The Arsenal Official Programme 2017-18

By Kevin Whitcher

A look at the club’s matchday offering for £3.50

Something a bit different today. I picked up a copy of the programme last Saturday, just to check what the club are producing this season and whether anything in particular captures my imagination (like the fascinating ‘Hidden Highbury’ series did in the 2005-06 campaign - the club should put this online). Also to check whether it was worth a regular investment of £3.50. I know a lot of people collect home programmes habitually, stick them in boxes up in the loft and rarely, if ever get them out. They are generally worth very little unless they are pre-1960 and a lot of them end up being recycled when people move and have a clear out. Anyway, as with the vast majority of print media (and The Gooner is no exception, currently in its last season of publication – the latest issue can be bought here), the numbers of copies sold are in decline, and I know of a few regulars that bought it for years and have simply stopped, realising they never look at them after they get home from the game, and don’t feel like they are getting £3.50’s worth from the content on the day.

Cover of the Bournemouth programme last weekend

A couple of things to note. There are 7,139 club level and 2,222 corporate box seats. All of those who attend in the middle tier get a free programme – so that’s close to 10,000 freebies. Additionally, last season you could download the matchday programme absolutely free on your smartphone or tablet using the #COYG app, if you just wanted to read the content without buying the physical item. Checking the app on my iPhone this morning I noted, a message at the top of the home page – “We’ll no longer be producing the #COYG matchday programme this season”. Further research online found this on the official website. Oh well, it was good while it lasted, but maybe physical sales were being hit too badly. I do recall they used to offer a paid for subscription to get the programme on your tablet, and am surprised they have not reverted to this model. Maybe there wasn’t enough take up.

One thing is certain, sales of the printed version are less at the new stadium than they were at Highbury, simply because the way supporters get their information about the club has changed. Some smaller clubs in Scotland have ceased producing programmes altogether. The vast majority of lower level clubs’ programmes are only produced due to the income they garner from the advertisers within. In as little as ten years, the phenomenon of the matchday programme could become a thing of the past for most clubs.

So anyway, let’s have a look at the content this season. The Junior Gunners pull out comes right at the front and has an A2 sized player poster on the reverse of the content. If you are talking bedroom wall fodder for anyone too young too remember the club’s last serious push at the title, then this is perfect. So that’s the kids taken care of. What do the grown ups get in the 84 pages that follow? There are columns from the manager and the non-playing captain (a fairly familiar state of affairs in recent seasons) which tell you very little. Six pages of ‘Voice of Arsenal’ are mainly information – the kind of stuff that was useful before the days of the internet. There is half a page of stats on the ref for the game which gives you an idea of whether or not he is good for Arsenal. The stats dispelled the Highbury Spy’s utter conviction that we always lose when we get Anthony Taylor, for example. Four pages reviewing youth matches, if that floats your boat, followed by a three page interview / profile of one of the youth squad. Might be interesting to look back on in a decade’s time if they actually make it. Two or three pages are dedicated to each recent fixture (depending on the result) with stats, brief write up and photos. I have yet to stumble across anything that is going to make me want to buy this regularly.

There’s a more interesting feature – That’s Me! - based on supporters that have appeared in a famous Arsenal photo. So we get the mascot from the first match at the Emirates telling his tale, and a request for other fans who have spotted themselves in a photo to get in touch. I wonder if the guy who photobombed the pic of the team with the European Cup Winners Cup trophy in Copenhagen in 1994 would be allowed to tell his tale!

There follows a four page feature called ‘Pressure Points’ – a Q&A with a player about football and off-field matters. Mesut Ozil informs us that if his house was on fire, the three things he’d take would be his dog, his phone and a football. The Arsenal Ladies get two pages, and then we move on to some history – a regular feature this season – ‘That Sums It All Up’. Three pages on a game from the 1997/98 double season. in this edition, the 3-3 draw at Leicester is recalled by the Foxes’ defender Matt Elliot.

‘In the Mix’ is two pages of history stats, but ‘Exhibit Arsenal’ is better – three pages about an item in the Arsenal Museum, in this case season tickets from the late 19th Century. There are six pages on the opposition, the pick of which is the Scouting Report from Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox. There’s a five page interview with a current player, in this instance Petr Cech. There are seven pages at the back titled ‘The Breakdown’ – mainly stats and fixtures/results, but with one good Chalkboard page on a player’s contribution in a previous game. We end with a one page fan Q&A entitled ‘My Arsenal’.

