I read with some interest the news from Ivan Gazidis that away fans could potentially be moved from their current position in the lower tier at the Emirates to the upper tier of the Clock End that houses away fans in cup ties.
Whilst I think this is a great idea in principal, this suggestion has raised a few questions that I’m sure will need addressing. Firstly would current season ticket holders in those blocks agree to a permanent move, especially if the move involves moving to a seat with a poorer view or a more expensive seat, and would Arsenal cover the costs involved for either of those options.
This also raises the issue that away fans would then be charged a higher price at the new ground, currently category A fans which are Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City are charged £51* per ticket with the rest at £35* with cup games decided depending on the quality of opposition.
Under the new seating arrangements, category A fans would be charged between £59-£71* per ticket and category B £41-£50.* Would this drastic increase see complaints from opposition clubs or a boycott (like seen at Bolton from Manchester City fans a few seasons ago) against the prices which would lead to rows of empty seats.
Many clubs fail to fill their allocations at the Emirates and I fear a price increase of this level would only make things worse. The knock on effect for the clubs supporters would be that it would finally free up the Clock End to rehouse season ticket holders. The move to not accommodate season ticket holders behind that goal angered many long standing fans, which saw some of old Clock End crowd congregate in Block 19 next to the away fans’ current perch or head up to the new North Bank.
My initial preference when moving from Highbury was to be behind the Clock End goal with many other likeminded supporters, I actually ended up on my own at the back of Block 6 which has turned out to be a godsend as it’s all singing and all standing, just like being on the Clock End at Highbury, and there is something good about being at the end where Arsenal are usually attacking in the second half.
Despite the questions that I have raised, I still think that having home fans in the lower tier would only have a positive influence on the team, with all four sides cheering the team on rather than three quarters of the ground. Let’s just hope whoever moves into those seats stay in their seats for the full 90 minutes rather than rushing off home for Strictly Come Dancing 10 minutes before the end of the match like many of those who currently turn up do.
*Based on match day prices for 2011-12. Source Arsenal.com
STUART WATSON on Twitter @Stuartwatson3