With just 8 days to go, Arsenal v Basel in the Champions League is still not sold out.To be exact, as of the moment of me writing this article, there are 761 tickets left. All but one in the Clock End. All but 2 in the Clock End Upper.
in the grand scheme of things, 761 tickets remaining is not a great deal. with a stadium capacity of 60,432, 761 amounts to 1.29%.
Despite their being a little over 1% of tickets remaining, the fact the club have opened their friends and family system allowing members to buy up to 4 tickets shows the trouble they have had shifting tickets for this fixture.
But why is this?
Lack of love for the Champions League
A big factor.
I am a genuine believer the Champions League is losing its clout. Losing its draw. People are falling out of love with it.
A mid week game, when money is tight, people have work the next day, to play mediocre European opposition, in a group that we should get out of easily. It is just not of interest.
Come the knock out stages, interest peaks, but the group stages fail to generate an interest.
For a few years I have not gone to Champions League group stages. I just do not enjoy them anymore. Many others seem to do the same thing. UK television ratings for the Champions League have nosedived since it moved from ITV and Sky Sports.
There is simply not the interest in the Champions League that there was 10 years ago.
Meanwhile, the League Cup (or whatever it is now called) – a competition which was dying out 10 years ago, is getting more interest.
Tonight we play Nottingham Forest away. The away section sold out quickly. I bet if we were playing them at home, we would have easily sold out.
Seeing some youngsters play, in a knockout competition, against a legendary English side that we have not played for a decade. It generates interest.
The Champions League is boring. It is tired. The group stages are going through the motions. A case of just waiting for the usual suspects to make the last 16. Then the competition really begins.
I love cricket. A few years ago, the World Cup format was messed around with.
In 1999, they changed the format to have 2 groups of 8, where the top 3 in each group went through to a secondary group stage called the Super 6’s. From this, the top 4 went through to the knockout stages.
It elongated the competition, it was boring. In the group stages everyone was just waiting for them to be over, so that the superior teams could finally face eachother. Even the Super 6’s were boring, with a few dead rubbers.
In 2011 they changed the format and the competition rejuvenated itself.
The Champions League is a bit like that. It is now dull. You get the odd surprise, but in 90% of the cases, the sides that finish 1st and 2nd are the sides that you would expect to finish 1st and 2nd.
It is becoming boring. And it is not just at Arsenal. Other clubs in England have struggled to sell out recently (Manchester United have struggled for years). Across Europe as well. Coupled with the falling TV figures, it is just not a competition which wets the appetite anymore.
Lack of love for The Arsenal
It is impossible to write an article about tickets without mention the apathy some fans have with Arsenal at the moment.
Whilst in this case, I imagine it is not a big effecter. It would have had a minor effect. There are a few hundred fans who no longer go to games, who otherwise would have got tickets for the Basel game. They are missing.
There are also many others who do still go to games, but now cherry pick them. They would see a game like this as just putting more money in Stan Kroenke’s pocket. They are not on a complete boycott, but the small erosion for love in The Arsenal results in them not going the extra mile to lose a Wednesday night to go and watch them.
Ticket Exchange Poker
You are not able to put your ticket up on the clubs Ticket Exchange until the game is sold out. This also means you can not buy a ticket on Ticket Exchange until the game has sold out. What this results in is a big game of poker. He who blinks first.
Currently 99% of the tickets available are in the Clock End Upper. The majority of these are in the back few rows of the Clock End. Up in the clouds, so to speak. Not a great view, you feel a million miles from the play. A lack of atmosphere, and a long old walk to the top.
I have sat up the back there before and it is not nice.
Also it is more expensive. Tickets in the clouds are £43.50. Where I sit, lower tier, it is £36.50. £7 might not seem much, but to a student, or to a youngster, it is.
Basically it is massively advantageous to not blink first. Let others get worried, buy their ticket up in the clouds, let it go to Ticket Exchange, then have a great selection of tickets at lower prices.
Of course, come the weekend, if it has not sold out, you can still snap up a ticket in the Clock End Upper Tier anyway. But until then, hundreds are sitting and waiting. A massive game of Ticket Exchange Poker.