Courtesy of Suminder and his excellent site thisisfutbol.com
Written by Saad Noor
The Emirates stadium sits in the middle of Islington, a traditionally working class borough of London. The Gunners’ loyal following were uprooted from their beloved Highbury stadium after 93 years and the 38,000 that packed out Highbury has turned into 60,000 at Ashburton Grove. The demand for tickets at ‘The Arsenal’ are still in high demand as the season-ticket waiting list swells year-on-year.
However, this may be a turning point in the future of trips to Arsenal and may also have ramifications for ticket prices in English football as Arsenal look set to become the first British club to break the £100 barrier for an ‘ordinary’ seat, which would make them the most expensive non-hospitality seats in the history of English football.
This is not the cost for a corporate box or a VIP Lounge, Arsenal ticket prices are on the rise despite the club announcing record profits last month.
Sales of apartments on their old Highbury site worth £156.9 million boosted turnover to £379.9 million and pre-tax group profits to £56 million, up £11 million on 2008-09. That allowed the club to pay off £129.6 million of loans on the property business, leaving them debt-free.
They do have outstanding loans though, £239 million on the Emirates Stadium, and interest charges rose £2 million to £18 million.
The success of the property business masked falling revenue and rising costs in the football business. Elimination in the last 16 of the Champions League meant there were five fewer home games, reducing football revenue by £3 million to £222 million.
The wage bill also rose, from £105 million to £111 million, as the club moved to secure young players on long-term deals.
Although Arsene Wenger’s side have not rewarded their dependable fans with the acclaimed silverware that eludes them, it seems Arsenal’s hierarchy are giving the fans the tab for the new expenditure at the club.
After years of becoming familiar to the Premier League’s ‘prawn sandwich brigade’, the fight back of regular fans to pay for tickets can only get harder once the landmark price has been reached as a result of the planned rise of VAT to 20 per cent on January 4.
The club’s website booking page warns:
‘Please note that, with the VAT increase due in January 2011, our matchday ticket prices will be subject to change.’
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation feels forcing fans to suffer will alienate them further. Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said:
“A £100 ticket in the present climate is ridiculous. It is proof that football is not living in the same world as the rest of us. The game has more money going into it than ever before and it is not helping fans. Football is no longer a game that is readily accessible to all sections of the community. Prices have risen way beyond the rate of inflation, and the bigger clubs have gone the furthest over the last decade.”