Go to every Arsenal away match for £28!

I am reliably informed by Tim Stillman, aka @LittleDutchVA, that if you went to every Arsenal away Premier League match last season you would have spent £840 on tickets alone. As he did.

Had you done the same in 1976-77, it would have cost you £28.25, assuming you went for the cheapest option every time. Or just under £41 if you chose the most expensive ticket at every ground. This page from the first programme of that season has all the details. 1976 Aug Arsenal v Bristol City 007This means that the price of going to all aways has gone up by 2,900% in 36 years. Or put another way, it was 3.4% then of what it costs now. The cheapest ticket in ’76-’77 was just 90p at Man Utd, while at Bristol City you couldn’t pay less than £2.50. You weren’t even allowed to go to Ipswich – home season tickets holders only – but as the top division had 22 clubs in those days you still got one more match than at present.

Interesting also that West Ham was ‘Adults only, no children served’ – presumably due to all the x-rated violence going on in the East End. To be fair I think it just means that children couldn’t buy the tickets, as opposed to being banned from the ground.

The same programme has the squad list for the year, with their previous club. Of 23 players in the first team squad, just six were signed from Football League or Scottish League clubs and one from a non-League club in Scotland. Everyone else was taken on as a schoolboy. Apart from a goalkeeper, we could easily have fielded a full team that came up from the club’s youth ranks. That looks impossible ever again.1976 Aug Arsenal v Bristol City 006In contrast, when you look at the list of apprentices, there are only two names I recognise – John Devine and Steve Gatting. Both made it into the first team for a while, but neither made a huge mark.

Finally, the ‘Visitor’s Viewpoint’ column is written by Bristol City manager Alan Dicks, on the occasion of his team’s first match in the top division since promotion. He starts by saying this:

“I cannot imagine a better way for a newly-promoted team to begin their First Division programme than by a visit to Highbury. Arsenal represent all that is so revered about the most difficult division in the world. Get to grips with a Highbury debut, and trips to Leeds, Liverpool, Man Utd and Derby must be a little easier to handle.”

1976 Aug Arsenal v Bristol City 008

Bear in mind this was at a time when Arsenal had just had two of their worst seasons ever in the First Division, finishing 16th and 17th. Leeds, Liverpool and Derby had been Champions within the last four years, and Man Utd were at the time the only English club to win the European Cup. Now I’m sure there is an element of buttering up your host for the day, but it also showed that despite some poor seasons Arsenal were still considered one of the giants of the game. It was only five years since the club had done the Double, at that time still considered an almost impossible feat. Arsenal had been big since the 1930s; they have not only become big since the 1990s.

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13 thoughts on “Go to every Arsenal away match for £28!

  1. I’m guessing that your calculations don’t include inflation and also the large devaluations of the Pound Sterling in the 1970s and the 1990s. How much was a can of coke in 1977? 20p?

    • A pint of beer was 15-20p I think. Coke I’m guessing would have been about 5p. Football tickets have gone up far more than inflation.

      • It is true that ticket prices have risen above inflation, but also in the past 30 -40 years we have seen the incredible rise of the BRICS countries and to a lesser degree the rise in purchasing power of emerging markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

        There are many fans in these continents now who fly to London just to watch the Arsenal. This would have been impossible/unusual in the 70s and the 80s. Indonesia alone has a population of 200m. Because of the free market and the popularity of the premier league, clubs have increased their ticket prices because their marketing departments know that these overseas fans will pay market rates.

        It’s supply and demand and the free market. Capping or putting a ceiling on ticket prices is a form of price control or protectionism and will not work. It will only benefit the touts.

      • No way was a can of Coke 5p back then. It’s something that I never bought as I thought it was not value for money. I would have been 9 and got 50p pocket money each week.

      • Through the wonders of the internet, I can tell you a can of Coca-Cola on 1 August 1976 was 10.5p from Key Markets, probably a little bit more from the local newsagents.

        You could buy 4 tubes of Smarties from International for 22.5p.

        Rumbelows had a 20″ colour TV for £215 and a Fidelity music centre (record player, cassette deck & radio) for £100.

        A Hoover 12 programme electronic washing machine (whatever that is) was £201.

        If only ticket prices had been aligned to the cost of electrical goods.

  2. Far worse is the increase in AFC ticket prices. Related to average earnings (thereby by-passing inflation) in 1970’s a man on the national average salary would need to spend an hour’s work to pay for a ticket, a programme, a beer and a short bus trip. Nowadays, a man on the national average weekly wage would have to work almost a day to watch a home game against, say, Spurs, buy a programme and pay for a beer and the bus trip.

  3. Thing like this give me a mix of nostalgia, and wonder that I survived the 70s as an Arsenal supporter. Every time I read an article like this it brings back memories (mostly of playground humiliation), that I have repressed for years.

    Tim’s right about the away numbers — when I totted it up a while back I got £835, but the difference is being upstairs VS downstairs at one ground. Considering that buying tickets match by match in Block 6 would only cost around £780 for the season, we at least rip our fans off slightly less than everyone else does, if that is any comfort.

    Looking at the cheapest prices in the programme and what we got charged last year, you would be talking 10% price hikes every year to match the two. (Blasting past inflation in all but 5 years in the period).

    What depresses me more is that both Falcao and Calvani cost about £15 mil more that the whole Invincibles first team. Now thats inflation….

  4. And a bit on Steve Brinkman. Richie Powling dropped out of league football and played for Barnet in the early 1980s, as did Steve Brinkman. Eventually Powling’s injuries got the better of him and he had to retire. Barnet asked Arsenal to visit Underhill to play a match for Richie’s benefit. Arsenal agreed and a date was set.

    In the meantime Brinkman had a heart attack. Powling’s benefit match then became Brinkman’s benefit match. Another game in aid of Richie Powling was organised later in the season.

    Brinkman was Barnet’s player of the season for 1980/1.

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