By Dan Cancian
It might have cost them almost as much as a night at the opera, but none of the Arsenal fans at Emirates on the 16th of January would have considered the showing that unfolded on the pitch as good value for money.
Pantomime on the pitch aside, Arsenal and Manchester City had produced their fair share of drama even before the ball had been kicked.
On Wednesday the 9th, it was announced that Manchester City had returned around 982 unsold tickets for today’s league clash at the Emirates, after their fans had deemed tickets priced at £62, too expensive.
Arsenal fans may have gotten used to paying hefty fees for their tickets, but fans of other Premier League teams have decided to start a petition to force the FA and the Premier League to introduce a cap on tickets for away games.
For those whose allegiances lie within N5, the price to pay to watch their club in action has been a long standing issue. Arsenal hold the unwanted record of offering the most expensive tickets in the country, ranging from £62 to £160 for a Category A match, like a recent fixture against Manchester City.
Londoner Liam Brady, who is a Manchester City supporter, agrees with the stance taken by some of his fellow fans: “It’s utterly ludicrous to be paying £62 for a match-ticket, particularly when you consider the cost of travel and various add-ons.
Being based in Islington, Arsenal away is the easiest trip of the season for me,” continued the 36-year-old, “but for fans traveling down from up north you’re looking at almost £250 for a day out.”
For their FA Cup replay against Swansea, classified as a Category B match, fans will have to pay at least £35.50, while the same fixture in the Premier League was considered a Category C game, with prices starting at £25.50.
While the vast majority of Arsenal fans have been vocal in their disapproval of what they describe as “extortionate prices”, others have defended the controversial policy claiming that the money generated on match-days is vital for the club’s aspirations.
“I don’t mind paying £62 to watch Arsenal, if that means the club will reinvest the profit into the transfer window, even though Arsene [Wenger, the Arsenal manager] has seemed reluctant to do so,” said season ticket holder Martin Smith – who has followed Arsenal for over 25 years.
Others are not so happy to fork out huge sums of money, even if it means parting ways with the club they’ve loved all their lives.
Unfortunately, Arsenal have declined to comment.
“I’ve been following Arsenal for half a century, and passed the passion for the club through to my son and grandson, but I simply can’t afford to spend over £60 for a football game”, explained Sean O’ Kane, a 73-year-old that has given three quarters of his life to the club.
Arsenal, though, are not alone in their quest to squeeze as much as possible from away fans, as popular blogger @DarrenArsenal1 pointed out on Twitter, expressing surprise at the lack of coverage received by Spurs fans having to pay £57 for their trip to Loftus Road on Saturday.
Darren, who is an Arsenal shareholder, season ticket holder and a member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust also questioned the possibility of the Premier League offering cheaper seats for away fans.
@DarrenArsenal1 tweeted: “If EPL start charging away fans less for same seats than fans of home team, guess is [will] be an issue with Office of Fair Trading”
Much like their on-field performances, the pricing issue is growing increasingly irksome onto the Emirates faithful. Unfortunately for them, neither issue seems to be reaching a solution.