Arsene Wenger agrees with fans on rising ticket costs but defends club's move to increase prices
The battle between fans and clubs over rising costs of tickets to watch Premier League matches reached a tipping point last weekend when almost 10,000 Liverpool fans walked out of Anfield in the 77th minute to protest the new tickets which would cost £77 next season. The protest worked as the club released a statement apologising to the fans and promised to freeze ticket prices for the next two seasons.
Arsenal have also been guilty of charging one of the highest ticket prices in the country, with their cheapest season ticket priced at £1,014 while their most expensive season ticket is priced at £2,013. The north London club’s most expensive matchday ticket is priced at £97 – again the highest in England.
Manager Arsene Wenger was asked to give his views on the matter and he spoke at length over the burning issue in English football. Although he did defend the fans’ right to protest over the prices, he also defended the club’s decision to increase prices.
You cannot compare English ticket prices with Germany or France: Wenger
Speaking about the fans, the French manager agreed that a fair price needed to be charged in a bid to stick with the old traditions of fans going to games.
“They want a fair price and I agree completely with you,” Wenger said. “Because football started in the street with people building the club and coming from local places.
“You want people who live around the stadium to be capable to go to the game. They are fans basically because they were born there.”
But when it came to deciding the right price, Wenger opined that English clubs could not go the same way as German clubs as they had to finance their own stadiums in England.
“It is a very complicated subject,” he explained. “How do you decide what is the right level of ticket prices? First of all; your attendance. Then you are being compared many times to foreign clubs.”
Bayern Munich have been known to look after their fans charging no more than £559 for season tickets. But Wenger explained why the Bundesliga charged so less as Arsenal had to buy the ground and build their stadium.
“I don’t think we are on the same level ground as foreign clubs,” the 66-year-old manager said. “For example, Bayern Munich paid one Euro for their ground whereas we paid £128million for our ground.” The Emirates Stadium eventually cost a total of £350m to build.
“In France they pay nothing at all for their stadium, they pay nothing at all for their maintenance. We pay absolutely everything ourselves so we have to generate more revenue.”
New TV deal money will be needed for player transfers: Wenger
The Premier League had sold the TV rights to Sky Sports and BT Sport in record £5.136 billion deal last year and a lot of that money will go to the club over the next three seasons. Fans are of the opinion that with so much money coming into the club, they should not be charged extra for matchday tickets.
However, Wenger was of the opinion that most of that income would be invested in the transfer market as player prices would be inflated thanks to the new deal.
“It is true we get more television income, that is down to the audience and success but you know as well that it is down to the pressure of the market to pay for the players with a higher price and our expenses will come up straight away to increase their wages.
“After that, you want the ticket prices to be as comfortable as possible for our fans. I looked at the comparisons, our cheapest prices is cheaper than anywhere in London.
“Yes, you have to find a compromise where everybody is happy and the away fans need to be there. We do our absolute maximum to help away fans to do that.”