Date: 25th October 2006 at 7:18pm
Written by:

It would not take long to find on any supporters website grumbles about the price of watching Premiership football today. Blackburn Rovers have even been forced to cut admission prices in a bid to lure fans back to Ewood Park.

You may be forgiven for thinking that Arsenal and Manchester United supporters would not be included in those rumblings of discontent, given that they are enjoying increased attendances in their new, or enlarged, stadia. You would be wrong.

The average Premiership attendance fell from 35,464 in 2002-03 to 33,875 last season. The figure has risen back up to 34,084 this season, but this is misleading as it is based predominantly on Arsenal`s capacity at their new Emirates Stadium home going up by 22,000 and an approximate 8,000 increase in Manchester United`s capacity.
For how long will the two biggest grounds continue to hide the issues felt by all clubs? Arsenal, as a club, may be benefiting from their palatial new home, but their supporters could certainly provide you with all the reasons for a growing disenchantment with top-flight football.

The average ticket price is in the region of thirty pounds. Arsenal prices start at £32, and climb as high as £94 for Grade A games. For me as an individual, I will pay what it takes to see my team play, but I cringe when I think of a father who wants to take his kid(s) today. With travel, refreshments, programme etc. thrown in it has become a three figure sum. Not many can afford to do that every other week for nine months without foregoing the family holiday.

Is the game even going to be played when it was originally scheduled? How many times have you got your tickets two months in advance, only to find the match moved to a television slot on a Sunday, or even a Monday night?

Once you are in the ground what can you look forward to? Arsenal fans will tell you they pray for the Gunners to produce one of their quality performances, otherwise you are in for ninety minutes of the opposition throwing a human barrier across the centre of the park and throttling the entertainment value to zero. I suppose you can`t blame them for that. Let Arsenal play and you will get stuffed.

Which leads me on to the make up of Premiership crowds these days. The grounds are no longer packed with working class men looking for a release from the drudgery of their working life. The middle-class have moved into the bigger clubs en-masse and demand a degree of entertainment for their disposable income. Sterile football will drive them away as they do not have the blind loyalty to the clubs that long-time followers of the game have inherited from their ancestors.

The most vocal supporters of the clubs are being driven out by what they see as ever increasing interference and control from stewards and the authorities, arguing if we lose the atmosphere at Premiership grounds then part of the initial attraction will have gone.

The clubs face many challenges as they bid to reverse the worrying trend. Most do not appear to be taking the warning signs seriously enough. Am I worried? In all honesty, no. But then I will get the benefit when my club cannot fill its ground with prawn sarnie munchers, and they realise they have to drop the prices to attract my peers back to the game.

Article submitted by Goonerholic Click here to visit Goonerholics blog


14 Replies to “Are You Watching Club Chairmen?”

  • Never has a truer word been written, it breaks my heart that I, as a father, cannot afford to give my children the same thrills I had as a youngster purely because we, the working class, are being priced out of football! Worse still, nobody seems to give a sh*t!

  • This is one of the only things that unites fans of different football clubs all over England, but it is one I wish didn’t exsist. Unfortunately it will never change for clubs like Arsenal because we have so many fans crying out for tickets, should people buycott there will always be someone to take their place. The fat cats know this and exploit the situation.

  • remember one time a couple of years ago in a carling cup tie – i was in the north bank, shouting my head off for the team, and these bloody johnny-come-latelies were turning around and staring at me as though i was mad. Just sitting there waiting for somethign to happen. Football isn’t about that, it’s ALWAYS been about interaction, and inter-relationship between players and fans – a symbiotic relationship where both can feed off the other, helping the other. But if it were left to this mob, the grounds would be dead silent save for polite applause when a goal was scored, and we’d all be going down to the vendors to get our half time rainforest-bean-wrap and gunnersaurus falafel. Not to say i don’t want the game to return to the days of stanley knives, racist and homophobic chanting and the like, but the passion is running out of the game like sand through an hourglass, and in the future generations the results will be reaped when the true fans have become so detached from their club that there is no real fanbase for clubs to rely on. There has to be more done to make the game available t ograssroots fans, not just to those who have ‘disposable income, 2 cars and a brand new fitted kitchen, with dinner parties once a fortnight. I repeat, i have nothing against my club being so popular with a broad spectrum of peopel, but my message to the lub is this – of course look forward and aspire to greater thigns in the future,. but do not forget where you have come from, and who helped you get there. Do not let there be a disassociation between yourselves and your loyal fanbase who cannot have a hope in hell of seeing their beloved team play in the flesh…

    »»Arsene Knows««

  • ps – an edit facility would be useful on this site for goons like me who are too stoopid to proofread what they’ve typed, as every time i read my comments i make more typos than allardunce does bungs… 😀

    »»Arsene Knows««

  • another option is to paint it outside the grove, on the ground, but i’d probably be arrested under the prevention of terrorism act 🙂

    »»Arsene Knows««

  • wingston that is exactly right. once the working class have been priced out of football and lets face it thats just about happened now, what will the club have left? yes a very fickle prawn sandwich brigade who demand entertainment. thats not the Arsenal hard core that I grew up into. when we dont play great football anymore, what will these new supporters do then? a lot of them will be off and the atmosphere will die a complete and utter death.
    will our children/grand children ever see and hear all the things that got us hooked on Arsenal? I fear not. football needs its passion, thats the lifeblood of football. The hard core have already started only going to away games as thats the only place they can get the fix of the true meaning of football.

  • i think these days, you find more true gooners watching matches in the pubs than you’ll find in the stadium. It’s coming to something when the nearest a fan can get to his team is a poor view of a screen in a pub… the folk who have the money to afford a pricey season ticket and do so because it’s the fashionable thing right now will never know the meaning, feeling, hopes, despairs and true lifelong link to a club that a real gooner has.

    »»Arsene Knows««

  • It’s not just about that though Wingston. There is enough room for new and old in the Grove if the club has a will to help them co-exist. The point of the piece is that the combination of high prices, treating fans like crap, and eighteen of the twenty clubs playing ‘percentage football’ will drive people away, from all clubs. Even Arsenal if the opposition continue to try and throttle the life out of our football. I only mentioned the class divide because the clubs are currently too blind to see who will still be there when the ‘Johnny come lately’s’ have been driven out by a perceived lack of entertainment.

  • admittedly so northwilts, and as I said, i’ve nothing against the club being so popular. The point i make it that it should popular for the right reasons, and not merely because it’s the latest thing. This goes for football in general, it transcends an arsenal debate. I’m sure ManYoo fans would say that they don’t like the type of fan who just turns up and expects to be entertained without contriuting anythign towards that entertainment. Fashion trends come and go. Once chosen, a football club should be your club for life – a lifelong relationship. But you see it already, some gooners are becoming increasingly alienated towards the club, some to such a degree that they say they no longer want to follow the arsenal, for the neglect they feel that they are being shown by the club. I find it saddening to hear these things.

    as for the percentafge game that you speak of, you are quite right, let us hope that the team Arsene is building at the moment will be the one to break the game of the dour kick-and-elbow merchants.

    »Arsene Knows««

  • Let me play the devils advocate for a minute.
    Lets say admission prices do go down, Arsenal would not be enjoying the type of football being played today, Players like Henry, Toure, fabregras, et all need to be paid, and as much as they love the Arsenal, would they really stay if their wages were a lot below those of their rivals.
    At the end of the day there is professional pride. Now before you say they are paid more in a month than the average fan earns in a lifttime. please remember, that you cannot pay people less than the market rate.
    hope it makes sence 2 u.

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