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Exorbitant Ticket Prices Fuels Arsenal’s Success

Britain and the United States do share a common language, but there are times when words don’t translate so well between both countries. Such is the case yesterday when Arsenal announced a record $400 million in turnover. That’s “turnover” meaning revenue, not number of jobs in and out of a football club.

Out of the $400 million in revenue, Arsenal announced that they achieved operating profits of over $100 million.

While the number is staggering — and Arsenal definitely patted themselves on the back, as well they should for managing the club in a very efficient manner — one group of people got left out of the picture. An enormous group, that is: the Arsenal supporters.

In the 17 page financial document from Arsenal Holdings which describes the earnings in the 2006/2007 season, the supporters are only thanked once in the very last paragraph of a letter from Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood.

Last season, Arsenal was the most expensive football ticket in the Premier League with a top price of $184 per ticket to watch the likes of Chelsea, Man United and others play at the Emirates Stadium.

In comparison, this year’s most expensive ticket at Arsenal (per today’s exchange rate) is $189. Despite the scandalously high ticket prices, season tickets to Arsenal are sold out and the waiting list comprises 40,000 people. This for a stadium that has a capacity of 60,000.

While Arsenal is to be applauded for the brand of attacking football they’d played this season and their business decisions off the pitch, I’d like to see more gratitude shown by the club in the press and on their website to the fans that paid had-earned money. After all, Arsenal brings in an average of more than $6 million per game and much of that is due to the supporters.

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  1. JLay

    September 26, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Aye, Gaff- you sure got their bloomers in a bunch.

    I think you Gooners are all missing his point… that it’s too expensive for a middle-class family of four to go to the games on a consistent basis, and that’s a shame.

    It IS an issue of supply and demand, and according to the laws of economics, yes- they could charge even more and continue to fill the stadium. But that doesn’t make it right.

    Unfortunately, the club has gone the way of our own American pro sports teams- jacking up the price almost as high as the market will bear. That’s great for revenues, but results in the exclusion of your most dedicated fans- the working class.

    I went to Pro football games a lot as a kid, as it only cost $20 to $30 to get a decent ticket and I’d go with my father. We had a great time…

    Now, 20 years later, I’m lucky enough to be making more than my father ever did, but I still can’t justify buying season tickets for my family at $80+ per seat, per game.

    The net result is a stadium full of distracted, affluent people talking on cell phones throughout the match…

    Though I’ve never been to a Premiership game, I can see the difference in atmosphere on the television…

    One last thing… the Gunners suck anyway! You’ll come crashing back to 3rd place soon enough.

    Have a nice evening.

  2. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    After reading these Goons’ comments I now realise how the club(s) can continue to get away with ripping off & abusing fans of English football – I for one won’t be back near a ground til the bubble bursts.

  3. Is this betting

    September 25, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    I read your article first and then read the comments…boy, those Arsenal fans can get on their knickers in a twist!

    The fact remains ticket prices are verging on criminal and the costs are out of the reach of many people.

    It’s a sad fact that Nick Hornby’s fantastic book would never had been written if he was a teenager now as he would not have been able to afford to go.

    I’m not that old but when I was a teenager I could go and pay on the gate to get in at my club. I even paid on the gate for a European semi-final.

    Reducing the prices to watch the reserves play Newcastle! Whoppie skip. Maybe some non-season tickets might get to see that game but why would they want to pay double figure prices.

  4. robracing

    September 25, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    What a load of crap!

    If you followed Arsenal at all, you would know that the ticket prices have remained constant for three consecutive seasons.

    Quoting prices in the pathetically weak US dollar is misleading to say the least.

    With a season ticket waiting list of 41,000, and with every game selling out easily, Arsenal should arguably be looking to increase prices, as they are frankly leaving money on the table at the moment.

    The quality of the product at Arsenal is worth at least double what Chelsea are charging.

  5. Simon Burke

    September 25, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Gaffer you are both right and wrong. Its always futile to put the cost of English goods into dollars – its exaggerating prices in the home nation to do that.

    Example: A Compact Disc there costs 10 pounds which would often cost 10 dollars here – not 20 dollars.
    You also probably picked the wrong club to make an example of as Arsenal are without a doubt one of the 3 most entertaining clubs in Europe in terms of style and current results so people might be happy and willing to pay these very high prices for games. A gentleman above says its what the market bears and he is correct, Arsenal are technically undervaluing their tickets with such high demand clearly evident. Its just the state of the world and the Premiership. I went to Reading 4 years ago in the CHampionship and had to pay 20 quid to sit in the corner of the Madjeski – thats steep for non Prem I feel but thats the norm.

