Wenger: In-stadium support linked with comfort

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There’s little doubt that the transition to all-seater stadia has had an effect on the atmosphere in football grounds.

The Emirates stadium boasts the widest, most comfortable seats in the Premier League, but it’s also not exactly the most intimidating of arenas.

That comfort, according to Arsene Wenger, has a direct impact on the level of support that fans provide their teams.

“The more comfortable you are the less supportive you are,” he said.

“When you stand up you support better than when you’re in your seat. So if you imagine you’re lying down in a chair, you’re less supportive.

“The vocal aspect of the game is linked with the position of the supporters.”

It’s tacit approval of safe-standing, but the manager has been quite explicit about that on previous occasions. Speaking about that particular issue last year, he said, “I feel the closer you are to the positions of the players, the more passionate you are about it.

“As well because it would allow lower prices because you could get more spectators inside the stadiums, and maybe a more passionate atmosphere.”

Last week the AST released the results of a survey of Arsenal fans which showed overwhelming support for safe-standing, but it remains to be seen how far the club are willing to go to support what is a growing movement – not just among Arsenal fans.

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Martin
Martin

Would be amazing to have the North Bank and Clock End standing again. Remember my first game, league cup against Forest in 93 and even though there was just the clock End because north bank was being done the atmosphere was amazing

GraeB
GraeB

Er….. I think you’ll find that they are already standing areas. I haven’t sat in my seat for years. Early attempts to make us sit were quickly thwarted by someone starting the “Stand up if hate Totnum” chant. Great seats to lean against though and pretty safe, unlike Wembley’s little buckets.

Trefusus
Trefusus

I think Wenger’s point is, standing allows more people into the area, the type of fans who enjoy standing and cheering. It’s great that people are already choosing to stand; however, safe-standing would bring in even more of the same. More fans, shoulders-to-shoulders, not in pockets.

If this is considered, I’m sure there will be some numbers crunching at Arsenal to maximize profits. They know they have to lower the price sufficiently to attract enough fans to profit over the removed seats. It would be ridiculous if attendance is lowered because people think, it’s not worth it for them to stand.

masterofthegoonaverse
masterofthegoonaverse

Blocks 10 and 11 are already standing areas.

John C
John C

Once again Arsene’s speaking nonsense.

It has nothing to do with comfort and more to do with the passionate, vociferous support has either been priced out or chased away but a decade long policy of jam tomorrow. Replacing the seats with metal spikes won’t change that.

Beezus Faffoon
Beezus Faffoon

So you’re saying that comfort has absolutely NOTHING to do with it and that it is ENTIRELY down to proper fans being priced-out/alienated?

You don’t think that it’s even remotely possible that it could be both?

John C
John C

I think comfort ranks very low on the reasons why the atmosphere is poor.

As well as the two I give, apathy, boredom and a sense of inertia all rank higher than comfort

John D
John D

Once again John C speaking nonsense.

It has everything to do with Ignoring facts and figures and using any opportunity to bash monsieur wenger.

John C
John C

Enlighten me on what these facts and figures are?

Godfrey Twatsloch
Godfrey Twatsloch

I can give you one indisputable fact. You always moan.

John C
John C

Happy with today’s performance were you?

Heavenly Chapecoense
Heavenly Chapecoense

You get my up vote for ‘metal spikes’. During some of our dismal performances, fans felt sitting on metal spikes.

John C
John C

Exactly, watching Arsenal these past several years has been anything but comfortable, in fact the complete opposite, horribly uncomfortable. I defy anyone to tell me when they watch this team, whether at home or in the stands they feel comfortable.

The only person who sits in comfort is Wenger as he isn’t accountable.

John D
John D

Ahem

Lack of Perspective
Lack of Perspective

If only you would be there. The entire country would here you whinge.

Lord Bendtner
Lord Bendtner

Arsenal Hierarchy: “Wenger has a point. In order to ‘increase the vocal presence’ of our fans, we will hereby remove all seating in the stadium. Stadium capacity will therefore be increased to 110,000. We are doing this to improve our vocal presence and provide a much stronger vocal support to our team. We are always planning for this clubs best interests. You should consider yourself lucky you have us.”

Random fan: ” Yaaaay! That means ticket pricing will be reduced to half!!”

Arsenal Hierarchy: “Would like to add to the earlier statement, Ticket pricing will henceforth be decreased by a whopping 50 pence! As I said, you’re lucky to have us!”

