All season, Arsenal have had ticketing issues. This peaked with the Wolves game as the silver allocation sold out within 5 minutes.
So what are the issues? And what are the possible solutions?
Supply and demand
The single biggest issue. There are simply too many people going and not enough tickets.
There are around 8-8,500 tickets that go on sale every home game, split across silvers and red members. Getting tickets as a silver has not really been a problem prior to this season. The expected, the demand for tickets has increased alongside Arsenal’s improved performance.
And it is not much of a surprise with us being in pole position to win our first league title in 19 years that the Wolves game sold out so quickly.
Supply and demand is an issue that all events face. And demand seems to have increased since Covid19.
In 2021, 170,000 tickets for Liam Gallagher at Knebworth sold out in minutes. The 200,000 tickets available for Glastonbury 2023 sold it in around an hour.
Anyone that has ever been to gigs, concerts, festivals, cricket, boxing, darts and more will know how quickly these events sell out. And how it is a milatery with your mates and mutiple devices to try and get tickets.
For 5 years before Covid, I was always able to get tickets for the first day at the Oval for the September test. 4 of us usually enter the ballot for tickets. We failed to get tickets for either 2022 or 2023.
Gallagher sells out 170,000 tickets within minutes. So no surprise the silver allocation (around 3,000 tickets), sells out in minutes.
People often pick and chose what they want to go to.
They want to go to Spurs away, but do not want to do Stoke or Middlesbrough to build up their credits. they want to do Chelsea at home, but have no interest in Burnley or Bolton at home.
The better we are, the better the opponent, the higher the demand is.
Solution: Build a bigger stadium.
I have seen some say that the Emirates is not fit for purpose, that we need to expand to 70,000. But it was only 12 months ago that many games went on general sale, and some failed to sell out.
Is the problem that the stadium is not big enough? Or is it that it is not big enough when we are top of the league? I do wonder where the demand was last season when we were 8th last season. And if the current demand would dramatically reduce if we were 8th next season.
Solution: Home credits
I have seen some argue that home credits could be a solution, rewarding those that go to more games.
Whilst good in theory, I think this will just make home games more of a closed shop. See the complaints about the away credit system as Exhibit A.
Home credits will not resolve the issues of 30,000 silver fans going for ~1500-2000 tickets. It will just see the same people going time and again, building their credits. And those at the bottom of the tree will have no chance of a ticket.
Solution: Reward longevity
Some older fans often complain about how long they have been a member, and how that counts for nothing. That they should have priority for having their silver membership for 20 years over someone who has had it for 6 years.
Longevity does not necassirly equate to loyalty.
Is a silver member who has had their membership for 20 years, but only goes to one game a season, more deserving of tickets than a lad who has had his members for 2 years, but been to 40 games in that period?
Solution: Increase silver allocation
The silver membership numbers has been capped at a consistent level thoughout our time at the Emirates (30,000), but our red membership has grown dramatically this season, up over 50%.
I remember when they first created the silver and red members. Silver got 100% of the available tickets and reds would only get a ticket if there were any left. Then reds got 500 tickets, them 1000 and now 3500 with the allocation for silvers reduced every time.
As a silver, during these periods, it was unlikely that you would be unable to get a ticket if you missed a game.
More recently,, the club made the decision to further reduce the tickets available to silvers and increase the red allocation upto 3,500 per game. This season reds with a Junior Gunner could book via the phone during the silver sale.
The club made this decision to try and make the red memberships more attractable when introducing the cheaper digital memberships. By creating more tickets available at this level, it saw more fans upgrade to red. But it dramatically reduced what was available to silver memberships.
A return to the previous system where 500 tickets are put aside for red members, with the rest going to silvers feels fair.
You have to be a red for 15+ years to get a silver. At that point, no one can really question another fans loyalty or longevity.
Solution: Ban multiple memberships, one name
I had a silver membership prior to getting my season ticket.
When I got my season ticket, I did not have to relenquish my silver as they were not connected. that meant I had both a gold and silver membership. I also had a 2nd silver that was in my fathers game that I usually let mates use who were not silvers – these were the early 00s when I was still at university.
I got rid of both my silvers about 10-years ago. It was pointless paying £50 for two memberships that I just did not use (now over £100 for both). But I wonder how amny gold season tickets still have a silver members that they (potentially) sell on game by game.
Moving to “one membership, one name” would reduce how many fans have silver memberships, and should therefore reduce the demand.
But what for those father and sons that share the same name? The club will have to be careful.
