by Gabriel Smith

A lot has been said about the outrageous ticket price that Manchester City fans had to cough up in order to see their heroes play away at Arsenal. £62 is a disgrace to see just 90 minutes of entertainment, especially when the game is live on TV and can be seen for 3 pints of lager at any nationwide pub. Maybe I’m just drinking too slow? A fact is that City are now a ‘class A’ club in every away game due of their sudden wealth, but unfortunately the fans itself aren’t the ones who got rich as well. It is still a working class team, a big loyal ‘family’, who has to dig deep in order to see their beloved club live whenever possible.

City’s origin is about Manchester, and never had to deal with glory hunters swamping in from other parts of the country or overseas, like the sudden flow coming over from Holland who discovered City’s welfare. Those new plastic fans are most happy to pay for any price stated on a ticket, but the real fans – who were there when the team wasn’t winning any honours – are in this way being pushed out of the market.

Money-blind club owners simply want to maximize cash flows from every game and the hell with once-a-season visiting fans. Calls to introduce a cap on ticket prices for travelling fans has my full support. All tickets to be sold directly via the visiting club and no sales on the day itself could see prices drop to ‘normal standards’. I can hear a romantic violin now playing in the background.

There has been a worrying escalation in ticket prices. It was only two seasons ago a ticket for a City fan at Arsenal was £33 compared to £62 – an increase of 87% in only a very short time. No doubt other fans are in the same boat as well, but because of sent back unsold tickets only now it became a public debate.

Let me outline something important to you: Arsenal’s owners want to make a profit, they’re businessmen and refuse to live beyond their means. They want to squeeze out whoever they can. They charge a staggering £985 for their CHEAPEST season ticket, with £1955 for their most expensive. I understand that such a card gives you unlimited drinks in their corporate lounge, but after yet again another season without trophies it’s shandy in comparison.

Arsenal are a team without on-field ambition; they appear to be more interested in generating income off the field. Of course every season is a new one, and the young squad – carefully scouted at low transfer fees – will fancy their chances. Surely this one will be their year? Unfortunately, Arsenal are now a selling club. Big money has been paid for the likes of Kolo Toure, Adebayor, Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy and Van Persie and Arsenal are making a profit this way, with qualification for the Champions League another vital component. Wenger plays his part by achieving that important 4th place each year. His job is safe, even after the home defeat against Manchester City yesterday. There are some people who doubt it, but how else could a manager of a football club remain in his position if you’ve not won any trophy for SEVEN seasons on the trot, with an eight successive season winking from the corner of doom. Wenger is playing it safe with his bosses when he proclaims ‘finishing top 4 is a trophy in itself’ because it means the money continues to flow. He defended the policy, saying people ‘can decline buying a ticket to the theatre’, referring to a home game.

It’s another example of how he seeks to appease his paymaster. People simply need to realise that Arsenal are now a company, a business that is about making a profit, they are no longer a football club. Yes, they play football, but as long as spectators come through the turnstiles paying extortionate prices, the revenue streams will continue and nothing shall ever change.

In the meantime, the odds for Wenger to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked stand at something like 500/1. Nice work if you can get it.

Check out Gabriel’s blog here