Lord Bendtner
Lord Bendtner

Arsenal Hierarchy: “Just a quick clarification, that’s 49 pence, not 50. (in honor of our 49 games unbeaten run)”

bazza_wicks
bazza_wicks

keep asking about a singing section if they made the north bank a standing section behind the goal would create both revenue and atmosphere, we need to make the Emirates loud like the away supporters create on their travels

Liam Bradys left peg
Liam Bradys left peg

The away fans never sit down and also pay less for most games and hardcore fans make more noise than the spread around the stadium home fans added to the tourists at home games and people around me moaning when we stand up because fans in front have and we want to see!! 2 safestanding sections, Northbank and Clockend, would 100% improve the atmosphere no question. Bring it on asap.

GraeB
GraeB

When Emirates opened the season tickets in the North Bank corner were allocated and advised to buyers as being the Singing Area. Not behind the goals as those were more expensive!

El Piresidente
El Piresidente

Where I sit in the north lower we already effectively have safe standing. The only time we sit down is half time. The stewards used to make us sit down but seem to have given up on that for the last couple of seasons. So on this it might be one to give the club a bit of credit, unusually.

UMG
UMG

I also stand in the North Bank Lower, and I reckon safe standing would be a big step up from what we have at the moment. Smaller seats would lead to a more “packed in” crowd, which inevitably leads to more noise.

gunner712004
gunner712004

we don’t sit in block 19, next to the away fans, who also obviously don’t sit

UMG
UMG

We were a bit unlucky in that when we moved grounds, designing a stadium for atmosphere was very rare. Much more important were ensuring sightlines and comfort for all supporters.

In order to make the Emirates into a seriously atmospheric ground I’d venture it would take a lot more than putting in smaller seats. The stands are too shallow, the lower tier is too small and the spectators are too far from the pitch. In a dream world, I’d love to see the entire lower tier (which is situated below podium level) dismantled and the pitch and surrounding area lowered by a few feet. The lower tier could then be replaced with a steeper one which extended closer to the field of play, possibly adding a few thousand seats in the process. The infrastructure at ground level (dressing rooms etc) could remain, with the introduction of a staircase down to pitch level.

Much as that would fix a lot of problems with the ground, I doubt we’ll ever see it happen – it’d cost a lot (£100m+) and mean redeveloping Holloway Road Station (~£100m again) and spending a season away from the ground. It also wouldn’t add “high value” executive seats which the club could substantially profit from.

Flashman71
Flashman71

Spot on UMG. Would be brilliant if club followed your ideas!
Having the fans closer to the pitch almost on top of IT etc. similar to Allianz (Bayern who have a similar capacity) would make a hell of a difference to the atmosphere. Barca, Real, Dortmund stand etc. all close to pitch. You were right, the design of our stadium at the time wasn’t made with atmosphere as much in mind (the shallowness of our lower tier is proof of this). In an ideal world I would implement your ideas and add another higher tier (I know we couldn’t because of eye line and Islington directives). I would make our ground similar to Barca and Real (and I know fans can be up in the gods, but that is price you pay if you want a real cathedral of football. I was always hoping we would increase our capacity by now, by re-working more seats into upper tier. In my dream – we should have a capacity of 80,000 and yeah so what if we don’t always fill it, black the seats out as the Barce’s and other clubs do. Alternatively, if we had a larger capacity, how about allocating 10,000 free tickets each home game to Islington, Camden, Hackney primary and secondary school kids or London wide community youth groups (if there are any left that is, thanks to this government!) each home game (increase the next generations of supporters etc.). I know this is a pipe dream but I live in hope.
The above will never happen I know, but, I surely am not alone as a gooner in strongly believing that Arsenal have to put some extra seats in somewhere – whatever it takes so we still have the biggest capacity in London (chavs and spuds’ new grounds in mind)!! I don’t give a fuck what anybody says those who say it doesn’t really matter, it fucking does to me and am sure to many others. I know the fundamental part of our club is the team and winning things, but many of us know, it isn’t just about being best on the pitch but also being the best off it (we are in many of the following imo) – the best programme, the best pitch, the best kit, the best facilities, the best training complex, the best ticket scheme*, the best staff, the best medical team*, the best owner*, the best board* the best stadium, the best supporters, the best fans, the best shops, the best merchandise, the best sponsors, the best kit,the best blogs, the best websites, the best style, the best community projects, the best history, the best ethos, the best identity, the best future*…the list is endless
(please note * irony these need changing big time!). Thanks for your post UMG the most thought out and knowledgeable one I have come across about our stadium and its future on blog sites etc. You should have been an architect or at least on the club’s initial stadium consultation and design team (just proves club should listen to reasoned fans a lot more to get their actual views and perspectives rather than pretending to)! If they had or did I am sure we would have had an even better stadium and atmosphere! Cheers UTA.

UMG
UMG

Cheers fella. Great to hear I’m not alone in my views and I think your attitude of using the extra capacity to help the local community is spot on – again something very lacking when we moved grounds!!

