By Woolwich Brooks
With new ticket price structure, Arsenal become left-wing heroes
Sandwiching itself between news of shareholder bitchery and whether or not the new away ‘keeper kit makes Chesney look like the pink panther, Arsenal announced a new ticket pricing structure last week, replacing the A and B rank matchday system with an A, B and C rank system.
This new C rank offers tickets for £25 that would’ve previously set us back £35.
This is excellent news.
Inevitably, some quarters have labelled it another way for the club to grab money since the A rank has gone up by a similar amount, with the B rank also going up, albeit by a negligible figure.
This argument makes little sense considering the increase and decrease pretty much balance each other out. And my feelings remain that this new structure offers a big leap forward in creative pricing for the club, and for very particular reasons.
My love of the Arsenal has never been grounded in an intricate knowledge of its economic workings. I’ve always trusted that if prices are the way they are, then there’s probably a reason for it.
But, after 20 years of schoolin’, one thing I do know a bit about is Karl Marx. And I think this new structure is a good leap toward a fairer, more accessible Emirates on matchday.
If the idea of Arsenal and Karl Marx in the same blog appeals then read on, if it doesn’t, you should read on too because he was quite a guy, with a beard to much any in Christendom.
On expressing my support for the announcement, one of the questions I was asked on twitter today was why someone should pay 25 quid for a seat in the North Bank to watch Sunderland but 60 quid to watch Chelsea.
Now for the Marx. Bear with me.
The reason why this is the case is down to free-market capitalism.
The reason why Arsenal should be applauded for making this gap greater is down to socialism.
Marx realised something odd about the way people buy things.
One day someone would buy, say, a table from their local chippie for a tenner, the next someone would buy one from a boutique for 500.
He called this commodity fetishism.
In (very, very) short, this meant that one product (a commodity) had been bestowed with some strange, intangible worth that had no bearing on the use-value of the product itself.
It’s the same for when we shell out the ridiculous prices Apple ask us for.
And it’s much the same as matches at the Arsenal.
There is no intrinsically greater value to a Chelski match over a Swansea one, but we pay more for the former, not just because more people want to go to that match (itself expressing the capitalist notion of supply and demand) but also because these A rank matches have themselves been imbued with commodity fetishism.
Both Swansea and Chelski matches are equally important, they can only end in the same amount of points being lost/won, but the latter has more importance, more fizz, more excitement, more of that intangible thing that doesn’t really mean anything.
Less well-off Gooners are the ones who lose most from the expression of this fetishism in Arsenal pricing.
It is however, a reality. And by the same token that the poor go to the local carpenter for their tables not the expensive boutiques like the rich might, the less wealthy of us supporters go to the lower ranked matches.
That’s certainly the case for many of my mates, especially during our student days.
By widening the gap between what I will call the ‘boutique’ A games and (now) C games, Arsenal have made an emancipatory, egalitarian gesture to those of us with thinner wallets.
Some will argue for all matches to be the same price.
I would not.
Let those who have enough spare to shell out more for the ‘bigger’ matches, by doing so they subsidise those who are happy to go to ‘smaller’ matches.
In this sense it is the opposite of VAT, which is a terrible tax in its remaining the same for both the wealthiest and poorest.
Now, more than has been the case last season and in recent years, there is better access to that unique feeling of seeing our team in person.
If that means one father and son couple, capable of putting a 50 quid note together but not quite the 70 it would’ve cost them before, means they can get to the Emirates, then Arsenal have already done a great thing with this change.
Yes, there is a compromise, but it remains an intelligent one, benefiting the poorest of our brothers who just want to be able to get to the stadium.
Even if that is ‘just’ good ol’ Swansea.