Soon only these type of guys will be watching Arsenal at the Emirates and they don’t pay
By now you must have heard that a big group of City fans will not be making the trip to the Emirates for Sunday’s game because the away ticket prices are just too steep. Factor in the coach, the food and drink and it all comes up to about £150 to see Balotelli blow a gasket and City lose (OK, that was below the belt but that’s about all that is cheap nowadays). And here is the thing, people are not getting richer in the UK. Austerity hits hard but it seems the football gods believe that fans have bottomless pits of money to throw at the game. Exhibit A is Arsenal with the highest priced tickets in the Premiership and reasonably enough the world for soccer formerly known as “the people’s game.”
Arseblog points an accusing finger at the domino effect caused by the blank checks doled out by City and Chelsea on transfer fees and wages which forces other clubs to raise their wage bills in order to compete. Fans are expected to pick up the tab because loyalty is assumed to be a hardwired attribute. But when you have the game on TV, you have a cheaper option, and you can still scream at Walcott for losing the ball. At a bar with other fans wearing RVP jerseys. The point is loyalty has its limits. However, where Arseblog goes a bit astray is laying the blame game on these few clubs.
Arsenal have the fourth highest wage bill of all the clubs and if that was the criteria for getting into the CL, they would be safe as houses all the time. Arsene Wenger defended the high ticket pricing by saying it was essential to pay the wages of the players. You have to read a bit more into that sentence. Wages of players who have been unproductive, rarely used, and injured so long when they do come back, it’s touted as a new signing. That’s the reality at Arsenal.
No one minds Aaron Ramsey getting paid £60,000 a week if he can pass the ball at the split second its supposed to or prove to be a revelation on the wing in Wenger’s relocation or have an effective GPS when it comes to goals. Or lets put it another way, do people mind paying £40,000- £50,000 per week for a Marouane Chamakh to sit on his hands knowing Wenger will not play him even a single minute (he’s off to West Ham so that’s over for the present)? One doesn’t have the exact figure but the wage bill has to be around £20m for players who’ve been put in deep freeze. Think about how a more realistic wage structure could substantially lower ticket prices.
The club has profited handsomely from player sales, the stadium debt is being paid down steadily, and if Ivan Gazidis and his team are working on improved sponsorship deals and expanding commercial revenues, then there is no reason why fans have to be subjected to increased ticket prices every season. Surely, the self sustaining model applies to both club and fan, that each live within their means. If £62 is too much, then Arsenal need to look at how to bring those prices down or cap them for both home and away fans. And it looks like this issue is bringing together some very unlikely allies together.