What recession? Arsenal top the extortion table

You’ve probably noticed that the economy isn’t looking so hot right now. Britain is experiencing its worst financial crisis since the 1930’s, jobs are scarce and household debt is the highest it’s been for decades. A chaffing squeeze on our finances, but this isn’t something to think about when the new football season is approaching.

It’s hard to put a monetary value on the enjoyment derived from watching your team, but when you look at the ticket prices for this season’s Premier League, you’ve got to ask yourself, when does loyalty become stupidity?

Take Arsenal, one of the leading clubs to espouse the virtues of sustainability, with relatively impressive results. The club has built a stadium that is the envy of most of their peers and a squad that consistently qualifies for Champions League football. But, maintaining this status has come at a cost, and it’s the fans that have to bear the brunt.

Arsenal have the most expensive season tickets in the league. The club was quick to point out that it had frozen prices for the 2012/13 season, but given that they start at £985 and go up to £1,955, it’s not a gesture that will be regarded as one of history’s great philanthropic moments. By way of comparison, Manchester United’s cheapest season ticket is £532 and the most expensive £950. That’s quite a big difference.

Like many of their rivals, Arsenal’s ticket pricing for next season is split into three categories – A, B and C – with A representing the most prestigious fixtures, such as Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

Tickets for a Category A match start at £63.50 (SIXTY THREE POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE). And that’s the CHEAPEST ticket. It’s a grotesque amount of money to ask from fans at any time, least of all when the country is still deep in recession.

Football doesn’t reflect the general economic environment; for fans the question of season ticket renewal appears to be impervious to the conflicting pressures that force us to make difficult choices in other parts of life. Even so, your commitment as a fan is bordering on obsession if you don’t think twice about handing over £60 to see your team play football.

Tottenham’s cheapest for a Category A match is £48; Liverpool‘s is £45. We haven’t seen what Manchseter City will be charging on match days yet, but it’s highly unlikely their cheapest seat will top the sixty quid mark. And the club that usually often appears near the top of the rip off table, Chelsea, have an adult ticket in the family enclosure priced at £45. An adult in Arsenal’s family enclosure will pay EIGHTY ONE POUNDS AND FIFTY FUCKING PENCE. However, you do get a complimentary kick in the bollocks from each member of the Arsenal board as you make your way to your seat.

In their defence, Arsenal have said the changes to their policy will increase the availability of lower priced tickets (category B and C) throughout the season. In other words, Swansea and Southampton for the paupers, United and Chelsea for the princes. At least you know where you stand.

Whatever the rationale, this doesn’t look good for Arsenal. Even the despised regime at Manchester United isn’t brazen enough to go near those prices. And United are the only one of the big clubs to stay away from different pricing categories, with the cheapest adult seat at Old Trafford a reasonably priced £30.

But, while it’s up to Arsenal fans to vote with their feet if they’re fed up with being fleeced, it’s the treatment of away fans that is most unfair. Away fans are generally charged the equivalent price of a home fan for a standard ticket, so United and Liverpool fans will have to cough up roughly £20 more to see their team at the Emirates than Arsenal fans will pay for the return fixture.

Fans travelling from the North West are looking at running up an obscene bill for a day trip to London. It’s the kind of money that could probably get you to Germany and back with enough change for a Bundesliga game. It often feels like the biggest clubs are engaged in a race to the bottom when it comes to finding new sources of income to tap, but Arsenal’s ticket pricing has them top of the pile when it comes to most shamelessly robbing from for your wallet.

Arsenal fans appear to be in constant debate about the board level leadership of the club. There are those who question whether those in charge have invested enough of their own money; there is no doubt the fans are investing theirs.

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13 Responses to What recession? Arsenal top the extortion table

  1. Block 6 says:

    Another ill researched and factually incorrect article on Arsenal’s season ticket prices. How many times does it need to be pointed out to websites such as this, that the Arsenal season ticket includes 7 cup games (excluding Carling Cup). Therefore, if you take my season ticket of £985/26 games, that equates to £37.88 per game. Spurs on the other hand, £730/19 games equates to £38.42 per game. Now also consider where Arsenal and Tottenham are based. Their fans bases are typically north London & the home countries, areas known as generally being affluent. A United season ticket is £28 per match, and I mean no disrespect to Manchester as it is a fantastic city, but average earnings in will higher in the Arsenal/Tottenham supporter bases. Also, how much would it cost a United fan to buy their own ticket for a champions league match? 40/50 quid?

    Do your research before spouting nonsense.

    • Michael says:

      £985 is a prohibitive amount of money.

      £63 is a disgusting amount of money.

      There are plenty of places near Arsenal that are anything but affluent. And in any case, why should that matter. Because you earn more you have to pay more – is that the way you think football should be run? If that’s how you want your club to treat you, you’re welcome to them.

      • Björn says:

        I don’t think it’s a question of having to pay more. It’s a really about that the aggregated fan base of Arsenal can pay more and that is essentially a quite vital part of where the ticket prices will end up. I don’t think it’s that much of a active, cynical choice on the behalf of the Arsenal staff. In addition to those affluent parts of London there is a probably a few thousand of us Scandinavians, Asians and Americans scooping up the last few tickets that may have remained unsold 30 years ago and creating extra demand for the season tickets available.

        Of course I sometimes get the feeling that I may be “stealing” this seat from a genuine Islington-born Arsenal fan when i jet in with Ryanair on a Saturday morning for one of my 2-4 home games per season. But then again – being able to buy a season ticket to one of the best football leagues in the world, in a city with large income gaps in the first place, may not be the number one priority for someone who is experiencing poverty and/or unemployment.

