancy, and I suspect, judging from the tone of WeCare, I’ll be lucky to get away with just a public flogging.

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But here’s one more thought.  What is it like at other clubs?   What percentage of non-occupancy do they have?

That is a relevant question because if it turned out that our level of non-occupancy was actually below the average for the league, would it still be a good idea to start punishing people for non-occupancy?

I ask that question because I noticed that last season, Tottenham had a home attendance level 25% down on the home attendance level the season before.   Now we can think of all sorts of reasons for this… people were getting fed up with the delays in opening the new ground.   Fans had had enough of Wembley.   The new Tottenham ground is smaller than Wembley (although of course that only applied to the last few games).

But something happened.  And that’s the point.  Things happen.   My thought is, be careful before you start punishing your own supporters.  And here’s the reason….

I have two hobbies outside of football: going to dances and visiting historic sites.   Now either or both might seem utterly naff to you, and that’s fair enough; each to his/her own.  But there are a lot of fans who have lives beyond football, and those lives can clash with football games.   For a person for whom watching Arsenal is the most important thing in life, it may seem incomprehensible that I might miss a game it clashes with one of my other hobbies.  But it happens to me, and when that happens sometimes Arsenal wins out, sometimes not.  When not, if I can, I sell my ticket on.  But as noted above that is not always possible.

I suspect some of these thoughts have passed through the minds of those running Arsenal’s stadium.  They may even know what the “no show” rate is not only at Arsenal but also elsewhere, and find Arsenal is actually far from being the worse.  They might even have found that across the stadium the no show rate is far lower than the writers of WeCare suggest.

They might even feel that the atmosphere in the stadium is not blighted at all.

Are there “thousands of empty seats”?   Yes at some games – because not all the tickets were sold.   At the sold out games?  I suspect not.  Are we the worst offenders in the league?  Has any club come up with a way of reducing the number of empty seats?  Is it even feasible within the Sale of Goods legislation?   These are the questions I would personally seek to find the answer to, before circulating a document to the press accusing Arsenal of creating a “soulless place”.   Because otherwise, it could be thought that the WeCareDoYou document is simply an excuse for knocking Arsenal.

And why would a fan of Arsenal want to knock Arsenal?  Ah well, now we move onto some very interesting territory.  But perhaps that should be left for another day.

I’d like to thank everyone who was involved with the WeCare document as it has given my Arsenal friends and I a lot of interesting discussions.  We don’t agree with you, but they are interesting points which, as I have tried to show, do nbeed discussing, because they often involve issues that are not quite all they seem on the surface.

8 comments to We care, but we don’t always make it to the match

  • Nitram

    Tony

    Great series of articles. Many thanks for all the effort you put in.

    And then after all that you sum it up in one paragraph:

    “These are the questions I would personally seek to find the answer to, before circulating a document to the press accusing Arsenal of creating a “soulless place”. Because otherwise, it could be thought that the WeCareDoYou document is simply an excuse for knocking Arsenal.”

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Hmmm. As a matter of fact, the “We Care Do You” petition by some groups of Arsenal supporters who presented the petition to Stan Kroenke, the Arsenal owner thinking it will make him to change his austere position in spending for the club to become passionate in spending for the club using his personal earned money fortunes to be buying world class and top quality players regularly for Arsenal FC. Or regularly authorizing the release of substantial amount of money to club for the purpose of buying world class and top quality players to enabled Arsenal to be winning the Premier League title and the Uefa Champions League if not regularly but occasionally has not worked after the petition was presented to Kroenke as he didn’t budge. But held on firmly to his guns to leave Arsenal with the only £45m he has authorized be released to the club to do new player signings with the money this summer transfer window. Which the club hierarchy have cleverly spent to amazingly do 4 good signings for the club so far this summer with one of the 4 signings being an outstanding signing. On the part of the Arsenal hierarchy bosses who are running the club for Stan Kroenke, I think they deserved a big good pat on their backs for their being very clever for Arsenal to get 4 good deals done in the transfer market this summer on a budget of £45m. This is wonderful.

    Nevertheless, I think us the Arsenal supporters could still see the club bring in a top quality new player to the Emirates Stadium as the no 5 signing for the club before this summer transfer window comes a closed.

    But for what position in the 1st team squad should the 5th player signing be? In the centre half back, at the left-back or at the left wing? Of course any of three will have to be of top quality kind.

    In this wise, I think Arsenal will this summer have to forgo their attempts to sign the Celtic left back till next time if it is true Tierney will nurse an injury on him on the sideline for the next 8 weeks as a result of which he can’t undergo a medical at Arsenal this summer.

