It’s FA Cup Sunday, and we’re up against the one side that has been something of a nemesis over the last few years, Bolton. As the Gods would have it, it’s now been three years running that we’ve been drawn against them in the FA Cup, and actually our record in those games doesn’t read too badly. One win, one defeat, both away. Today we’re at home, we’re in good nick, and Bolton’s last outing saw them sink by five.
It’ll be hard, for certain, but these games are nothing if not intriguing so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve a sneaking suspicion we might see Diaby start in midfield, with Fabregas on the bench, but my record on sneaking suspicions is not exemplary so don’t hold your breath.
There’s something else I’ve been thinking about and it needs a proper debate: ticket prices. How galling will it be if Arsenal put ticket prices up next season?
Sadly, we’re unlikely to see a freeze or a reduction happen because the club is in the box seat. First, they will argue that prices were frozen this season, and second, the stadium is full every game, so there’s nothing to make them sit up and beg.
But that doesn’t make it right. Television income is about to increase by over 60% (the winners of the Premiership, from next season, will earn £50m as opposed to £30m), and if ever a gesture to the fans should be made it’s now.
Blackburn, to their credit, have agreed to do it, and their prices are already significantly less than ours. But they’ve effectively been forced to by seeing their stadium one-third empty game after game. Arsenal currently have no such worries.
The trouble is, if you ask me, ticket prices at Arsenal are already about as high as can be afforded. My ticket costs something like £860, and that’s the cheapest season ticket there is (barring concessions). The most expensive season ticket at Man U is £703 – £150 less than our cheapest.
How can such a mammoth difference be justified, even if you take a natural rise because London is London into account?
I don’t want to sound sour, because I’m enjoying watching this team evolve this season, but this is based on a very real worry that, with everything else going up in price, I might not be in a position to afford it much longer. I doubt I am alone.
So the last thing we need is a rise in our ticket prices. With the new telly money, it’s simply not justifiable.