I’ve always found it a bit strange that whenever expansion is mentioned, people instinctively think the way to do it would be to build up. Not only would that involve completely removing the roof and upper tier, it also requires completely surrounding the ground with 40m+ cranes and lifting all the damned concrete and steel up there!

We have ample room around the pitch, not to mention access at ground level for heavy bits of machinery (in the away section for putting up sets for gigs etc) – seems the most logical way to do it for me!

UMG
UMG

The Emirates needs serious work doing to it in order to make it into an atmospheric stadium, not just the introduction of less comfortable seats, in my opinion.

The entire lower tier (which is below podium level anyway) would need taking out, the pitch and surrounding area would need lowering and a new lower tier would have to be put in which was steeper, involved tighter-packed seats (or safe standing) and brought the front spectators closer to the field of play.

This would be doable, as the main stadium infrastructure is situated away from the rake of the seating, but it would involve the club incurring a huge cost both in the redevelopment and the stadium’s external infrastructure (Holloway Rd Station etc). As an estimate I’d say the total cost to the club would be around £200m and a season at Wembley in return for an increase of 8,000-10,000 seats.

While this would definitely add to the atmosphere and look of the ground, I can’t see the club undertaking such a big investment for little financial gain.

UMG
UMG

Not to mention the club would do well to consider a reduced rate for vocal younger supporters (18-25 year olds get 25% off an ST behind the goal, say) to safeguard the future of the singing support. I stand in the North Bank Lower and it’s remarkable how aging the core support is at the home games!

Greg
Greg

As the man who single handedly built the stadium this is your fault

BenGman
BenGman

Wenger shouldn’t knock us fans. If they want more support lower the ticket prices and stop selling so many to tourist. I have been at games where people turn up 10mins late have a picture and don’t come back after half time. If you want to talk about people being too comfortable and hurting the club look at the players and the manager.

Vonnie
Vonnie

It’s not just tourists. How many season ticket holders get there late, spend most of the match up and down to the loo because they’ve drunk too much (one at a time to irritate the most), leave early at half time to get some more pints in, come back late after half time, repeat performance second half and leave ten minutes early to miss the queue at the tube station. And all the time moaning. It’s fucking annoying.
Having said that, with some of the matches we’ve had to watch lately it’s not surprising. It’s become a sort of vicious circle, and it’s not fun any more.

Flashman71
Flashman71

I agree Vonnie.
Some people are just there to pose – and I mean here a number of season ticket holders (who really fancy themselves!) not tourists or global/european fans or those british or Irish fans not living in London or regions. Those supporters who maybe only get to go to only one game (or a few a year) or are making a pilgrimage (might have been a supporter all their lives and never had the opportunity etc.). It’s special and important for them and not taken for granted. I have noticed it over the years and I often ask myself who are the truer fans? The guy who saves up all year, who maybe doesn’t even live in the country, plans the trip all out, uses up all their holiday work days, travels many miles, and spends shit loads of money to do so (maybe with friends and family as well etc.). Or the supposed self-celebratory “I am an Arsenal season ticket holder so I am a real fan, aren’t I fucking cool etc”. You know the type I mean, you see them in the pubs after. There is somewhat of a culture of it at bigger clubs. It’s fucking appalling at Liverpool ( I have seen it in their pubs and at Anfield). Day trippers they call anybody but their supposed hardcore fan base! Bad at Man Utd and particularly bad now at ours I feel. When we first moved into the emirates I observed a lot of the above types (at the games and afterwards in boozers – not saying they don’t have a right to be there, otherwise I would be defeating my own argument and as smug as some of them!).

During the game – the constant coming and going while game is on. I mean do they go there to stuff their faces and drink, take selfies and chat on their phones. Or do they actually go to watch the fucking match? It only lasts 90 fucking minutes for Christ sake! Do that shit before or after. I have been following Arsenal since 1977 and at periods of my life have had numerous season tickets (longest a 15yr stint, but after 7yrs at emirates I gave it up as I couldn’t handle all the above). Ironically, I believe the emirates helped develop this type of fan, you couldn’t do it at Highbury (as much) if you were in the seats.

On the whole, despite all the brilliant, funny and interesting people/gooners you can meet going to games (from all sorts of backgrounds, histories, areas, countries etc.). I find there is a certain smugness and elitism that is prevalent with parts of the Arsenal fan base (not all but many). It has always existed to some extent, but it is particularly noticeable in certain pubs after the game. I believe, it is similar in vein to the rise of the so-called Arsenal experts (who also attend certain Arsenal pubs!), we now see waxing lyrical on numerous blog sites . Not arseblog I hasten to add! This site provides a brilliant sense of humour,good entertainment and strikes a good balance between reasoned discussion, opinion, news and information on all things Arsenal. It is the “Everyman” of Arsenal sites (caters for every gooner) in my view. It does this despite a particular weekly writer who often verges on the patronising and condescending (unconsciously I believe) through his writing. Now I am being condescending! As if they and the fans mentioned above somehow know far more about all aspects of the club or are better supporters/fans than any of the rest of us! There exists an undercurrent of elitism in my view. I mean have you ever read the likes of Le Grove and some of the other supposed blog sites? They are mostly full of dreadful opinionated shite (and most are crap writers as well). How the hell they have the nerve to describe themselves as writers I will never know. Just like those original fans you talked about. How the hell they describe themselves as “proper” Arsenal fans I will also never know!

