By Graham McNorthbank
Wednesday May 26 and if you’re a Gold member of the Arsenal like I am, that means just one thing – six days to go before the deadline for forking out for your season ticket. The most expensive season ticket in world football.
The Arsenal board is asking me to trust them with the money I, and tens of thousands of others, are pumping into the club with absolutely no guarantees of what they intend to do with that cash.
Arsenal is a great club with outstanding tradition and history. But I can’t help but feeling that the current board of directors really do take us fans for granted as they know they’ve got us over a barrel when it comes to watching Wengerball.
When the story broke about Cesc Fabregas supposedly wanting to join Barcelona (let’s not forget that we still haven’t had any confirmation from our skipper) I commented to a fellow Gooner that there was no way that Arsenal would allow that to happen before the June 1 deadline for season ticket renewals.
I still have a few days left to be proved right, but with Fabregas apparently wanting his future sorted before the World Cup, don’t be too surprised if we hear of his sale sometime between June 2-11.
Our situation may not be that different than at rival clubs, but as I said before, we have the most expensive season tickets in the world and while Arsenal believe maintaining a dignified silence is the way to conduct business, for us lowly fans – on whom the club and the directors’ wealth depends – we're just left feeling frustrated.
So what would the solution be?
Well, the refreshing honesty we’ve seen from CEO Ivan Gazidis gives me hope that things might be slowly changing in the corridors of power and that maybe in seasons to come he will give us a hint of where we can expect the club's money - generated by us fans - to be invested.
I can’t think of any sane Gooners who don’t believe we need a new goalkeeper, so would having someone at the club say as much weaken our position?
In an ideal world we’d be told exactly how much money the club was going to spend in the close season to strengthen the team. However, in saying that I agree that if a club discloses its budget a selling club would push to secure as much of that wad for their departing star as possible. Therefore Arsenal’s policy of never revealing the size of Arsene Wenger’s transfer budget makes sense, even if it is frustrating.
But an honest end of season review of team performance should be more than just where our team finished up in the league.
A statement from the club pledging to strengthen key areas of the squad would fill me with a lot more confidence when it comes to forking out £1,265 on a ticket to watch a team that has struggled to compete for the past few years. I say that in the knowledge that our counterparts at Chavski and Man Utd are asked for substantially less when it comes to season tickets.
Indeed, the prospect of losing our best player may even see some fans opting not to renew their memberships. I'm thinking that will mostly affect Club Level at the stadium, which is no bad thing, but in terms of Arsenal's business plan, reassuring corporate ticket buyers of our intention to strengthen also seems like a no-brainer to me.
But as we all know, giving up your season ticket relegates you to the foot of the waiting list – estimated to take around 25 years to work your way back up the top.
So come June 1, I will be significantly worse off financially without any idea of who I’m going to see as club captain next year and with no promise of exciting new talent to whet the appetite.
Should I want it any other way?