As the season slowly phases out for us Arsenal fans, the controversy doesn’t fade at all. To top it all off now some supporters are organising riots through the streets if Islington…well not quite. However, protests are being organised and as an Arsenal blogger I think its my job to speak as best as I can on this.
From what I can gather these protests are not Anti-Wenger or Anti-Kroenke, which hopefully means they will not be mis-interpreted in a press always ready to make a quick headline despite not knowing the facts. The main focal point of these protests are against the ticket price increase expected for the next season. Now fair enough, I think we are all rational enough to understand frustrations that fans have, no-one voluntarily wants to pay more for a season ticket, especially when they cost so much as it is. However, is it really that much that we need to have a protest about it? Organisations like the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust (AST) is probably the best place to go to voice concerns, a Trust that is listened to by the board.
Although I can justify why this protest may take place if it was for ticket prices, I don’t justify it because of some of their other messages. Firstly, the way that this protest has been made is too close to the ones at Manchester United and Liverpool with their American owners, I don’t want Arsenal to feel like a xenophobic club especially after the fuss made over the new owner Stan Kroenke, I know these protests are not towards any potential buyers of the clubs like at Manchester United with their Anti-Glazer protests or the Anti-Hicks and Anti-Gillett that were at Liverpool last year. However, its very easy for these protests to be misinterpreted as an Anti-America protest, its fair to say there are many ignorant members of the press, especially towards Arsenal. I also feel these protests are always futile, these fans still go to the games, I smirk at petty United fans who buy a green and gold scarf yet still fill Old Trafford thus paying the Glazers money. If they really cared enough they’d go support FC United of Manchester who said their fans would probably refuse to go to Old Trafford so the Glazers didn’t get any ticket money if they met them in this years FA Cup.
Also, there are some other messages I have read about wanting the kits changed to yellow and how they want kits to be released over a couple of years. However, I read on BBC Sport (apologies I couldn’t find the article when re-Googling it) that only Arsenal and Liverpool abide by a Barclays Premier League law where they keep home kits every two years and a change kit every year. The only times this rule has been broken is for 2006 and 2011 commemorative kits. It doesn’t help the protestors that they have also said they want the board to make more commercial revenue, yet ask that less kits be released. its a bit of a contradictory move. Also the colour of the kits is not an issue that needs to be raised by a fan protest, its something you ask at an AGM or ask through AST or Fanshare.
Their final point is some fans want Peter Hill-Wood our Chairman removed due to his criticism of fans in recent weeks. Now I don’t condone professionals criticising fans at any point, but one remark that fans who want our manager Arsene Wenger removed are “silly people” is not one that warrants him to be removed from his position as Chairman. Many fans agree with Hill-Wood that fans who don’t like Wenger are silly and we’re being very fickle to want him executed, we’ve all called members of that club far worse – haven’t we?
The one thing that gets me about this is the name of the group behind the protest “Where Has Our Arsenal Gone?” – as if to say that Arsenal has been stolen from the fans, its not like organisations like AST and their close work with the board and schemes like Arsenal Fanshare which were set-up only last year are around. Fans will always have a close relationship with how Arsenal is run, Stan Kroenke is a backseat owner from reports and his US sports teams have not been run differently under his ownership. I can only imagine a new scheme like Fanshare and relationships with AST will be secure for future generations. Overall, the name bothers me, its too blunt for a protest so shallow, its understandable that these people are angry at raised prices, but the name almost tries to generate more media coverage as if to say the board are running Arsenal incorrectly and are stealing it from the supporters instead of just uproar over paying more.
I withhold anybodies right to protest, however, a march through the streets to me should be a last resort, I doubt anyone with the responsibility of this group has contacted the board beforehand to raise issues and awareness for their issues. This seems like a knee-jerk reaction to a rise in prices that is needed to compete with the best who have their fortunes paid for by a rich ‘sugar daddy’ from a far away land. We complain that our cheap squad isn’t on the level as a Manchester United or Chelsea, two clubs bankrolled by wealthy owners like the Glazers and Roman Abramovich and then complain when the board try their best to increase revenue to compete without the need for a wealthy owner to steal the club away from the fans. Lets be frank, you have to be wealthy to support Arsenal today in this stadium, it would be a bitter pill to swallow if we were English Champions, but we’re not its a shame, but how many of you protestors will pair the extra money to see Arsenal?
I’ll leave you with a great closing paragraph from fellow blogger Le Grove:
“Globalisation of football is inevitable… if you want tradition, you’ll have to find another sport. For all the eulogizing about the game way back when… you did get what you paid for. Terracing was fun, but football violence wasn’t. Paying a tuppence for a ticket was value for money, seeing people throw bananas at black players was not. Knowing that you were likely to see your favourite players down the local after was nice… but seeing the power, pace and skill we have now is far more enjoyable.”