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Do I want to pay high prices to go to football?

October 19, 2012

Like heck I do!

The BBC sports website has brought up the age-old ticket pricing debate again.

As an Arsenal fan, It irritates me reading these articles that Arsenal have the highest ticket price £1995. Also the purchasing of a match-day ticket will cost you £126 for a Cat “A” match.

This looks good for headlines in articles.. yet…

  • An Arsenal season ticket includes seven cup tie credits.
  • Just how many of these seats are there in amongst the 53,000 normal priced terrace tickets?
  • Arsenal also has some very cheap seats as well.

The most expensive season ticket on the normal terraced seating area is as mentioned aboove £1995 and for this you get to sit in the Upper Tier, close to the front on the half way line. However, there are not too many of these seats.

I’ll let Bruce Forsyth do the next bit… You can even go “higher” if you wish to sit on Club level anywhere between £3k and £5k a season then you could be “so much better than last weeks audience”.  You could go a lot “lower… lower… lower…” If you’re lucky enough to sit in the lower tier where the cheapest is £995 and cheapest match day tickets costing as little as£29…

Then you could play for double money and purchase a £25k ticket for a Diamond Club seat, get a big comfy armchair to watch the match and be fed by Raymond Blanc or his sous chef. I’ve experienced it quite a few times and trust me it’s very good. “Come on dolly’s do your dealing”.

“I’m the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky Jack” Maybe you could afford 20k-100k for an Executive box (not sure of prices as I doubt I am ever going to be able to afford one anytime soon). You see watching Arsenal is a “Good game… Good game… Didn’t they do well…”

For the last 15 seasons Arsenal have been sure of at least three Champions league games so you’re getting a minimum of 22 matches for the price of a season ticket. therefore my season ticket would work out at £ per game. “You don’t get anything for a pair – not in this game.” Remember most clubs season tickets are priced on 19 leagues games. Cup tickets are extra.

Why do we pay so much to watch football today? Well I can only think of three things:

  • Players getting paid crazy sums of money.
  • Transfer fee’s of £10m and over for even average players.
  • Agents.

I cannot believe the amount of money wasted on seriously over-rated  and average footballers…  It’s like the levels of footballers have all been upgraded by a factor of x10. What was once and average player is now a good player, a good player is now an excellent player and a excellent player is now world-class. Not sure where they have put world-class? You’d have to ask Messi, Ronaldo or RVP. That’s why I likeArsene Wenger, he spots talent and it does not cost the Earth. However, even Arsene makes mistakes with Almunia, Squillaci, and quite a few others but then so do most managers. I do wonder at times who is in charge of the purse strings at some of these football clubs. The guy at Liverpool just hasn’t a clue.

Catch 22.

The strange football supporter anomaly that ties him or her to their club for life… You just do not change your allegiance, or should not do.

Most Supporters get into football through family or friends. It might be your local club or you could live in Cornwall or Surrey and support Man Utd as they are successful at the time that gets you get interested  football.

All this means YOUR club runs through your veins, you’re hooked!! You become part of the club and it’s culture. You bleed with them when they lose, and feel 50ft tall when they win. You meet other supporters of the club and get to know them. Your social life becomes linked to football. How many of you remember great weekends and nights out, by linking them to football matches of the past?

I would not have met my wife 21 years ago if it was not for meeting another Arsenal supporter who became a very good mate at Highbury. Can’t stand the bloke now 🙂 Sorry darling!!!

To some people Classic Cars are their bag, others Stamp collecting or going to the theatre, for women shopping, only kidding ladies…

For a lot of football supporters football is their main hobby. Once or twice a week when their team plays, everything stops. Whether your inside the ground or watching at home, pub or club, in our case it’s COME ON YOU REDS !!! It matters!!… This is where a lot of Arsenal supporters disposable income goes.

That you have to pay for the privilege to watch your team – well that’s life. Of course football is getting expensive and like I have said, I would rather not pay the inflated price of today if I had the choice, but then I would rather not pay inflated energy prices, high pump prices to fill my car up and see my weekly shopping bill rocket every six months either.

That football clubs have us hooked for life is why the anomaly works, they have us by the short and curlys. The price goes up, you want to see your team – you pay. I want to watch Arsenal. I suppose as it stands I’m lucky I can afford it. However I can’t afford to go to every away match like some do.

I can change energy suppliers to try to keep my cost down. I can get 5p off vouchers at Supermarkets to help with pump prices, I could shop elsewhere to get things cheaper, maybe eBay..

