Gooner Survey Results – Part 3
By Mike Francis
Your views on ticketing, kits, atmosphere and everything in between.
We’ve already reported on the results of the first two parts of this years Gooner survey which focussed on last season and your views on the squad and manager. In the third part, the questions focussed on more general issues which impact on your matchday experience. Feel free to shoot me for using the words “matchday” and “experience” together like that!
The first few questions in this section concerned your relationship with Arsenal. We received responses from a good cross section of the support with Gold members accounting for 29%, Red members 25%, Silver 11% and Platinum 2%. That still leaves a third of fans who the club will be hoping sign up to the newly launched digital membership. Given that one of the benefits of Red membership was having access to Arsenal Player which is now part of the free digital membership, I wonder how many Red members might choose to go for the digital only option next season as well?
Apologies to anyone who is a Purple member for not including this option in the list. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t even realise there was such a distinction for disabled members. Thanks to those of you who pointed this out.
The average fan who responded to the survey went to ten home games and two away games last season and attended their first Arsenal game in 1989 - what a glorious year to go to your first game! I wonder if anyone’s first game was the match at Anfield? We’d like to hear from you if it was. The most popular year in which people first went to an Arsenal game was 1995, but the answers ranged from 1946 all the way through to 2013 showing that we heard from a wide range of generations.
Next we tackled the thorny topic of ticketing and questioned whether you had ever bought or sold a match ticket from/to a friend for face value or below? A small majority (55%) said they had, although I’d hazard a guess that some of the minority might have decided not to own up to breaking club regulations in case the information fell into the wrong hands! However, the club are well aware this type of thing goes on and in what I presume is an effort to legitimise it, they are introducing a new facility for this season which will enable Gold members to transfer their seats to friends and family on a match-by-match basis without having to hand over membership cards.
The Ticket Exchange system is also undergoing a revamp which will allow season ticket holders to sell their tickets on a match-by-match basis to a fan of their choice and also choose to have the proceeds deposited into their bank account rather than being credited to the purchase of a future season ticket as has been the case previously.
Only 25% of people who replied have used Ticket Exchange in the past to either buy or sell a ticket, with a further 16% suggesting they intend to in the future. That leaves 59% who either never have a need for it or are still to be persuaded by the benefits.
It will be interesting to see how successful these changes are and it’s to be hoped they will help reduce the huge swathes of empty seats we see on a far too regular basis. I think this is an issue which annoys most people because it’s hard to understand the mentality of people who will pay for a seat and then not use it. I’ve heard in the past that there are over 800 season tickets which were used less than twice last season which makes the cost per game a minimum of £500. How anyone can justify that type of expense is beyond me.
The issue of ticket prices filled plenty of column inches last year and Arsenal were the focus of a significant proportion of the ire after charging away fans £62 for category A matches. It wasn’t always reported that the majority of home fans would have been charged more (significantly in some cases) for the same games. We therefore asked what value you felt ticket prices offered for the different categories of games.
|Very Good||Good||Fair||Poor||Very Poor|
|Category A Home||1.6%||5.8%||21.5%||45.3%||25.8%|
|Category B Home||1.6%||12.5%||41.7%||34.8%||9.4%|
|Category C Home||14.8%||27.3%||34.5%||17.2%||6.2%|
|League Cup Home||39.4%||26.2%||21.3%||9.1%||4.0%|
I don’t think there are too many surprises there apart from perhaps the 13.1% who feel the prices for home League Cup games (£10 and £20) are “poor” or “very poor”. I thought the club deserved credit for sticking with this price policy, but it goes to prove that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Anyone who watches Arsenal away will know what an expensive business that can be as we are always a category A game for the home side and we are therefore charged accordingly – £48 at QPR, £47 at Fulham and £49 at Upton Park all being prime examples. And it’s not just the ticket prices they have to contend with, but also spiralling food, drink and travel costs.
I think most fans (with the possible exception of Luton Town fans in the late 80s) recognise the contribution away fans make to the game and it’s for this reason that the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) launched Twenty’s Plenty earlier in the year, a campaign calling for clubs to cap the price of away match tickets. We asked what you thought that cap should be and over 60% felt it should be under £30 (5% under £20, 21% between £20 and £25 and 36% between £25 and £30) which is a higher figure than the campaign suggests, but perhaps is a more realistic goal.
It does feel like a tipping point has been reached and fans are putting aside their tribal differences to campaign as one voice, including a march in London during the summer which culminated with a meeting with the Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore. If you agree with the principle, please sign the FSF petition.
