Arsenal are struggling to sell their allocation of FA Cup final tickets, but why?
Colour me baffled.
In a season of otherwise abject mediocrity (by Arsenal standards, obviously) we have a one-off game to win a trophy. Not just any win either, but one which would set us head and shoulders above any other club as the most successful FA Cup winners of all time.
And yet, the tickets are hardly being snapped up.
In the semi-final, Arsenal held a ballot for tickets to see us play Manchester City. In the end, it proved unnecessary, as applications were low enough that every season ticket holder who wanted a ticket got one.
Weird, I thought, but ok. It’s only a semi-final of a trophy which means less to many than a top four finish.
I wrote a rather tasty piece last week about how frustrating it was to have been unsuccessful in the final ballot. It turns out I need not have worried.
Apparently, while there were enough applications to make a ballot necessary, not everyone who was successful bothered to buy a ticket, so they’re back on offer to those season ticket holders who were unsuccessful to start with.
In theory, those tickets ought to be like gold dust.
An allocation of just 28,000 (reduced from 32,000 in the semi-final) compares very unfavourably with the more numerous season ticket and away scheme members.
Of course, some people will be away on holiday. That’s understandable, albeit unconscionable to me. After all, I planned my wedding and honeymoon to fit precisely around the March international break! I would personally avoid booking anything across late May, unless I had absolutely no other choice.
But there will be pre-arranged events or events that are in the hands of other people which prevent someone from attending the biggest game in the domestic calendar.
Maybe there’s a handful of people who just don’t like Wembley.
After all, it’s a bit of a pain to get to before a match, and a lot of a pain to get away from after.
It is the FA Cup Final, so you’d think you could make a day out of it, but maybe there are a few people who just don’t want the aggro of queuing to get into Wembley Park station for what feels like aeons.
Maybe the result is the problem
We’ve been used to success, but that brings with it its own kind of pressure.
The desire to win – and the consequences of losing – are so great that all the enjoyment goes out of the occasion.
But that’s what cup finals are all about.
The ticket situation does make you wonder, though, if our fans are backwards in coming forwards because confidence is at such a very low ebb.
Do people give us such little chance of winning that the potential reward of seeing your side win a trophy feels so remote that it can be cancelled out by the risk of seeing us lose in person?
Whether we expect to lose, or are afraid to lose, it makes little difference. It feels like many of our fans are studiously avoiding the game on May 27th because of concerns about the result.
The same thing happened with the City semi-final and look how that turned out!
And while I hate to quote Gary Cahill (slightly out of context), I can only echo what he said during Chelsea’s celebrations on Sunday: “This is what it’s all about!”
We’ll be underdogs, yes, but no more so than Wigan were in the 2013 final. We’re certainly not nailed on to lose! It’s a one-off game, and anything can happen.
I’m optimistic, if not confident.
Meanwhile, in a strange parallel universe however, Antonio Conte thinks we’re the favourites. LOL. Jose Mourinho levels there of not just mind games, but totally implausible mind games.
Domestic champions versus the side that just had their lowest league finish in 20-odd years and couldn’t play a single decent game between January and April.
Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe he just thinks “favourites” is English for “underdogs”.