None of us want to pay high prices. We all look for the best deals. We go buy a car and we look to get the best deal we can from the salesman. We try to haggle the price down a grand or two when buying property. We go online for cheaper deal’s. We change energy suppliers if we feel we’re being charged too much,. We Shop at Lidl if we need too. OK! Maybe that’s stretching it a bit far, but you get the picture.

How much does it cost to go to Cinema? Theatre? Attraction? Gigs/Concerts? They’re not cheap and they are all looking to make a buck or two. Most are a bloody rip off. This is rip off Britain after all!!! I went to the Coldplay concert in the summer…  £15 for a bloody programme, £10 for a mug, £25 for a t-shirt. Has anyone seen the prices at the new Harry Potter World shop?

Football is different. You pay – because….  Well you pay, end of.  You might be able to get a deal if another supporter can’t go and sell their ticket on the cheap, but the club do not reduce the price of match day tickets if they have any left a couple of hours before kick-off.

Also let’s remember it’s the supporters (well not all) that crave success as much as the club. By craving this success and applying pressure the clubs spend and today that spend  is big-time money… Success has a price, you pay for the top quality players £100-200k a week salaries. £10-40m on  transfer fees. Of course the spend is relative to what league you are in, but then so is the income.

Where does the money come from?

  • Gate receipts
  • TV/radio/internet money
  • Sponsorship
  • Commercial activity

So Arsenal get about £110m from gate receipts and the rest from the other sources (not the SSN’s type. I wonder if they really exist?) . Yes! Arsenal could do better on the shirt deals and stadium naming rights, but these deals were made back in 2006, when Arsenal’s hands were tied and needed the money to help build the Emirates. Arsenal got £100m from Emirates Airlines and built the The stadium and now Arsenal can earn far more revenue than they did at Highbury.

Take Man Utd and Liverpool for example. They currently have bigger shirt deals, but they were renegotiated recently, so is it really fair to make a comparison with Arsenal’s deals of 2006. I think that unless all clubs deals are struck at the same time, then it’s hard to tell if it is such a great deal or not. What if Arsenal’s next deals blows United and Liverpool out of the water? Both United & Liverpool deals would be two/three years old and they in turn would then be likely to blow us out of the water when they re-negotiate their new deals and so on and so on…

Arsenal are apparently getting a bigger stream of revenue through new sponsors, both large and small and the smarts is that new deals for shirt and stadium sponsorship are being discussed right now. Then we have the new TV deals that should bring in about £35m extra a season. Hopefully this can keep the ticket price rises down for a few years.

Q. What if Arsenal were to reduce their pricing next season?  Make it a top price of say £800 for season ticket. Lowest price £250. Then Arsenal’s gate receipt income comes in at £40-50m a year, maybe less, where do they go from there?  Middle of table? Lower sponsorship deals, would that be good? Don’t get me wrong here, I would prefer it, but then it would only work if ALL clubs subscribed to this.

If I see my neighbour down the road has suddenly come into some money (no he did not have a w**k  in a till) and get himself a new top of the range BMW, do I keep up with the Joneses? Do I spend more than I can afford and put myself and my family  in danger of being in trouble financially, Do I as heck like. I just carry on and get from A-B  in what I have got, until I can afford a new ride.

Ladies and gentlemen of Arsenal faith, I like the way our club is run, it’s solid, dependable, will not take risks with its future. It’s frustrating for some supporters that the club won’t spend money when they have anything from £50m-£150m stashed in a safe somewhere. However, Arsenal have never been a big spending club, but they have always been a well run club, one respected by many in football. One that many clubs of today are looking at as a model to follow. Arsenal ARE the benchmark for a well run football club.

I am taking my Son to Arsenal now. We go to Norwich tomorrow. We’ll have a great day out, win, lose or draw. I want Arsenal to be up there at the top end of the league, when Luke is old enough to go on his own (without Dad) with his mates to Arsenal, home and away. I don’t want the club to risk it’s future by keeping up with the Joneses (City & Chelsea). I want Arsenal to win things of course and I say in due course that will come.

However, it’s important for my Son and many of your Sons and Daughters that Arsenal is run well, not just in the short-term, but for the long-term. Arsenal is their future as well as ours. Maybe if this sodding Country was run as well, we would not be in so much debt.

Football has to change, it cannot carry on how it is today. I understand people have doubts about the FFPR’s. However, should we not at least give them a chance to settle in and see if they will work, before writing the FFPR’s off.

