Should Arsenal be worried by empty seats?

Empty seats at a European competition quarter final? – what’s going on? Should the Club be worried about the loss of matchday revenue through advertising and corporate entertainment, as well as overpriced hotdogs and fizzy lager? With a healthy season ticket waiting list, does it matter if some regulars fall by the wayside? 

GoonerB’s take on some of these questions is below. What do you think?

Afternoon all. Went last night as got a late club level offer I couldn’t refuse. Sorry I couldn’t meet any of the guys but I was beholden to the itinerary of those I went with.

I really enjoyed the game and we were very good with the ball last night, but you could still see certain old problems bubbling beneath the surface that a better team would punish.

I know a lot of season ticket holders and meet different types of Arsenal fans all the time, and you do get an insight for the general feelings of many fans. This is how I would perceive it :

There are still some stalwarts out there who will go and support come what may and don’t concern themselves with things like the direction the club has gone in and whether Arsene is the right man. I feel these fans are becoming a very small minority. Many of these fans will probably still want Arsene to continue and feel he is the right man.

At the other end for some staying away has become a form of protest. I know some season ticket holders who refuse to step back inside the stadium till Arsene is gone. They are also still more of a minority for me.

I have to say I feel there are very few that see Arsene as the man now. The bigger group seem to be the ones that feel Arsene should have already stepped down by now and feel he churns out the same old stuff and follows the same pathway even when it proves not to work. In not looking for a manager to improve us, many feel the board are more concerned with sticking with him because he keeps us at a certain level with little outlay required. They feel the club lacks ambition and have stagnated to the point that we are somewhat regressing now.

They have now become apathetic about the club, the football we play, and even football as a whole. Some still regularly attend in their apathy, but others just aren’t that bothered anymore and have lost their love and excitement of it. If there is something else they can do they will likely often do that instead of going to the game, where before going to the game always came above all else.

This is what I feel is the majority group and the club should be worried about this. I don’t think they have been bothered about it, and as GN5 said I don’t think they have been too bothered because they just take the view that there are more fans in waiting to get a ST.

Very dangerous to ignore your long standing fan base though, because there is no guarantee that those newbies in the waiting have anywhere near the long term emotional investment in the club and their support from the terraces that the long standing fans have, and that can have knock-on effects in how the club is viewed in its standing worldwide with all the negative commercial consequences Micky mentioned.

Like the rest of you I feel the remaining EPL attendances will prove an embarrassment to us. Anyone bothering to listen could have seen this coming but there has been a fairly dismissive approach taken towards the majority fanbase, a bit like the attitude towards the public leading up to the Brexit vote. You realise, too late, that you should have listened earlier.

Written by GoonerB

39 Responses to Should Arsenal be worried by empty seats?

  1. Philip says:

    Well done, I think you have summed it up exactly. I have been a season ticket holder almost continually since the fifties and would never miss a match. Even when we weren’t any good, and there were plenty of seasons like that, at least we tried.

    Now it is boring, same problems not addressed and because we get a few results everything is suddenly all great.

    Would we have beaten Milan or Stoke without 2 very dodgy penalties? Playing players continually even though they are not playing well or are being played out of position.

    Enough is enough. I have seen this coming for 6 or 7 years. A steady decline. Moments of optimism dashed when it all falls apart every season. Time to wake up.

  2. chas says:

    Thanks to GoonerB for allowing his comment to be used as a post.
    The thoughts expressed yesterday were very interesting and deserved a wider audience.

    Hopefully the discussion will continue today.

  3. chas says:

  4. mickydidit89 says:

    Thanks GB

    I suspect you and I will agree on more than a 2-3-5 formation 🙂

    The fans in the cheap seats don’t really matter that much in terms of revenue because more will fill their places if they don’t renew.

    The Club are facing a massive problem, I believe. Could someone remind me of the proportion of match day revenue from corporate, as I seem to think it’s near 50%

    So, here’s the big problem. You’re in The city. Where do you take your corporate clients? The choice is a spanking new Totnum stadium where you might see Real Madrid in front of a cracking atmosphere. Chelsea? Same sort of thing, or Arsenal?

