Sunday, 16 October 2011

THIS LEADEN PALL

And so it begins. The next four home games at the Emirates have gone to general sale; no membership cards or schemes needed. This is the first time I can remember this happening in the last couple of decades.

Last season it was noticeable that the “today’s attendance” announcement was met with derision on a number of occasions. This was due to there clearly not being the proclaimed 60,000 fans in attendance.

It’s another sign; of what I’m not sure.

This leaden pall which engulf the club is becomming very real. Discontent leads to conflict in the ranks which leads to loss of faith which leads to decline in ticket sales. More worrying are the increasing number of season ticket holders that despite their investment can’t be bothered to attend. Not even having the requisite energy to put their seat up through the official channels.

So are we to accept that there is a decline at Arsenal? The thing is, how does this decline get addressed, how do things get back on track?

I think it’s simplistic to talk about fair weather fans; in a way having a season ticket gives you the right to choose; after all the cost is a heavy investment in the first place. Attendances will always fluctuate but this current situation looks and feels like a downward path.

Less simplistic is an examination of the relative decline in achievement; factually there has been one. Again, causes are harder to address.

What is clear is that the customer (as supporters are now viewed at Boardroom level) is the single most influential entity when they start voting with their feet. There is an argument regarding ‘proper’ fans (whatever that means, and many will say those that don’t turn up week in week out are not ‘proper’. This is not entirely true; I personally know people who have had season tickets for thirty years, have gone all over Europe with the Arsenal but who have lost faith and feel de-motivated and as a result, at times, have not attended.

And so it continues. The slump, as it’s called, the loss of form. But it is neither of those. It is a steady decline at our club that has been going on for some time. Empty seats, banners and invective are symptoms of a club heading somewhere dark; very dark indeed.

I hope that today does not bring more headlines of discontent and melancholia.

Come on Gunners. Please.

 

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