That’s it for me. After three decades as a season ticket holder starting on the old standing North Bank, I’m out. Today is deadline day for Gold members. I shan’t be renewing. This decision has been agony for me. I’ve been going since January 1968.
The decision to raise prices by an average of 4% plus the 2.5% rise in VAT (the increase for Gold members in the highest category works out to 7.1%) was the final straw for me. I haven’t got the money, I’m not going to beg for charity and at an average of over £75 per game my seat represents a complete rip-off.
I’m not going to try for a soft landing by “renting” my seat out. I have to have the courage of my convictions. I shall become a Red member and take my chances on tickets being available for the odd game I can afford and want to go to. I shall give my custom to my “second teams” Barnet and AFC Wimbledon. It won’t be close to the same but they will be pleasant days out.
Ivan Gazidis was courteous enough to offer me a personal discussion following my open letter to him. I am grateful for that courtesy but nothing I said to him changed his mind or that of the board. Our discussion was before the Kroenke takeover. Clearly that was planned for the end of the season but brought forward due to Danny Fiszman’s ill-health and subsequent death.
We now face the prospect of the ownership of Arsenal resting with men who live in Moscow and Missouri thousands of miles and many time zones away. The future of small shareholders is perilous. It is increasingly likely that there will be insufficient shares available to be traded on the PLUS market for the club to maintain its listing. If this happens any shares in the hands of small shareholders will be worthless unless either Stan Kroenke or Alisher Usmanov choose to buy them. I don’t imagine they’ll be offering £11,750 or £14,000 a share as they are now. We shall see. I don’t trust either of them to put Arsenal first. Why should I? Neither of them have any track record as Arsenal supporters.
As for the current board, Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and their role as “custodians” don’t make me laugh. They’ve all cashed in. Not one penny of the £700 million spent buying Arsenal shares has benefitted the club, just the individuals who happened to own them. Former Liverpool chairman David Moores told the world that he was putting Liverpool FC into safe hands – whilst trousering a cheque for over £80 million – when he sold the club to the comedy long-firm duo of Hicks and Gillett. Look how well that turned out.
I suspect Stan Kroenke won’t be so reckless financially but what’s to stop him? Nothing, except Alisher Usmanov’s blocking minority stake. Not a prospect I view with equanimity.
I really don’t pine for the good old days. There was much that was bad about them. I poured my heart and soul and a LOT of my free time into the campaign to get planning permission for Ashburton Grove. I believed the club needed a new ground to secure its future. I now feel like a complete mug having busted my arse for free just so some greedy twats could cash in. How naive was I?
The greed and lack of professionalism of too many of our players has also got on my wick this past season. Some have strolled around like love’s young dream contributing nothing but mindless errors to our performances. I’ll suffer bad performances. I almost saw us get relegated in 1976. At least that team put in some effort and appeared to care. I’ve followed us through thick and thin. I’ve never felt so estranged and alienated.
I am however still an Arsenal supporter. I shall always be an Arsenal supporter. I’m just not prepared to pay out over seven percent of my take home pay when my other essential bills are all going relentlessly upwards. I haven’t had a proper holiday for three years. I shall next year.
In the meanwhile I shall become a Red member and pick and choose my games where tickets are available. I hope whoever picks up my season ticket gets as much enjoyment out of it as I have over the years.
Read more of Vic Crescit’s articles at Arsenal Insider