We were pleased to welcome the Arsenal Advisory Board (AAB) for our first meeting of the 2023/24 season at Emirates Stadium last Monday evening. Our thanks to the members who give their time to raise and discuss matters which are important to the groups they represent.
The meeting was attended by our Co-Chair, Josh Kroenke, Chief Executive Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, Chief Commercial Officer, Juliet Slot, and was chaired by Communications Director, Kate Laurens.
Our Supporter Liaison Officer, Mark Brindle and our Senior Manager of our Fan Services, Khali Parsons also represented the club along with Mike Bohndiek, our Technology Director who gave an update on the measures put in place following the delays at the turnstiles at our match against Nottingham Forest at the start of the season.
Vinai Venkatesham kicked off the meeting with some reflections on a successful summer of transfer activity, renewals and pre-season preparation. This included details of our tour to the US, updates on the season so far and our excitement ahead of the Women’s Super League which kicked off at the weekend with us breaking the WSL attendance record in our match against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium. The discussion moved on to ticketing, beginning with a presentation showing the developments we’ve made to our ticketing system and processes over the last three years.
During a time of unprecedented demand which is far outstripping the supply of tickets for our home fixtures, we reiterated our commitment to putting tickets in the hands of our supporters, with a focus on our paying members.
At the start of the 2023/24 season, we moved to a ballot system to allocate tickets to Members. After extensive discussions with the Fans Forum and the Ticketing Working Group, we concluded this is a fairer way to allocate tickets to Red and Silver Members as it enables them to register in their own time ahead of a clear deadline. It was felt this was an improved and more inclusive experience for supporters and addressed the problem of the previous system which required Members to be online to join a queue at a set time.
The ballot also helps us to address the issue of illegal ticket touting and bot activity as the system identifies suspicious activity before tickets are allocated. So far this season, this has enabled us to identify and cancel more than 21,000 memberships attempting to obtain tickets in unauthorised ways.
This season to date, of the tickets in the hands of Season Ticket Holders and Members, an average 17,580 have gone to Paid Members per match via the ballot, Ticket Transfer and Ticket Exchange.
For full transparency, the average number of tickets available, the average number of entrants and the success rate for each ballot for our home matches this season are as follows:
Silver ballot: 1,800 tickets where average number of entrants is 5,600 (32% success rate). Silver and Junior Gunner (Family Enclosure): 1,600 tickets where the average number of entrants is 2,900 (55% success rate).
Red ballot: 2,900 tickets, average number of entrants is 27,500 (11% success rate)
Red & Junior Gunner (Family Enclosure): 300 tickets, average number of entrants is 2,000 (15% success rate).
In addition, 1,100 tickets go to supporters’ clubs and 580 tickets are sold on a match-by-match basis to disabled supporters. Tickets for the family enclosure, supporters’ clubs and disabled supporters also only go to Silver, Red and Junior Gunner Members.
The average number of tickets bought by Members on Ticket Exchange is 4,400 per match and the average number of tickets transferred to Members on Ticket Transfer is 4,900 per match, making up the 17,580 tickets going to paying Members.
On average, 93 per cent of our sellable seats this season have been occupied by Season Ticket Holders and Members. The remainder are made up of other groups including away supporters, commercial and charity partners and players and their family members among others.
As we move further through the season and learn from the data we receive from each ballot, we’ll continue to work with the AAB and other groups such as the Fans Forum and Ticketing Working Group to look at ways to improve our ticketing operation and supporter experience. As a reminder, we share the ballot success rates and Ticket Exchange statistics on a match-by-match basis, and we commit to publishing a report at the end of the season when we’ll have a much larger sample size and an understanding of the picture across a whole season.
In terms of improvements we’re making, we understand supporters have experienced some challenges to accessing tickets via Ticket Exchange, which again is largely due to unprecedented demand versus supply. We are working on allowing some priority access to tickets on Ticket Exchange for each fixture to those who were unsuccessful in the ballot for the selected match. This also bolsters protection against bots. We are working with Ticketmaster to develop this functionality with the aim of delivering it early in 2024. To improve the experience for supporters using Ticket Exchange, we have reverted to displaying the Interactive Seat Map instead of the Virtual Venue map, making it easier to see the tickets available.
We also want to give supporters the option to choose their price point when entering the ballot, and we hope to offer this flexibility to Members by the end of the season.
Our work continues on matchdays too. We are holding tickets for collection if we detect unusual activity and we are performing regular seat checks to ensure Season Ticket holders and those in the Family Enclosure are not abusing the system. We are also working closely with an anti-touting task force and the police to tackle re-selling activity that takes place on the streets surrounding Emirates Stadium.
We continue to encourage all Season Ticket Holders who are not attending a game to put their tickets on Ticket Exchange or Ticket Transfer and remind supporters that the introduction of the requirement to use their seats at least 17 times per season has already seen increased use of these services which ensures more tickets are available for Members.
Our Chief Executive, Vinai Venkatesham, said: “We’d like to thank the Arsenal Advisory Board for their input and counsel in their representation of Arsenal supporters on the important matter of ticketing.
“Demand for tickets is at its highest level since our move to Emirates Stadium in 2006. There are simply not enough tickets available to match demand, which unfortunately leads to a large number of disappointed supporters who miss out.
“We are investing heavily in our action against ticket touts as part of our overall objective to maximise the number of tickets that get into the hands of our supporters. We are also committed to ensuring these tickets are allocated between our supporters in the fairest way possible.
“There will always be different views on what is a fair way to allocate tickets. As we move forward, we’ll continue to review our data, keep supporter experience front of mind and work with the AAB, Fans Forum and Ticketing Working Group as we aim to strike the right balance and identify areas where we can make improvements.”
The Arsenal Advisory Board, said:
“As a group representing Arsenal supporters we welcome the opportunity to work with the club to make the ticketing arrangements as equitable as possible in these times of unprecedented demand.
“We thank the Club for responding positively to our request for more transparency as this will give all supporters a greater understanding of how tickets are being allocated.
“We recognise that the previous sales process had become compromised by the excessive demand and attacks by bots as well as being unfair on those who couldn’t be online at one specific time.
“The decision to move to the ballot has allowed for a more equitable sales process and for increased action to be taken against touts at the point of sale. Of course, with all changes ongoing review and adaptability is needed.
“Today’s policy announcements to further improve the ballot arrangements by adding the ability to choose price categories and increasing the number of tickets available to ballot entrants from the Ticket Exchange is a positive step forward.
“We will continue to engage through the AAB, Fans Forum and Ticketing working group giving counsel based on the feedback we receive from those we represent.”
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