Arsene Wenger believes transfer price inflation will effectively cancel out increased revenue from television deals, hinting that players, not fans will benefit from the cash flowing into the modern game.
It’s been widely reported that Premier League clubs will share upwards of £8 billion from global broadcasters over the course of the next three years, a state of affairs that grates with supporters who’ve been fighting ongoing battles to lower ticket prices at the top end of the game.
Asked about the surcharge – up to £30 – that Arsenal season ticket holders face after the Gunners drew ‘Category A’ grade opposition, Barcelona, in the knockout round of the Champions League, the boss attempted to provide wider context having been prevented from answering the specific question by the Arsenal press officer.
“We are a company who, on one side [the fans], want you to buy more players,” Wenger told his pre-Bournemouth press conference.
“What will happen is the prices of the players will go up and you will need this supplement of money coming in to buy new players.
“I believe that the pressure on spending the money will become bigger and you cannot necessarily distribute the money to other people.
“What we do, we stabilise our prices to give access, and we have stabilised now for many years.”
While Wenger’s assertion will probably prove correct, it doesn’t really take into account the fact that Arsenal are sitting on a huge stockpile of cash and that they’ve chosen to spend it relatively conservatively over the course of the last two transfer windows.
As with many things in life, timing is everything – the transfer window ending with only Mohamed Elneny arriving, the club being on a four-game run without a win, etc – have further exacerbated the damage done by the club’s mealy-mouthed attempts to deal with an incendiary issue.
Football supporters have and always will suckle at the teat of sentimentality, yet it’s hard seeing perceived traditional club values being eroded in the face of big business.
For what it’s worth, Arsenal’s latest statement on the Barcelona surcharge reads: “Depending on the number of matches played in a season and the categories assigned to them, this could result in a refund or additional cost to the price of each season ticket. For example, season ticket holders received a refund on this season’s prices, due to the categorisation of matches last season.
“For this current season, due to the number of matches played and the categories assigned to them, we have communicated to all season ticket holders that there will be an additional cost, which will be added to the season ticket price for next season.”
“We believe this is the fairest way for us to run our 26 game season ticket package which is based on categorisation of matches. This means in some seasons, such as last year, fans will get a refund on their season ticket price and others, such as this, will need to pay more.”
You can make your own minds up on that.