Manchester City have returned close to a third of their allocation for Sunday's Premier League match at Arsenal, after supporters balked at the £62 ticket price.
The Premier League champions were given a 3,000 allocation but 912 were sent back and are being sold by Arsenal. The match at the Emirates, which kicks off at 4pm and is live on Sky Sports, is classed as Category A and therefore carries the highest ticket cost for Arsenal's Premier League games.
The London club's own supporters have become increasingly vocal about pricing – Arsenal's tickets in an equivalent area on Sunday, plus the returned away tickets, will also cost £62.
City have sought to play down the affair and Arsenal insisted they were close to selling out the remaining tickets. Kevin Parker, the general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters Club, said: "It's the most expensive amount I can ever remember paying for a ticket in my life, for a Sunday afternoon game which is live on satellite television.
"And it's not as if finding a television to watch the game on is difficult nowadays. Even if the game wasn't live, to charge £62 to watch it is ridiculous, but to charge that amount when people can see it live on TV is crazy.
"It just shows that football clubs are out of touch with reality. If City supporters are travelling on a supporters' club coach it will cost £30 per person. That's £92 before they have even done anything; add in a programme, food, drink and you are looking at £125-£130 per person.
"There are a combination of things at play here. Some people cannot afford the price, especially as it is just after Christmas, and there are some who just refuse to pay £62. This is also the first time in a long while that I remember City fans saying to me they could pay the money but are refusing to do so. That is a brave decision to take. Soon, though, fans will vote more strongly with their feet and clubs like Arsenal will have to decide what to do about ticket prices."
Before the start of the 2011-12 season, a number of Arsenal supporters bodies contacted the club to point out their unhappiness over admission prices. A survey carried out in October confirmed Arsenal have the most expensive adult matchday ticket (£126) and season ticket (£1,955) in England's top flight.
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust has also lobbied the club for two years over ticket prices. In 2011 the group expressed "concern that loyal Arsenal fans are being priced out of attending matches. The current economic climate means many fans are suffering.
" Arsenal's commercial revenue is £50m less than Manchester United, annually. This is the area where the club should prioritise raising extra money, rather than increasing ticket prices."
But so far this season Arsenal have the second-highest average home crowd in the league at 60,094, more than 10,000 ahead of Newcastle United in third. The Emirates has a quoted capacity of 60,361.
Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, defended the entry costs last October by saying: "We've seen ticket prices rise across the game. This isn't just a football issue. If you look at the prices of entertainment across the board they have gone up significantly in recent years and clearly we now have an environment where people are economically challenged.
"What we have done is try to hold those prices down. For example our Capital One Cup prices have been £10 for adults and £5 for children.
"What we know, because of the tremendous take-up, is that there are people who want to watch top-class football but for whom price is a factor. That is something we have to be continually conscious of."