Another expense which many fans incur is for the purchase of replica shirts and the clubs do their utmost to maximise this revenue stream by changing them at every opportunity. However, I felt that there were fewer being worn last season and we therefore asked how often people bought them.
Not surprisingly, the home shirt is the most popular with 23% always buying it and a further 53% saying they will sometimes buy it. In hindsight it would have been interesting to find out what motivated those in the latter category – design, which players are wearing it, timing or just financial circumstances?
The away shirt is far less popular with just 10% saying they always buy it and 47% opting to splash out sometimes. However, that’s only when the shirt is predominantly yellow and as we all know, that’s not always been the case recently. If the shirt is any other colour, then the percentages drop to 5% for always and 35% for sometimes. That’s a pretty big shift if you assume that translates to every Arsenal fan on the planet, so you’d think it would be in the club and kit manufacturers interests to listen to us for once. OK, so they have for the new kit, but let’s hope our rumoured new kit manufacturer (from 2014-15) will also take note.
Speaking of Puma – oops… have I let the cat out of the bag (pun completely intentional) – and prompted by one fan I know who has refused to buy any Nike gear in protest at the 2007-8 away kit and 2009-10 third kit, we asked whether a new kit manufacturer would make you more or less likely to buy a replica shirt. One in ten said it would, but this was partially offset by the 6% who said it would make them less likely, whilst everyone else indicated it would make no difference at all.
A Happy Atmosphere
Next on our checklist of things to ask about was the atmosphere at games. This has been a bug-bear for as long as I can recall now and whilst the likes of REDaction are always encouraging fans to get behind the team, only 44% felt there had been any improvement at home games last season.
We went on to ask you which game had had the best atmosphere last season, home or away, and whilst it might be an obvious thing to say, it’s undoubtedly the performance on the pitch which dictates whether the fans are going to make a noise. The run-away winner was the 5-2 North London Derby which took 56% of the vote and four of the top five games to feature were all wins for Arsenal – Wigan at home (7%), Reading away in the League Cup (4%) and the 7-3 victory against Newcastle at home (3%). The only exception was the visit of Man United (6%), which I suspect had a lot to do with the vocal reception with which we “welcomed” the returning Van Persie!
Most would probably accept it’s when things aren’t going so well on the pitch that the fans need to raise their game to try and lift the team, but there seems to be a large percentage of fans who fill Ashburton Grove who struggle with this concept and are happy to sit on their padded seats and moan to their neighbour. This has resulted in a lot of ill-feeling and confrontations between Gooners, which many people commented upon when completing the survey and it’s sad to see even if the frustrations are understandable.
Our travelling fans were regularly commended for their support of the side and we do have a terrific following, but who were the best visiting fans to visit us? In past surveys, the European teams have always figured strongly in this category and this was no exception with the two German sides we faced battling it out for the honour with Bayern Munich (43%) edging out Schalke (38%). Olympiacos were a distant third with 11%, whilst the first domestic side to feature were Wigan of all teams!
What about the best chant? I’ve no idea whether they still do a chart countdown on the radio, but I feel as though it’s the right way to announce these results, so…
Greetings pop-pickers. Re-released and back in at number five is “There were ten Tottenham points in the gap (in the gap)”. At four and gaining in popularity all the time is “We’ve got a Big F*cking German”. Breaking into the top three is the remixed version of the White Stripes Seven Nation Army, “Oh Santi Cazorla”. At number two and in the charts for the 18th consecutive year is the double-A side “We’re Coming For You/It’s Happened Again (Tottenham Hotspur)”, which means pick of the pops this year is the brilliant Beatles classic… “Na na na na na na, na na na, Giroud!”
The question about what was the best banner brought a mixed reaction with plenty of people commenting that they are embarrassing, bland, contrived, dreadful and corporate propaganda. Of those which did receive votes, the most popular was the one carrying the David Rocastle quote “Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent” which is a good choice I think. Just behind this was the one dedicated to Jack’s “Shere Willpower”, although this was also described as the worst of a bad bunch which should be removed immediately.
In third spot was the one which can usually be seen at the front of the North Bank stand and declares ”In Arsène We Trust”. When this went missing for a game or two last season, there was plenty of comment on Twitter about whether the owner had lost faith, but it turned out he was simply on holiday! However, we already know how divided opinion is about the manager at the moment, so it’s not altogether surprising that in fourth place was “Arsène Thanks for the memories but it’s time to say goodbye” which was produced by some members of the Gooner2Gooner Forum.