Vonnie
Vonnie

Thanks Flashman, couldn’t have said it better.

Nas
Nas

Great write mate! Haha just abhit all over the olace but good points haha

Nas
Nas

I remember suooorting arsenal at 13 or 12 years old since 2004 and i finally made my dream come true in 2012 at 19 or 20 by going to london and finally seeing arsenal live.. i went to a man utd and new castle or west ham game the first we lost one nil to an awesome cross by paul scholes and the second was an fa cup match i believe it wa 2-0 at half time the i wss in the upper tiers with my friends family who i dragged by the neck and scarf to the game haha and i was furious witht he support and the please sit down attitude of some poshy supporters i was utterly confused with situations since im from kuwait but i am a hardco’re arabic speaking gooner who dreamed all his life to see his team get a win and see thierry henry ehich i did that match! i tell u when the second half whistle went on i started shouting in arabic hahah ignoring all the bullshit and had the time of my life .. we ended up winning 3-2 a massive comeback and morw than i ever dreamed! What i can tell you is standing up makes the world of a difference… there is a snobbish posh vibr from the fans… tourists arwnt properly educated in an arsenal sense their justbeondering about cuz the real arsenal is somehwere lost in the stadium…. and the tewm needs to be doing something awesome to entertain too thats something u wsnt as a memory ehen u travel thousands of miles… it was a life experiwnce for me made me fall in love with the club even more … ps i couldnt survive going to a pub the alcohol stench was stunning haha it was like a fog

Daniel
Daniel

The guy sat next to me on Wednesday, must have seen about half the match if that, I don’t understand people who turn up late, keep disappearing and leave early, why even come at all, then latecomers who struggle to even find their seat, really

Terry
Terry

The tourists can only get tickets through a membership ticket selling theirs on. So as members, go to the matches!

Nas
Nas

Some tourists are hardcore gonners eho oay lifetime savings bud

AusGunner
AusGunner

Not just standing, but it might be worth considering how many more people they could fit in if they were to make the seats smaller. Say each average seat was 50cm wide, and they reduced them by 5cm to 45. Say there were currently 50,000 of those seats. Would a 10% reduction in seat width increase the number of seats available by 5,000? Mightn’t that be good for atmosphere and, theoretically, slightly lightening the financial load on customers? Or would the reduction in comfort be too much for the fans to bear? I think it’s one way to address the issue that the Embo’s perhaps underestimated its potential capacity when it was planned.

Ausdrexler
Ausdrexler

More people might also affect the regulations around emergency exits, food outlets, toilets, etc. So there may need bigger works required then just reducing seat sizes or making it standing only.
I like to believe though the club has taken the issue seriously and should already have atleast investigated the issues around standing areas and smaller seats.

Andy Mack
Andy Mack

I don’t think this would allow a larger attendance as the limit of 60,050 was set by the local council due to the limited transport available.
Even though we have more options than our neighbours, they have a more supportive local council.

David Hillier\'s luggage
David Hillier\'s luggage

I don’t think supportive is the right word, more that our neighbours had the council over a barrel. It’s actually sickening how little Sp*rs are putting back into Haringey compared to the likes of Arsenal

Maverick Gooner 227
Maverick Gooner 227

Fans are usually still in shock working out how to recover the price of season tickets, entry,food and drinks to muster adequate support for tge team!

Faisal Narrage
Faisal Narrage

Hmmm, I dunno. This is one o those things that is said, due to Wenger’s erudite nature and clear intelligence, may sound true when it isn’t.

Let’s be honest, if tickets were much cheaper, I don’t think we would be here talking about comfortable seats being the cause.
Is it comfy seats, or is it the comfy level of corporate tickets and folks the club have gone out of their way to attract? Most of the corporate attendees aren’t even arsenal fans from my experience, why would they get excited?

Also is it the nature and culture of the atmosphere that the club has created? If you spend years having stadium staff asking people to sit down whenever they stand up to make noise, it’s naturally gonna bed in that such type of behaviour isn’t encouraged.

I mean, those seats are comfy compared to most stadiums, but it’s not exactly reclining slumber chairs with memory foam like First Class BA travel is it? They’re not THAT BAD to cause the problem, surely?

Nas
Nas

Arsene wenger a true football man