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Atmosphere and Pricing at Arsenal

April 9, 2013

Atmosphere at the Emirates

I was having a discussion on twitter last week about the atmosphere inside the Emirates.

The board at Old Trafford are even worried about the same thing there on match days. So much so that United have appointed a specialist to find ways to help crank up the noise inside the stadium.

Highbury was the Library? The Emirates is a soulless bowl? Is the atmosphere inside the Emirates, really as poor any other ground? Stoke have 25k nutters from middle-Earth that make a good noise. The slime from the other end of Seven Sisters Road can even make a right old racket with a full house of 35k, though it’s the same two songs all the time. Coooome ooooon yooooou Spuuuuuurs!!!! – Oooooo Wheeeen theeee Spuuuuuurs, gooooo maaaarching iiiiiiiin……….. Haven’t they grasped it yet? They never do go marching in…However, is the atmosphere inside said stadiums like it at all matches?

I’ve been going over Arsenal for donkey’s years and at times the atmosphere has been brilliant, mainly big games. They don’t get any better than Anderlecht in 1970. Everton and United in League Cup Semi and FACup in the space of four days back in 88. Many other matches too. The smaller/lesser games will always be a bit flat. Back at Highbury the supporters that chanted out the songs were bunched together at the centre/back of the North Bank. You also had the Clock End chants but with no roof, the noise level was not the same. However, the stadium could rock with the best of them when needed.

“We’re the Clock End, we’re the Clock End, we’re the Clock End Highbury… We’re the North Bank, we’re the North Bank, we’re the North Bank Highbury… They sung to each other in turn. At times even the West Stand and the East Stand joined in”

Supporters abroad tend to make more noise than those here in England. It is like their supporters plan what they are doing on match days. Banners everywhere, no matter how big, flares etc… Like it’s all choreographed, planned out in detail.

Here in England it’s more off the cuff. English supporters I think tend to mainly be roused by the team’s performance on the pitch, rather than the other way round. I still believe that standing on the terraces made the singing of songs and getting behind the team much better. Supporters congregated together and the terraces made it easier for mates stand together. This meant that the English reserve disappeared simply because you were amongst real friends. Sitting down in stadia has meant that friends have been split up and priced out in some cases (see more below)

When the club were building the Emirates a singing section was looked into. RedAction took the lead here. I think I am right in saying an area (3000 seats) was set aside for fans who wanted to be part of this section, could gather together and have a place to start the chanting off. . Why this was put in a corner and not behind the North End goal, I’ll never know.  Back in the day I used to stand on the North Bank with mates and then moved to the Clock End. Many times being in the ground at 2pm for 3pm kick-off. We started singing well before Kick Off, when the players were on the pitch, we’d sing their names as they warmed up and got waves back and cheered them for doing so. Today, the RedAction area is almost empty till 10 mins before kick-off. In the seven years so far at the Emirates, I personally think, that section is about as much use as a chocolate fire guard.

I can’t understand why 3000 Arsenal away fans can sound extremely loud, keep the singing going, though mainly standing, even though in seating areas. Yet 3000 singing section supporters inside the Emirates do not do a very good job getting the singing going and keeping it constant. Say what you like about the club rules but no one stops fans from singing. If they want too, they can.

I also understand it’s not helped by laws/rules that stop drinking inside grounds, though maybe for the best. I suppose a lot of this could be looked at as the fans own fault as to why these laws and rules were brought in. However, this is 2013, times have changed. Maybe time to bring back limited standing areas.

The Emirates is not alone in lack of atmosphere, it happens at all grounds. The clubs have to find ways of getting the noise levels cranked up and bringing back proper match day atmosphere to our grounds, well-played United for at least looking at the problem.

Ticket pricing

Arsenal being a London Club means pricing will always be higher than elsewhere in the country, though it has to be said the prices are steep. Match day tickets can cost anything from:

  • £26 – £51 for cat “C” matches.
  • £36.50 – £73.00 for cat “B” matches and
  • £63.50 – £126 for cat “A” matches. Season tickets from around £950- to £5000 depending on sitting in lower tier or Club Level.

Let’s face it Spurs and Chelsea are not much cheaper and they don’t include seven cup tie vouchers in their season ticket prices. Fulham and QPR charge crazy prices for away fans. Man City fans moan about £62 at the Emirates for their tickets, but charge £59 for Arsenal fans at City. WOW £3 difference.

The fact remains supporters may well absorbed high prices if clubs are successful, yet they can become a monkey on the back of the club if they stop challenging.

The issue for Arsenal today is how they look to fund the club that could help keep ticket prices down? The club has chosen to take the self-sufficient route, rather than go down the route of multi-billionaire owners chucking money at the club. By being self-sufficient, the club need to get sponsors on board as well as the TV money that comes in, which will go up from next season.

It has been said that if clubs were to use the extra money from TV next year to subsidise prices next season, tickets could be reduced by 50%. The thing is it would need to be across the board of all clubs for it to work. Also it’s not going to happen. I think the best supporters can expect is ticket prices being frozen for a number of years.

There can be no doubt that the ticketing pricing at Arsenal has been raised to levels where many Arsenal old-time/loyal supporters have been priced out. These supporters being replaced by what some today call football tourists.

For the clubs football tourists are good. They buy tickets, visit the club shops and buy goods that keep the commercial side ticking over. The Club Level, executive boxes and Diamond Club were built for the more affluent supporters, executives, companies and the super rich. It was said that the 7000 seats in these areas would produce more revenue than the 38000 did at Highbury. Meaning the other 53k seats would become bonus monies. So it does seem a bit harsh that season tickets range from £950-2000 for normal terraced seating.

