As was widely expected, Arsenal have confirmed that ticket prices next season will rise by 6.5%. The timing was unsurprising coming on the back of the win over Manchester United at the weekend although it is debatable whether the club could have left the announcement any later.
The price rise is Stan Kroenke’s first interaction with supporters since his takeover and it could not be much worse. Frankly, it is a PR disaster that could so easily have been avoided.
The AISA put together a proposition which would negate some of the impact. On the whole it was a positive document, like many things we can all find issues with it but overall, the ideas were constructive rather than being pie in the sky. Arsenal chose to put some into action now, electing to put the rest under consideration during next year. A sop.
On the face of it, the rise is not unreasonable; inflations is at 4%, VAT has increased by 2.5% on last year. The logic is seemingly undeniable. Until, that is, you start to peel away the statements in search of the truth.
Ivan Gazidis commented,
We thought about this increase, the first in three seasons, very carefully
Not carefully enough, Mr Gazidis, for this is not the first ticket price increase in three years.
On December 16 2010, Arsenal announced that as a result of the increase in the rate of VAT, matchday ticket prices would rise by 2.5%. They may like to argue that the rise was out of their hands but the fact is that prices rose and that is all that supporters see.
As is noted in that article, it is effectively a 2.13% price increase. Taken into consideration with the newly announced rises, the VAT increased rate is costing supporters 4.63%. For a 2.5% rise.
The timing of this increase is as bad as it is baffling. Surely someone in the club reflected upon the manner in which the season has finished, the failure and the negative impact that it has had on the support? If not, then serious questions have to be asked of the leadership within.
For many months, a direct correlation has been made between ticket prices and the amount of spending that the club makes in the transfer market. The two are entirely separate issues but when the ticket prices are amongst the most expensive in the world for football matches, it is easy to link the two simply by suggestion.
Arsenal have exacerbated the problem. Fail to sign any one of substance this summer and the criticism will increase. Failure to win a trophy this season has brought disgruntlement very vocally to the surface. Fail to win a trophy next season and the cacophony will be unbearable. It is a problem of their own making and one that requires a quick solution. That, though, is not entirely in their own hands.
Arsenal 0 Moan United 1.
The feeling is that this rise and others which will no doubt be effective next season, e.g programme price or general retail prices, are false economies. A decision has already been taken that we will take our children less next season as a result of the ticket price increases.
When you add in the rise in rail fares and ancillary spend, simply put we will spend less money at the stadium. One programme, no fast food in the ground, etc. With this decision Arsenal will lose revenue from us. On its own, such actions have no impact. When others make similar choices, this mounts up.
Arsenal will not care though. Broadcast revenues are robust and those in charge care more about them than supporters.
That prices need to rise is the price of short-termism when building The Emirates. Deals were signed in haste and Arsenal will not renege on them, it is not the Arsenal Way. The club can buy their way out of some of these contracts; others have done so. The club choose not to. We pay the price with inflated ticket costs.
This is not all about revenue though. Savings to the bottom line will generate profits for the new owner. Every organisation has wastage, Arsenal will be no exceptions.
The wage bill at Arsenal will no doubt increase this year and next. In an economy which is stagnating at best, that is ludicrous especially when the sums involved are rumoured to be around 8%, twice the rate of inflation. That suggests a loss of control over the cost. Some will argue that it is all budgeted for. Indeed it is, funded in part by an increase in tickets.
This is not an issue in isolation. With a commemorative strip next season replaced in 2012-13 by a new home kit, the club’s greed for exploiting the support is rapacious. The attitude of the club in this area is set out clearly in Paragraph 7 of the Club Charter:
When a new home kit is released in the same year as a change kit, the change kit will have a lifespan of one season only.
We cannot complain really. The Charter is supposed to be a commitment to the support that the club will adhere to certain standards. They have lived up to that by forewarning us of their absolute disregard for everyone.
Frequently the old owners claimed that they were custodians of the club on behalf of the supporters. The new owner recently claimed the same. Their words are increasingly hollow.