Friday, 24 February 2012

We can all see through Kroenke's PR tactics -Koscielny winning fitness battle

Morning Gooners.

There are some announcements which appear out of no where. There are others which are far more obvious. And yesterday, all of those fans making a hullabaloo about season ticket prices were pacified in one quick and short statement that Gold season ticket prices are to remain as they are for next season.

Of course, it was a great PR move from the club ahead of the north London derby and at a time when the team have all but been eliminated from the Champions League and knocked out of the FA Cup. They've brought a little bit of leeway with a section of vocal fans who have campaigned hard to ensure the unjust 6.5% price rise which was inflicted on all supporters for this season would not be allowed to happen again this time around.

But let's remember the club have made this announcement on the back of a very poor season, by our very high standards. There was no justification for increasing season ticket prices last summer. Arsenal fans pay the highest ticket prices in Europe. And when one of the reasons we had to justify the price was the beautiful football we played, that can't be used this time around. This season we've been dire.

And cannily, the club have not talked about the worst case scenario in their statement - Arsenal falling out of the Champions League and into Thursday night football territory. It looks like we'll be paying Champions League prices to watch Europa League football. If that indeed is the plan, I think a lot of people would seriously consider whether they would renew or not.

You can understand why nothing has been said in the statement about European football. The club certainly don't want negative headlines in the press like "Crisis club Arsenal preparing for Europa League football" appearing any time soon.

One of the questions I am left without an answer to is the great Ivan Gazidis ticketing review... what has happened to that? It seems as though it has been quietly brushed under the carpet. Why can't the away fans be moved into the upper tier? It certainly seemed to work well in Milan when us Gooners were subjected to a view from the Gods, plus music being rammed down our throats to keep us quiet and killed off any atmosphere we were trying to make.

Of course I'm pleased the prices haven't risen for the vast majority of fans. But they should have never been put up last season when there was no justification for it. Just because you've got a huge waiting list, doesn't mean you can put the prices up and kill off the chances of fans who are less well off of supporting their team in person.

It's interesting that Stan Kroenke appears to have had a change of heart when it comes to supporting his team. The Guardian are reporting the American could well stick around for Sunday's north London derby and finally watch his first match since he promised we'd see a lot more of him at the AGM in October. It would be nice to think that Kroenke will fulfill a few promises he's made like the one about engaging more with fans. He's still to organise those meetings with Arsenal fans groups - one of the promises he made in his offer document. Will he fulfill that promise before the season is out? The clock is certainly ticking down.

At the moment the American can say all he wants about being 100 per cent behind the manager and giving him a transfer budget to spend next summer because he is yet to come through with any of the promises he's made.

Once he actually comes through with something concrete - what about a vision of where he wants the club to be and what he wants to achieve as owner - then perhaps people will change their mind about him. Roman Abramovich doesn't talk to the fans or media, yet we can all see what his vision for Chelsea is.

Perhaps if Stan did the same - actions certainly speak louder than words - he would be given an easier ride.

Anyway, whilst all this is going on off the field, we've got a game this Sunday against our arch rivals.

Some good news is that Laurent Koscielny appears to be making good progress in his battle with injury. The Daily Mirror report he could be fit in time for the derby.

And there it a bit of transfer tittle-tattle. The Daily Star link us with £5m-rated Malaga attacking midfielder Isco.

Little else going on so far but the manager is up later at his usual pre-match press conference. After a week of reflection, it will be interesting to hear what he has to say.

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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