Why do Fans of Other Clubs want to Protest at Arsenal Home Matches? by the Analyser
An article appeared on this site indicating that Leicester fans were planning to delay entering the stadium until after five minutes to protest against TV scheduling of matches. A question was posed in the article about whether Arsenal fans should join in the protest. In the comments section, discussion veered off into ticket pricing with some fans calling for a boycott. My first reaction was why did the Leicester fans choose to protest at this match? Was it their first match whose scheduling was changed? Two seasons ago Liverpool fans wanted to boycott an FA Cup match against Arsenal citing ticket prices, and ended up with a proposal on a pricing model they said would apply in the event the match ended in a draw requiring a replay at Anfield.
We always talk about mind games in relation to club managers. Is it not possible that opposition fans can also play mind games in important matches by disrupting tradition and morale at an away ground? The generality of the football fraternity knows that anything to do with protests at the Emirates will excite interest from some home fans, thanks to distortion of facts by the media about the club’s ticket prices. A report by Sky Sports earlier in the season indicated that Liverpool (£45.74) and Tottenham(£41.90) had on average the most expensive tickets per game, with Arsenal fourth at £39.00 per match (http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/10021170/premier-league-ticket-prices-revealed). This was despite the fact that Arsenal had the most expensive ticket. What this means is that the most expensive ticket at Arsenal applies to a tiny minority of fans, which the club believe have the capacity to pay. These wealthy fans subsidize the average fan, who is now complaining that their benefactors are paying way too much. Ironically, the same fans want a benefactor in the name of Usmanov to come and subsidize the club so that they will pay as little as the Man City fans do.
Governments across the globe tax citizens on a sliding scale with the rich being taxed heavily. I am yet to hear the low income earners complaining to governments that taxes are high, citing rates applicable to their wealthy counterparts. Food for thought.
Stadium-going fans should not in any way think that TVs and the EPL are ignoring fans in their scheduling of matches. Match scheduling by TVs takes into account the need to reach out to the highest number of fans across the globe having regard to time differences, among other factors. Ironically the same fans want ticket prices to go down because of TV money. As a matter of fact TV money is a direct product of fans that do not go to stadiums but watch matches on TV. Without those fans there will be no adverts on TV, hence to TV money. What attract fans to TVs are not fans at the stadium but activities on the pitch. While activities on the stands form part of the football experience, it is not true that fans will not watch matches on TV should matches be played in empty stadiums. Essentially stadium-going fans are overplaying their hand in this issue.
Does it mean that stadium-going fans are no longer important to football? They are important in many respects but they have to accept that football has evolved over the years. It has now become a global phenomenon, with clubs having huge global fan-bases. TVs are the medium through which clubs reach out to those fan-bases, as such TV scheduling of matches is an important feature of the modern game; a reality which stadium-going fans should live with. Admittedly a lot of improvements could be made in match scheduling to allow fans to plan properly. I believe this can be achieved through engagement among concerned parties rather than disruptive theatrics as those planned by Leicester fans.
By Tinashe Shamuyashe (The Analyzer)