Statistics, lies and Arsenal Attendances
What started as mouth dropping figures with every game sold out, slowly turned to humour and now is total farce. Every game is advertised as SOLD OUT, yet inside the ground there are countless seats empty, and I do not mean the Club Level, which rarely fills up except the big games. Whole swathes of seats were vacant for the FA Cup tie against Plymouth, this despite the fact the visitors brought 8,500 fans.
Arsenal has a policy of counting tickets sold as the attendance. This is folly at best and makes us the laughing stock of the league. This is in part out of fear of havign to admit that the demnd for Arsenal tickets is nto as great as we all wish it really is.
The empty seats against Plymouth were frightening and like Dickens’s Christmas Carol foretold of matches not yet happened but matches to come. As with Scrooge, the Arsenal board can do something to avert the team playing in front of row after row of empty seats. The club needs to look at ticket prices, the cost of match day food, and its transfer policy.
The first thing to look at is pricing policy. To pay £46 for upper tier behind the goal is crazy. This area is the last to sell-out at the club, surely that must tell the club something is wrong.
The second is concessions. At present, we have the Family Enclosure as the only area in which concessionary tickets are available, this is also the first area to sell out, and the future of any club is the young generation. Too many people grew up never having been to see the team at Highbury; we cannot afford to close door on this generation at the Emirates by restricting them to a few thousand seats at in the Family Enclosure.
We also have the daft situation that a season ticket holder cannot go and sit elsewhere in the stadium, for whatever reason. So long as the value of the alternative seat for a particular game is less than the season ticket holders original seat then what is the problem?
Finally season ticket prices. The club needs to be bold and announce that ticket prices will be frozen or even reduced fro the forthcoming season. Remember season ticket holders pay in advance, money that the club puts in the banks and earns interest. Season ticket holders also paid when VAT was 17½%, whilst match-by-match purchasers are paying at 15% VAT.
Once inside the ground, we are confronted with plenty of very nice looking refreshment areas. The drawback is the cost. A pie and coke can set you back over £5, go for fish and chips (and it is small fish) and you are looking at £7. Burgers are advertised as premium Aberdeen beef and the price is extortionate. A father taking tow kids will spend over £20 for something to eat and drink, and this is at a football match.
The most important thing to ensure that seats are filled, and watch for the empty seats against Bolton, Sunderland and Fulham, is the quality of the football being played. This season we have been subjected to some terrible performances from Arsenal. Failure to buy quality players and compete will see the fans vote with their feet and stay away.
Therefore, Arsenal board, get your fingers out and sort things out or the ghost of The Emirates of things to come will have us playing to empty stands.