Recognising the effort their fans go to in supporting the team, following the club home and away, Bayern made a statement about their "fantastic" support. The statement went on to say:
"The fact that this loyalty comes with such a high number of games not only means a great deal of time, but also tears a big hole in the wallet. Bayern has therefore decided to subsidise the tickets for the away game at Arsenal with nearly 90,000 euros. Therefore every Bayern fan who buys a ticket for the game in London on February 19 will pay only 45 euros (instead of the regular 75 euros). This is intended as a small thank you for your great support in 2013."
In pounds, it equates to Bayern coughing up £76,000 of their own money to help out their loyal supporters. Instead of paying £62 for their match ticket, the subsidy sees around £27 knocked off the price so it'll cost Bayern fans just £35 to watch their team at Emirates.
On that leaflet is an absolutely spot on quote from Bayern's President (and former player) Uli Hoeness. This said:
"We could charge more than £104 [for a season ticket]. Let's say we charge £300. We'd get £2m more in income but what's £2m to us? In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes. But the difference between £104 and £300 is huge for the fan. We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk. Football has to be for everybody."
At the BSM we've said for some time that we admire the way German clubs recognise the importance of their core support, and treat them with great respect. We've also said that Arsenal haven't done enough in recognising our own hardcore, and have been more blinded by a short-term dash for cash which has seen many long-standing fans walk away. This means that the chain of passing support onto future generations is broken, and that longer term this is damaging to Arsenal. All well and good looking after the income (and personal fortunes) short term, but where's the real custodianship if you're ignoring the long term health of the club?
Indeed, the recently announced 3% ticket price rises at Arsenal next season have brought a great deal of criticism from fans accusing our club of further pushing our loyal support for the sake of it. That price rise brings in around an extra £2.8m in revenue for the club, which makes Uli Hoeness's quote above even more relevant. What does that £2.8m really mean to a club like Arsenal? But for our fans who already pay more than enough for tickets, further price rises do nothing other than force more loyal supporters away.
Of course the issue of pricing and greed isn't just relevant for fans of The Arsenal. Many other clubs across the country are facing similar, and campaigns against this greed have been gaining pace. A great example was the quest for a fairer deal on away ticket pricing, where we (the BSM) joined forces with other supporters groups on a march to the offices of the Premier League. When there, we met with the Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, together with fan groups from Liverpool, Man United, Spurs and the Football Supporters Federation. There we stressed the importance of recognising the financial pressures fans were under, right across the country.
Following that meeting the Premier League put in place their away fans initiative which means that £4m will be made available to benefit away fans, for the next three years. For Arsenal fans this means savings of £200,000 this season, and the following two seasons. Take a moment to let that register. A £600,000 saving for our away support, and the same figure applies to fans of all Premier League clubs, with each choosing their own way of how to apply this.
Without the pressure from supporters groups like ours and those from other clubs, and that meeting we held with Richard Scudamore, would the initiative have been put in place? Unlikely. If we sit on our hands and keep our mouths shut, allowing clubs to charge us whatever they like, as fans we'll keep suffering. And that means more will walk away... so when the core support is dwindled down to nothing, when the corporates continue to walk away (and believe me they have been), and when the 'day trippers' become bored with the Premier League (the bubble will burst eventually) tell me, who is left to come and support the team? Who is left to pay their hard-earned money for match tickets... revenue which supports the club and has done for decades and decades?
Football without the fans is nothing.
Up The Gunners.