I also understand that the current high prices in football are pricing out some sections of supporters. That is not good. I think pricing these people out ruins the atmosphere at grounds as the ordinary working man struggles along and has to choose between his family and going to football. Football is about passion and I do believe that a lot of the new breed of football fan lack the passion to make a stadium a cauldron of noise. Rather sit and clap. There has to be a balance and at least the club have tried by changing the ticketing policy for match by bringing in Cat A B and C pricing. It’s a start. And of course League Cup matches priced at £5-10 lower tier and £10-20 upper tier.

I don’t understand how when I take my seat, normally at least 20mins before kick-off, I am up and down like a tarts knickers just after kick-off as people are still coming in to their seats. Then they leave five mins before half-time to get something to eat and then come back five mins after half-time and then leave 5 mins before the end. having missed 20 mins of the match and yet I reckon some of these people might complain about ticket prices. Madness. I’m sure some people just like to moan.

Opponents supporters have called Highbury the Library and now call the Emirates a lifeless bowl of a stadium, save for the big matches, however, this is not only a problem for just Arsenal, all grounds are the same. Football in many ways has gone slightly up market. When the Hillsborough disaster happened, the Taylor Report had football grounds made all-seater. I’m sure the clubs did not look for it, but all-seater also meant they could charge higher prices as you can charge more for seats, than standing. I seriously think it time now for safe standing areas to be brought back. A club might get less money for a supporter standing, but you will get more fans in the same area to balance it up.

Seating at matches has allowed ticket prices to just keep on rising along with players wages going crazy, so today you have to pay anything up to £126 for a ticket to an Arsenal v Spurs league match. I mean how long ago, would we have been talking about that price as crazy for a Cup Final, let alone a league match.

Football today it’s about market forces. While the BBC was reporting these high prices, the same day Arsenal put tickets for the Arsenal v Spurs game on sale to members. What happened? Members were queuing online or phoning in, waiting to get through. These members willing to pay these high prices to get their hands on tickets.

The SOLD OUT signs go up. The same for Norwich (a) QPR (h) Reading (LC (a)) United (a) Shalke (h) and Fulham (h). Fans simply paying the price. I had to pay £100 for two away tickets to Norwich and yet BBC tell me Man City’s cheapest season ticket is £250.

It’s sad, really sad, that ordinary Gooners of many years are being priced out,  However, at the same time, we all want success and to keep up with the Billionaire owners who throw money about like confetti the club needs to charge high prices to pay the salaries and transfer fees of these players. So the ordinary fans are relegated to watching Arsenal or their team on Sky Sports, ESPN, ITV or streams on the internet.

Football is massive today and changed in may ways, though I don’t feel it has changed too much for the better, but then some might see me as a football dinosaur. I know when I talk about the old days to my Son, he always come back with,  here we go, “During the war” cheeky little chap. But I used to love paying at the door and standing on the terraces before I got my first season ticket in 1988-89 that coincided with us winning the league that year.

Travelling away games on football specials. Getting of the train with 1000 Gooner singing their hearts out for the lads ” Arsenal boys, we are here… S**g your women and drink you beer” la la la la la la la… Our opponents supporters singing “You’re going home in a ……….. Ambulance” Eating cheese or ham sandwiches served from a mail carriage in black plastic bags. And stacks of cans of soft drinks. We’d just take bottles of coke half full with dark rum or vodka…  Being escorted to the ground by police…

Coaches that went in convoy up and down the motorways of this country. Going by car and hooting to all the other army of Gooner supporters that were making their way to the match.

They were great days, you could end up with up to 10,000 Gooners at an away match, whereas today, you get an allocation. I drove to WBA for the last game of the season and when I stopped on the motorway for a break, there was hardly any Gooners in the services, that used to be packed with them.

For those of us lucky enough to have been there and enjoyed these days, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I follow many of these people on twitter and it’s great discussing those days with them. For those of you who were not around to experience what it was like before the Premiership started, I truly feel for you. It’s too sterile today.

These were the days when it was cheap to attend a football match. However, it’s not all bad today.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Geoff Platt permalink
    October 19, 2012 10:00

    As usual people read the headlines of a story and beat the Arsenal with that stick!! I took a a load of stick yesterday from all sorts of fans, even other Arsenal fans even my own dad was having a go about rip off Arsenal and he’s been a supporter for donkeys!! And as usual you talk a lot of sence, I was trying to argue the same points but you do it much more eloquently. It’s odd Citehs season tickets are so cheap but they still can’t sell out there ground!!!
    Enjoy Norwich and lets hope the 3 points that game brings!!

  2. madge permalink
    October 19, 2012 10:01

    I completely agree with everyting you said. It is very reassuring to hear another Gunner, actually state that he is happy with the way our club is run. I have always been very proud of our club and long may it reign. Thanks very much for taking the time to write such a well balanced piece.

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