Likewise, what for those dads who have passed their silvers onto their kids, who in turn have not had their own red memberships. I bet there are plenty of 20-somethings that have been going for a decade on their dads silver who would then have to drop to the bottom of the list.
Maybe the club could do a “name amnesity” like they did with gold members? Allow season ticket holders to pass their silver memberships onto someone else, changing the name, for one summer only. This would also allow fans to add middle names to their membership, distinguishing sons from their fathers.
Then anyone that still has two memberships (or more) in the same name gets their secondary memberships cancelled. But will this really resolve anything if everyone just passes their silver onto someone else and change the name?
Solution: Use it or lose it
We have seen the club introduce a “use it or lose it” system with season ticket in an attempt to ensure tickets (or the TX) are being used as much as possible. This is a positive move but does not actually free up many tickets.
Could the club implement similar for silver members?
The primary reason to have a silver membership is priority tickets.
Maybe the club could introduce that if you do not use your silver a minimum of 5 times over the course of 2 full seasons, then you get downgraded to red.
Some might see this as unfair, but what is unfair is that fans that have stayed away during our bad times have suddenly reappeared now we are good again.
The “I will never go to a game whilst Wenger is in charge” fans did not come back under Unai Emery. Nor did they show their faces in those first Arteta years. but top of the league with 10o game to go? They are trying to get tickets again
Use it or lose it is always controversial.
There could be a reason a fan has rarely used their silver membership for a few years – illness, working abroad, financial constraints. And it would risk punishing a fan who has maybe been to 100s of games over 18 years all because they were unable to go for a couple of years.
It could be using a sledgehammer to break a nut.
I am a big believer that touting is not the big issue some fans see it as.
Yes, it exists, but my theory is we are talking about a couple of 100 tickets ending up in the hands of touts, not 1000s.
Touted tickets merely get the headlines due to the screenshots of high ticket prices shared across social media. But just because one ticket is up for sale for £28,000, does not mean there are lots of them.
If you see 1000s of tickets available for sale across mutiple websites, it is probably the same few tickets posted across mutiple sites.
I recently posted a double bed for sale. I put it on Facebook Marketbplace, Next Door and eBay. Three listings, one bed.
Online touts are probably putting a single ticket across multiple sites including Twitter. So what looks like 1000s of tickets available is probably only a coiuple of hundred.
Touting is a problem every event faces, and if there was an easy solution, one would have already have been found. But the club can not jsut turn a blind eye. They need to do something.
Solution: Buy tickets, cancel memberships
For some time, the club has bought tickets off the black market and then cancelled memberships. Over 2,000 memberships have been cancelled this season due to offences.
Whilst this might seem like a simple solution, there is nothing stopping a tout going straight back online and buying a new membership. As quickly as you cancel a membership, a new one is bought.
It reminds me of how the police deal with drug dealing.
As long as no violence is involved, they often turn a blind eye to low level drug dealing. They know if they plunder resources into and crack down and imprison dealers, others will quickly replace them.
Touting is the same. Cancel one membership, another will be bought to replace. And all the club ends up doing is spending more and more resources without ever actually changing anything.
I guess the hope is that if you keep cancelling memberships, eventually the coast of a new membership will begin to outweigh the benefit of touting and that individual will stop.
Solution: ID check on new memberships
One solution could be to force an ID check for new membership applications.
This would allow the club to reference new members against those that have previously had their membership cancelled, and block their application.
But this also risks blocking fans who do not have a driving license or passport – and having spent nearly 2 decades in recruitment, these people do exist.
Also, you can not expect the club’s membership team to be experts on spotting fake IDs. We are a global club with a global fan base. It would not be hard for a tout to get hold of lots of cheap, fake IDs (do not even have to be good quality) and set up Gmail addresses in their names.
As it will be copies of IDs and not hard copies, providing fakes would be very, very easy.
Solution: New membershup cooling off period
You go online to buy a ticket off a tout, or meet one in the pub, they get you to set up a digital membership that they can then transfer the ticket to.
A solution could be that a new membership can not have a ticket transferred to it until it has been live for 30 days. This would stop a chap from China coming to the UK on holiday, deciding to go to a game the next day, buying a membership and getting a ticket.
You stop the demand, you stop the supply. A good idea, but one that has a few pitfuls.
The idea of the digitial membership was to allow fans to transfer tickets at late notice to a mate when they suddenly could not go due to other commitements.
A cooling off period would stop you waking up on a Tuesday morning feeling ill, calling a mate to pass the ticket through, that mate quickly getting themselves a membership, transferring the ticket and going to the game that evening.