    Arsenal has a tired, old school image, lacking dynamism and spark.

    No business is too big to fail.

    We need a new manager to revitalise the place.

  5. VP of Oz says:

    I believe that the manager is not the problem whether its AW or someone else. There is a new breed of fans, that when we win 3:0 or the like will still complain that we shouldve done better. That when we win a trophy that will say its mickey mouse, if we win the league will say we should be winning the league every year or why havent we won the CL. If we win the CL will say that we should be more ambitious and win the treble.
    Its more about bragging rights and arrogance.
    People complain about the passion, there is no passion from fans leaving games early or not even showing up in protest because the team does not meet their expectations. Passion is unwavering support of the team, win or lose, AW or other.
    And I dont regard unwavering support as ignorance. I fully embrace healthy debate, differences argued/articulated and respected but I cannot abide the noisy repetitive agenda driven tirade from the likes of some on Arsenal FanTV etc. Its boring in its mindlessness.

  6. VP of Oz says:

  7. GoonerB says:

    VP, good and interesting comment. One of the things that I love about AA, and that should be celebrated, is the eclectic mix of bloggers from all corners of the world. We have many that have grown up in the area but have moved away and many that have just chosen Arsenal as their club from the other side of the world. It enriches the site and gives a greater range of perspective.

    One thing I have felt for a while though, and I say this meaning no disrespect, is that perceptions are likely very different if you are supporting the club from afar or if you are directly living in the vicinity. I myself am not actually a season ticket holder and don’t really feel I have the right to criticise those that have been dedicated season ticket holders for years.

    I do live in the area though, so am surrounded by Arsenal (and Spuds) fans and get to a few games a season. My line of work puts me in contact with a multitude of different people so, in addition to the many season ticket holders I personally know, I get to hear a lot of opinions and perspectives. I also get the perspective of supporters of other clubs as well. My comment (now post) was based on the general feeling I get from these many fans that live in the area and have attended regularly for many years.

    I am going to give an example based on a couple of people I know who have decided not to go again until a managerial change comes about. They are professional people with high IQ’s. Very reasoned and polite and can hold a debate without resorting to vitriol. They have both been staunch supporters of the club and Arsene Wenger until more recent seasons, and would have championed him when some of the more vitriolic were criticising him from circa 2007.

    They are not Arsene Wenger haters and have the greatest respect for what he has brought to the club, but what they now see is a manager that is 2-3 years past being considered as one of the top ones that can manage at the top level.

    It is the repetitiveness of the same faults that has led to their apathy, not some feeling of entitlement or a god given right to win silverware. They just want to see us at least addressing some of our faults to give us a chance of challenging. The pushing ahead with the same ideology season after season when it isn’t working and not looking at how we could improve from a different angle has just become stale and boring.

    The AFTV lot are the minority from what I see and hear around me VP. I am not speaking about every fan because of course some will be different at either end of the spectrum, but I feel the majority are decent fans who respect the manager but are fed up with the repetitive same problems.

    I really feel you have to be surrounded by those fans to get that true perspective VP before labeling them all as the main problem before the manager. I think many of them are actually quite fed up with being inferred as being “bad fans” that can easily be replaced by good supporting through thick and thin fans. They find it quite demeaning to be put in the same boat as the minority that AFTV show.

    These many fans that are not going are not really doing it as a formal protest but are just bored of groundhog day seasons. They will probably not even give up their tickets but will just wait it out till something new and fresh arrives and then revisit their love for the game. Remember they give up their time and money for this love so if they have lost their love for it can we really label them as the problem and poor fans.

    Take Phil above. Going continually since the 50’s cannot make him a bad fan, almost the opposite, so when he is losing his luster for Arsenal, the club hierarchy should start to worry and think why, rather than just say he is a bad fan and can easily be replaced.

    In many ways (and this is something I agree with) most don’t feel Arsene recognises the flaws himself and is akin to that aging boxer that still thinks he has what it takes that final time when he really doesn’t. In this situation those that are close to him should recognise it and step up and quietly remove him from harm.

