How Do Away Matches Work?

I’ve touched on this in several other posts, but away matches, and the relationship between home and away supporters, are one of the things that makes English football the most different from American sports and can be one of the most confusing things for first time travelers.

To borrow from the Should I Be Concerned About Safety article:

In the US, there are occasionally fights at American football games, but usually home and away fans can mix in the stadium parking lots, bars, and in the stadium itself without issue. This is not the case in England, where away supporters have their own stadium entrances and are kept completely separate from the home supporters. This extends itself to bars around the stadiums on match day, where they usually require identification in the form of a ticket or your Red Membership card to prove that you are a home supporter.

This article concerns attending matches at other stadiums as an Away Arsenal supporter, which is different than the other articles that have described how to conduct yourself as a neutral or when encountering away supporters in and around the Emirates.

My #1 rule for attending away matches as an Arsenal supporter is to never, ever buy home tickets and attempt to go as a neutral. It’s not worth the safety risk, it’s not fun to sit in enemy territory and the home supporters cheer everything bad that happens to your team, and it’s absolutely not fun to not be able to cheer for Arsenal when good things happen.

That leads to the subject of acquiring away tickets. Away tickets for many matches are essentially impossible to buy at face value as a red member, or even through the ticket exchange. They are bought up by the devoted supporters who go to many away matches, and are rarely resold. Away tickets are made available based on the number of away points you accrue by going to away matches, and you have to consistently go to a large number of away matches every year to maintain your away points. This is impractical for most American supporters, who can’t attend enough away matches every year to accrue points. There are ways around this, however, which will be described later.

The desirability (and thus the difficulty of getting tickets) is as follows, in descending order:

  1. NLD at Sp*rs
  2. Other London Clubs (Chelsea, West Ham, Watford)
  3. Other Top Six Clubs (Man United, Liverpool, Man City)
  4. All Other Premier League Matches
  5. FA Cup
  6. League Cup
  7. Europa League

As an American supporter, the only matches that you’ll be able to buy away tickets at face value from the club are typically Europa League matches, especially the ones in Eastern Europe. It can be fun to go to away Europa League matches though, especially if they are in beautiful places like Portugal, Spain, or Italy, and I’d encourage you to do so!

For all other away matches, the best way to obtain tickets is to join England-based ticket exchange groups on Facebook, where you will find people willing to sell away tickets (always at face value). You will still have a lot of trouble finding away tickets to the top three categories of matches I listed above, but finding tickets to other Premier League matches and FA Cup / League Cup ties is very doable. Here are two groups that I recommend:

When you do attend your first away match, be aware that the rules (or lack thereof) for seating are a little bit different than at home matches. Supporters typically sit wherever they want on a first come first serve basis, and many stand for the entire match unless the stewards at the stadium in question force them to sit. Away supporters are also much more vocal than the typical home crowd, so be prepared to do your part and sing the entire match!

The last note to remember is that as an away fan, all of the safety considerations I noted in the safety article apply double. Be aware of your surroundings, stick with other Arsenal supporters, and make sure you have a plan to get home after the match and know where the away supporters bar is located. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have a great time.

Published by Jon Hardin

By day, Jon is the CEO of a software company. Outside of work, Jon is an avid home improvement enthusiast who enjoys a wide variety of renovation, landscaping, and other projects.

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