Trying to see this from all angles, supporters want success and in today’s football, success comes with a price tag? Man United are the world’s biggest club, well at least the biggest and most successful in England. This means United can attract big sponsors and more sponsors. Chelsea and City have owners that have bottomless pits of money and as we all know have pumped plenty of cash into those clubs. City’s best sponsorship deal is with their owners. Please don’t tell me that CFC and CITY would have won what they have without the aid of their owner’s money.

The facts are these three clubs have the financial clout to purchase and then pay for whoever they need, when they need them. When the top players come up for sale, these three clubs, plus Barca, Real and PSG are going to have more of a say than Arsenal can in purchasing players. I also see quite a few fans of Arsenal posting on comments pages in national media, forums, Facebook and Twitter that the club should buy this or that player. Pay £20m/30m, which would form part of an overall sum of around £60m for a four-year contract for a player when wages are factored in.

A lot of fans think our sponsorship deals are not very good and that the club are lagging behind in this area. However, are the deals that were struck with Emirates that bad? A new kit deal is on the horizon, let’s wait and see what that comes in at. United are the world’s biggest club and yes, they have a lot of sponsor’s including smaller ones. Many smaller sponsors can bring in plenty of money. The thing is we are NOT United… Slowly but surely Arsenal are working on new sponsors, big and small. I’m sure they will get right in time. FFPR’s will have an affect and well run self-sustaining clubs will be in a good place to take advantage. What I would describe as organic growth rather than financial doping of clubs.

Other news

On Monday when I got the chance to check my twitter time line, one of the first things I saw was Man Utd had managed to get AON to sponsor their training ground at Carrington. £150m would you believe for 10 years? I mean really how many of you have heard the name Carrington mentioned over the years? No doubt you’ll not stop hearing about Carrington now. I reckon every press conference will be made from there to get the AON name in the spotlight.

Seeing the news on Twitter about United I knew what was about to come. Arsenal had just won their fifth match in six games in a good run which meant they had put themselves in a position where finishing in the top three/four was in their own hands.

I doubt there were many fans who would have thought this was possible a couple of months back. So suddenly Man Utd’s good fortune becomes another stick to beat Arsenal with. Have some of our fans really become that frustrated at things that they can’t wait to knock the club? Have some of our fans forgot what it is like just to enjoy a win? There are between 50-60 games a season and each one is a game in its own right. Hopefully along the way we win most of the games which produces silverware at the end of the season. Sadly it is going on eight years since we had the right to celebrate in Feb or May. However, I for one, can look back during each season and think, I enjoyed many of the games in isolation, even though we did not win silverware at the end of those seasons.

I look back at this season and see games like

  • 5-2 Spurs
  • 7-5 Reading.
  • 5-2 Reading.
  • 7-3 Newcastle.
  • Coventry and Southampton 6-1
  • the 3-3 draw with Fulham.
  • Bayern 2-0 away.
  • West Ham 5-1 and the 3-1 away match.

I even enjoyed the game at White Hart Lane where we lost as well as other matches too. Of course there was some very poor matches as well, defeats by Blackburn and Bradford. But hey! Sometimes you lose these matches. This is what supporting your club about. Thick and Thin. Good and Bad. Win, lose or draw. Sometimes our opponents are just better overall or on the day. Our miss fortune is Blackburn’s and Bradford’s supporters’ good fortune.

Sometimes the team just does not play. No! It’s not good or right, but it happens. I’ve spent 50 years going over Arsenal and seen us win the league six times. Only Liverpool and United have won more. During that time, no Spurs fan I know has seen them win the league.

I have no issue with fans opinions and views, but I do wish at times people would keep it real. What I hear today is, we pay a lot more to watch, well so do other clubs, yet there are only four trophies to win. Some supporters say “I would prefer to win the FACup” Yeah! Right now you might, but when we’re not in the Champions League, losing vital revenue and slowly going even further backwards, I wonder what these fans would say then? Of course, there is no reason why we should not at least challenge for FACup or League Cup; we are one of the big clubs, yet, looking at the premiership today, all English clubs out of the Champions league. Spurs given a footballing lesson by Basle at home. Both them and Newcastle looking likely to go out of the Europa Cup, leaving only Chelsea left in Europe maybe.

Teams are looking tired. Maybe Arsenal being out of all cups is assisting our current surge of wins having only to play once a week.

I want Arsenal to be successful, like most supporters do, but I’m certainly not going to beat the club with a stick every time another club gets something go their way. Not all is perfect at Arsenal, but not all is wrong with Arsenal either.

There are seven games left this season for Arsenal. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, fourth place is not a trophy. However, right now it’s better than having seven dead rubbers. We have an exciting run in, where every match counts. I for one am going to bloody enjoy it, get behind the team and any problems or issues with club I might have, set them aside till the summer.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Nelson permalink
    April 10, 2013 07:39

    Thoroughly enjoyed that. Agreed with it all. Sadly modern day designer fans only want success. Seems at all costs regardless of consequences.
    The meaning of supporting a team has changed from my days. Many don’t know what it’s like watching a totally meaningless game in April.
    Look forward to your next blog.

    • April 10, 2013 16:57

      Thanks Peter. I try to see football from all angles and views. Sometimes before shouting mouth off, put yourself in the position of the person being attacked. I cannot believe that anyone at Arsenal would own the club to ruin it or to put profits over everything else. It does not make sense to ruin a club and expect profits to cokme.

      To many people talking for the sake of talking, like some of our players.

      Used to do blogs a lo0t now only weekely, unless like this one felt there was something to say, that needed to be said.


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