    The Arsenal board could be considered by many as being decent in supporting his continued tenure against the fans wishes, but it could also be considered that they are now unnecessarily exposing him at the tail end of a brilliant Arsenal career and tarnishing his standing with many fans.

    I actually think when the dust settles and a couple of post Arsene years come about then all will hail him again, and what will be remembered are the massive positives he has delivered to us, but until then most just see him as a major problem that is holding the club back.

  8. Eddie says:

    Very good post GB
    Of course the club should be worried about departure of each any every fan. But they don’t.
    I don’t think fans should stop goin to games because they don’t approve o the manager, but they do. There is no other way to show displeasure, what else can they do but boycott the games. Sadly it’s very bad for the team, they need our support ESPECIALLY when the going gets rough. I think I have just convinced myself I should go to more games.

  9. VP of Oz says:

    GB, yes I follow from abroad and agree with your comments in general however I base a lot of what I say on my own support for my local childhood club. They very successful in the past and now are struggling. We start well but then play an abysmal 2nd half and fall behind by 3 goals and supporters start to leave early. I cant understand it. I stay to the end, they are my team and they are playing for us, why would you walk out on them before they finish.

    I remember reading Fever Pitch and how his passion was so great that he decided to take a break and go watch games of a club that he had no affiliation with. But he could help himself and became just as passionate in his support. I find that relateable (apologies if my memories on this are not accurate as I read it a long time ago)

    I guess I care less about corporate and image etc. I just want a club to support. If I support a club, I am loyal to the end.

  10. VP of Oz says:

    The other thing that I find hard to fathom is how supporters of other teams now come up to me and say “but surely you agree you need a new coach, Arsene is no longer good”. This is from teams that have not won anything in the last few years or longeras, the only difference is that they have changed their coaches multiple times. I would rather have the FA Cups, Charity shields and hopefully the Europa trophy rather than a revolving door of new coaches. What shows success or ambition more, trophies (even if it is only the FA Cup) or new coaches?
    Also the argument, oh but Arsenal are just a cup team now, well we have also consistently performed better in the league tables than most of the other teams with the revolving coaches (I am referring to Liverpool, Tottenham, ManU since Fergie left etc.). If Liverpool win the CL this year then I will reconsider however I am confident that their best year since Suarez left, will still end up without a trophy. They have to be careful they dont become like the spuds in which they measure their success not by trophies but on other factors such as league position, how far they get in a cup competition etc. but not actually winning anything.

  11. VP of Oz says:

  12. mickydidit89 says:

    Some great comments. Well played all

    Just to clarify, I’m not personally bothered by the corporate image per se, I simply point out that the club could find themselves in a very sticky financial situation if they’re not careful. Whether we like it or not, it is very big business these days.

    I totally get how different it is to live and breath all things Arsenal and Totnum if you dwell in North London.
    The comfy chair I now inhabit 200 miles away does detach one from the day to day stuff.
    Given this article is about empty seats, I would say that the atmosphere is key to my match day experience on the odd occasion I go, and generally speaking, it’s getting worse

    Having said all that, I used to happily attend when things were far worse back in the mid 80’s but then again, I had the huge advantage of being an alcohol and drug abuser in those days

  13. RA says:


    I have heard it mooted that many of the club/hierarchies in the Premier League have tried/succeeded in moving with the times, whereas, there are those who believe that Arsenal are happy being financial safe dinosaurs.

    The problem with that is it could mean whatever the different protagonists want it to mean.

    Who knows what the various club hierarchies are trying to do, or would deem successful — and what is the definition of a financially safe dinosaur — has anyone asked a dinosaur?

  14. chas says:

    Maybe part of the reason for the poor turnout against CSKA was the fact we’re used to playing opposition of their quality in the group stages of the CL.

    If we win convincingly, the press say that Moscow are a poor side, so you’re on a hiding to nothing from the get go.

