Ever get the feeling you are not wanted somewhere?
That is what it feels like going down The Arsenal at the moment.
What the club are playing it with the organisation of a match day I do not know.
For 15 years getting into the Emirates has been a fairly easy task. Small queues before the turnstiles but usually no more than a 5 minute wait.
When the terror level was raised a few years ago they introduced a “Coat check point” at the bridges and stairs where you basically need to open your jacket. A steward also gave you a pat down at the turnstiles.
Even these changes made to keep us safe barely had an affect on how long it would take to get into the stadium.
And then we come to this season.
We appreciate the Covid issues, but getting into the stadium has been a nightmare this season. And for Wimbledon midweek it was the worst “experience” of the season.
They had barriers up at the turnstiles to get people in line before getting to the turnstiles. This create a huge amount of overcrowding around the stadium, with queue times of up to half an hour.
It is almost like the club are making it deliberately hard to get into the stadium quickly which in turn will force people to get into the ground earlier, and boost beer, food and merchandise sales within the ground.
For a fan like me who turns up at 14:55 it has created an unworkable situation.
I do not want to get to the ground early. Drink crap beer in soulless atmosphere. But if I do not do that I will probably end up missing the first 10-15 minutes.
And then we come onto the beer.
Usually 2 of me mates would go into a queue and buy half a dozen beers for the 6 of us, or however many are standing around at half time wanting a pint.
But against Wimbledon everything changed. Maximum of 2 beers per person.
This was frustrating for two counts.
The first is that it was not advertised. No signage. Nothing.
So me mate queued for 10 minutes to get a beer for us all, then returned with just 2. The rest of us died a thirst.
Secondly it leads to more queues.
Now two people can not go and get 6 beers together. Not even 1 fella grabbing 3 beers. Anything more than 2 and you will need an extra person. And then an extra transaction. For why?
Do they think the one geezer on his own is buying 3 beers at half time to drink them all on his own? He is clearly buying for him and his mates.
So now we end up with double the length queues, double the transactions.
The restriction has never been in place in the Emirates. The ground is not cauldron of booze filled hate.
You then have the new queuing system to get beers.
No longer do you just queue up looking at the bar.
They have added barriers in an attempt to get everyone queuing up in one long, straight line. Another ridiculous decision.
Taking into account Covid, you would think the club would want as few people queuing as possible. But whatever the club has introduced has led to more queues.
Longer queues to get into the ground. Longer queues to grab a beer.
What is really odd is the club want you to spend money. They want you in the ground earlier and quicker.
And anyone who has ever worked in a bar will know speed or serving is the most important thing.
Serve someone, get straight onto the next one.
So now it is “get to the ground 90 minutes before” on one hand but then “we are going to make you queue longer to get a beer” on the other.
It all just does not add up.
I saw someone on Twitter state that this is the club getting its own back on the so-called “legacy fans” following the protests over the European League. That they are trying to make the “match day experience” a miserable one so that people get feed up, don’t renew, and it opens more seats up to be sold to tourists.
This of course would make no sense as it has been shown this season that the club is struggling to sell out. They frighten off someone like me who has been going for 30 years, they might not replace me.
Maybe they just do not want a certain type of fan in the ground anymore?
They do not want someone having a pint at half time. They want those who will buy a pie and a bag of sweets.
I have no idea what the club are doing, but it could make Sunday very interesting inside and out the ground…