The curious case of obtaining tickets for Arsenal games has become a very hot topic amongst arsenal these past few months. The war on touts has been fully waged as the noise reverberating from the fan base grows ever more loudly as the opportunity to witness live the closest chance for Arsenal to reclaim a league title in years has arisen. What was always seen as a level playing field when it came to purchasing tickets has now become a virtual lottery.
It has now reached the point where you can log into the website up to an hour before tickets go on sale; sit in the waiting room only for when the sale time is reached you are updated with an estimated time of 40 minutes before you can enter the ticket office. The best I’ve experienced is being estimated to be let in 12 minutes from the start of sale and in every one of those times I’ve been updated before that time that the tickets have sold out, often within 5 minutes of sale starting! Shout out to @SheWore for sharing his experiences of this kamikaze experience on twitter, helped me to realise I didn’t become rubbish at purchasing tickets overnight but that a lot of fans shared the same experience.
It’s crazy but at the same time this is new territory to tread for Arsenal fans, certainly of the Emirates era. I mean many people in recent seasons have been able to purchase category A games easily enough if they plan up front properly. They got more often than they failed but the beauty was that fans knew they had a chance. The last few home game tickets that went on sale just proved to be a pointless exercise for many fans. You entered that waiting room with a defeatist mentality and you knew deep down it wasn’t going to work out.
So what has changed? Well it’s quite simple really…we’re good now. It’s been a tough past decade often failing to reach the standards and expectations we had set going back to those invincible days. Yes we have had some great moments lifting cups, welcoming European giants in the Champion’s League and such like but a sustained challenge for the title or even Champions league football year on year was no longer a given.
The good times build excitement; the fans want to be there, they want to experience and be a part of the success and with that comes the rise in demand for tickets. To still be fighting for something at the business end of the season just generates demand and unfortunately there’s a capacity that gets reached. Arsenal Football Club now has a global appeal far greater than the 60k fans it can squeeze into the stadium. I saw a recent article from Arseblog that quoted that roughly 2/3 of the Emirates capacity is held by season ticket holders whilst there are around 30k silver members on the books and then a crazy number of red/junior gunners that are as high in 200k in number.
You don’t even need Key Stage 1 maths to work out that when there is a game everyone wants to see it becomes a very congested group to be a part of. I know the touts and their bots very much the focal point of the frustrations felt by the fans but with or without them the stadium just can’t host all those members. There will be casualties regardless.
When you think of it, I remember all the years back I would go to Highbury to watch games, I wasn’t a season ticket holder back then but I would attend plenty games in the early stages of the season. Once it got to business end of season the ease in which I could buy tickets soon evaporated. I would often miss the chance to visit Highbury during the run in to a season as the demand grew. Those days it was all about phoning the hotline (never kind on my phone bill) and being on hold for what seemed like an eternity, sometimes I got lucky but at business end of season less so.
It’s interesting when I’ve seen some complaints on twitter from people who say they haven’t been able to purchase a ticket all season as silver members. Either they aren’t trying on the date and time the tickets actually went on sale or their actual statement of all season is more realistically translated to “the two or three times I tried to buy tickets”. Earlier in the season tickets were readily available to purchase, it has definitely become harder the further we progressed into the season but not bad enough to not get to a ticket to a game across the whole season.
Have things really changed from then to now? In a way no, it’s just been a while since we had been in a good old title challenge that wed forgotten how it could be like (if you wasn’t a season ticket holder that is).
I feel fortunate enough to be a season ticket holder and have most definitely enjoyed the journey the club has had this season. My frustrations in the ticket purchasing experience has only been felt as I have been trying to help my Sister and Brother In Law who are both silver members and still on the gold waiting list to get tickets. They aren’t tech savvy enough and I have always been the one to purchase for them, probably the only people that make me feel young and still in touch lol, until ChatGPT takes over everything I still have a purpose.
So what are my suggestions for a solution to the problem? I’m pretty sure those on silver will definitely snap up the opportunity of a gold membership if offered. I am not ashamed to admit that I had been a silver member for years and was quite comfortable being able to purchase tickets for the juicy games that fit around my busy lifestyle. The commitment to attend every single home game isn’t as easy as it seems if you aren’t exactly local (and sometimes even when you are local). I turned down the offer of a season ticket quite a few times as I just wasn’t sure if A. I could attend every game B. I could afford it. Eventually I took the plunge and have never looked back. So my advice would be definitely snap it up if you can and try and make cuts elsewhere to soften any financial hit.
The ticket exchange has become super competitive but I still hear success stories even this late into the season of people getting hold of tickets for the games. You get a lot of fans put their tickets up from the day before a game so just dive in and check periodically, refresh the page and keep trying. I’ve put my seat on ticket exchange and found it sold within 5 minutes. It may be luck of the draw but it’s a lot less risky and less stressful than buying from an unknown person on twitter who turns out to be a scammer. Also be realistic, buy 1 ticket for you alone, trying to source two tickets or more just makes things harder for yourself. Single tickets pop up, to find a pair is a unicorn.
This suggestion may be a bit farfetched but there are a number of competitions held on the arsenal website with tickets as prizes, some are free and require nothing more than answering a pretty easy question on arsenal and entering. Additionally there’s opportunities for tickets in the Arsenal members rewards section, all those points we accumulate over the season then lose because we wait too long and cant redeem the beanie hats and umbrellas because they are already sold out by deadline. Often you can use those points to enter prize draws for tickets, VIP experiences at that. I certainly don’t make this suggestion to be patronising but someone has to win, what have you got to lose when entering a competition for free?
At the end of the day the club needs to do something about the touts and bots etc that snap up tickets and post on the black market so that we all have a fair chance when trying, that’s out of our hands but we also have to be realistic that there are a lot of Arsenal fans in the same boat that want to go to the games now more than ever. It’s a frustrating factor but a nice frustration to have if it means we are challenging at the top of the table with regularity season after season. Unlike our neighbours up the road, we are selling out our stadium thanks to the excellent work Mikel Arteta has done with the team and challenging for honours and not because Beyonce is in town to twerk.
Enjoy your day people
This post also features on Gunners Town site which I write for.
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