And touts will always move quicker then the club. They will just set up digital memberships ahead of time and sell the log in details to that membership along with the match ticket. An easy work around.
One problem a lot of fans faced was the website crashing due to the demand. This happens on many ticketting platforms and is a consequence of a high demand.
Lads with 4 browsers open contribute to the problem. And if there are 4 of you all going for 4 tickets with 4 browsers open, that could be 16 people in the queue. Mutiple that by the 30,000 silver members and Arsenal could well see close to 100,000 “people” attempting to buy tickets, and crashing the system.
To get tickets for Gallagher at Knebworth, I was on two laptops, my iPad and two mobile phones. 5 devices. I was part of the problem when the system crashed.
Solution: Invest in a better platform
My understanding is the club are investing in the ticketing platform.
Liverpool reportedly had similar issues with the same platform earlier in the year and acted quickly. Our response has perhaps been a little to slow.
Whilst the new platford should see less crashes, it does not resolve the supply / demand issue.
Hopefully a new platform would also do a better job blocking those bots that tlouts use.
Summary: The ticketing issues at Arsenal are complex, and a solution is not easy.
The club have been warned by fans about these issues for some time, and as we close in on the end of the season the issues have increase.
There is a lot of work that can be done to limit touting, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tickets.
The main issue is supply and demand. We either increase the supply of tickets, or reduce the demand. The only way we reduce the demand is by being worse on the pitch.
I would go back to increasing the allocation of silver members, reducing those available for red. Silver is the priority. I would also look into a “use it or lose it” system to ensure those fareweather fans who are not bothered about going when we are average, do not get the priority of a silver when we are good again.
What do you think?
Use it or lose it is ok in theory but how can you go to a set number of games as a silver member when you can’t get tickets in the first place
Any silver member that wanted to go to 5 games from 2020/21-2021/22 would have got the tickets they wanted. No one would have had an issue being on 5 credits at the end of the 2022 season
Always believed that the biggest club in London should have the biggest (club) stadium. Even if we were doing poorly, we`d regularly fill a 70,000+ ground out. Sure, If you were struggling, you`d get a few games where you`d be playing in front of 50 odd thousand but if you can put a decent team out then you`d fill it easily. We`d be getting a 100,000 every home game this year if we had the capacity.
Think it`s a no brainer but the club seem happy at the current supply and demand. They can charge what they want at the minute, it`s all in their hands.
Disagree on empty seats not being an issue. Having been home and away for years, those stadiums that put banners over empty seats suffer due the atmosphere.
Last season we struggled to sell out 60,000. We would have had 10,000 empty seats every game. That would have made the atmosphere even worse
For almost the entire history of football in this country, clubs have played to stadiums that were nowhere near full capacity. Disagree with you about us playing in front of 10,000 empty seats every game last season. No chance, most games would have sold out and if they didn`t then the club would have had to re-think their ticket pricing strategy. But as I said in my OP, the club are quite happy with the current balance because it allows them to set pretty much whatever price they want and it allows them to rake in money from their membership scheme. I`d prefer a 90,000 seater stadium and lower ticket prices myself but where all different I suppose.
Use it or lose is OK, as long as you have a realistic opportunity to buy as a Silver. This year I have managed to get only a ticket through the Silver Sale to a Europa cup game. PL has always sold out before when I am in the queue waiting since the start of this season. I am a fan of over 50 years and went many times during Wengers last season and The Emery era as well. Not a fair weather fan, but living in Cheshire, it’s not always possible to attend more than 8 or 9 times a season due to work and family commitments. I would like to see a ballot system for Silver Members so we all have a chance of attending.
Get what you are saying, which is why I said 5 times over 2 seasons. As you say, 8 or 9 times a season is not always possible. But 2 or 3 is. Can also include cup games in that too.
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Interesting. Every case is different. The club have been happy to take £50/year for 30,000 silver memberships and then cut the number of tickets available to them. This is wrong.
I admit I did not go when the atmosphere was toxic because I take my kids and they were young and I didn’t want to expose them to that. So when I could I went alone.
In the last two seasons I feel I can take them again and would have gone regardless of the success we’ve enjoyed this season. I have tried to get tickets for all bar two home games this season (I was abroad) and have been successful only 5 times, therefore a use it or lose it scheme may penalise those that tried but were unsuccessful.
I do feel that the Family Enclosure should be massively expanded. It is these kids that will become the future generations of fans and they are the ones that really need to have easier access otherwise they may end up supporting someone else where they can get it – then they have a unique membership when they hit 18 that enables them to get tickets.
