Premier League chief weighs into tickets controversy after Arsenal-Man City
07:14 14 January 2013
Manchester City players were told by an assistant referee to show their thanks to travelling supporters who paid £62 to watch the Barclays Premier League win at Arsenal this afternoon.
City had returned 912 unsold tickets for the match at the Emirates Stadium.
The matter has added fuel to an ongoing debate over seat prices in the competition, with Arsenal having previously been brought under scrutiny by their own fans.
During the game, sections of the away supporters held up signs including one which read “Don’t price us out of our game or lose more fans”.
Following the 2-0 win, sealed with first-half goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko, television footage showed assistant referee John Brooks tell City players, including England duo Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott: “They’ve paid 62 quid over there, go and see them.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore had earlier sympathised with City fans for not taking up their full ticket allocation at Arsenal.
Scudamore told BBC Radio Five Live’s ‘Sportsweek’ programme: “I think they are sending Arsenal Football Club a very clear message.
“I think that is a clear message Arsenal Football Club have to deal with.
“There is category pricing at Arsenal. Arsenal, when categorising games and setting prices next season, will have to take that into account.
“Arsenal clearly, along with every other club, want a full stadium and we at the Premier League would like every club to take up their away allocation.
“We would like to see 10% or 3,000 fans in those grounds.
“It is easy to latch onto the Arsenal example. They have clearly made a judgement and I think the Man City fans, in fairness, have done what they should do if they think it is too much and not turned up.
“It does make people think again and that is actually what the market should do.”
Scudamore was asked whether, in the light of record TV revenue, ticket prices should be lowered at all clubs.
He claimed that was a complex issue, but the overriding aims of clubs should be to ensure their stadia are full with away fans in attendance.
“Absolutely top of our aims and objectives is to put on a show and keep attendances full,” Scudamore said.
“The clubs absolutely know where the Premier League stands on this. We want full stadia.
“Over the last 15 years we have managed to achieve 90% occupancy. This year occupancy is up at 95% and could well reach an all-time high this season.
“That hasn’t come about just by going on increasing and increasing ticket prices.
“Clubs across the board are generally working very hard to keep ticket prices at the point where people will still keep coming through the gates.
“The most important things are - A, we keep grounds full and B, we have rules about making away allocations available to away fans.
“As a top priority we must keep away fans attending. Clearly it is for individual clubs to get that right.”
There has also been discussion in recent months about the possible provision of safe standing areas at grounds.
All clubs in the Premier League must have all-seater stadia and Scudamore made clear he does not want to see the return of terracing.
He said: “As an administrator it is a very difficult one.
“If anything goes wrong we are, and quite rightly, held to account.
“There are obviously ways and means of doing it but we have seen some incidences this year where being able to identify who is sat in which seat is a very useful thing to do.
“From a safety and security point of view, and all-round generally, I wouldn’t want to take the risk.
“I understand the argument and understand it can be done, but I wouldn’t want to see it.”