Arsenal To Give Free Tickets to Fans Who Attended 8-2 Loss To ManU
EPL club Arsenal yesterday announced it would “give free tickets to those who attended the humiliation” of an 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, according to Katy Murrells of the GUARDIAN. Around 3,000 fans “made the 400-mile round trip to Manchester on Sunday, only to see the team suffer their heaviest defeat since 1896.” Arsenal will now “write to those supporters, offering to cover the cost of a ticket at a future Premier League away game.” Murrells noted this is not the “first time a football club has taken such action,” as players from EPL club Wigan “clubbed together to refund the costs of fans who travelled to Tottenham to see their team humbled 9-1 in 2009” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/29). All Arsenal fans who bought tickets for the Arsenal-ManU match “will be contacted over the next couple of days and offered the chance to see another away game this season for free.” The club is “not offering to pay for the travel cost for the away game” (THETIMES.co.uk, 8/29). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Arsenal Owner Stan Kroenke is “showing those people Americans know how to run operations over there." Paige: "To give free tickets, what a great idea” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/29). Washington Post columnist Mike Wise said, "It’s a nice gesture. I would wonder if an American professional team would do that” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 8/29).
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD: In a special to the London INDEPENDENT, Arsenal Supporters' Trust BOD member Tim Payton writes while Arsenal is not “in danger of dying,” the team does “face the risk of serious decline on and off the pitch if urgent action isn't taken.” Arsenal “didn't just take a heavy beating” from their defeat Sunday against ManU. The announcement of ManU’s new $16.5M (all figures U.S.) per year practice jersey sponsorship deal last week with DHL means the club now earns $81.5M “more a year in commercial income than Arsenal.” This gap “will widen over the next three years as the long-term deals for shirt sponsorship and kit supplier put in place by Arsenal when raising” the $652M plus to build the Emirates Stadium “do not expire until 2014.” The Arsenal Supporters' Trust estimates that the “opportunity cost of lost revenue” is $163M over this period. Payton notes the “lack of commercial income and the impact of the investment” at EPL clubs Manchester City and Chelsea “explains why Arsenal can no longer compete with the wages players” in the $49M bracket demand (London INDEPENDENT, 8/30). SportsBusiness Journal's Tripp Mickle earlier this month talked about the issues top Arsenal execs Ivan Gazidis and Tom Fox face, including "leading a cultural revolution."