I am not going tonight. Neither is many people that I know.
The game has been on sale for weeks. It went to Silvers, then to Reds, then to family and friends – allowing current members to buy an additional 4 tickets. And now it is on General Sale. This is the first time that I can ever remember tickets being available for an Arsenal game on general sale since the membership schemes came in place back in the mid 90s.
Due to the game going to general sale, the ticket exchange has also not opened. So not only are there a few thousand tickets still available, there will also be a few thousand season ticket holders who do not make mid-week games unable to sell on their ticket, therefore leaving their seat empty.
I am going to make a bold prediction. The stadium will be no more than 2/3’s full. That will be around 40,o000. Of course, the club will announce a 60,000 sell out as they announce tickets sold, not people through the gates. Laughable but actually every club do it.
The Sunderland end will also be half empty. With the game moved to mid-week, I imagine they have already only taken the lower allocation, leaving more tickets for Arsenal to sell.
Do Sunderland fans really want to make the 4 hour train journey (or 5 hour drive) down to London on a Tuesday when they are already relegated, to watch their side lose again? Probably not. The away end could be at its emptiest since Wigan had one man and his dog turn up a few years ago.
So why so are so few people turning up?
The primary reason is it is people’s dissatisfaction with the state of the club at the moment.
I spoke a few weeks ago how I was mentally drained with Arsenal. How I was done with football for the season. Whilst I went to Stoke City away – and the Stoke game did remind me why I spend so much following the team over land and sea (it was a great drink up with some good people) – I am not going to Sunderland. I have paid for the ticket as part of my season ticket, but I am unconcerned with not going to the game.
I feel many other fans feel the same with me. They can not be bothered to go to a semi-meaningless game on a Tuesday night.
The poor performances this season, the managers arrogance surrounding his contract, the lack of passion shown by players, the overall poor management of the club, the embarrassing actions from the club, the manager, the players and the fans. I just can not be bothered.
This unhappiness with the club is why I am not going, why many season ticket holders are not going.
General apathy towards Arsenal.
Alongside the general apathy at the club, a boycott has also been called by Arsenal pressure group No New Contract.
The club have been greedy categorising the game as Cat B.
To limit the losses on us season ticket holders having larger refunds due to missing out on two cup games, the club made the decision to make Sunderland a Cat B game. It is usually Cat C. This means that the cheapest ticket is £36.50. That is a lot of money for a mid week semi-meaningless game.
I would imagine the majority of these cheapest tickets have already been sold. What is remaining is a lot of upper tier, expensive tickets, the majority of which cost in the region of £50. That is a hell of a lot of money for a semi-meaningless game on a Tuesday night.
The club invited fans to bring along their family and friends. If a father decided to bring his 2 sons (or a mother her 2 daughters, in this PC world we now live in), you would be looking to fork out nearly over £200 by the time you buy 3 tickets, pay for trains, a bit of food, etc. And all this on a school night for a semi-meaningless game.
Had the club have got the pricing right and made it Cat C, then tickets would have been as low as £26. The most expensive would have been £38.50. These would have sold out, and then dissatisfied season ticket holders could have put their ticket on the ticket exchange, which would have also sold out.
The club have messed up big time. In an attempt to limit the refunds for season ticket holders, they will now be embarrassed by having a game in front of a half empty stadium.
The game is semi-meaningless. We have a chance of a top 4, but not much else. It is a pointless game on a Tuesday night. With GCSE’s starting this week, university exams going on, and it being a school night, today was always going to be a hard sell for Arsenal.
Mid week games often have a lower attendance than games on a Saturday. I rarely go to a mid week games. I get up at 5.30am for work. To then go to a game and not get home until gone 11pm, to then still need to have dinner and a shower before bed means that on mid weeker, I do not get to sleep until midnight. That makes it a long day, and then 5 and a half hours later I am back up for work.
I do not even go to big mid-week games. This year I skipped Bayern Munich and PSG. I do not remember the last time I went to a Champions League game.
There are many fans like me. The chaps who sit next to me live in Basingstoke. They do not go to mid week games as the commute is too long for them with work the next day. Same for the chap in front of me who commutes to every game from Birmingham. Then you have the lad from Northampton who sits behind me.
These are not people who should be told to support their local team. They are all North London born season ticket holders who have moved out of the capital for work / family.
A game on a Tuesday or Wednesday means they will not go .They rely on selling their ticket on the Ticket Exchange. But with it not open, there seat, like mine, will remain empty tonight.
The club can not control the scheduling, but they should have reduced the ticket prices to Cat C when it was moved to attract more sales.
The club constantly bangs on about how many members it has. The number of gold, silver and bronze members is well over 100,000. Yet when it comes down to it, most of these memberships are unused.
I would actually like to see (and I am sure the club have these statistics) how many memberships have gone unused this season. It seems a lot of fans – especially those abroad – have silver and red memberships without any intention of going to a game. They just enjoy telling their friends in Stockholm, Dubai or Bangkok that they are a member of Arsenal Football Club.
Some may well have used their membership, perhaps been once in 10 years. But essentially their membership is as pointless as the millions of pounds left unspent on Oyster Cards by tourists who took their card home as a souvenir and have no interest in returning to London and using the balance.
An argument could be made that the club should not sell memberships to foreign fans, and if you membership go’s unused, it should be discontinued. But the membership is a revenue scheme.
I would bet that the club brings in between £2.5m – £5m from the renewal of Silver and red memberships. They do not care if the majority go unused as they already have the revenue for them.
A lot of members with cards who have no intention of going to a game. Just like a lot of fans on the season ticket waiting list have no intention of buying a season ticket.
This leaves the club with a fragile membership, and an even bigger reason why the club need to get pricing right.
Expected line up
Mustafi Gabriel Monreal
Bellerin Elneny Xhaka Gibbs
Enjoy the game (if you are going)