Season ticket holders have a contribution to make to Arsenal Football Club, a duty, if you will. But it’s twofold. Obviously we have to make a financial contribution – that’s the price you pay for access to a regular matchday ticket. But we also have a duty to support the team by actually using that matchday ticket, whether with our own backside or someone else’s.

I love going to Arsenal.

Even though our season has so far been a steaming heap of unmentionables, I have still been to every single home game this season for which I have been in the country.

Because I love going to Arsenal.

Even when the football is rubbish, I still love the walk to the ground, the air of expectation, the community feel to it all. I love having purpose to my weekends.

I cannot imagine the level Arsenal’s football would have to sink to before I would surrender my ticket. After all, I’ve suffered through enough Barnet games in my time to have a degree of perspective when considering our recent travails when the players step across the white line.

I will happily acknowledge the right of season ticket holders to decide not to attend any given game, or series of games, for any reason, even just because they are not enjoying the (torrid) fare which is being served up to them.

What I will not, ever, acknowledge is their right to deprive others of the matchday experience.

I only ever give my ticket up if I’m away on holiday, but I always ensure that someone else is filling my seat, whether I’m getting a financial kickback or not.

Selfishness (n.)

If you haven’t read Anita Sambol’s passionate description of her recent trip to the Emirates, I can only recommend you do so immediately. Stop reading this article – hers is much more interesting! The main impression you will be left with is the sheer excitement that comes with attending your first game at the Arsenal. Be sure to put aside 15 minutes of your time as it’s a long one, but it’s worth it.

For many of us, it’s been too long since we first stepped into an Arsenal stadium. Perhaps we’ve forgotten what it’s like. Perhaps we take it for granted.

In the 2014-15 season, there was reportedly a gap of 160,000 people between tickets sold and actual human beings walking through the turnstiles in N5. That’s 160,000 tickets for “lower tier” games, since the North Bank is always packed when the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea or Bayern and Barca come to down.

But that’s 160,000 tickets which could have been released for overseas fans, or young fans, or even middle-aged Londoners to enjoy, and moreover support, the club they love. For many, it would be their first experience of a live Arsenal match, and they couldn’t care less if it’s Manchester United or FC United of Manchester.

They are deprived by a lack of availability, because a few thousand “fans” can’t be bothered to add their tickets onto the ticket exchange.

I bet they were bothered when the FA Cup final ballot rolled around.

It’s not even about you individually turning up for all the matches. It’s about pulling out your finger and making the (minimal) effort required so that someone else can enjoy the game in your stead.

Carrot, stick or both?

Monetary incentives don’t work here – apparently receiving a sizeable sum back for putting your ticket up for sale isn’t enough of an attraction. No, the only way to make sure those unused tickets are made available is to hit these part-timers where it hurts – in the availability of tickets for big games.

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Only then will we start to see improvements.

Once again, the FA have seen fit to dole out only 56,000 of Wembley Stadium’s 90,000 tickets to fans of the two clubs competing – a whopping 6,000 increase on 2015. Slow clap.

As a result, many season ticket holders were always going to lose out. Many of those will be regular match going fans, fans who still went to the Man City semi-final even though most expected us to lose, fans who support the team week in week out. And instead, some of those fans who only turn up to five or six games a season will be going in their stead.

I can’t get my head around to thinking that’s fair.

Season ticket holders have a contribution to make to Arsenal Football Club, a duty, if you will. But it’s twofold. Obviously we have to make a financial contribution – that’s the price you pay for access to a regular matchday ticket. But we also have a duty to support the team by actually using that matchday ticket, whether with our own backside or someone else’s.

People who don’t pay for a season ticket don’t get an FA Cup Final ticket, so why should those who don’t bother turning up to support the team either?

If you listen carefully, you can hear the world’s smallest violin plays in the background: I was unsuccessful in my application for an FA Cup Final ticket in the recent ballot. My motives are not pure here. This column has been inspired – this time around – by my irritation that “part-time” fans who purchase but rarely use their season ticket are given equal priority to those who turn up and support in every single game.

A perennial problem

But I’ve written this column every year for the past however many, and will continue to do so until the club do something about it.

There’s a win-win solution here. A chance to get more fans to regular games, and ensure that those who are privileged enough to go to cup finals and the like are those who are using their seat each week, whether themselves or by selling it on.

Just as away fans are given first dibs on limited FA Cup tickets, introduce home credits so that those who have supported the team throughout the season get priority.

Previously I’ve been one of the lucky few to get a ticket – I was at all four Wembley games of the 2014 and 2015 cup campaigns, as well as the semi-final this year. And I still wrote a column about how Arsenal should make people use their tickets by using access to cup final tickets as an incentive.

This year I happen to have missed out. That’s life.

But as long as the club continues to prioritise part time fans over regular or once-in-a-lifetime fans, we will continue to see empty seats and sub-optimal support at the Emirates, while cup games are dominated by frustrated faces at home and smug prawn-sandwich-eating part-timers in plush Wembley seats.

It’s not right and it’s not fair.

But no one cares enough to fix it.