I’ve put in bold and underline the features which I think are worth taking the time to read, but the bottom line is that you could probably get through all of them at half time if you had no distractions (such as the Highbury Spy conversing with you). So £3.50 for 15 minutes’ reading? I think I’ll pass. Now, the latest issue of The Gooner on the other hand – well that’s a different kettle of fish.

13th September 2017 10:01:02


Comments 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.

Paulo75  10:41am 13th Sep 2017

First programme purchased at Celtic Park in 1985, Celtic v Aberdeen. Had a seat near the players tunnel so got it signed by Alex Ferguson and Paul McStay. Cost was 40p and the back of the programme advertised Kensitas Club cigarettes - a bygone era indeed! - Post No. 109775

RobG  13:39pm 13th Sep 2017

Indeed Kev. The Hidden Highbury rundown in 2096 season was fascinating. Told me all sorts of things I didn't know about our famous ground. But long before that, the contents seemed more and more. The interest less and less. - Post No. 109776

mbg  14:31pm 13th Sep 2017

84 pages of bullshyte spin everything's rosey in the garden by Arsenal/wenger luvvies. Yet another part of our club ruined and destroyed by wenger and his regime. wenger out. - Post No. 109777

Radfordkennedy  17:58pm 13th Sep 2017

Kev...I think most people especially during the seventies bought them for cup final vouchers,I seem to remember the sellers shouting ' programmes or handbooks'but for the life of me I can't recall what those handbooks were called,anyone remember them? - Post No. 109779

Alsace  21:08pm 13th Sep 2017

My son and I call this document PRAVDA after the soviet daily that told the party line during communism. You know the sort of thing. tractor production is up ,- 5th is the new 1st. That sort of thing. Unsuitable for lavatory paper because it certainly isn't in any way informative. Wouldn't it be interesting if the club put Kevin in charge of it and gave him editorial freedom. Another organ of the creature and I wouldn't give it houseroom. - Post No. 109781

Cyril  23:26pm 13th Sep 2017

The European project is ending for us. Wenger was useful for us whilst they had power. It's over. Most of us are bright enough to acknowledge that you helped us, even though you are a bumbling idiot. Your use is over as we return post brexit. In the meantime, show some class and return my club back to normality and go and graise in Alsace and enjoy your time with us. I'm sure you can get a new job assisting Barnier with his Euro army!!! - Post No. 109782

Yes its Ron  10:16am 14th Sep 2017

The programmes are OK for their intended readership - the 15 yrs old and under. Cant think why anybody would ever actually pay for one of them. I know that in that Club level they struggle to give them away. - Post No. 109783

Arseneknewbest  10:17am 14th Sep 2017

Cyril - Alternatively, he might be better off working for the tories given that they too are enemies within and also happen to be the worst kind of pathological liars. Plus the mess theyre making of governing is not disimilar from what we see at the emirates is it? He'did also fit in nicely at the treasury with his chronic addiction to other people's money. - Post No. 109784

Robert Exley  10:22am 14th Sep 2017

Like you say, print media seems to be dying. Surely the official programme has a lower life expectancy than the Gooner on account of being non-objective and non-independent and over priced in comparison to the Gooner - Post No. 109785

Seven Kings Gooner1  11:30am 14th Sep 2017

Good piece Kev, just confirms my feelings that the real Arsenal only ever existed at Highbury. The programmes now are like a Barclaycard or Nespresso magazine, giving you some glossy photos of a life than doesn't exist and certainly never did in the world of proper football. - Post No. 109786

Exeter Ex  12:35pm 14th Sep 2017

Used to buy the programme when I was a Junior Gunner. I remember a feature about that match weekend 5 years ago, then 10, 15, 25 years ago. Can remember thinking 'one day I'll be able to remember the 5 years ago'. Now I can remember well over the 25! Haven't bought the modern programme, but there again I wouldn't buy a ticket for that stadium these days so that's no surprise. - Post No. 109787

Time for change  13:06pm 14th Sep 2017

There's just no criticism of the team, board or manager when things aren't going well (i.e. In the last 13 years of two title challenges). Pravda programme. - Post No. 109788