    However Gaffer I know what sentiment you are trying to bring here and I somewhat agree, its very expensive for a family of 4 to go to a game. Too expensive in my opinion and Arsenal even charge you to be a member (you need to be a member to have a prayer of getting a ticket) – so you have paid before you even purchase a ticket. They also charge one pound for a merchandise program in the Arsenal shop at the stadium – seriously folk do you want to pay a pound for the privilege of seeing Van Persie dressed up in an Arsenal sweater and then buy the sweater. Thats just poor in my opinion. Merchandise catalogues should be FREE – Arsenal can afford it.

    Dont get me wrong, I am a former Arsenal ballboy and love the club and would never support anyone else. The quality is awesome.

    I think you want to ask this question after the Wenger years Gaffer when the football is unlikely to be as high quality. Would Arsenal fans be willing to pay the same high prices to watch the cra* that Spurs put out? Its inevitable we will go through a lean time and find out – hopefully long after I am gone.

    Also a few people had some very juvenile comments above – very unecessary. You can disagree certainly but no need to be petulant like John Terry.

    Incidentally folk for those of you who think the Gaffer hates Arsenal – he did pick us to win the league last season, mad pick mind you but he did pick them which is more than I did.

  6. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 9:57 am

    You have no clue what you are talking about. The number of top end seats are very small, and also you are talking about seats for only 5 prem games in the season. Most of the time the seats are category B which are a damn site cheaper. The bulk of the tickets are sold between £32 and £46. Prices are the same as they were at Highbury and are comparable with other clubs in London. If Arsenal ticket prices are ‘exorbitant’ what do you think of Chelsea ticket prices which are comparable and all they do is try and hike 60 yard balls up to their striker? Arsenal fans get treated to a beautiful stadium and beautiful football. Worth every penny everytime I go to the Emirates. You can not compare prices outside London, they will always be cheaper. If you want to compare prices, you have to take into account the difference in land prices inside and outside London and the average wages as well. Just posting monetary values of ticket prices is pointless and tells us nothing.

  7. The Gaffer

    September 25, 2007 at 8:18 am

    The $189 seats for category A matches are not corporate seats. They’re seats in the centre upper part of the stadium.

    Scroll down to the bottom of here if you don’t believe me.

    Yes, Arsenal plays an entertaining brand of football that is enjoyable to watch, but I still stand firm that the ticket prices are too expensive.

    The Gaffer

  8. devvil

    September 25, 2007 at 8:05 am

    wow, your blog is as stupefyingly boring and inane as your podcast. It’s called SUPPLY and DEMAND, did you ever take a basic economics class? The Arsenal has a 40,000 strong wait list and one of the top three most supported clubs in the world (27 million worldwide fans, last I heard quoted)… it makes its home in the region of the greatest wealth in the entire UK… it plays the most beautiful football in the league… ergo, it can charge higher ticket prices. WHAT A SURPRISE! THE SHOCK, THE HORROR!! Not to mention the fact, as the other commenters have pointed out, that you’re overstating the prices at any rate. CORPORATE SEATS COST… CORPORATE PRICES! OH, THE AGONY.

  9. FunkyKolo

    September 25, 2007 at 7:42 am

    hahaha, Oh dear!

    And there’s me chuffed that I’ve just secured tickets for Arsenal v Bolton.
    Was at the Arsenal v Sevilla game, full price, full stadium… combined cost of both teams – less than half the cost of the Chavski 1st team squad – they played to a half full stadium, booed their own team off the pitch and bought their tickets at reduced prices…

    Do you want a lemon to suck on, you can have one… I don’t need em

  10. The Gaffer

    September 25, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Good feedback everyone. I’d like to note that while the most expensive seats at Arsenal matches are $189 for category A matches, the cheapest for the same category A matches is $92 – which is still overpriced, I feel.

    Keep on reading the EPL Talk Blog. In the next few days, I’ll share how the ticket prices for the 07/08 season compares with other clubs.

    And no, I’m not a Spurs fan. I don’t support any club in the Premier League and I’m a neutral fan.

