Social media and Arsenal fans is an obnoxious mix at times. It’s worse than a school playground on our part with the level of obnoxiousness taken up to eleven. Or maybe that’s the IQ, I’m not sure.
Ian Wright offered an opinion and was castigated. Why? Because the person offering an opinion in strong terms could not take it when he/she got a strong answer back. Here’s a hint; don’t offer an opinion in the first place.
Think about that situation for just a second. An Arsenal legend points out a failing which led to Arsenal conceding a goal in a big game which we yet again, lost.
That’s a bad thing to do apparently. For not worshipping at the Arsène altar and showing how Manchester United didn’t concede a goal despite 9 defenders being around the ball, Wright received the lashings of a million pre-pubescent tongues. A former Arsenal star talks to mortals and gets grief for it. That’s encouraging others to do the same, isn’t it?
You have to hope that nascent Twitter alternatives such as counter.social learn to how to control the trolls.
Arsène speaks to the press later today about the Europa League fixture with nobody particularly interested in the fixture. The Evening Standard reported we’ve sold 50,000 tickets for the match and James Olly rightly questioned how many would turn up.
The AST wants Arsenal to add a ‘donate’ button to allow tickets to go to local causes. A stumbling block for schools to take advantage, for example, is that there are rarely enough seats together for a class to go. And at short notice as well, it’s difficult for teachers, etc., to organise. Nice idea, just not entirely practical. I don’t know how you get that to work, either.
This Game Is Gonna Be A Ghost Game
But it isn’t only Arsenal where the problem exists. Only in games where the home side had something riding on the outcome were the ‘Sold Out’ signs genuinely hung at ticket offices.
At Old Trafford, there were huge swathes of empty seats, the Estadio da Luz looked like Benfica could have shut ¾ of the stadium such was the poor attendance. It’s a Europe-wide problem. Real Madrid tonight will be interesting. A tourist magnet and decent opposition in name only. Huge gaps as well?
There are other factors at play beyond dead rubbers. Arsenal’s fixture list is packed in December. The time when people go out to parties, buy presents and we have four of the next six games at the Emirates. Next week we have a midweek away game at West Ham; Southampton this Sunday.
Football operates outside of the real world. Of those six games, BATE is most meaningless; there’s nothing riding on it for Arsenal. It wouldn’t change if it were a Champions League match in the same circumstances, it genuinely wouldn’t.
Watching a match in a half-empty stadium isn’t much fun but this is what Arsenal and the other clubs want. They want more games, they want group matches so they don’t crash and burn in Europe in September. It’s no good complaining that tickets aren’t being used when the cost of attending games is so high.
This isn’t a rant about match ticket prices. Done that, been there and realise the best we can ever hope for is a freezing of ticket prices for a number of years. But people who live ‘closer’ to the ground, e.g. within London, seem to forget that train fares are probably the only thing to have risen more steeply than football tickets. You would weep if I told you how much it costs when I take my sons to football.
Fans Don’t Come No More
Even towns close to London see fares rise to between £20-30 for travelcards. Arsenal was pivotal in mobilising football fans to travel when transport was less easy a century or more ago. Now, they pay the price for social mobility and corporate greed. It’s no longer a club just for the local community, Arsenal reaches to the edges of the UK and beyond.
Arsenal’s lack of commercial clout relative to other big clubs means ticket prices will not fall quickly. We still lead the way of the top ten ‘richest’ clubs in Europe with matchday revenue as a percentage of total income. That’s how our cloth is cut; we want the stars, we’re going to have to pay from our pockets to see them for the foreseeable future.
If that means the Emirates gets used to 50-55,000 crowds, then that is for the club to deal with. Increasing ticket prices isn’t the answer, Ivan; that will simply exacerbate the problem.
I will genuinely be surprised if more than 35,000 turn up for BATE. That’s the state of football today. Group stages begat meaningless games. Competitions held in little regard by the masses need to be addressed; the current state of European club competition before the knockout stage leaves a lot to be desired.