Tag Archives: Football Supporters Federation

BSM survey results: Emirates Atmosphere, Recreating the Clock End and Safe Standing

Earlier this morning, The Black Scarf Movement announced the results of the survey which the commissioned after the League Cup defeat against Chelsea, a match which saw the BSM attempt to get like minded fans together to create a passionate atmosphere in an attempt to be Arsenal’s 12th man. Despite the best efforts of the leadership and members of the BSM, a mixture of over zealous stewarding and not all the fans in blocks 19, 18 & 17 being willing participants led the initiative to be a relative failure. Highbury Harold of the BSM said:

“it was more like pissing into that St Jude storm while being battered with a water cannon of piss at the same time.”

On the back of this, the BSM commissioned their survey, to get the opinion of Arsenal fans and hopefully be the 1st step on the ladder to making the atmosphere better for all. 17,377 supporters took part.

52.6% of all who took part rated the Emirates atmosphere as ‘poor’ and 41.5% as average. Just 5.9% rated it as good. The biggest surprise, for me, is that nearly 6% of all those who took part felt the atmosphere is good. Now either these fans only go to the Spurs/AC Milan games, or they have fairly low standards. I personally answered average, as for ‘non elite’ games, the fans often sit there with a ‘well entertain me then’ attitude, waiting for the action to spark them into life, rather than being a true 12th man.

17,377 took part. It will be interesting to get a break down on this figure of season ticket holders, regular go’ers, occasional go’ers and those who live abroad who have never been. One of the big things about the BSM is they see it that we are all in this together. No matter if you have not missed a game in 50 years, or if you have never been to a game, it is our Arsenal so we all deserve a view. However, for me, if you have never been to a game, and never plan to, you should not be answering a game on the Emirates atmosphere. It is like voting for which turkey you want for Christmas when you are the vegetarian of the family. It would have been nice to get the break down.

Moving on, the BSM bought into discussion a second singing section. For a long time, it has been a Black Scarf Movement initiative to ‘bring back the Clock End’. The question about a 2nd singing section was clearly a ‘set-up question’ to then be followed up by a discussion about a new Clock end. 95.9% felt that “the atmosphere would benefit from introducing another singing section”.

When it came to the Clock End question, 87.9% backed the initiative. Now for me, ‘bringing back the Clock End’ is something which needs proper debate. Whilst in theory, it makes sense. Getting like minded, loud fans together in one area, next to the away fans, to drown out the away fans voices and create an atmosphere which will ripple around the stadium. It makes sense. However there are a key factor to remember.

The club has recently created the ‘Young Guns Enclosure’, for Junior Gunners aged 12-16 years old, where there are 1,000 tickets available for £10 for weekend Premier League category B and C matches. The club introduced this initiative after a demand from all Arsenal fans groups to make more, cheaper, tickets available to young supporters. There is no where else in the stadium these can be ‘moved’ too, without enforcing current season ticket holders to be moved.

It is no surprise that the ‘recreate the Clock End’ got the lowest percentage of positive results (still a very high 87.9%) then all other questions on atmosphere as many people would have had the Young Guns Enclosure in mind.

Can both the Young Guns Enclosure and Clock End sit in harmony? Is there space for both in the Clock End? Should the young guns take up half of the slow selling out Family Enclosure ? If not, who should take residence? Should other season ticket holders be moved to accommodate new season ticket’s in the Clock End? There are plenty of unanswered questions that will need to be explored. But there is clearly a want for a Clock End.

The final question, and for me most important, was about safe standing. It is backed by 91.5% of those fans who took part. Arsene Wenger has already said he wants it, Ivan Gazidas has also mentioned he is pro safe-standing and the fans clearly want it. Obviously it is out of the fans, clubs and even Premier League’s hands, as it is government legislation which currently outlaws standing at top level football games. ‘Health and Safety’ is the reasoning. Hillsborough happened nearly 25 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Football has changed. The mentality of fans has changed. There is no reason to not have safe standing. The area behind the North Bank goal would be perfect for this, running from Block 6 to Block 11.

Safe standing would then get rid of the need for a 2nd singing section, as standing will organically improve the atmosphere, and we would end up with a ‘singing end’ rather then 2 singing sections. It would allow Arsenal to mimic the old Kop End’s, Dortmund’s yellow wall, the old North Bank, etc.

Safe standing is currently backed by 25 professional clubs, as well as the Scottish Premier League. Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Sunderland and Swansea City are the only current Premier League side who back the initiative. Arsenal have, for a long time, been the leader of English football. whether it be names on shirts or floodlights, where Arsenal have gone, other clubs have followed. Arsenal should start to take the lead when it comes to safe standing.

The results of the BSM survey are clear. The atmosphere in the Emirates is, at best, average. The club needs to work together with fans and authorities to improve this atmosphere. There is plenty the club can do. There is plenty the fans themselves can do. And there is plenty the authorities need to do. I will leave the final words on the BSM survey to the BSM themselves:

“It has long been our members thoughts that the atmosphere in the ground is poor. Giving it names such as the soulless bowl. Attempts from the BSM to get some atmosphere in the ground were met with some reluctance from the club as was shown recently at the Chelsea Capital One Cup match. We hope that with our survey findings the club are open to the fact that there is a big problem there and with our help hope we can address that and better the match day experience for the fans'”

The full results of the Black Scarf Movement can be found here.

 

Why did more clubs not take up Newcastle’s ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ offer?

