I know other bloggers have moaned about this before, but last weekend’s game against Wham was the first time I’ve experienced at first hand, the ‘over-zealous’ behaviour of some of our stewards. We were unable to get our usual seats and found oursleves high up, one row from the top of the stadium. As I took my seat, I surveyed the ‘regulars’ around me and joked that “I hoped I was in the singing section”. They seemed a really good bunch of hardcore supporters and I felt at home in their company – and the singing was pretty good too.
I was aware in my peripheral vision of a steward fidgeting about at the end of the row and apparently conversing with the guy behind me. I turned and asked him what it was all about and he explained that he was being asked to sit down. Since he was in the uppermost row and there was nothing behind him except concrete, I was curious as to why the steward thought he needed to stay in his seat “Health and Safety” was the answer he spat out with a grimace.
“But what happens when we stand up to celebrate a goal” I asked, a resigned shrug of the shoulders was his only response. This sparked a debate at half time and the consensus was that in areas like the new North Bank and Clock End (= behind the goals), everyone stands whenever they feel like it because the strength in numbers means that the stewards are powerless to do anything about it. I don’t want to stand throughout games, but I also don’t want to be treated like a kid if I do take to my feet.
I have some sympathy with the stewards because they are only doing what they are told, but surely the club can ‘adjust’ its policy to accommodate supporters who wish to stand at important points during the game or where there is no risk to life and limb and no impairment to the enjoyment of other supporters. We have been criticised this season for not getting behind the players enough, well then don’t stop us expressing our feelings by telling us to sit down when it’s not necessary.
I’m thoroughly fed with how the club take our money for seats but really offer so little service to the buyer. Yesterday’s attempt to buy tickets for the Barcelona tie next Wednesday caused the usual crashing of the web-site and lack of information about the state of play. Having logged in and been held in a queue for what seemed an eternity, I was finally able to buy my tickets (although it was already too late to get adjacent seats) but when I tried to log-in again to buy more for a friend on his number, the site was blocked. Having checked that tickets were still available I logged in again and waited to gain entry to the box office. I waited for an hour and a half before the thin burgundy line had filled its space only to find that the game was now sold out.
I know of several other silver members who also waited for over an hour only to be disappointed – where did the tickets go? I thought the idea of silver membership was that you should be able to get a ticket. I must have been one of thousands of supporters trying to get through. Surely it’s possible to put out a STOP PRESS – TICKETS SOLD OUT so at least supporters don’t waste their time waiting online.
Another problem I think the club have not addressed sufficiently well is the problem season ticket holders face if they can’t go to the game. The Ticket Exchange is a very good idea but shuts 48 hours before a game. From the number of empty seats I see at games every week its clearly not possible to always find someone to take a spare ticket.
Now that the ticketing system is electronic it must be possible to action changes even up to a couple of hours before a game. Season ticket holders should be able to call a number and give their details, their card gets blocked for that game (which is what happens with the ticket exchange anyway) and silver and red members have their cards turned on for the game.
Come on Arsenal FC lets make sure we fill the stadium for every game.