Ange Postecoglou exposes huge Arsenal issue ahead of unique Bayern Munich spectacle

By Staff

There are few terms that frustrate me more than when other supporters label fellow Arsenal fans as ‘tourists’ or ‘plastics’. Clubs and stadia should not be gatekept by supporters thinking they have some divine right over someone else because of the luck of where or when they were born.

It has been made worse, or perhaps just brought to the forefront of the minds of those who follow the Gunners with the situation regarding the ballot ticketing system that was implemented at the club in the past couple of seasons. Where fans before had to wait in a queue before being allowed into the site to secure their tickets, now fans apply to a ballot and are informed whether they were successful or not.

There has been vocal outrage on social media from supporters who previously had far less trouble gaining access to tickets now being restricted to far fewer games. Despite their criticism, the ballot system is certainly the fairest way of allocating tickets to fans who want to attend – although it is not yet a refined process.

Improvements could be made in the form of a cooldown system to give supporters a fairer chance of attending games compared to people who have had more frequent success. Furthermore, the ballot does make it, rather ironically considering the topic, tougher for fans from abroad to plan trips considering they have to be informed of their success before committing to travel plans.

The queue system before typically could only be accessed by fans who were able to log onto the site on certain mornings, ruling out key workers like teachers or NHS staff from ever having a chance of getting a ticket. The ballot means more people are applying to get tickets and at the same time the demand has never been higher with Arsenal performing so well.

Off the back of the system change, a complaint has formed that ‘tourist’ fans have been more prevalent; before the turn of the year, accusations were even made that their increased presence was affecting the atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium. Having been at the majority of home games this season, there has been a difference in this season’s atmosphere compared to last season, but 2024 has been particularly good with the home wins over Liverpool, Newcastle and Porto particular highlights.

READ MORE: Inaccurate Arsenal ticket ballot theory crumbles as title expectations hit Emirates atmosphere

READ MORE: Arsenal release statement on ticket touts after fans have memberships suspended

For me, the difference in atmosphere is a simple one to explain, with the expectation changing from last season’s shock title race and the wave of momentum shifting to Arsenal being expected to challenge. Tougher games at the start of the campaign made impatience bubble up much faster before a lead was secured. Thankfully, as mentioned, the turn of the year has seen this dramatically evaporate.

Did the aforementioned three games contain fewer ‘tourist’ fans? Certainly not. There has been no changes to the ticketing allocation that would have given those travelling from outside the local area – be it from the UK or abroad – an easier or harder time to gain access than before.

In short, these claims that ‘tourist’ fans have had any type of impact, especially negative, have crumbled entirely. Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou recently hit back at a journalist asking questions about the supposed ‘plastic’ supporters.

“That’s really harsh,” he said when asked if the Premier League were targeting ‘tourist’ and ‘plastic’ fans. “This club has supporters all over the world.

“It doesn’t make them any less passionate. I think it’s really disrespectful to fans who are willing to go to the expense of coming halfway around the world.”

It is the same for Arsenal. I personally know plenty of supporters from abroad who have both attended games with them and even travelled out to an Arsenal supporters’ club in Chicago and can personally confirm these fans are as loud, if not louder, and as passionate as any back home in their local pubs or when inside the ground.

Additionally, in an interesting turn of fate Arsenal have been drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Gunners will be able to fill the entire stadium with home fans as the German club have had a banning order for their next European away game.

Fears that Bayern supporters might try and buy tickets anyway have been tackled also by the club. A statement on the club website outlined the strategy in place with an embargo on memberships made after March 11.

It reads: “Due to security requirements, this fixture has an embargo in place for Arsenal members who signed up after 11th March 2024. Members who register for the ballot but who became an Arsenal member after the 11th March 2024, are not eligible to apply for tickets and will not be included in the ballot for this match. Any applicants who are not eligible due to the embargo will be removed along with their ballot group.

“In addition, Season Ticket Holders are only permitted to transfer tickets via the Ticket Transfer service to a recipient whose account was created on or before the 11th March 2024 for this game. Tickets forwarded to supporters whose accounts were created after this date will not be able to accept the transfer, and the transfer will be cancelled.

“We encourage Season Ticket Holders who purchase their seat for this fixture and members who are successful in the ballot to attend the match themselves to make it a memorable night and create the best atmosphere for the team.”

Arsenal too have been heavily cracking down on ticket touting at the club of late. They recently suspended more than 300 memberships before permanently banning 16 found to have been lead members in a touting scheme – the others were all reinstated.

With the visit of Bayern, the seating which would have been for the away supporters will instead now go on sale to Arsenal membership holders. Many of these will still be fans who some would describe as ‘tourists’ and yet I would be willing to wager that the atmosphere inside the ground is set to still be the best of the season, perhaps in the stadium’s history.

The bottom line is that the Emirates Stadium contains more than 40,000 season ticket holders, the majority of whom attend games or transfer to friends and family due to the encouragement by Arsenal in a ‘use it or lose it scheme’ to promote tickets to be put on the Ticket Exchange – which is being made even stricter from next season. The notion that the minority of fans who have travelled from outside the local area are hurting the atmosphere has simply been made to look incredibly silly at this point – and that is putting it politely.

Thankfully, I know for a fact that fans from overseas who fall into this ludicrous and fictional category laugh rightfully and disdainfully at the label. There are xenophobes who would rather have the Emirates full of English fans from around the corner whilst watching their Brazilian, French, Norwegian and German players amongst others and a Spanish manager bring them a successive title challenge, the sad irony of which is not lost on those making the expensive and long trips to catch a glimpse of their beloved team.

Arsenal represents community and togetherness and welcomes with open arms those of all backgrounds in the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the world. Thankfully, the Arsenal family is one which attempts to stamp out these small groups but seeing the head coach of the Gunners’ local rivals speak in this way has highlighted it in the best possible way.

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