Interesting that you propose the FE being expanded, which would then lead to a reduction of tickets available to silver members. The FE is actually easier to buy tickets in than the general admission. That is why the club are hitting the area hard with ID checks – touts have begun buying in the FE on JG memberships as it is easier.
I actually said that I’d tried to get tickets for all home games this season and only got 5 and that’s in the Family Enclosure, so I totally disagree that it is easy to get them. The point I was making was that the club are trying to encourage new / younger supporters with their red membership, but the FE expansion covers that base also. I also said every case is different. Bottom line is the stadium is too small. I’d rather it have been 80k and if they only sell 60k give the rest away to local schools and youth groups to generate future support but that shop has sailed.
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I would have thought an automatic ballot of Silver members for every home game would be the fairest way to allocate tickets. You’ll automatically included, if you’re successful, you have a time period to buy the ticket, if you don’t take up the option, it goes to the next on the list. You could exclude those successful from the next ballot to ensure everyone gets a chance, sure, some will be lucky and get the bigger games and some will get Bournemouth (although there was nowhere better in the world to be than the Grove a few backs at roughly 4.55 pm). It solves the problem of bots and multiple browsers and the associated frustration and gives everyone a fair crack. Just a thought..
A ballot is what other clubs do. The problem is if you win for say Bournemouth, and the next game on sale is Spurs, you will give up that Bournemouth ticket for a chance to “win” Spurs
It would be unfair to also exclude winners who did not take up a ticket from entering the next ballot as their might be a valid reason they could not attend the game they “won”. Idea of a membership against a season ticket was you had no commitement, and could attend the games you wanted
I don’t think there’s a perfect solution, but I do think balloting is the fairest. Maybe an ‘opt out’ option for those who can’t or don’t want to go to a particular game.
I am a senior season ticket owner . My son also has his ticket. I am in my eighties and every year I ask if Arsenal would follow many other clubs and offer a 50 per cent discount for seniors. Every year this is refused. !
I agree with the club on this. Not sure why a fan should get a 50% discount on a ticket just because they are of pensionable age.
and why not hes probably been a member for many many years and now on a pension and income less why shouldnt they look after their loyal elderly, shame on you Arsenal, even if it was 10% or 20%
STOP dishing out red membership willy nilly
How can silvers be lotaty by game when you can’t even get a ticket to be able to build by game credits. I’ve managed tickets to 2 games and tried to apply for many without success
I know people who have their season ticket and still have their silver membership how is this possible when we upgraded to ST we had to give the silvers up. Then Arsenal changed system that you could keep them. Easy to get rid when you have full names and date of birth these need to be cancelled.
How can you keep just letting people apply for red membership when the club have this problem
Give back silvers their allocation.
I don’t think it’s where we are in the league we never had this problem even invisible years.
Sort it out Arsenal it’s a shambles
The issue is not that they dish out red memberships willy nilly, but the amount of tickets they now get assigned to them.
When TRS was originally introduced, silver was a priority membership for tickets. Red was aimed at people who wanted to be a member of Arsenal, but had no real interest in getting tickets.
That is why originally, tickets would only go to Reds if they failed to sell out to Silvers.
Unlimited Reds is fine, but they need to return it to being Silvers that have the bulk of the general admission sale
So stop giving out reds as there are more assigning them.
SIlvers had a bulk of their allocation taken away given to reds and also Junior Gunners who were allowed to apply with a silver adult is no longer the adult can be red so obviously you have that there too. 100% should put a stop on red memberships its still open and you will get more and more people signing up for tickets they have 180,000 red members which personally is ridiculous. as far as I can see Arsenal are getting all these membership fees but members cant really get tickets only if they are very lucky. Ive been a silver for over 20 years and never had this problem ever before not even the NLD or the invisibles so clearly doing something wrong its not just that the team is doing well its the bots and the touts too
I have been a silver member for over 20 years from the inception of the programme. I am a U.K. national who has to work overseas but kept you my membership so that I can try to watch a game if it coincides with a visit to U.K. apart from this season, getting a ticket was never a problem. If a use it or lose it policy we’re introduced that would prejudice overseas loyal members.
Please excuse my above typos as written at 5.31am.
Loyalty is not just about how long you have held a membership. Is someone who has a silver for 20 years and goes once a season more loyal than someone who has their silver for 3 years but goes 15 games a season?
Arsenal should do the following
1) revert all general admission tickets to Silvers. Anything left should then go to reds, as was the original TRS and first few years of the Silver membership.
2) ID all new members.
3) Ensure stadium entry is by Membership card only. If you don’t have the card, get a replacement ticket from the box office by showing ID!