Wilcox1970  13:57pm 14th Sep 2017

Bring back Max Kester!! One for the middle aged gooners! - Post No. 109789

mbg  15:27pm 14th Sep 2017

Thursday nights C 5 what a come down and blow to TOF's ego, it was a long time coming and thoroughly deserved, and for his AKB wengerites too, only a matter of time for the first embarrassment in this also, and it's only starting long may it last. wenger out. - Post No. 109790

markymark  15:44pm 14th Sep 2017

Sorry for going off topic but I see the mighty Wengo has suggested that talks are slowing with Mezut . Well what a surprise that one is . A 100m write off. If the pound crashes against the Euro and transfer inflation continues we're probably looking at 200m in real terms. What a persuasive financial genius that man is - Post No. 109791

Alsace  17:49pm 14th Sep 2017

@Cyril & Arsene knew best. Some interesting parallels with Brexit and Arsene. The dislike of democracy or debate. The serial incompetence wastefulness, obstinacy and failure to learn. I see Mr Junker's Mantra now, " One People - one Empire - one leader". I wonder who he has in mind? Maybe it's Wenger. - Post No. 109793

Moscowgooner  17:55pm 14th Sep 2017

I first started watching Arsenal in 68/69 and religiously collected match day programmes until we moved to the Emirates. The late sixties/early seventies programmes are still very good reading material - and allowed a much more diverse set of opinions than the current Pravda propaganda sheet. - Post No. 109794

Seven Kings Gooner1  19:26pm 14th Sep 2017

I do have hundreds of Arsenal programmes and they go back to 1948, I inherited my father's collection from 1948 to 1960, then I started collecting from 1961 onwards. I always liked the photos from the previous week's matches, a double page spread and sometimes you would get a double, double page, which meant 8 photos. "The voice of Arsenal" was almost like a government warning letter and later on in the late sixties and seventies they would have guest writers, normally sports writers, these were always well crafted pieces. When we moved from our house in Seven Kings in 1964 we carefully put all the programmes in a cardboard box and I remember my father saying how my mother had a "clear out" and threw out all his Arsenal programmes from 1948 to 1960 and how angry he was at losing such history. Imagine how he felt when clearing out the cellar he found in the corner, two bundles tied with string and brown paper, these were his beloved missing Arsenal programmes - mum had n't thrown them out but she had forgotten what she had done with them. Dad and I spent hours that night going through the lost booty, he would tell a story for every single edition. His face was a delight when he picked up from the pile the 1953 Arsenal v Burnley championship decider programme. This was an afternoon kick off, which dad described in a blow by blow account as Arsenal first went 0-1 down, then 3-1 up and how Burnley made it 3-2 leaving us to cling on in those everlasting final minutes as we clinched our seventh title. We then had to wait another 18 years for our eight Div one Championship and then another 18 years for our ninth at Anfield. Somehow I think we will wait a damn sight longer than 18 years - 13 years and counting - for our next one, I just hope I am still around to witness it, one thing for sure, Wenger will not be our manager when we clinch title number fourteen. - Post No. 109795

mbg  19:52pm 14th Sep 2017

SKG, nice post, there's not many stories to be told from the last thirteen years effort. wenger out tonight. - Post No. 109796

markymark  20:36pm 14th Sep 2017

Again off topic but the chaos at the Emirates (whoever is to blame) suggests that the Board can't manage things properly. It has been known that this crowd size were due to arrive. - Post No. 109797

mbg  20:50pm 14th Sep 2017

Fighting outside and inside the Emirates ? welcome to Thursday nights C5 wenger, and we're at home, but we all know the real reason don't we ? it's going to get and be hell of a lot worse too when your sitting rocking back and forth clueless in some unknown stadium, maybe those AKB wengerites are wishing they'd got of their arse long before now, if they haven't, before it's all over I bet they had . wenger out tonight. - Post No. 109798

Arseneknewbest  21:58pm 14th Sep 2017

Eau-one-cologne. The p45 is getting nearer you auld bas wengo. - Post No. 109799

Scruff  23:48pm 14th Sep 2017

2 questions tonight; why was myself and my friends removed from our seats and relocated to another part of the ground, absolute disgrace and why Walcott? Absolute disgrace! - Post No. 109800

