91,000 attended the last Barcelona women’s game. What can Arsenal learn?

By Tony Attwood

To be open and clear about this, I’ve only been to a handful of women’s games.  I live in the East Midlands, have a full-time job, and so going to each home game of the men’s team is quite an outing, and can be quite an expense (although I’m travelling by car with friends this season so that has reduced the cost considerably).

I also follow the women’s game on TV, but seeing that Barcelona got a crowd of over 91,000 for their women’s game against Real Madrid got me thinking.  Not how to get full houses at the Arsenal Stadium for the women’s games, but at least how to get more than have been there.

Which made me think about increasing the numbers and the interest, which is a fairly natural mode of thinking for me since I work in advertising.  And that took me onto something else: the attitude of Arsenal toward us fans, and our attitude toward the club.

This took me back to the start of the season when there was chaos outside the stadium as a new security team checked bags at the top of the flight of stairs that leads to the concourse above the main Arsenal store.  That led to queuing on the steps – something that is illegal in all but a few situations (and this was not one of them).

On another occasion, I entered the ground to find a steward shouting at my friend for not wearing a mask.  Literally shouting.

I made a bit of a fuss on this site about the bag checking on the first home match of the season and wrote to the club.  No one replied. My message overall was that what they had done was so wrong, they needed to come out and apologise, confirm they had sacked the people who engaged in his illegal act, and let us know what steps had been taken to ensure it never happened again.

Later in the season, I came across a statement from the club to the effect that they thought entry to the stadium for a match was working fine.  That day I had faced chaotic scenes outside the ground as there seemed to be one of the turnstiles not working properly.   I subsequently was told that Arsenal’s view that everything was working fine came from the fact that they had observers placed inside the ground – not outside where the queues and chaos was.  Seemingly they thought that was a reasonable approach.

These days I try and avoid buying food or drink in the ground, but when I do I still regularly find myself being served by people who although trying to do the right thing are clearly not fully trained and don’t know what’s where, what they serve, how to sell it etc.

OK, Arsenal doesn’t run the food concession, but they could take a little more interest in those of us who do use the facilities.

These things don’t stop me from renewing my season ticket and attending every match that I possibly can, but when I hear that Barcelona can fill their stadium for a women’s game because everyone loves the club so much, I do contrast my experience at Arsenal with the feeling that seems to be generated elsewhere.

Arsenal is the subject of daily criticism from the media – much of it as part of a deliberate policy to knock Arsenal all the time.   As we know, lots of fans join in.   The fact that after those opening games there were calls for the manager to be sacked, and these started up again after the defeat to Palace shows where we are in terms of criticism.

Much of the criticism is unfair, but Arsenal are not helping themselves, as the chaos and lack of apologies for the chaos at the opening games of the season shows, and as the notion that one can judge how entry to the ground is working by monitoring it from the inside also shows.

And if we want to go back further, I phoned the club at the start of the season over problems with my new season ticket card.   Failing ever to get an answer, I emailed.   Four times.  Never once had a reply.

It really would be nice if Arsenal could find a way to understand just what it is like going to matches at the stadium and supporting the club and just think, “Let’s start to make this better for our fans,” rather than trying to convince us that we can influence the club by buying their cryptocurrency.

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