    The Gaffer

  11. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Average and cheap tickets for The Grove are on a par or slightly more (ie $2-4) than equivalent tickets at Totnum, West Ham the same as chelski and yes more than man utd / liverpool. But everything in london is more expensive – its more reasonable to ask how do totnum and west ham justify the prioces they charge for the cr&p they offer. Arsenal play the best football and amongst the most successful in London (Historically they are by far the most successful in london). The huge waiting lists have been noted by others I would also pint to the 20000 unsold seats at teh chelski rosenberg match and the empty seats for many of totnums uefa cup games last season including the last one v sevilla when tickets were available on the door#

  12. bergkampisgod

    September 25, 2007 at 7:32 am

    its a 17 page financial document with a piece by the chairman where he quiet rightly thanks the supporters last as he has to list everything done by the club and then acknowledge that wiith out us none of the obove is possible. Do you want notes all over the accounts saying Revenue (due to supporters) or are you just another sad bitter rival fan that predicted doom and gloom and are now looking quiet silly reallyrlqbaiy

  13. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 7:27 am

    This almost sounds as if it is written by a bitter Tottenham fan. I think the fact that so many (Spurs ?) people seemed to ‘gloat’ in the immediate aftermath of the move, “it won’t be filled”, “it’s a huge debt”, “they are the next Leeds Utd”, etc, etc, have now been forced to eat their words. The fan base is vibrant, young and stable. Just look at what happened in West London last week when Chelsea couldn’t even get 25,000 for a Champions League game, and they even reduced the prices. Give credit where it is due, because that is what us real Arsenal fans are doing.

  14. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Half the income at the stadium comes from club level seats or executive boxes.

    The rest of the prices are around the average for London clubs.

    As others have said do your research.

    Also, worth noting that tonights game against Newcastle tickets are 10 and 20 pounds.

  15. Michael

    September 25, 2007 at 6:58 am

    a team playing like Arsenal, a manager the calibre of Arsene Wenger, one of the world’s great football venues . . . . . . . hmmmmm. Or save on the price of the ticket, sell your soul and go support someone else. I don’t know any supporters of rival clubs who’d switch their allegiance but they’d all pay more to watch their team play like Arsenal. Oh, yes, and buy ANY ticket for the Emirates and you are guaranteed a comfortable view of the entire pitch – no restricted view nonsense. IMHO – no case to answer.

  16. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I’ve paid £38 ($76) a ticket to see the Fulham, Man City, Derby and shortly the Sunderland games.

    Given the prices I’ve paid to stand in the rain and watch Championship clubs, I think paying £38 a time to sit in a beautiful stadium to watch beautiful football is, if I’m honest, verging on what I would call ‘a bargain’.

  17. Stynet

    September 25, 2007 at 6:56 am

    In an open market the price will reflect a balance between supply and demand. The fact that demand geatly exceeds supply (as demonstrated by the long waiting list) shows that Arsenal are selling the tickets below true market value.

  18. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Arsenal playing entertaining football whether they win, lose or draw makes me happy to pay top whack for a ticket.

  19. cliff

    September 25, 2007 at 6:44 am

    I’m just adding weight to the previous comments. If there was not a sense of “value-for-money” the stadium would not be full for every game.

    Tonight Arsenal will play their second string team in a bull-shit competition and there are no tickets to be had from any relable source.

  20. Sue

    September 25, 2007 at 6:41 am

    I so agree with the two previous posts. Also it’s about time credit was given to the Arsenal board for getting us where we are today. A rich and vibrant club.

  21. Anonymous

    September 25, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Arsenal supporters get what they pay for: excellent entertainment. And explain to me what in London is cheaper than Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, etc. THen also explain what Arsenal tickets at the high end are comparable to in these stadiums. Then also explain the cost for corporate vs non-corporate seats. AFter you’ve done all that, then re-write your article. Did they train you to do reasearch in journalism school or to write and then think?

  22. gazzap

    September 25, 2007 at 6:30 am

    you mention the maximum ticket price but those tickets are reserved for the ultra wealthy corporate seats for those wanting to woo their clients. I sit in an average seat, which costs about $75 per game. Given some of the ridiculous incomes of Londoners the price is a fair one, as proven by the 40,000 on the season ticket waiting list. furthermore, prices have been frozen for 3 consecutive years.

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