Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Kroenke's price rise disaster | Jack's call-up | Samir desires the captaincy

Morning Gooners.

Arsenal really know how to bring you down, don't they? After Sunday's victory everything felt better again. But yesterday they kicked their loyal supporters in the teeth and brought the mood right back down.

I am of course talking about the club's decision to implement a 6.5% increase in season and general admission ticket prices at the Grove next season.

The announcement has been on the cards for sometime but the club has left it as late as possible to announce the increase. I was hoping that they would see sense and realise that in the current economic climate a rise of anything more than 2.5% would leave a seriously bad taste in the mouth.

Going to watch Arsenal is already expensive. This rise just adds to the cost and I have personally decided sacrifices will be made. I will no longer spend any money with the club apart from my season ticket. There is only so far you can stretch yourself.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust have issued a statement about the increase.

It said:
"The AST is very disappointed that Arsenal have rejected our call for ticket prices to be frozen. This decision will sadly see some loyal fans priced out of the Emirates.

"AST is pleased that Ivan Gazidis acknowledges the cost of attending football matches is pricing fans out of the game and welcomes his commitment to a complete review of Arsenal's ticketing arrangements for season 2012/2013. The AST will contribute to this process and monitor the progress of this commitment. We will also feed in views from our annual membership survey and on the 13th June 2011 all AST members will have the chance to put their views directly to Ivan Gazidis at our end of season review meeting.
"Now that this decision has been made, Arsenal Supporters will expect to see the extra income raised invested in team strengthening. It would be shocking to see this money end up being extracted from the club by Stan Kroenke. The AST believes Kroenke should issue further reassurance to supporters ahead of them renewing their season tickets that this is the case."
Whilst I'm pleased the club have decided to review the ticketing strategy, I fear it is too little, too late. The review should have taken place before the rise was implemented not after it. Prices at Arsenal are never going to come down and this will kill off our fan base in my opinion.

How many teenagers do you see on a matchday at the Grove outside the family enclosure? Not many. I was surprised with how many unaccompanied teenagers were at the Portsmouth game I attended on Monday night. That is how the fan base grows, but Arsenal don't have a strategy to increase the number of young supporters.

And as us older fans struggle to pay for games, is there any chance our places will be filled by youngsters? No is the answer.

The club say there will be 2,000 extra seats made available to red members for each Premier League game but don't say where these seats will come from.

And as a further sweetener, they've thrown in an annual subscription to Arsenal TV Online which the club are rebranding as Arsenal Player. Still not a satellite/cable tv channels most of our competitors have.

This is a public relations disaster for Stan Kroenke in my opinion. He's just taken a majority shareholding in the club and the first thing he does is sanction an increase in ticket prices. Not a great way to get people on side - people who have never heard you even speak!

However their is good news. The club announced it had reached a deal with home appliance manufacturer Indesit to become a business partner. I'm glad the highly paid commercial team have finally converted a lead. Only another £50 million to go before we catch up with Manchester United's commercial income!

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere as expected was called up by Stuart Pearce to represent England at the under-21 European Championships this summer.

It's a blow, but not unexpected much like the price rises. After such a long and grueling season with Arsenal where Jack has become a mainstay in the first team he now has to play for his country during a summer where he should be getting much needed rest.

Whilst I'm happy he's still so enthusiastic about playing football, his recent performances to me have suggested he's jaded, which is natural for a 19-year-old in his first season.

We can only hope England are knocked out in the group stages.

Arsene Wenger said the FA had to decided whether they wanted Jack for the Euro u-21s or the full international team and now they've made their decision. Wenger therefore must ensure that Jack gets a full rest and pre-season prior to his return to the Arsenal first team.

If that means he's unavailable for selection in August and early September for England, so be it. The national association cannot have their cake and eat it.

In other Arsenal news, Robin van Persie has said the team will come back even stronger next season to win the title. Amen to that.

Elsewhere, Newcastle left-back Jose Enrique has hinted he wouldn't be unhappy with moving away from the north east this summer. He's apparently on our radar. And with the contract situation with Gael Clichy yet to be resolved, we are certainly looking at other full backs should the Frenchman decide to call time on his Arsenal career.

Finally, it was interesting to read in the matchday programme that Samir Nasri has desires to be captain and wouldn't refuse the armband if it came his way. A possible replacement should Cesc leave this summer?

Follow Ashburton Grove on Twitter, chatting Arsenal throughout the day. To receive the blog everyday you can subscribe via e-mail or take the RSS feed to your favourite reader.

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