Programmes, Pies and Pints
We at The Gooner are all too aware of how sales in the print industry have been declining in recent years and we know that this is impacting the programme as well, so asked how many people bought the programme (or matchday magazine if you prefer) last season, either in print or digitally on an iPad. Almost one-in-five (19%) replied that they bought it every game, which would probably include people who took out a season long digital subscription, whilst a further 29% said they bought it “occasionally” and 52% “never”. As a very rough guide, if we translate these percentages to a match-day attendance of 60,000 (yes, I know we rarely get a full house and that number includes away fans, but I did say it was only very rough), that would mean 11,400 would buy it every game with 17,400 buying it sometimes. How I wish The Gooner could shift that many of each issue!
Another cost the club would like you to incur on matchdays is for food and drink, but only 11% of you choose to make these purchases inside the stadium every game, with a further 13% buying something “most games”, 21% “sometimes” and 25% “rarely”. That leaves one in three fans who never buy anything from the refreshment points serviced by Delaware North. This might be because the selection available is not to their liking or they deem what is offered to be poor value for money or just that they prefer to buy their sustenance from places like Piebury Corner and frankly who could blame them?
The Other Arsenals
If watching Arsenal once or twice a week is not enough for you or if your budget doesn’t stretch to ticket prices at the Grove, then perhaps you should consider watching the reserve, youth or ladies teams. I’m not sure where reserve fixtures will be played this season because last year some of them were played at Barnet’s Underhill Stadium, but Barnet have moved to a new ground over the summer so the arrangement may change.
There’s no charge to go and see the reserves and 16% of you have taken advantage of this during the last two years, whilst a further 42% are considering going to a game and that number might increase if the hype regarding 16 year-old Gedion Zelalem continues… unless he progresses to the first team of course.
The women’s game is less popular, but it is growing since the advent of the Super League and for £35 you can get a season ticket to watch all the games at Borehamwood. Only 8% of people who responded have been to an Arsenal Ladies games in the last two years with a further 27% considering going to one. I have to hold my hands up and say that since attending one way back in 1988 for an early feature in The Gooner, I’ve not been since, but I’m regularly told I should get along to one and am definitely not in the 65% of people who said they had no interest.
I was ticked off by someone on Twitter for not including an option for people who would like to go and see either the youngsters or the ladies, but are unable to get to a game because they live too far away. Apologies – I’ll try to remember to remedy that next year if we ask a similar question.
What’s On TV?
Most Arsenal matches are televised now in the UK, but those that aren’t are still covered for international broadcast and that means they are almost certainly available to watch via an internet stream. I think I used this method to watch three away games last season – Sunderland, Swansea and West Brom – so am one of the 84% of people who admitted that they had also watched a match on the internet. I was surprised it wasn’t an even higher percentage to be honest.
The follow-up question was whether you’d be prepared to pay a small fee of, say, £2 per match to watch games through an authorised provider and two-thirds of you said you would, with a further 22% answering “maybe”. I know there are arguments about how this could reduce the value of broadcasting rights, but even if that was the case, which I remain to be convinced by, it would surely be more than compensated by the revenue generated. The internet streams which are available now are notoriously unreliable and, if the suggestions that the Premier League are going to re-double their efforts to clamp down on them, then an HD stream which doesn’t freeze every five minutes (especially when it happens just as Cazorla is just about to strike the ball from outside the box against Sunderland for the only goal of the game) would be worth paying for in my opinion.
We also asked whether you would be in favour of Arsenal (and other Premier League clubs) being allowed to sell their own TV rights, like Real Madrid and Barcelona do in Spain, rather than the collective agreement which they currently operate within, the theory being that the most popular clubs would be able to generate significantly more revenue for themselves as a result. The results were close with 39% being in favour of such a model and 40% being against it with the remainder abstaining. The concern is presumably that it would just make the rich clubs even richer (although you could argue that the Champions League is already having much the same effect) and reduce competition as has been evident in Spain.
Going Down the Pub
We always like to recognise the many watering holes in the vicinity of the ground not least because the landlords and landladies allow our match-day sales team to pass among their customers shifting copies of The Gooner. Top of the pint pulling establishments this year was The Tollington which has developed quite a following among the Arsenal Twitterati (more on them shortly) and, as anyone who approaches the ground along Hornsey Road from the Seven Sisters Road end will testify, it is always jammed inside and out.
