Fans pay the price

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Carling Cup Semi Final 1st leg

When 912 Manchester City fans refused to pay £62 pounds for the ‘Category A’ game against Arsenal this weekend, it sparked a debate in the media about the rising costs of being a football fan. On the one hand, fans want to see their clubs invest in new players, but at the same time are unwilling to fund a higher club wage bill by rising ticket prices.

Iain Macintosh argues that:

Arsenal’s 62 pound ticket fiasco is the story that has split English football. How annoying. If it had happened in the Bundesliga instead, it would be the story that united German football. That’s the difference between us and them. They stand up for their rights. We turn on each other and then drop our trousers for the highest bidder.

In defence of Arsenal, they are hardly the only club to charge stupid money for a ticket. Chelsea’s prices, we now discover, can be very similar. Indeed, Chelsea’s fans have themselves been charged very similar amounts. The media, including this keyboard-slapping charlatan, are culpable. They should have been on this story years ago. They weren’t. They failed you. But they’re on it now because this is the first time that someone’s prices have actually been rejected by a large portion of travelling supporters. This is the first time the story has made the mainstream news headlines. In the long battle between match-going fans and the clubs, a weak point has finally been identified.

This isn’t a partisan issue. This isn’t about Arsenal. This is about the breakdown of the supply-and-demand argument and this should be the moment when football fans of all colours unite and lock down their wallets.

He also says that:

The Manchester City fans who were asked to pay 62 pounds for a ticket at Arsenal are the same Manchester City fans who paid rather less than that for a ticket to the 1-1 draw at Rotherham in 2002. They haven’t won the lottery in the 10 years since. Sheikh Mansour only gave the club money, he didn’t share it around.

Along with the 77.30 pounds that the train tickets would cost, if you’d bought them on Thursday, that’s almost 140 pounds for the day. And that’s if you don’t buy food or drink. At this rate, the only people who’ll be able to afford to watch Premier League football will be Premier League footballers.

There is only way to stop this in its tracks and that’s to do precisely what almost a thousand City fans did this week and announce that enough is enough. The tickets are expensive because people keep buying them. So stop buying them.

The media are watching now. There has never been a better time for coordinated action across the league. But there has never been a worse time for blindly backing your club regardless of the repercussions.

This isn’t about Arsenal. This isn’t about Manchester City. This is about fighting for the right to watch your club play football. Unless, of course, you’d rather just make silly jokes.

Simon Curtis also shares his viewpoint and says:

Arsenal, like many grand institutions, have struggled to come to terms with modern football, with its dressing room hairdryers and ghetto blasters, it’s £55,000 a week left-backs and its oil sheikhs. And it is with the latter of these that Arsenal sympathisers seem to be having the most trouble in these thoroughly changed times. As the North London giants prepare for the visit of “nouveau riche” “Johnny come latelies” Manchester City, the sound of gnashing teeth gets ever stronger.



Rightly or wrongly, City are an example of what football has become. Flushed with generous investment, City have invaded the sacrosanct territory that throughout most of the Premier League years, has been occupied by Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and, indeed, Arsenal. The Big Four, they used to be called. Now two remain “big”, in modern terms, one is limping badly, the other lame to the degree it might be kinder to put it out of its misery. Arsenal limp on. The beautiful football has all but disappeared. The great players have moved on. That stout defence of Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Lee Dixon has passed into the dusty annals of time, marked “Once We Were This”. Only Steve Bould remains.

With the glowing endorsement of their supporters, Arsenal have refused to be a part of the wages and transfer fee explosion that has gripped the English game in recent times. They will not be held to ransom by agents and clubs trying to take advantage of their stocks of twenty years’ worth of Champions League participation money. Arsenal have their principles. The North London faithful seem to have swallowed this and have become the game’s leading advocates of financial good husbandry.

How much do you have pay to follow your football club? Are clubs justified in charging exorbitant ticket prices? Let us have your feedback via Twitter or Facebook.

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