Every season I get to chat to some supporters who have come to Arsenal for a game without a ticket, always believing that they can pick up a ticket on the way to the ground.
And by and large they can. Sometimes the price is ludicrous (I was offered £450 for my ticket for the Barcelona game a couple of years back – I turned the offer down). Sometimes it is more reasonable, sometimes if the touts have made a misjudgement the price can be less than face value.
But whatever the price, it is always illegal.
So illegal in fact that one of the leading guys in the world of Arsenal support, (who is actively involved with supporters groups), was last season arrested by the police and held for several hours (thus missing the game) for selling a spare ticket before a game. In fact he was passing the ticket over to a friend, in return for a sum equal to its face value. There was no profit, but the police view was that a criminal act was seen to have occurred.
Arsenal do try and help in several ways. First by running a ticket exchange so that season ticket holders and others who can’t make it to a match can hand their ticket over to the club and receive money back from that. That money then becomes a discount on next season’s ticket, and is a bit less than the face value, due to an admin charge being levied.
I have only used the scheme a couple of times, and I have to say I have found it a bit clunky and difficult to use – but it is there, and particularly useful if opposing fans feel they can’t come to a game (as with Manchester City last season).
What brings this to the fore is that while Arsenal do the reselling themselves Tottenham have closed their membership re-selling scheme gone down a different route and signed up with StubHub who are now called the “Official Ticket Resale Marketplace partner”.
Martin Cloake, a highly regarded spokesperson for many Tottenham supporters has written at some length against such an arrangement on the ground that the schemes “incentivises fans to exploit other fans.”
While I can’t comment on that, being that the only time I go to White Hart Lane is for the derby game, I would agree with the point that “the principle that you don’t sell tickets to other fans for over face value is as basic as never changing your team and it’s a core part of the social solidarity that holds supporters together.”
The problem is of course that if you do have an unused ticket and give it to a friend for nothing, or for face value, you are committing an offence, although I have never seen anyone be arrested nor heard of anyone getting into trouble with Arsenal because the wrong person was sitting in the seat.
So to come back to my basic point, what do you do if you want to see Arsenal? The first and most obvious answer is to join as a Red Member. There are some Red Member seats available for all games, and although you might consider yourself lucky to get a Red Member seat for the match against Tottenham or Manchester United, the fact is that you will quite possibly be able to see a fair number of games against smaller teams who are lower down the league.
There are also League Cup matches which sell at much reduced costs, and which are not covered by the Gold Members tickets, so the whole stadium is pretty much up for sale when they become available. You’ll also find that some of the Champions League games have tickets available almost up to the last couple of days – especially those against less well known clubs.
OK – so these approaches don’t give you much chance of seeing Arsenal v Tottenham, but as a real supporter, you’ll want to see more than that.
There is one other objection that I hear. It is too expensive. And yes the cost of seeing Arsenal v Tottenham and other games of that ilk are expensive. But remember this. For Premier League games involving the smaller teams in the league the prices are around £26 – which is less than it would cost to get into a good quality West End show.
What’s more, if you are going with an older supporter or with children, you can go into the family enclosure where the adult prices are £25.50 and the seniors and children’s price is £10.
It is indeed possible to go and watch Arsenal – and once you have become a red member you are on the waiting list to become a silver member, which gives you a much greater chance of getting a ticket. You could also put yourself down on the season ticket waiting list if you want.
The options are there if you want them.