Arsene Wenger has defended the cost of tickets at Arsenal, insisting the board are keen to make them “more affordable” to fans.
The BBC’s ‘Price of Football’ survey found that Arsenal sold the most expensive Premier League match-day tickets at £97. Meanwhile, a Bayern Munich supporters’ group has said it will not enter the Champions League fixture at the Emirates Stadium next week until five minutes into the game in protest at the ‘outrageous’ £64 their fans are being charged.
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The ticket pricing issue was one of the main talking points at Arsenal’s annual general meeting on Thursday morning, with the BBC survey also finding that the Gunners sold the most expensive season tickets in the English top flight. But Wenger is determined to see prices driven down and feels his club have done well in recent years to freeze their prices:
“It is my job to do that.
“Overall I feel that we have made a conscious effort in our board meetings to block the increase of our tickets and in seven of the past 10 years we have not increased our prices.
“Overall there is a desire on our board to stabilize (prices) and make the tickets more affordable for people. Is football more expensive? Yes, but Saturday or Sunday if you want to go to rugby you will see the tickets are expensive there as well. It is maybe part of professionalism and a modern society.”
That will come as little consolation to Munich fans as FC Bayern Worldwide announced on Twitter its plans to boycott kickoff of the German side’s crunch Champions League game in north London on Tuesday.
“To protest @Arsenal’s outrageous ticket prices, we won’t be entering the away bloc (sic) for the first 5′ to show what the future of football is,” the group posted on Twitter.
“If @Arsenal want to charge B£64 for the cheapest ticket, they can expect quiet stadiums and empty seats. That’s what they’ll get a taste of.”
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis was questioned at the AGM about the much-publicized pricing structure and was also defensive on the club’s stance:
“Our focus is to develop our revenues.
“The focus has been on our commercial revenues – we have never based our ticket prices solely on the fact there is high demand for our tickets, it is never an issue we have taken lightly.
“We have sought to be balanced and responsible in our ticket pricing decisions. The facts are that the board has held general admission ticket prices flat for seven of the last 10 seasons, with inflation-only increases in the other three.
“What that means is, in real terms adjusting for inflation, general admission ticket prices have fallen approximately 20 per cent since our move to the Emirates Stadium.
“Almost no one gives up an Arsenal season ticket, our renewals were well in excess of 97 per cent and again with that demand we held ticket prices flat. Looking forward, we will continue to make ticket price decisions carefully and responsibly.”
A pricing policy closer to that offered by Bundesliga clubs is something many supporters’ groups have clamored for Premier League clubs to adopt in recent years, especially given the increasing television revenue now on offer. But Gazidis insists a lack of public funding for stadiums and infrastructure means English clubs cannot afford to follow suit.
“It is difficult to make comparisons to Germany,” he added.
“There is little acceptance here in England as there is in Germany for public funding of new stadiums, with a few exceptions.
“We have to build our stadiums in this country through private finance, in Germany taxpayers are subsidizing the match-going fans. We don’t have that luxury – there is always a balance we have to draw.”
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