On Sunday, one of the most pivotal matches of the Premier League season will occur when Leicester City, currently in first place, travels to play Arsenal, in their usual position of fourth place, in a contest that will have major implications on the Foxes and Gunners title chances.
Fans of Leicester City plan on boycotting the first five minutes of the match before entering the stadium due to the high prices at the Emirates and have encouraged supporters of the Gunners join them. Arsenal has been notorious for high tickets and fans are taking a stand to let them know that it is no longer acceptable. Wenger wishes that the planned protest would occur before or after the match instead of during game time.
“You want everybody there when the game starts. For me the game is a joy and everybody has to be part of it. You can protest before and after, but during the game you want everybody to be there. Football is a moment of happiness in your life, so don’t miss it,” said Wenger at a press conference earlier today.
Liverpool supporters have shown that if a strike is effective, then positive things can come of it. During the Reds match on February 6 against Sunderland, close to 10,000 fans left Anfield at the 77th minute due to next season’s raise in ticket costs. The prices were raised to £77 for a match ticket and included the club’s first £1,000 season ticket. When the protest began, Liverpool were up 2-0 but conceded two goals late to settle for a 2-2 draw. The amount of fans that left combined with the result made the Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group apologize for the ticket prices for next season and made them decide to freeze the costs to maintain their current fair prices for another two seasons.
In an open letter to fans they said “We met directly with representatives of LFC’s Supporters’ Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability. We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterized as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole.”
Arsenal’s majority owner Stan Kroenke most likely won’t have the same sympathy that Liverpool’s owners had. Fans of the NFL know that Kroenke doesn’t have the interest of fans in his decision making, only the bottom line matters to the man worth an estimated $7.7 billion. Last month, the 68-year-old executed his plan of having his franchise, the St. Louis Rams, move to Los Angeles. During his attempt to get relocation, Kroenke went on a smear campaign disrespecting the city of St. Louis and to force his way out saying that the area was not profitable anymore to maintain a professional football team. Someone like this needs his pockets to be hurt before he makes a decision.
Since Arsenal cannot be moved and already have a state-of-the-art stadium, the advantage is in the hands of the supporters to decide if they feel strongly enough to protest. Hopefully fans of the Gunners join Leicester City’s supporters to let it be known that greed is not acceptable and to make sure that fans continue to be a priority when clubs make important decisions.