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Morning all, we’ll be looking ahead to the game against Bournemouth throughout the day as the manager meets the press this morning. All the team news, injury updates and more will be available over on Arseblog News.

We should start this morning with what looks like a massive own goal from Arsenal who last night informed season ticket holders that they would be charged extra for the upcoming Barcelona Champions League game, the cost of which would be added to next season’s renewal. Should they not agree with this, they can ‘opt out’ of the fixture. You can see the email here. The cost varies, depending on the price of the season ticket, from £16 – £30+.

Now, the season ticket covers the 19 league games and 7 cup games. This is the 7th, and that option to surrender your seat if you don’t want to pay is usually only available for subsequent cup games. Now, given my location, and the fact I’m not a season ticket holder, I never feel like I can talk about ticketing issues with any real authority. BBC 5 Live phoned me this morning and asked me to come on air, I told them I couldn’t do that and recommended somebody better placed to do it.

However, in terms of what they’ve done and what it means, we can talk about that. Within minutes of the email being sent, it had been forwarded to me a half-dozen times by various people, friends and strangers. A close friend of mine sent it with the comment, ‘Robbing cúnts’. I asked Tim Stillman, a season ticket holder, to write the story for Arseblog News – the comments on the article speak for themselves (bar one or two but there’s always one or two).

People who have already paid for their season tickets are being told now they have to pay more. As far as I’m aware, a move like this is unprecedented. As @XGH_7  points out on Twitter, the 7th game in seasons past against opposition like Barcelona and Bayern Munich was included, so the justification for it is spurious to say the least. For most, based on the reaction I’ve seen, the issue isn’t the cost itself. An extra £20 on top of a £1000+ season ticket isn’t an enormous amount, but having announced a ‘freeze’ on ticket prices last month, it’s the principle of it – adding on extra to something that’s already been paid for.


When you consider what this might generate for Arsenal in terms of revenue – around £700,000 from what I can work out from my scribbled calculations – this might well be the most costly money they’ve ever made, because what they’ve managed to do is unite a fanbase that can find pretty much anything to divide itself over. I’ve always found the way factions develop a little sad, because ultimately we all want the same thing, for the club to win and be successful, but that’s human nature. No matter what the thing is that brings people together, there will always be differences within that group.

On this though, it seems as if the vast majority of people are of the same mind: they feel ripped off by their football club, and rightly so. Not only that, from a PR point of view this is little short of a disaster. The bubbling frustration of seeing a title challenge stutter in recent weeks won’t be helped by this, and ultimately, as the club continues to cut ties with supporters in many ways, the only outlet for that frustration is the stadium itself.

Now, there are reasons to be unhappy with the team when they’re playing the way they’re playing at the moment, but they don’t make decisions about ticket prices. However, you can be quite sure that if things go wrong against Barcelona, or even Leicester next weekend, that will be reflected by the atmosphere, and that’s on the board and the club, not the players.

The team can be criticised for not performing on the pitch, but this decision has simply heaped even more pressure on them at a time when it’s already mounting, and possibly having an effect on the football. We’re slipping behind in the title race, we’re not scoring goals, and we’re about to play the leaders followed by the best attacking team Europe has probably ever seen. Maybe the idea of the crowd being the 12th man is a bit of a cliche, but having them 100% with you can help.

I find it impossible to believe that there weren’t people at the club who warned about this decision and the effect it would have. I can’t believe there aren’t people there who can see this for the monumental cock-up it is. I refuse to believe that there weren’t voices raised in dispute, because they could see how this piffling money grab from supporters couldn’t be viewed as anything other than utterly venal and unnecessary, especially given the timing of it.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that none of those people have any influence. When you can exist in a protective bubble, like Stan Kroenke, what do you care what fans think? I mean, if you can deal with the opprobrium of a whole city hating you for moving their football team to another location, what does the squawking outrage of some Londoners thousands of miles away matter? Ultimately, this has to got to be his decision, but it’s sad that the Arsenal board have so willingly participated in something that will, and there’s no question in my mind about this, prove damaging in the long-run as the relationship between fans and the club is strained even further.

As I said, I’m not a season ticket holder, but if the club can’t see that this goes beyond the extra cost, and has an effect on the team itself, then you really do have to worry about where we’re going. If they had any sense, they’d step back on this one, and apologise for even thinking about it. Arsenal have generated enormous income from huge TV deals, massive and increasing corporate sponsorship, and they look for more from fans who have already paid for their season tickets?

We’ve all complained about modern football and the costs of it, but when clubs lose sight of what really matters the way Arsenal have done with this decision, it’s sad to see.

Right then, time now for this week’s Arsecast and I’m joined this week by Tim Stillman to talk about the 0-0 with Southampton, and the faltering title challenge. We talk about what can be done with midfield, the mounting pressure, the indifferent form of Theo Walcott, and lots more. There’s some Amaury Bischoff PI and all the usual waffle too.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player, and if you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.


That’s your lot for today. As I said, we’ll have all the team news and so on here, more from me tomorrow.