Gunners Town is pleased to welcome guest writer Gary Lawrence to the site to air his heart-felt views on Arsenal’s disappointing ticket price policies.
You can follow him on Twitter at @garythegooner56
The Real Cost of Arsenal’s Ticket Prices
by Gary Lawrence
I feel I must write about two things that have infuriated me recently. They are the attempt by Arsenal to squeeze some extra money out the season ticket holders & the PL clubs voting against capping away tickets at £30.
If ever there was a time to cap away tickets it is now. The PL TV Rights packages will in total be an enormous £8 billion pounds! Somebody said on Talksport last night the amount that just Hong Kong will pay is £90m, increasing from £50m. The increase on this alone could pay for every PL away ticket twice over.
I remember quite quite clearly that one of the selling points of the very first ever TV rights deal was that it would mean cheaper match day tickets for the fans. We all know how that went!
But surely now you’d think it was time to reward the loyal fans who in times of great austerity have continued to support the clubs, by using a tiny fraction of that £8b to cap away tickets at £30. But no, enough PL owners voted against to prevent getting the 14 votes needed to pass the motion.
Typically Arsenal, under orders no doubt from Stan Kroenke were one of those that supposedly voted against the motion. Is any wonder, after all he just tried putting a surcharge on season ticket holders. If you average it out to say £20 to 43k season ticket holders it amounts to a piddling amount of £860,000.
The match day revenue alone at Arsenal last season topped £100m. The highest in World football bar none. More than Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Manchester United. But Stan still wanted to take that extra surcharge. Then again he has no qualms about taking £3m out the club kitty each year without any real explanation of what its for so it’s hardly surprising.
Thankfully Stan & the club backed down after an outcry from the fans. I think the club was shocked by the backlash. The same as the American owners of Liverpool at their fans’ exodus on 77 minutes.
It annoys me when Arsenal fans blindly try to justify Stan & the club’s actions. Saying its a business. Of course it’s a business but it’s also a football club and we as fans cannot switch to another club if we’re not satisfied, in the same way as we switch energy suppliers. Loyalty is a one-way street when it comes to football. The club smugly announce they will freeze ticket prices for next season, when the PL clubs will be sharing £8b in TV revenue between them is a piss take.
Even Arsene Wenger – a man I respect – says the increase will be needed to pay for players transfers & wages. Sorry I don’t buy that. Just for once use a little bit of that huge pile of TV cash & give something back to the fans you’ve fleeced for years.
If anybody was in any doubt as to Stan Kroenke having any respect for fans. Look at the way he callously moved the St Louis Rams to LA. I’m sure many of you have seen the advert put out during the Super Bowl by a St Louis Rams fan having a dig at Stan.
The reason for the move is again purely a financial one. LA is considered to be a more lucrative city than St Louis. I’m aware of the nomad existence of the Rams who originally moved from Cleveland to LA to St Louis & now back to LA again. I also know it is a franchise & that this happens a lot in US sport.
But I have to say I find it very distasteful that owners can just uproot a team & move them thousands of miles from one side of America to the other without an ounce of thought for the fans that have loyally supported them, only to have their team heartlessly ripped away from them. I said as much on Twitter a few weeks back when Kroenke got the nod of approval to up sticks and leave & had an interesting conversation on the subject with two vintage Gunners fans @gooner1947 & @oldmangooner plus an American Arsenal fan @GunnerFaithful
Brian our US Arsenal fan said that the owners of the franchises bully cities into building them stadiums & get offered all sorts of deals to get the franchises in their city. He also said that the NFL is now run by corporates for corporates. Ordinary fans have been squeezed out. What’s happening in the PL with sky high match tickets is similar to how it started in the NFL. It’s got to a point where Brian feels more affinity with The Arsenal than any of his hometown sports teams.
Another concern I have is that the PL is now full of American owners who are here purely to make money. They want to tap into the vast wealth that the PL generates across the globe. I can see a time in the not too distant future where the owners will want to replicate the NFL by playing games abroad. I can see them persuading Richard Scuddamore to sanction a 39th game in the USA. Saying it’s only one game & it won’t affect the integrity of the PL.
I think that is the thin end of the wedge. Once they play that 39th match the game will never be the same again. They’ll be more games lined up abroad with the PL doing the owners bidding & hawking our game around the World with the whole thing becoming a glorified circus.
Before you know it the owners will revert to type & do what they do in America & turn the club’s into franchises without a thought for the fans just as they do in the NFL today. That I believe is the ultimate aim of the American owners who’ve turned up in the PL, they are playing the long game & thinking of the bigger picture of what they can do with the PL. It will, as Brian said be run by the corporates for the corporates.
I don’t think the American owners understand at all the way we view football in this country. We are not franchises we are football clubs. We are not customers we are football fans. The game was created on the playing fields of public schools in England. Every league club in this country has a unique history & tradition starting from those playing fields in Victorian times to the spectacle it is today. This has carefully evolved spanning three centuries.
I feel it would be very unwise to tamper with this. It’s a bit like the Eco-system in an Amazonian rain forest. Once you tear down the forest it’s gone forever with the carefully evolved habitat destroyed.For me the fans are the club. Once you take a club away from them, you cannot replicate that unique atmosphere you get at matches in this country. It’s the reason the PL is so popular all around the World and why the Broadcasters are paying billions to show it.
By taking the game away from us they will destroy the very soul of our clubs. I have no doubt Arsenal would rather replace me, a fan who’s been watching The Arsenal for half a century, for a tourist with a half & half scarf who’ll spend £200 in the Armoury. My son who’s now 31 sits next to me, but if & when he has a son of his own, I fear the cost will deprive him of taking his son to watch The Arsenal & he’ll only ever watch us on the TV. So think on Stan & Co, mess about with our game at your peril. Your greed with end up killing the game.
As always thanks for reading.
Started going to Highbury in ’66. Season ticket holder since ’76. Love The Arsenal. Need I say more?