    I’ve been one of those season ticket holders responsible for an empty seat in the Europa this season. That’s partly down to Thursday being Ant’s pilates night; it being a long schlep down to London on a school night on your Jack Jones.

    Cologne was an odd one as we went but assumed the game would be postponed when the kick off was delayed due to the crowd disturbances. I’ve no idea what it would have been like in our block just above the official away supporters section. Apparently it was rammed with Cologne fans – much like the rest of the ground. 🙂

    The Zagreb game was dire and I was pleased to have missed it.
    At least for the Bate game the seats were used by some grateful Belarusians my nephew knows.

    We went to the Ostersunds defeat (cosmic) and managed to sell the Milan tickets on the Exchange.

    BR used one of the tickets for CSKA.

    I’ve found that once you get into the routine of missing games, it does become a habit, just as GoonerB suggests.
    Then again the midweek games have become harder and harder for me anyway. The 5 or 6 hour round journey takes so much energy even though I’m not driving and we always get back way way past my bedtime. 🙂

    Also the atmosphere at some home games has made me wish I’d stopped in the warmth of my own living room and watched in comfort.

    I’d imagine Philip who commented at 8.20am would be coming to the time when his attendance would start to tail off a little anyway because of advancing years. Maybe losing a few miserable old scrotes from the Emirates crowd to be replaced by some young bucks full of enthusiasm and noise will be a good thing for stadium atmosphere in the long run. 🙂

  15. GunnerN5 says:

    In being so far away Chas I can understand why it would preferable to watch from the comfort of your living room. I would hazard a guess that if lived closer you would be at the ground. But it raises the question – I wonder how many season ticket holders are in the position of having lived locally but moved out of the city and now find late kick offs too arduous a journey?

  16. chas says:

    You were right that the camel shaggers would lose again. 🙂

  17. chas says:

    The post today has had good viewing figures (over 500) though I’m not sure interrupting yesterday’s discussion was the best idea as it hasn’t taken off again today. Soz.

  18. RockyLives says:

    Very interesting points GoonerB.

    I waver between different viewpoints.

    Sometimes I think the whole commercialisation and depersonalisation of footy in the modern age has weakened the connection between fan and club. Not to mention the ubiquity of footy on the TV, whereas in the (good?) old days you had the stadium experience (invariably on a Saturday at 3pm) and then brief highlights of the other games on Match of the Day before bedtime, with the Big Match the following lunchtime. That was it.

    However, this theory doesn’t stand up if the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City etc are routinely playing in front of sold out stadiums. (Are they? It’s hard to tell from over here in Canadia).

    On other occasions I think it is – as GoonerB suggests at one point – that many “reasonable” fans are just fed up with the poor quality of play, the sense of gradual decline and the groundhog day of mistakes and false dawns. Yet… like Micky (and similarly anaesthetised) I went to most home games during the later George Graham years when we were really pants and in gradual decline: (I still have nightmares about a midfield of Selley, Morrow and Hillier and a front line of Kiwomya, Hartson and Carter). Maybe if the Selley-Morrow-Hillier axis had laboured on for another seven or eight years people might have drifted away, but I don’t know. It was a different time and the match-going fans seemed as passionate as ever despite the poor fare on offer.

    If I were the Board of Directors I would think about some radical solutions: standing areas behind the goals; 15,000 tickets on sale on match day (so that it was worth getting there early to grab a good spot, thus building up an atmosphere before kick off); and how about a seat number/season ticket draw at the end of every game with a five grand prize… the only stipulation being that you had to collect it in person within 30 minutes of full time (it might incentivise more people to stay to the end).

    I’ve gone on too long now…

  19. VP of Oz says:

    I like your ideas Rocky, something to build on for sure.
    Here in Melbourne where AFL reigns supreme. Fans of that game complain how much game day is being taken over by the corporate packages for tourists and business etc. The AFL fans support the team all year, year after year and then when their team finally makes the grandfinal, they cannot buy tickets due to the tiny allocation for fans wheras the bulk of the ticket allocation goes to the corporates. And the atmosphere on their biggest day is stale due to the lack of real fans in attendance. Spectators are mostly made up of people who want to attend to be part of the experience of being at the Grand Final and dont really support either team. Atmosphere is created via blaring patriotic music of the likes of ACDC etc. rather then fans singing and cheering.

