Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Rich Tea at Half-Time

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Rich Tea at Half-Time

Article excerpt

One of the things that all genuine fans--which means fans who pay their own money for their own humble seats--dislike these days is the hospitality industry. In the west stand at Spurs, I go mad when these red-faced, braying oafs with hospitality suite badges hanging round their stupid necks push past to take their seats late, stinking of booze and food, with no idea where they are.

At Arsenal, I look across to the executive-box level, and ten minutes after half-time they are all empty, as the guests are still inside, getting pissed. It's the same at Wembley--acres of empty seats, waiting for corporate guests who wouldn't recognise Jamie Carragher if they met him in their porridge.

But last Saturday, I was in a private box at Arsenal and, naturally, I have changed my mind. What a fab way to watch a game--what fun, what comfort.

Before that, my first and only time in a private box was over 20 years ago. The new west stand at Spurs had opened and a friend took a box, which cost [pounds sterling]13,000 a season and seated eight people. Obscene prices, I thought: it won't catch on.

I enjoyed the waitress service, as it is so boring having to pour one's drink and open one's own mouth, but we were stuck behind a glass panel. Good view of the pitch--but no noise. There was a knob you could turn to let in the sound of the vulgar fans outside. I thanked my friend but said the atmosphere was rubbish. I never got invited again.

At the Emirates, the boxes have seats outside on their own balcony, so you get the best of all worlds. According to the internet, prices range from [pounds sterling]65,000 to [pounds sterling]150,000 a season (gulp). …

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