The FSF Awards in association with William Hill took place in December and of the 10 categories, all voted on by fans, Luis Suarez picking up Player of the Year received the most attention (even the Afghanistan Sun covered it) but Away Day of the Year was the one that blew our minds.
Why’s that then? Well, it was around this time last year that Arsenal’s scandalous decision to charge Man City £62 drew the wrath of fans across the country and kick-started our Twenty’s Plenty campaign.
Supporters were so annoyed that hundreds marched on the Premier League’s HQ. So how the hell did Arsenal go from being Public Enemy #1 to Away Day of the Year in a public vote?
It didn’t make much sense to us either, and the answer is a complicated one covering categorisation, costs, individual experience, and geography.
This isn’t an article defending £62 prices – that’s not on, full stop, and the FSF campaigns against sky high prices – but an attempt to understand why Arsenal won the vote.
Narrowing the field
After receiving hundreds of nominations we used the FSF Away Fans Survey to narrow the field down to six before putting them up for public voting.
The FSF Away Fans Survey is filled out by travelling fans every week giving scores 0-10 across a range of fields that can be set up in league table format.
In 2012/13 Arsenal were the highest rated on-the-day experience (7.47 out of 10), and the second most recommended away day in the Premier League (with a score of 7.55).
They were one of only six top-flight clubs to score more than seven out of 10 and scored comfortably more than other big London clubs. This season’s results are pretty similar.
On the back of that they made the shortlist for Away Day of the Year alongside Cardiff City, Fleetwood Town, Peterborough United, WBA, and Wigan Athletic. The winner was then decided by public vote.
Manchester City’s match at the Emirates in January 2013 was Category A which meant extortionate £62 tickets. That’s 100% wrong but not every fan who visits the Emirates pays those prices so some match-going fans leave with a different impression.
The Gooners’ lower category prices are pretty standard for a London club, throw in the mix that it’s an away end with a good view (unlike, say, Anfield), pretty close to the pitch (unlike, say, St James' Park), and isn't bad to get to on the Tube (unlike, say, White Hart Lane).
That means a lot of fans end up with a ticket they perceive to be a “normal” London price (“normal” is still too expensive in our book) at a smart ground that’s easy to get to. The majority of fans don’t pay Category A prices and therefore find prices at the Emirates bearable.
This is not, repeat not, a defence of rip-off £62 tickets, but an attempt to understand the mindset of supporters who voted for the Emirates as their Away Day of the Year.
So what makes a great away day?
According to our Away Fans Survey the most important reasons for travelling to an away game are: 1. Time/day of game; 2. Price of ticket; 3. Distance/cost of travel. One of the least important reasons for travel was the expectations of a win… which might explain why we keep going away time and again.