Cyril  0:30am 15th Sep 2017

I'm fuming. If I was there tonight, I would have belted a couple of them. I'm only tiny, but how dare these effing so and so's come to my club and intimidate us. Can't wait for brexit. You c**ts!! - Post No. 109801

markymark  6:42am 15th Sep 2017

One of those FC Koln supporters had ToOaW's ticket . He decided rather than "take the piss". he'd sell his ticket for a bratwurst and a stein of hoffmeister. - Post No. 109802

Petergooner  7:53am 15th Sep 2017

Having watched the game and now watched Arsenalfantv, Claude is so right in the fact that Koln fans went on Red Membership paid a small amount of money to join and then bought tickets easy. Thank god there were only a few problems in the stadium, but if the other 2 teams in the group come here and are able to buy tickets like that there could really be fights etc and also maybe flares etc. The Club need to make sure no away fans get into our seats.These teams are going to bring a lot of fans because against Arsenal is like being ina Cup Final due to the fact that Emirates is a lovely stadium and teams like Koln with great fan base come and 20,000 Koln fans can get tickets then the other tems will do the same. CLUB AND STEWARDS SORT THINGS OUT PLEASE. - Post No. 109803

markymark  8:07am 15th Sep 2017

I did hear further news that ToOaW went out looking for 20,000 of us as per his last intelligent posting. Running up to them seeing their red scarves his humour "taking the piss" was lost on them as he can neither speak English or German very well. Fearing trouble with the big hairy German ( her name was Ulrica) He decided to flog his ticket instead. Well done ToOaW for your dedicated hand of European friendship in these troubled times. Did you get her number? I bet she was rather fetching in her scarf mask and holding a flare gun. - Post No. 109804

Redshirtwhitesleeves  8:30am 15th Sep 2017

SKG- lovely post mate respect to you and your dad, some proper Arsenal lineage there. As for last nights fiasco, yet again the club make a laughing stock of themselves. Are they really that out of touch that they didn't realise the number of German fans that were planning to come? Everyone else knew. They are lucky that there wasn't a major incident. It's high time the club stop counting their money, get their heads out of their a**** and started acting like a proper football club, on and off the pitch - Post No. 109805

Cyril  10:30am 15th Sep 2017

My further understanding from friends who were there is that they were surrounded by koln fans. And he was sitting in a prominent position behind Wenger. He advises that there mainly disturbances with the police. It looks like Arsenal fans were not targeted en masse. I was chatting to an Everton fan in the pub last night as we could be buddies this year and we both agree that there are hardly any clubs left at premier level with a noticeable 'firm'. I expect this to be resolved very quickly. I wander how this would have played out if this caper happened in the eighties. Arsenal won't drop the ball here or the golden goose for that matter!. - Post No. 109806

mbg  11:13am 15th Sep 2017

Petergooner, you mean learn their lesson ? lol not a fooking chance mate, it's a wenger regime we're talking about. wenger out. - Post No. 109807

Seven Kings Gooner1  11:16am 15th Sep 2017

Red shirts - thanks for your comments, you make a good point about being lucky that a major incident did not occur. if it's true that Koln fans were joining the red members and then buying tickets you would have thought it might have flagged up at Emir*tes central that a lot of people from Germany wanted to be Red members and and we just happen to be playing a Koln in a few days time. The hierarchy at Arsenal probably thought it was worth the risk because it will give them what that crave for - "money" euros, dollars, yen - who cares what the consequences might be to the local community, Stan will be pleased. - Post No. 109808

equalizer  11:56am 15th Sep 2017

I believe they allowed it to happen to fill the seats. The stadium would have been half empty without the Cologne fans. Money was prioritised above the health and safety of the fans. The club should be renamed Farsenal FC - Post No. 109809

mbg  15:46pm 15th Sep 2017

markymark, yes I wonder where tooaw, leeky and the mountain man were, were the three amigo firm there defending their beloved wenger and the clubs reputation ? beating the hairy arsed germans out of their seats ? yes maybe they are colour blind and couldn't tell the difference in the scarves, or maybe they were acting all butch and hard sitting among them eating a bratwurst pretending they were AKB's. wenger out. - Post No. 109817

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

15th January 2018

Being muscled off the ball by Bournemouth is like being mugged by your grandma

Online Ed: Another poor Arsenal display on the road just another signpost as we near the end of the Wenger era