The cost of dedication

Old season ticket
Ticket from the olden-days

Now, as all those among you lucky enough to be season ticket holders at the finest club in the land will attest, this week the renewal forms for next year dropped onto the mat – or to be precise, arrived in the inbox.

The eagle/misty-eyed will have noticed that one thing has been consigned to history – the self-addressed and stamped postcard that used to boomerang its way back to you once the paperwork had been received by the club. Being a middle-aged and grumpy sort of bloke, I miss that postcard already.

The other thing that disappeared, alongside the old ground itself, was the paper season ticket, which resembled a raffle ticket book, with its tear-out matchday tickets at the front and indecipherable coloured cup-tie coupons and special match vouchers at the back.

Replays and other assorted unscheduled matches required a special kind of intelligence to arrange tickets for: the ability to pick out the correct voucher (“is it coupon B, or special match voucher 21?”). These things came with experience. You could always tell the rookie season ticket holder in such circumstances, skimming through the book in a blind panic as deadline day for ticket applications loomed.

Voucher
Voucher

The other two things that have changed considerably are the price, and the availability.

Getting my first season ticket, in the year we signed Kiwomya, Helder and Hartson in a desperate attempt to climb the table prior to George Graham’s sacking, required nothing more than a phone call to the club. They had plenty available and all I had to do was head down to the ground and choose the two seats I wanted.

As for price, well in 1994-5 I paid £260 for my season ticket, naturally in the East Lower at Highbury. The price rises thereafter mirrored the huge increase in popularity of the game itself, the arrival of expensive European players and of course, the huge growth in player wages.

The club has to its credit held prices now for three seasons running – though they were admittedly already among the highest in the land – but the prices below do nevertheless indicate the inflation in ticket prices at Arsenal since the conception of the Premier League. I only now have two of the electronic stubs – inserted inside the cover of each season ticket – to indicate the prices I paid, but suffice to say that in the four years between 94 and 98 the ticket price had risen from £260 to £390, and by 2008, it was nearer £900.

Still, every season I moan about the cost, yet every season I’m back for more.

It’s a little bit addictive…

11 thoughts on “The cost of dedication

  1. Woot first post. Lol.
    Ah for someone who’s never had a season ticket that’s… Insightful?
    Good read nonetheless 🙂

  2. As it happens I came across my first season ticket the other day. Also East Lower it was for 1977-78 and cost £38. £38 for a season!

    I miss the books as well. There was something so special about the day it arrived all bright and shiny begging to be used, and then getting to the turnstile and ripping that first token out.

    Personally I think the club should at least issue new cards every summer.

  3. Sorry for second post.

    A good measure of how much prices increased is the bonded season tickets on the North bank (stand – spit). For the first ten years the increases were held down to inflation rates but when that ended mine went up from under £300 to over a grand. I make that a (roughly) four fold increase in ticket prices (above inflation) over a ten year period.

  4. + The old books had the added Value of being brandished like an imaginery Red Card from the East Lower 🙂 See even more value for your money it was a multi tasker !! Wasnt as much fun waving a Platic card at the poor souls who had been sent off lol

  5. 1st season ticket – 1982/83, £42.00 terrace, renewal for next season, block 110, £1052.50!

  6. Interesting post – nice to know about the tickets; I don’t think I’ve read about this anywhere. Can’t believe the amount the price has increased in the last few years though. What is the price for this season? (Frozen from last?)

  7. Cheers all – clearly I’m a rookie compared to Ralph & Neil… £38! Brilliant.

    BGun – Yeah, it went up massively between about 95 and 05 in particular. Cost depends where you sit but I reckon you’re looking at £900 to £1800 ish.

    Happy to be corrected but I’d guess it was about that.

  8. RotorGoat – we all have to start sometime mate, just think yourself lucky you missed the mid 80s!

    As for when the prices rocketed I’d say (off my head) that your decade should start/finish a year earlier but you could as easily be right. I’ve checked my bonded ticket and it went from £260 to £1320 when the cap ended and as prices had been held to inflation for the first ten years I think that shows graphically how much tickets went up in that decade.

    A mate of mine uses (I think) a good line about tickets and that is that when we both started going match by match (early 70s) going to the football was a choice between spending money on that or buying a packet of crisps and a can of pop.

  9. Nice insight. Being an out of England gunner fan who has never been to a game in real life hence never seen/paid for a ticket, this stuff is quite interesting.

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