        At least, that is how I try to console myself – as well as spending money in the Armoury and staying in N5 hotels and pubs during my trips…and I stand up and sing as well. :)

        • Michael says:

          Björn ,
          Thanks for your comment. I know that many Scandinavian fans come over to England every weekend to support EPL teams and are passionate about the clubs they support. I have no axe to grind with Danes, Swedes or Norwegians. My point is simply that these prices are completely out of touch with what is happening in the rest of the economy, and I don’t think it is healthy. It may be true that Arsenal have a lot of relatively wealthy fans, but it’s quite an assumption to say they can all afford to pay more – if that’s true you’re just creating an elitist football club. Arsenal is a good club with great history. I live in the area, and although I’m not a fan, my Dad was, so I have a soft spot for them.

          I hope you enjoy your next trip, thanks for reading.

  2. DR says:

    Fun fact, Spurs season tickets are in fact more expensive per game than Arsenal, plus you have to go to White Hart Lane every match…

    Lower ticket pricing means less money spent on players which means less chance of the trophies that people would justify higher prices on, it’s a vicious circle and one that just ends up with you disappearing up your own rear. Worth remembering that there is more money in London too, and the top two teams who require profit to run have the highest prices, probably not a coincidence.

  3. Kc.com says:

    So with all this higher ticket price wenger can’t spend it on a mature player hm.

  4. wardy says:

    This is the one area where i cant see any reasoning behind it. It f***s me off that they say we cant compete with the manchester clubs for transfers (including wages!) yet they insist on charging us a small fortune to watch a team that the board say cant compete financially. why charge the ****ing earth then say we cant compete. They bang on about being the model of sustainability, with those prices I’m not surprised but i can assure you there prices are not sustainable for the fans. (maybe the plastic fans can offord it)
    They rob us of our money then treat us with total distain. How long does this have to go on for??? Arsenal will always be in my heart but i can no longer go on watching a club that treats its fan base with total contempt. I have (sadly) cancelled my season ticket (that took me 6 years to get) I dont think i will even buy a shirt this year. I know that may sound drastic to some of you and you may be thinking what a dick. But look at it like this. Weather its wenger the board or both, the fact remains that we see our marquee players leave year after year with very little reinvestment in the squad. Why because we are told we have debts to pay for the stadium we now occupy. ( how long is that excuse going to go on for???huh?)How about they start paying the biggest debt they have. The one to the Fans (not the plastic fantastic fans, the real ones) We are told that we cant compete with the other 3 ( you know who they are) teams yet they insist on charging us double what they do, only to see us fail. that to me is a an absolute disgrace. I can take the lack of trophies and would happily sit on the moral high ground for sustainability and elegant football, if. a) we played elegant football and b)it was sustainable. they bang on about doing things the right way (the arsenal way) it turns out in recent years they have adopted a new way. to rip off its fan base!
    I know this may come off as yet another disgruntled fan who hates wenger the board and all things arsenal but I’m not at all. I have been as patient as the next genuine gooner and I have on many occasions defended the team, wenger and the board. hell if i knew in my heart of hearts that the money would be reinvested in the SQUAD i would happily pay those prices (alright maybe not happy but you get my point) I dont want marquee signing after marquee signing. I just want to think if a world class player was available then we would genuinely consider putting in an offer…..(not just media hype) I know wenger can be as shrewd as they come and we have 2 very good additions but like always its come at a cost. RVP!
    Listening to Gazidis is like listening to white house press secretary. You cant belive a word and your left wondering just how dumb do they think we are???/

    from a disgruntled and gramatically challenged gooner……

  5. drbillyo says:

    “a reasonably priced £30”

    What world have we created where £30 for 90 minutes football is “reasonable”

    • Michael says:

      In relative terms, £30 to see Manchester United is reasonable. You can pay more than that to watch Championship football. No one should pay £30 to watch Championship football.

      • ppp says:

        And here we get to the nub of the issue. You are a Manchester United fan hell bent on proving your club is the bestest and most nicest club in all the wide world of football and nasty Arsenal are evil.
        What a load of rubbish, you could be sued for half the cr£p you’ve written in this “article” and I won’t bother pointing out the inaccuracies as they’ve been shown up by others already.
        Well done, you prefer teams who spend money they don’t earn. Well done, you must be so proud and must really love the game to attack a club that at least tries to do things the right way.
        I’m sure Arsenal owe you and every other armchair fan a massive apology for not whoring itself to the highest bidder – thereby ruining your twisted version of football that you pay through the nose to watch on Sky. I’ll stick to supporting my local club at the ground and sticking two fingers up to mercenary idiots like yourself who have anything but the game’s best interests at heart.
        Now go away and don’t write about football ever again. People like you are NOT welcome in the game.

  6. fellows says:

    At least they run the club like a business and use this money to sustain the club, rather than racking up debt and leaving it to a rich tycoon to bail them out!

    Plus I’d rather pay £60 to watch them than £30 on the Sc*mmers!

    • Michael says:

      Hello Fellows,
      I’m not attacking them for keeping the club solvent – I absolutely think that is the right thing to do. But, sustaining their status comes at a direct cost to the fans, and it’s a lot of money. I know people who cancelled their season tickets this year because it was too much. I think they are in danger of making Arsenal a very exclusive club with those prices.

      • Joseph says:

        You’re quite right about it becoming an exclusive club. The thing is, in London, with a significant overseas fan base (as well as a lot of corporate neutrals who just want to see “good” football, and aren’t paying themselves anyway), Arsenal can find takers for their tickets whatever they charge. It’s just not realistic to expect a business to prioritise inclusiveness over lucre, I’m afraid.

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