London: Veteran manager Arsène Wenger has urged Arsenal and Leicester supporters to opt against a five-minute boycott of Sunday’s English Premier League (EPL) encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
The match was earlier supposed to be held on Saturday, but was shifted to Sunday. This has angered Leicester supporters, who plan to enter the ground five minutes after the kick-off in protest. They have asked the home fans to join them as well.
“You want everybody there when the game starts,” Wenger was quoted as saying by the Guardian on Friday.
“For me, the game is a joy and everyone has to be part of it. You can protest before and after, but during the game you want everyone to be there.
“It’s a moment of happiness in your life. Life is not every day fantastic — sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s difficult for many people. Football is a moment of happiness in your life, so don’t miss it,” the Arsenal manager added.
The Frenchman believes that the empty stadium won’t have a negative impact on his side despite the fact that Liverpool had to surrender a two-goal lead to Sunderland after their supporters’ 77th minute walkout last Saturday.
“I wouldn’t like to use that as an excuse,” Wenger said. “I think, once the players are on the pitch, they are focused on the job. Sometimes I didn’t even know if it rained or not during the game because you’re so much in the game that you do not focus too much on what is happening in the stands.”
Questioned about the ticket prices, Wenger said the situation in the EPL is different to other leagues in Europe, adding that the value of tickets for matches in the Emirates Stadium — Arsenal’s home ground — is quite fair to the fans.
“I don’t think we are on the same level ground as foreign clubs.
“For example, Bayern Munich paid one euro for their ground whereas we paid £128m for ours. In France they pay nothing at all for their stadium, nothing at all for their maintenance. We pay absolutely everything ourselves so we have to generate more revenue. It is true we get more television income, that is down to the audience and success but as well it is down to the pressure of the market to pay for players at a higher price,” he said.
“I looked at the comparisons. Our cheapest prices are cheaper than anywhere in London; our most expensive price is a fraction higher than the other clubs in London; our most common ticket price is lower than many places in England. I don’t think we have a massive problem on that front.”