It is no real surprise to me that the Chelsea fixture is struggling to sell out.
When categories were bought in by Arsenal over a decade ago, Cat A games use to sell out in no time.
Arsenal we are force to be reckoned with in the league, playing attacking football and there was an air of positivity around the place. But a lot has changed since then and the club have not moved with the times.
Probably the biggest reason these “big games” now struggle to sell out is due to the Ticket Exchange (TX).
The TX was a brilliant innovation by the club; giving season ticket holders the opportunity to sell tickets to games they were unable to attend.
Up until that point, if you were on holiday, at work or ill, you would have to know and trust someone to pass your season ticket on to. With the introduction of the TX you could just stick your ticket online and someone else would buy it.
I have used it a lot over the years, mainly for mid-week European games when work meant I could not go.
The issue with the TX is that it would only “go live” once a game was officially a sell out.
So if I were unable to go to a game, I could only sell my season ticket on the TX once every seat was sold.
In recent years, this has resulted in obtaining Arsenal tickets turning into a game of poker.
With tickets usually selling “cheapest first”, eventually all the club is left with is the most expensive tickets. For Chelsea the majority of the tickets remaining cost £90+.
So someone looking to get a ticket has a choice.
Pay the £90 (up to £95.50 in some areas) to site upper tier in the Gods. OR wait for the game to sell out and potentially end up with a lower tier ticket for £64.
Of course, the risk is you wait and the game does not sell out, and the cheaper tickets that were available are no longer. But the reward is you get a ticket at 30% off of the currently available price once it goes to TX.
The problem is the club have not moved their pricing with the times.
TX was great for students and youths who lived in the local area. Able to pick up a ticket at late notice.
£95.50 is just too much for the majority of fans who go on an ad-hoc. At that price they would likely decide to stay at home. Watch on the TV. And I fully agree why.
So Arsenal are pricing out a lot of fans who are unable to pay the highest prices and are sitting around waiting for the game to sell our before snapping up a brief off the TX.
You through this in with the negativity around the club both on and off the pitch and Arsenal is just not attractable, enjoyable.
Why spend £95.50 for something that is not enjoyable at the moment?
Yes, you can argue that you should be backing the club through thick and thin, but the club the size of Arsenal has lots of different fans.
You have the fans who will go week in week out no matter what is happening – and these fans usually end up with season tickets.
The ad-hoc fans, students, etc are more casual followers. Going down The Arsenal might be a one or two time a season thing. Why go if you are not going to enjoy yourself?
Arsenal would argue that ticket prices have barely risen in the 15 years we have been at the Emirates so us fans have benefited from a “real term price cut” during that time; hence why they are not reducing ticket prices.
But if the season roles on as is, with so much unhappiness and we end up outside the top 6 again the club might have no choice but to drop ticket prices to attract more fans.
The flip side is how much would they need to drop prices to attract fans?
Back of the fag pack maths, the club will earn around £4.125m with 55,000 fans turning up (paying an average of £75) for Chelsea.
Were they to knock £10 off the cost of a ticket and sell out 60,000, the club would only generate £3.9m. And would £10 off a £95.50 ticket really be enough to bring the fans back in?
And whilst it is uncomfortable to discuss that the club is maximising profit even if it means less fans through the door, that is where football is right now – and it is not just Arsenal.
Maybe the scenario is just scrap Cat A (and Cat C) games and return to just one category?
Yes, this will mean more expensive “cheap tickets” when we player smaller clubs like Aston Villa or Leeds United; but at the end of the day we only go to see The Arsenal.Keenos