Memberships cancelled, touts arrested, but still empty seats at Arsenal. So what's the solution?

Samuel Mowbray highlighted something decidedly worrying in his Veteran’s View article today - namely that according to Arsenal’s match programme last weekend, the Gunners’ next five home games are not sold out.

For those of you in any doubt, that includes the Premier League games against Bolton (Jan 10), West Ham (Jan 31), Sunderland (Feb 21) and Fulham (Feb 28), as well as our Champions League clash with Roma on February 24.

In the past I’ve highlighted the number of empty seats at Emirates Stadium compared to the Arsenal stadium announcer’s claims of capacity (or close to capacity) attendances.

The team’s indifferent start to the season seems to have exacerbated the situation and although I understand that season ticket holders can exercise their right not to attend a game, for a diehard Addict like myself, it’s not something I can ever personally comprehend doing.

That, however, is not the point. Obviously season ticket holders are factored into the upcoming games, so it’s the people who are Silver and Red members who are now deciding not to buy available tickets for home games...

Whether that is because of the credit crunch or the team’s under-performance or a combination of the two is debatable, but it is a worrying sign nonetheless and must be something for new CEO Ivan Gazidis to take a look at.

One quick solution to the problem might be to sign a big name player or two. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but only the most myopic supporter knows we need to strengthen the first team squad if we are going to have any realistic chance of competing for silverware this season.

The club might argue that its ticket exchange system allows season pass holders to trade their seats to others when they can’t attend a game. But just in case you have not read the small print, you do not receive money for that transaction; rather the club deducts a 10% processing fee and then deducts the price of the seat from your season ticket fee next season.

Given the expense of season tickets, I can forsee many supporters unable to pay for the privilege for next season, while the recession may also hit the corporate hospitality sector which is given so much prevalence at Emirates Stadium. In which case, you'd get nothing back from the seats you sold.

However, the club is doing the upmost to protect its interests (although I believe it would argue that this is the interest of the supporters).

Arsenal Addict has learned that the club has cancelled 400 supporter memberships so far this season in relation to touted tickets, while eight arrests have been made in relation to touting and seven bans from the stadium area on match days have been ordered by the courts.

The bottom line is that the credit crunch is undoubtedly going to hit attendances in the weeks and months to come and although the current season ticket waiting list reportedly includes more than 50,000 names, unless the club looks at better ways to allow members to pass on their tickets to other eager supporters, the empty spaces at Arsenal’s home games could continue to grow.

Got a solution for Arsenal’s ticketing problems? Then share it with your fellow Addicts using our comments section below