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To fly or not to fly: Was it acceptable for Arsenal to charter a flight to Norwich?

  • @simonrice

Arsenal have been heavily criticised by environmental groups following their decision to charter a flight from London to Norwich ahead of their Premier League clash at Carrow Road.

The journey time for the Gunners was just 15 minutes, which as it has been pointed out by Jennifer Parkhouse of the Norwich and Norfolk Friends of the Earth, meant Arsene Wenger and his squad would have "spent more time getting on and off the plane than in the air."

Parkhouse added: "I cannot see any reason why they would have flown, other that it being a rather ostentatious display of the players' and club's wealth. It is absolutely absurd."

Yesterday, Wenger defended the decision, saying it was due to issues with other modes of transport available to the Gunners.

"Usually we take the train and there was no train available, so in the end we decided to fly because we had to drive up on Friday afternoon at the moment when you never know how long it lasts," he said.

A spokesman for the club added: "Given the severe disruption to rail services at the weekend the most time efficient option was to fly."

Time efficient indeed - 15 minutes is one short flight. But should there be trouble on the train network again, and the traffic is a bit heavy for Wenger's liking - the Gunners could beat that record.

If we exclude their fellow London clubs Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham, Fulham and QPR, for which Jack Wilshere and co could just hop on the Tube, there are 12 other towns and cities that the Arsenal squad could conceivably fly to.

The shortest trip would be to Reading. Assuming an average speed of 400mph, Bacary Sagna could be there in just 6 minutes. The next quickest would be a trip to the south coast to play Southampton, which would take 10 minutes.

Norwich is the third nearest Premier League club to London after these two, with a point-to-point journey time of 15 minutes. If they went by coach it would have taken them approximately two hours longer.

The longest journey for Arsenal in the Premier League is the trip to Newcastle. The flight time to the north-east should take 36 minutes. Sunderland, a little further south, takes a minute less.

Trips by air to play United and City in Manchester take 25 minutes while Liverpool and Everton are a little longer at 27 minutes. Swansea, the only Welsh club in the top-flight, takes 25 minutes.

Much fuss has been made of Arsenal's decision to fly to Norwich - but are the Gunners really deserving of such criticsm? Had they flown to the Midlands to play Aston Villa or West Brom it seems unlikely much comment would have been passed. Yet the journey time would have been exactly the same as the one they took to Norfolk.

In any case, with Arsenal falling to a shock defeat at Carrow Road after an abject display, Wenger may want to rethink how his team journeys to and prepares for matches in the future.


Flight times from London to other towns and cities in the Premier League...

Reading - 6 minutes

Southampton - 10 minutes

Norwich - 15 minutes

Aston Villa - 15 minutes

West Brom - 16 minutes

Stoke - 21 minutes

Swansea - 25 minutes

Manchester United and City - 25 minutes

Wigan - 26 minutes

Everton and Liverpool - 27 minutes

Sunderland - 35 minutes

Newcastle - 36 minutes