By Tony Attwood
Arsenal have issued a notice stating that “ticket holders for Emirates Stadium that are aged 18 and over may be asked to provide proof of full vaccination (+14 days), proof of natural immunity (via a PCR test result) or a negative lateral flow test (taken within 48 hours of the fixture’s specified kick-off time) prior to entering the stadium.”
I am not sure how long that message has been up there; I must say I didn’t notice it before when I was looking at the site ready to book my ticket.
But it leads me back to two key, although totally different, points.
First, showing documentation to a steward or helper is going to take time, which means that the queues are likely to be rather long. Or put another way, very, very long. Now I know that in one way this won’t matter too much if a fair number of people have arrived early to see both games, or maybe the second half of the first game and then the second game. That spreads people out much more than for a normal league match – but it is going to be chaotic as a way of getting people into the ground once the regular season starts.
Second, Arsenal are now taking from all of us private information and storing it goodness knows where, and using it goodness knows how. I don’t mind them having my data in terms of my name and address, when I buy my season ticket each season, because all that says is that I am an Arsenal supporter – and that information is obviously available in many places – not least here.
But once we start having medical information attached to that database, that begins to worry me. Data breaches are commonplace – we all know that – and there is every chance that this data will be hacked and provided to people who I might not want to have it.
Now to be clear, I am not trying for some special pleading over my own case. I’ve had the two jabs, and have been very happy to do this. I know that doesn’t make me immune but does reduce my chances of getting the illness, and if it I do get it, it will probably reduce the amount of time I am ill, and how bad I feel.
The club is also accepting a negative lateral flow test as proof of immunity, so that people who have not had the jabs can still gain admission by taking the test before each game, but I still worry about the delays on getting into the ground.
And what disturbs me in all this is that Arsenal are clearly interested in getting us to go into the ground earlier and earlier, to buy our drinks and refreshments there. Which might not worry fans too much – except think of the pubs around the ground who for years have served fans on match days, with that extra trade adding significantly to their annual turnover.
Arsenal is effectively using its size and might to squeeze out its local competition when it comes to selling a drink and maybe some food before the match – and that really is unfair competition. The pubs around the ground have provided a service for years and this move to getting every punter’s penny into the Arsenal coffers just feels like a move too far to me.
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