Kit deal puts pressure on Arsenal to lower prices

 

Arsenal have been urged by Liverpool fans not to charge them £93 for tickets for next month’s FA Cup match, as the London club yesterday confirmed a record-breaking £150m kit deal with Puma.

The new deal, which will start this summer, is worth £30m per year, making it the largest of any English football team. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis described it last night as the “biggest commercial contract Arsenal have ever done”, but came under immediate pressure to pass those gains on to supporters.

Liverpool go to the Emirates for their FA Cup fifth-round match next month – on the weekend of 15 and 16 February – and Gazidis has been asked by Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly not to charge them up to £93 for tickets.

Arsenal – away at Southampton in the Premier League tonight – will decide the pricing for the match in the next day or so, and it is likely to be Category A, as their third-round tie against Tottenham Hotspur was. Spurs received an allocation of 5,100 tickets – all in the lower tier – the most expensive of which was £62.

Should Liverpool receive the maximum allocation of 9,000, that would include some in the upper tier, which for Category A games can cost £83 in the corner or £89.50 behind the goal. Booking fees and postage would take the figure over £90. When Coventry went to the Emirates in the last round, it was Category C, which meant that their 5,100 lower tier allocation cost £25.50. Spirit of Shankly asked for Liverpool’s tie to be the same category.

Gazidis was asked on Monday at the announcement of the Puma deal if the increased commercial revenue would be passed on to the fans, but suggested any real progress would be dependent on the successful implementation of financial fair play.

“We’ve been explicit in saying that as a club we have been very dependent on our ticket prices through the move to the new stadium, and it is important for us to diversify our revenue streams and expand our commercial revenue base,” Gazidis said. “This [Puma deal] does that, and helps us to take a further step down that road.

“What we hope to see, going forward, is more responsible spending in the game. If that happens, and we produce a more rational environment, that begins to take pressure off ticket prices. So we are looking forward to financial fair play, and we remain healthy sceptics about that. If there is positive enforcement from Uefa, and it takes the edge off the relentless spiral of spending, that begins to open up lots of possibilities in terms of the relationship that we have with our fans.”

Gazidis also said that the announcement of manager Arsène Wenger’s contract extension at Arsenal was only a matter of time: “Arsène will be extending [his stay] with us and at the right time we will make that announcement.”

 

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