For all its flattery that deceives and footballing ambitions pinpricked by October, there’s one metric on which Arsenal leads every football club in Europe: how much spectators pay to watch this tragicomic drama unfold.
In the European footballing season 2016-17, Arsenal pulled in €135 million (over Rs1,070 crore) in gate receipts—more than every other club. Although its total attendance of 1.13 million ranked sixth in Europe (Barcelona led with 1.48 million), it earned an average of €98 per spectator (rank 1) and an average of €5 million per match (rank 2, after Real Madrid’s €5.3 million). That’s the good news for Arsenal.
The bad news is that it is more dependent on fans turning up than all other clubs in the top 10, earning 28% of its revenue from gate receipts (graph 1). Cracks in its footballing narrative and feeble prospects in Europe will test its ability to maintain this attraction.
In recent years, fellow English clubs have seen a healthy increase in gate receipts by scripting a new narrative via managerial changes: notably, Liverpool in 2015-16 (when it signed Jurgen Klopp) and Manchester City (Pep Guardiola) and Manchester United (Jose Mourinho) in 2016-17.
Among the top 10 clubs in Europe, Arsenal recorded the third-lowest increase in gate receipts in 2016-17, the year in which it won the FA Cup but stumbled its way through the bigger competitions (graph 2). For a club that is bottom-line-oriented, it might need some footballing glory to stay champion on this metric.
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