As I’m sure you’re aware, Arsenal have just announced that from next season, tickets will be 3% more expensive. This has angered many people, including me, but what has angered me more is the people seemingly justifying the hike.
I really feel like some people miss the point with this price increase. On my twitter feed, I saw various defences for Arsenal’s decision to up prices (above inflation), the most ridiculous being the argument that an extra £30 for a season ticket holder is equivalent to just two meals at Nandos. Now I feel there are two points to be made from this; firstly, trivialising a £30 increase doesn’t justify the lengths that some people go to in order to go see The Arsenal each year.
Many are already on the brink, and another £30 may cause some to a) be financially unable to continue paying for their season ticket and b) feel disillusioned with a club that they have loyally shelled out for year in year out, only to be rewarded with no trophies and another price increase. Some people may be privileged enough to ensure any increase in the cost of season tickets not make a dent in their wallet, but working class people who spend a large percentage of their cash on tickets may not laugh off £30 the same way.
And if we are going to dismiss this year’s hike, then where do we draw the line in the sand? If £30 is fine, then why not £50? Do we go up by £75 the year after, and then hit three figures next time round? The relative expense of paying to see Arsenal is always subjective and dependent on the individual, but it’s the principle that stands. Off the back of a lucrative TV deal, not to mention a new contract with Fly Emirates and an agreement with Puma, it seems particularly bullish to make people pay even more, especially in the face of a trophy-less era stretching what is now close to a decade.
I hear so often that football is now a business well enough, and I also get that Arsenal is based in one of the most affluent parts of the country. But to me, if you view Arsenal no differently to Tesco or Argos, you’re seeing football in a weird way. Arsenal should not be solely about money, it should be about entertaining its fans, serving its local community and looking after its own.
Arsenal do not deserve full criticism, as schemes such as £10 Junior tickets prove. But it doesn’t deter from the fact that many supporters are being taken for mugs. We’re top of the league and through to the knockouts in Europe but heavy handed stewarding and this 3% increase are taking the buzz away from the place. No doubt the majority will continue to pay up and support the team as they have done through thick and thin, and although 3% is nothing to some, the sheer cheek of Arsenal to up the prices shows the troubled way football is heading. Fans shouldn’t take this lightly.