    The signing ot a new centreback by Arsenal in the next few days will depend on if Koscielny is allowed to leave the club this summer. As he is still contract binding to Arsenal for a year, Arsenal should therefore stop him from leaving the club this summer unceremoniously as he he’s attempting to do. But keep him at least for the summer campaign next season. Which if he is kept will allow Arsenal to sign a new top quality left winger instead of to sign a new centreback. The club could give Koscielny some incentives to make him stay on for the summer campaign next season. And since Mustafi has not agitated to leave Arsenal this summer, I think the club should keep him for this summer campaign as well. All this keeping of Koscielny and Mustafi for the summer campaign next season is to allow Arsenal to sign that single world class or top quality left winger after the club must in the next few days have raised sufficient money through the sales of their on the fringe Gunners at the club but if as a preference this summer, they preferred to sign a left winger to a centreback. A left winger who should be in the mould of Everton Soares on a permanent deal or Philippe Coutihno on loan deal from Barcelona. Could us the Arsenal supporters see one of the above mentioned names at the Emirates Stadium playing for Arsenal next season? It will be hilarious if us see one of the 2 playing for Arsenal next season.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Hmmm. As a matter of fact, the “We Care Do You” petition by some groups of Arsenal supporters who presented the petition to Stan Kroenke, the Arsenal owner thinking it will make him to change from his austere position in spending for the club to become passionate in spending for the club using his personal earned money fortunes to be buying world class and top quality players regularly for Arsenal FC. Or regularly authorizing the release of substantial amount of money from the funds generated at the club to Arsenal to be signing world class and top quality players who could enabled Arsenal to be winning the Premier League title and the Uefa Champions League if not regularly but occasionally has not worked after the petition was presented to Kroenke. For, he didn’t budge but hold on firmly to his guns to leave Arsenal with the only £45m he has authorized be released to the club to do new player signings with the money this summer transfer window. Which the club hierarchy have cleverly spent to amazingly do 4 good signings for Arsenal so far this summer with one of the 4 signings being an outstanding signing. On the part of the Arsenal hierarchy bosses who are managing the club for Stan Kroenke, I think they deserved a big good pat on their backs for their being very clever for Arsenal to get 4 good deals done in the transfer market this summer on a budget of £45m. This is wonderful.

    Nevertheless, I think us the Arsenal supporters could still see the club bring in a top quality new player to the Emirates Stadium as the no 5 signing for the club before this summer transfer window comes to a close.

    But for what position in the 1st team squad should the 5th player signing be? In the centre half back, at the left-back or at the left wing? Of course any of three will have to be of top quality kind.

    In this wise, I think Arsenal will this summer have to forgo their attempts to sign the Celtic left back till next time if it is true Tierney will nurse an injury on him on the sideline for the next 8 weeks as a result of which he can’t undergo a medical at Arsenal this summer.

    The signing ot a new centreback if Arsenal want to do it in the next few days will depend on if Koscielny is allowed to leave the club this summer. As he is still contract binding to Arsenal for a year, Arsenal should therefore stop him from leaving the club this summer unceremoniously as he’s attempting to do. But keep him at least for the summer campaign next season. Which if he is kept will allow Arsenal to sign a new top quality left winger instead of to sign a new centreback. The club could give Koscielny some incentives to make him stay on for the summer campaign next season. And since Mustafi has not agitated to leave Arsenal this summer, I think the club should keep him for next season’s summer campaign as well. All these keeping of Koscielny and Mustafi at the club for the summer campaign next season is intended to allow Arsenal to sign that single world class or top quality left winger after the club must in the next few days have raised sufficient money through the sales of their on the fringe Gunners at the club. And if as a preference this summer, they preferred signing a left winger over a centreback. A left winger who could possibly be one of Everton Soares who should be signed on a permanent deal if he’s the one. Or Philippe Coutihno signed on a loan deal from Barcelona if he’s the one. Could us the Arsenal supporters possibly see one of the above mentioned 2 names at the Emirates Stadium this summer to play for Arsenal next season? It will be hilarious if us see one of them playing for Arsenal next season.

    Sorry for reposting my comment posting again after doing some corrections on my earlier posting to repost.

  • Gord

    Gee, imagine multiple postings again.

    —-

    From Evening (not) Standard:
    Starting XI: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal; Willock, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Nelson; Aubameyang.

    Subs: Martinez, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Thompson, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Torreira, Martinelli, Saka, Nketiah.

    COYG!

  • shale

    Perhaps the timing of matches also makes a difference. We do not have a single 3pm Saturday kick off between the start of the season and the end of October. All the other top clubs have a minimum of 2 – including Man U who are also in Europa League. Sunday seems to be the new Saturday!

  • WalterBroeckx

    There is some live match reporting on line now

  • Gord

    Nice to come in for lunch after running my tractor for a while, to see a 0-1 lead to The Arsenal. It appears to be a fairly even game so far.

    COYG!

  • Minesy

    Totally agree Tony … I’m a musician in my spare time and I have gigs booked up to a year in advance and a Sales manager at a large UK company that means I have to attend meetings around the country and sometimes abroad with no choice involved … and let’s not forget I’m currently planning a holiday next Summer around my daughter’s University exam and potential resit timetable, my son’s A Level results and University admissions dates, as well as mine and my wife’s work commitments … so if anyone has a crystal ball as to the 2020/21 fixture list and changes for TV, I’d be glad to have it ASAP !!!!

    Not sure which Supporter’s Groups are involved ….. but I’m sure I could make an educated guess !!!

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