    In our ‘soccer’ A-league, their is a major decline in interest and going to games because the whole league has become a corporate entertainment package (like MLS in the USA, its is a closed league with no promotion or relegation) and in the main, there is no passion amongst the fans for these teams as there is no history or connection. Most, like me, now follow lower league clubs because thats where they have a connection, or have played or their kids play etc. And these lower league games are passionate and fans are vocal. And they survive and flourish because they tap into the football community at the grassroots level.

  20. Eddie says:

    Spurs will be giving the guard of honour next week 😬😬

  21. Eddie says:

    “I still have nightmares about a midfield of Selley, Morow and Hillier”, that is very funny

    I was a great supporter of the standing areas until an old friend told me about gentlemen urinating during games and the stream of piss around one’s shoes. No thank you, perhaps standing areas are the thing of the past

  22. chas says:

    I don’t think City can win the title at Wembley because Man U play a day later and could still overtake them mathematically with a win.

  23. chas says:

    Great comments from Rocky and VP.

    I think you’re right on both counts, Rocky.
    Football is now all about the armchair supporter away from the ground and corporate dick-waving inside stadia.
    Having said that, that groundhog day feeling is also accountable for a decline in supporter fervour.
    Conversely, away tickets have become harder and harder to come by, as if the growing attendant circus has made them more valuable (especially in spite of our shitty away form).

  24. Eddie says:

    Thank you Chas, Thats a shame 😊

    Arsenal fans have often been accused of being arrogant. Given Rocky’s observation that other clubs manage to sell each and every ticket, perhaps others are right about us?

  25. chas says:

    I’m not sure the chavs and dippers sell out every week.

    And they have stadiums not much bigger than Highbury, so to compare to the 60,000 capacity Emirates would be a little unfair especially as the Emirates is 95% sold out every week.

    The spuds have had a fine season at Wembley attendance-wise, which is disappointing. Let’s hope they lose some players/manager in the summer and have a crap season at the new ShitholeDome. 🙂

  26. chas says:

    Ah, just looked up Anfield and its capacity is 54,000, much more than I expected, so I was wrong there.
    Stamford Bridge is only 41,000.

    Here are this season’s averages (sold tickets obvs, not bums on seats)

  27. Eddie says:

    I know that scenes at Liverpool last week were unpalatable to some, but nobody can doubt scouters commitment, next to none.

  28. chas says:

    Your comment about urine on the terraces, I think, mainly comes from tales of the Kop.
    Was your ‘old friend’ a scouser by any chance?

    Scousers, high on passion, low on bladder control. 🙂

  29. chas says:

    I’ve only ever seen someone pishing on the terrace once before and that was at Hillsborough down the Kop end for an FA cup semi final.
    The terrace was so rammed it was impossible to get to a toilet even if you’d wanted to.

  30. Eddie says:

    I no longer have scoucer friends, only enemies 😀
    He is a Gunner and claims he witnessed steamy streams of piss at Highbury, but he loves telling tales, so you might be right.

  31. Eddie says:

    Oh chas, that’s so gross

  32. VP of Oz says:

    derived the below from Chas link –
    17/18 home attendance averages vs. stadium capacity as a %
    Manure avg. 74,960: capacity 74,994 – 99.99%
    Chelsea avg. 41,425: capacity 41,631 – 99.51%
    Arsenal avg. 59,300: capacity 59,867 – 99.05%
    Liverpool avg. 53,185: capacity 54,074 – 98.35%
    ManShitty avg. 53,730: capacity 55,097 – 97.51%

  33. chas says:

    Stan Boardman story about pissing on the Kop.

  34. chas says:

    New post will be going up at 8am.

  35. Eddie says:

    I’m already regretting mentioning the subject, disgusting men

  36. chas says:


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