Arsenal chief Gazidis: 6.5 per cent price increase part of club’s “restrained” policy
ARSENAL chief executive Ivan Gazidis has defended the club’s ticket prices, following criticism of a 6.5 per cent hike next season, telling disgruntled fans: “We’ve been very restrained.”
Gazidis, who faced some uncomfortable questions during a forum with the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust last night, blamed rising utility bills at Emirates Stadium for the increase, which comes amid fan unrest over a sixth consecutive season without a trophy.
“Since we moved stadium we’ve only made two price rises in six years. We’ve been very restrained and balanced. There’s no question we could have driven ticket prices higher,” Gazidis said. “Some utilities in this stadium in the last two years have gone up 100 per cent, our electricity has gone up a third, costs are going up dramatically. At some point we have to increase, and I don’t expect that to be a popular decision.”
Gazidis admitted he could not completely allay fears majority shareholder Stan Kroenke may take a dividend, but insisted the American’s record with his other sports franchises suggested he would not. “That’s not how he has acted in the past,” he said.
He also dismissed suggestions from Alisher Usmanov, the club’s second largest shareholder who remains frozen out by the board, that a rights issue should be held to pay down the remaining debt relating to the stadium move.
“There are substantial redemption penalties,” he said. “It’s not something anyone would advocate as a business decision.”
Gazidis offered fans some hope by promising a busy summer of transfer activity, although he warned manager Arsene Wenger would not “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
“It is very clear we had some shortcomings and in this close season we are going to see some turnover of players,” Gazidis added. “As Arsene has said, it will be busy.”