In second spot is The Gunners and it’s good to see an old favourite from Highbury days still pulling in the punters despite it now being a bit further from the turnstiles. In third place was the Twelve Pins which is also generally regarded as the best place to watch televised games. These three were well clear of the rest, but completing the top five were The Rocket and the Auld Triangle.
Bloggers and Tweeters
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Arsenal fans are a lucky bunch because we are fortunate enough to have some of the best bloggers on the web writing for us. We obviously hope that all of you regularly visit the Online Gooner to read the contributions we publish, but if, as some voters suggested, we are your only port of call then you are missing out on a hugely diverse amount of excellent reading material.
For the umpteenth year on the trot, Arseblog was by far and away the most popular unofficial website/blog and although his vote was definitely down on previous years, it was still a landslide. There have been some comments on the Gooner2Gooner forum that Arseblogger is “in” with the club and is therefore less critical than he used to be, but his daily round-up of Arsenal stories is essential reading most mornings for me and many other Gooners, whilst his ability to come up with a few paragraphs every day is unsurpassed, even if they are getting increasingly bizarre!
In second place was Le Grove which is run by Pedro, a self-confessed media-whore who can regularly be found in front of the Sky Sports cameras after AGMs, Q&A sessions with Ivan and pretty much any other fan event.
In third spot was arsenal-blog.com, which received a lot of support from our Russian voters, probably because it’s in Russian and translates some of the Online Gooner’s content. Honourable mentions also for Goonerholic, Untold Arsenal, Arsenal News Review (not sure whether this is because of or inspite of Myles Palmer) and Arsenal Truth.
As well as the various fan websites another good source of content is social media and Twitter in particular, so we asked you which Arsenal fans were worth following for their tweets and received dozens of suggestions. Arseblog took this honour last year, but he was overhauled in 2013 by Darren Epstein who really knows his Arse from his elbow and has some good contacts, so his tweets are always worth reading. Arseblog was second, followed by @GeoffArsenal who is not someone I know, but is another who gives the impression of being well informed, although there seems to have been a backlash against people who claim to be “in the know” (or ITK if you prefer your acronyms) and Geoff has had more than his fair share of grief as a consequence.
It’s a little depressing that Piers Morgan made the top 10, but I guess it takes allsorts. Next year we’ll perhaps run a poll on who the most annoying Arsenal fan on Twitter is as he should be a firm favourite for that particular honour. For the record, the rest of the top 10 were Tim Stillman (Little Dutch), Le Grove, Keith the Gooner, Arsenal Gent, Lady Arse and Tim Payton.
In the fourth and penultimate part of the survey results, we’ll analyse the result of the questions related to ownership and the financial model the club operates.
17th July 2013
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Chris 11:09am 17th Jul 2013
Scenes at Brighton (a) got pretty ugly over that 'Thanks for the Memories' banner. And a few other away trips too I gather, although I wasn't near it at Reading. - Post No. 39301
Gary 11:43am 17th Jul 2013
Why is it depressing that Piers Morgan makes the list of best twitters.Its a breath of freash air to read someone be honest about Wenger and not tow the AKB line - Post No. 39302
Barry 11:45am 17th Jul 2013
Great reading. No @wengerknowsbest in the top 10? That must have got some votes. Hope the Gooner keeps going for many years. - Post No. 39303
so what happened to Higuain ? 14:38pm 17th Jul 2013
can we have a survey to ask if most gooners trust what the club tells them or not ? another survey which asks is the real reason you support arsenal today because you love the club for what its been and and definitely not because of its owners board and management and what it is today ? i think the results would be 80:20 - Post No. 39308
nijjy 9:45am 19th Jul 2013
IMO, 7 am kickoff should be up there in the top 10 arsenal bloggers. regular posts, incisive analysis - Post No. 39324
Chingford Gooner 14:33pm 19th Jul 2013
@GeoffArsenal pretty much never right about any of his rumours or so called insider info. Massively over-rated source. Le Grove pretty much hit the nail on the head with most of their analysis. Far too many AKB accounts on Twitter and they are always the feisty ones too when anyone justly criticises him. They are unable to take a balanced view of anything said about Wenger. - Post No. 39328
maguiresbridge gooner 16:34pm 19th Jul 2013
It's certainly good to see the mighty barca and man yoo getting a taste of their own medicine,having to come out and deny their top players are for sale and ward off interest,now they know how we feel,even though we'd probably be in the same boat if we had anybody left, although i'm sure they'll not give in quite as easily as we did. - Post No. 39331
HowardL 8:14am 20th Jul 2013
Well-balanced analysis and an enjoyable read. - Post No. 39336
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