Hello again. I don’t normally bash out two blogs in a day, but I’ve been sitting on this particular topic for a couple of days and stewing, so thought “hmm, if only there were some sort of vehicle with which I could express my thoughts so that others may read, give me their opinion and feedback?”
Turns out I am fortunate enough to have a – albeit little part of the internet – with which I can do just that! So I thought i’d share this little gripe that has been eating away at me since last week. As always, comments are most welcome, as I’d really like to know if I’m just being a prissy on this.
It’s away tickets related, so I appreciate it’s a bit of a niche area. Not everyone can get to see Arsenal at home, let alone on the road, so I do understand that some people would love to be in the position I’m in as a season ticket holder. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be perturbed by things, just like any other human.’So whilst some might read this and think that I should count myself lucky, getting grumpy is not a mutually exclusive thing to those better off, or worse off, than myself.
Anyway, so, away tickets.
I am not a man that can get to too many away games. I have family commitments, other things get in the way, etc, etc. I would love to go to more games, but I have an agreement with The Management on a couple of things, when they involve possible road trips that we can both share in the enjoyment on, with Arsenal as the catalyst for us to do ‘weekend’s away’. The Management has family in Northumberland, which has always meant that Newcastle away and Sunderland away were always taken by me as guaranteed. With Middlesbrough now in the Premier League I’ve thankfully replaced the Geordies, but I have also over the past week been trying to get tickets for Burnley away. Lancashire is where The Management and I met, we often use games in the North West as an opportunity to head back up there and it’s been fun.
As you probably know, Arsenal have a points-based system which gives you one point for every away game you go to over a two year period, then when matches go on sale it is done on an allocation basis. Those with more points have first priority, then it drops down to those with less points in stages. I have five and six points on my two season tickets respectively. I made a calendar note on my phone to check when tickets would be on sale – normally a month before the fixture – then a couple of days before that checked the official website.
There wasn’t even a mention for those of less than 25 points. So, in effect, there was no chance of me getting tickets to the Burnley game. I contacted a mate and asked his opinion, to which he said “no chance you’ll get them”. Boo-hoo me, right? I don’t deserve to have tickets more than those who go more regularly, right?
Yes, absolutely right. I have no special badge that allows me to get more tickets than anybody else and yes, I shouldn’t take tickets from somebody who would go home and away, I have no problem with that.
What I do have a problem however, is with the rise of what I see as the social media tout.
These aren’t the old school touts, the ‘buy a ticket for £40 and sell for £200’ types, these are people that are buying up tickets for away games, then announcing on social media channels that they have tickets available for away games. I know, because I have spoken to people who readily do this, so that they can maintain their level of away points, so they can continue to offer those tickets up to other people. It’s like away points have suddenly become currency and there are those who are all too happy to trade in it.
Perhaps they are doing nothing wrong. Perhaps I’m just bleating because I am not able to get tickets on my own season ticket, because I never have enough points, but it just strikes me as farcical that as an Arsenal fan and season ticket holder, I am seeing people who don’t go to any away games at all in a season, using their ability to purchase up tickets, all because they can. But what worries me, is how long before some of these people realise the situation they find themselves, then start charging more than ‘face value’ for a ticket? We’re not there yet, but if the pool of available tickets continues to remain small, some people will use it to their advantage.
When you consider that clubs are looking at reducing the overall price of tickets too, how long is it before some people start to make a bit of cash from their exclusive monopoly on tickets? I don’t think it’s happened too much as yet, but I can foresee a time when this becomes a practice in future.
Now, I know that this isn’t the case for everyone who puts a message up on Twitter, as some people have genuine reasons for not being able to go to games. But three or four years ago, this didn’t happy with as much frequency as I’m seeing these days. On a matchday or before, my Twitter timeline can have between six and 12 people all offering up multiple tickets for away games. Are all of these people just victims of unfortunate circumstance? I’d wager not.
If these people who have no intention on going to a game are just building points so they can continue to have a level of exclusivity, what’s to stop some of them going the next step and turning in to social media touts?
What’s the answer then? Sadly, I don’t know. I was speaking to a couple of folks on Whatsapp yesterday about the paper ticket you were given at Sheffield Wednesday last season, to show that you had gone to the games. That seems to have died a death. If there was a system in place where people who were going to the games were the actual people they said they were, however, how long would it be before the system righted itself eventually and tickets to away games would be more accessible to more people?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that the current system is flawed. It doesn’t allow a large proportion of fans to get access to going to away games, which many people readily admit are often more enjoyable than home matches. Those experiences are being denied to a lot of people, because there are a collective of Arsenal fans who are buying up tickets so they can keep their points.
Perhaps I need to get over myself. But all I want is the opportunity to attend some away games. If there truly are 4 – 5,000 people who are attending all of these away games in a season then that’s fair enough. But I’m calling bullshit.
What do you think?