In light of recent ticket developments at Arsenal, including the new ‘friends & family’ scheme, Arseblog News thought it good time to learn more about one man who has been trying to facilitate ticket exchanges between honest fans eager to watch their team play.
Matt Morlidge reports.
Exchanging spare Arsenal tickets has always gone on, but a student from Berkshire has harnessed the power of Twitter to make it easier than ever for fans. Nobody knows his identity, he doesn’t make an income off his page and yet, the student in Leeds has nearly 30,000 followers on the social media site.
He had the idea in January 2011 on the eve of an Arsenal game, when he arranged to meet somebody on twitter and buy their ticket outside of the ground.
“Why isn’t there a site like this?” he thought, so that’s exactly what the 20-year-old set about on making. He came up with @arsenal_tickets, a service where he re-Tweets Arsenal fans who have spare tickets, whether they be for the game or just the coach journey, and ‘sets them up’ with other people.
He said, “Being in first year at University I didn’t have much on, so I thought I may as well. I didn’t think it would go far, I just thought it would last a couple of weeks, but a few Arsenal bloggers retweeted it and here I am.
“It’s far bigger than I ever thought it would become.”
BBC Radio 5 live investigated ‘legalised ticket touting’ back in December, and an Arsenal fan wrote about getting arrested for attempting to give a friend tickets near the stadium. While ‘Mr Tickets’ feels “there’s a bit of a grey area” in terms of the law, he still believes as long as he isn’t charging over the odds he’s doing nothing wrong.
“I always make sure people aren’t charging over face value,” he said. “I’m adamant no one should be making any money out of it, not even me. I’ve never made a penny from it.”
Many would think as a University student, the “massive” Arsenal fan would be desperate for any extra funds he could get. However, with his following ever increasing, he feels that he’s getting all he needs from his hard work, even if he needs some help to read the many hundreds of tweets a day, at times.
“It has been hard this year,” he admitted. “I took a break at one point as it was all getting too much, but luckily my girlfriend stepped in and helped share the load.
“It’ll be something to go on my CV. Whenever I tell anyone about it, they always say, ‘do you make any money out of it?’, but in my eyes, if I start making any money off it then that’s just taking it too far.”
Arsenal recently announced plans to launch a reduced price ticket scheme for young supporters next season, but the anonymous student – who keeps his Twitter open at all times – has felt for some time that prices across football are too steep.
Manchester City fans protested after they were asked to pay £62 for tickets for their game at the Emirates this season, although not when asked to pay £59 at Chelsea, while prices for the most high profile games have increased as clubs have introduced premier seating areas.
He said: “For the big matches the prices are ridiculous, you can pay £120 for 90 minutes of football, more than a pound a minute. It’s just not right. They have to reduce the prices. With the TV money next year, clubs can afford to drop ticket prices by about 30% and still make a profit, so there’s really no reason. They’re pricing some fans out.”
BBC Radio 5 live’s investigation into touting fell mainly at the door of secondary ticket exchange company Viagogo. Ten Premier League clubs have formed partnerships with the site, including Chelsea and Manchester City.
Man City limit prices to 50% above face value, while others insist on tickets being sold at face value. However, as the re-sale company adds about a fifth to the price of the ticket, the student feels there is no reason why fans should buy tickets in this way.
“I don’t understand why websites like that are allowed to exist. People are getting arrested for selling their tickets to a mate outside of the stadium, while they’re doing that.
“The money they charge is insane.”
It is because of companies like Viagogo that the @arsenal_tickets Twitter page is so beneficial, and although other sites have been made by supporters of other clubs, few would have such an insistence on making no money out of it.
Is this the future of fan to fan ticketing? ‘Mr Tickets’ would hope so.