On Tuesday, we began discussion on the pricing scandal at Manchester City. One of the aspects of the article was the Twenty’s Plenty campaign spearheaded by The Football Supporters Federation. On the back of this, Newcastle United offered all clubs in the Premier League a reciprocal pricing agreement where they would charge away fans £20 if their opponents reciprocated the offer.

Of all the other 19 Premier League clubs, only Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion took them up on the offer. A couple of other clubs have done some side agreements, such as Crystal Palace offering to knock £5 off of the Newcastle travelling fans ticket if this was reciprocated, but by and large, the offer by Newcastle was ignored. The question going through my head when reading this was a simple one.

Why?

Everyone says that the reason why a single club is unable to lower ticket prices as they then generate less revenue, and as a consequence, put themselves at a disadvantage to other Premier League clubs. If that rationale is true, why then, would barely any club take up an offer which, if every club took it up, would create a disadvantage not to themselves, but to an opponent. In this case Newcastle United.

Had every club have taken up Newcastle United’s offer, they would all be down a similar amount in revenue, that being the difference between the usual ticket price and the £20. Meanwhile Newcastle would be down 19 times that. So if clubs are refusing to budge on ticket prices due to putting themselves at a disadvantage, why would they not take up this offer? Greed.

Greed can be the only answer. Whilst clubs all pay lip services to giving fans a better service and more competitive prices (‘we would if we could’ is the often justification), when it comes down to it, they refuse to budge.

£20 for an away ticket to go to Newcastle would have been more than reasonable. In fact, I would say it is cheap. With an £80 train to Newcastle still required you are still looking at an Arsenal away fan spending £100 to get from London Kings Cross to Newcastle. Incidental, despite Manchester City charging us £58, my cheap rail (£31) means that the Manchester City trip is actually cheaper. Anyway, I digress. £20 would have been a good deal for fans. But then the brain cogs start turning.

Why can Arsenal, for example, reciprocate the Twenty’s Plenty agreement with Newcastle, but then not offer the same to Sunderland, Southampton or Swansea. Why can they not get an agreement that Twenty’s Plenty with Cardiff and Crystal Palace? The fact is, they would have no justification to not come up with similar agreements throughout the Premier League.

One reciprocal agreement would have raised the questions of more. More would have created more. And before you know it, all Premier League clubs have decided that Twenty’s Plenty for all away fans. One deal would have unravelled the cartel, the price fixing, amongst Premier League sides.

You see, they all agree to keep prices high, everyone has to pay that high price. One club makes the Twenty’s Plenty offer, the cartel then has a decision. Either all adopt it, or all boycott it. They decided the latter. Premier League clubs act as a cartel. All agreeing to keep prices high to ensure profits are maximised.  They are no different to energy companies or supermarkets. All of whom fix prices to ensure it is the customer that loses out. They do it for greed.

Greed is the only justifiable reasoning for all clubs not jumping all over Newcastle’s Twenty’s Plenty offer. The joke is, how little the greed actually makes Premier League sides.

Arsenal has the second largest away capacity in the Premier League, after Manchester United. The maximum amount of tickets an away side can claim in the Premier League is 3,000 (although the area can be expanded to 4,500 behind the goal for cup games). Now Arsenal announced earlier this season that:

“There will be five ‘A’ Category, eight ‘B’ Category and six ‘C’ category matches in the Premier League across the season.”

Now a little bit of mathematics shows that the 5 Cat A games will generate £310 per seat. the Cat B ones £284 per seat, and the Cat C games £153. A total of £747 for all 19 Premier League games. Now divide this by the 19 games gives you an average of £39 per seat.

Now if you are still with me (and not bored or in the process of taking off your socks to check my maths), the difference between £39 and £20 is £19 (I did that one without my calculator), that works out as £361 per seat over the 19 league games. Now for the magic.

£361 multiplied by the 3,000 seats is £1,083,000. That is how much Arsenal would lose if they offered every Premier League side an away ticket for £20.

£1,083,000

That is the cost of a Premier Leagues greed. Taking into account that, as we mentioned, Arsenal have the 2nd largest ground, and amongst the highest ticket prices, it is unlikely that anyone will have a bigger loss then Arsenal. £1,083,000 is the price of a football clubs greed.

Now it might seem a large number to some of you. However, when you take into account that in 2013, the turnover of Arsenal Football Club was £242,800,000, a little over £1m is no longer that big a number. It would be 0.4% of our turnover. The greed of Arsenal, and other clubs, is so minuscule it is unexplainable. £1,083,000 for a football club is nothing, especially when the new TV deal, in this season, will see the BOTTOM clubs income rise by around £22 million. The greed is unexplainable. But then again, the greedy always want more.

What the clubs are clearly worried about is the Pandora’s Box that Twenty’s Plenty could open. If they can offer away fans tickets for £20, why can they not offer home fans? And they the ball of string will begin to unravel. By boycotting Newcastle’s offer, they ensure that away fans do not get a better deal, and as a consequence, ensure that home fans continue to pay a premium.

If that box were to open, how much would it cost Arsenal? Well their match day revenue is around £100m (give or take), were they to offer tickets for £20 to all 60,000 supporters over a 28 game seasons (taking into account average amount of cup games) Arsenal would see a revenue drop from £100m to £33.6m. Around a £60,000,000 drop (although this does not factor in the coporate seats). Now that is the greed!

All I know is that Arsenal Football Club would not miss £1,083,000 if they agreed with every club in the Premier League tickets for £20, however, as a regular away fan an extra £361 (approximately) in my pocket over a season would make a BIG difference.

Keenos