Tag Archives: fans

Season To Finish With Zero Fans In The Stands

This season looks like ending abruptly.

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to all forms of sport grinding to a shuddering halt. Titanic tussles, championship deciders – no matter how important the fixture or race or meet was – they have all been shuffled off to the side and have had a blanket thrown over them – until sport can resume.

The problem with that is – when that will be. No one can really say. Bring mass gatherings back too soon and we face another spell of lockdown misery. Bring sport back too late? Entire seasons and titles will be consigned to the halls of limbo – undecided forevermore.

The biggest cause for concern though, is that with no games being played – that means no money.  With exorbitant sums being passed around and money becoming the lifeblood that keeps the sports ticking over – it means the very existence of some organisations could be under threat.

So plans have to be put into action – and quickly.

How do the FA, the Premier League and clubs – as well as TV companies – get the readies coming back in?

How does football survive?

There are a few methods that could mean survival and at least a few coins being thrown to the needy. None of those involve what the Eredivisie and Ligue Un have decided – to null and void the entire season and start afresh from next season.

That would lead to some very messy situations. Clubs fighting for promotion and to avoid relegation, European places – all lucrative in their own way. And not one club would simply put their hands up and consign this campaign to the history books if they had a chance of achieving anything.

And that is the problem. Everything is still very much up for grabs.

Maybe this is why the Premier League is reportedly writing up plans to finish the season behind closed doors.

The remaining fixtures of the league campaign will be played quickly, with just days between fixtures. No fans in the stands, but everything that is undecided can be decided.

It also results in opportunity to inject some money into the coffers.

With each remaining fixture already carved up by TV companies – if they aren’t to be played then that cash would have to be paid back by cash-strapped clubs

So if these games are played behind closed doors, the cameras can still be on and some form of pay-per-view can be organised. Watch the game? That’ll be a fiver. Every game televised and available through the club, to view.

It would mean we could get our fix – our club back in action. It wouldn’t mean we can watch them in the stands – a return to the matchday routine could be some time off – but at least the Arsenal would be back in our lives.

For a fan, the remaining season being played out behind closed doors is a solution none of us want. For clubs, it gives them a breath of life as opposed to looking at the coffers – which all major companies are facing right now.

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The reality is, money is that important and has overtaken the fan as the most important factor of football. The prospect of doing this about twenty years ago would be far less palatable to the power people than it is now.

The very real prospect of games being played without fans is on our doorstep – and it is a frightening vision of the game in the future – where the fan is simply used as a source of income.

Football, Harmony – Mixing The Symphony

Football is emotive. It can drag you to the depths in an instant. It can have you soaring in a second.

Music too has the ability to have your emotions on a string, a signature melody can be entwined with your heartstrings much like your team. It’s debilitating, it’s enriching, it’s how you’re wired – and football and music are the copper wire that the voltage flows through.

Under Arsene Wenger, we became famed for our brand of football. With the likes of Vieira, Pires, Henry, Bergkamp we created music that was compelling. It was smooth, but the crescendos had your heart pumping like nothing else.

That is our brand, it is a large part of why we have such a massive global fanbase. We are synonymous with playing football the right way. It was to our detriment at times, we kept attempting to conduct what would be a masterful symphony but with the wrong conductor, or our string section was out of tune. We didn’t have the orchestra needed to blend the beautiful with the hard-hitting and it cost us.

Now we have a new conductor. Unai Emery is not known for his purist views on tactics and the way football should be played. To a degree he is a realist and is aware that results rather than entertainment keeps his bum on the seat.

But do results garner enjoyment? Silverware is the ultimate aim of any team, and lifting a cup or becoming champions will send all fans into raptures, but can goals and harmonious football fit the bill?

There are some teams that haven’t won anything for decades. Yet still the stands fill up. Week after week support comes flooding through the turnstile even though the majority will know that seeing their team lift something is highly unlikely.

Yet in those games, there will be moments that those heartstrings are yanked, the adrenaline rushes inside like a torrent and they feel the excitement, the thrill. The respective manager has stood in front of his orchestra and weaved a mesmerising passage that has the opposing team in knots and the support in the stands in a roaring cacophony of pleasure.

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Last season was a hint at what to expect under Emery, and he certainly had some talented musicians on the pitch – all capable of using their boots to create something truly special. At times we were beautiful – wins over Fulham and Leicester saw goals that were cutouts from the prime Wenger era. There were also moments when the timing was out, the music was jarring, notes were wrong and the noise created couldn’t be further from what Arsenal is known for.

Will our football this season be a symphony?

We certainly seem to be well stocked in attack. Goals are where the magic is created, and a thrilling game with goals for both sides, leading to a late winner is perhaps the best sheet of music for fans. It builds and builds until the end sends you skyward, with a feeling so euphoric that it immediately becomes ingrained in your memory, available for recall for years afterwards.

There has to be a blend though. Music and football shouldn’t have an element of pragmatism, but they do. Without the steady thud of the defence, the energy of the midfield, there can be no high points. Goals may be the aim, but what good is a goal without a win?

Unai Emery has the mastery of his craft to know that there are certain demands that must be fulfilled, demands which may result in a sacrifice in the more beautiful side of football. Top four is the crux of the albatross around Emery’s neck, but with the resources available to him, should Emery be able to harmonise the agricultural with the aesthetically pleasing?

Our motto is ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ which translates to ‘Victory Through Harmony.’ That must be what underpins our values, our tactics, our gameplan.

We could be one of those sides that swaps out the entertainment and drags each game into a dreary midfield battle, the clash becoming abstract jazz rather than a catchy beat or a sumptuous passage of music.

It wouldn’t sit right with the majority of us for good reason. It goes against our fabric, it isn’t us.

To hit the high notes, we must play through our opponents and aim for a style that gets our pulses racing.

Of course, we also had many a year where we were known for our defensive football and our recalcitrant backline. If we could manage this on those tough away games and save the beautiful football for the rest?

I’m sure everyone would be happy listening to that melody this season.

In Sickness and Health, We’re Still All Gooners

Supporting a club is intrinsically linked to matters of the heart.

We take joy from victory, and we mire ourselves in misery when things take a turn for the worst on the pitch.

This season has been a particularly tough one for us Gooners, as our Premier League campaign has hit the skids as soon as it started – we’ve never been further away from bidding for a first title since 2004.

This season is by far the worst under Arsene Wenger, and has seemingly been the watershed moment for the majority as it is unavoidably clear that in order to move forward, we require a change in direction to shake us from the reverie we seem to be in. That change is now happening this summer.

Another change this season though, has seen another alarming rise in negativity.

There seems to be far more people who take what appears to be glee from defeat, as each demoralising defeat pushes Wenger one step closer to a corner he cannot escape. We have a large portion of so-called fans, that rear their heads whenever we lose, and use it as a catalyst to push their hate-filled agenda against Wenger.

The bottom line is clear – and always has been for Gooners.

A defeat is not to be sought, and anyone who enjoys the opportunities that come from us losing, is surely supporting the wrong club.

We enjoy it when our rivals lose, especially now that tottenham seem to be enjoying their moment in the sun. When they, United, Chelsea and Liverpool lose, it is always a positive, and normally allows us to either catch up, or in recent seasons, overhaul them for a superior position. So for one of our own to what can only be described as ‘revelling in’ it when we are beaten?

That is not supporting your club.

The vitriol aimed at Wenger has been disgraceful at times. Yes, the Frenchman seemed too stubborn to recognise that this is the time to go, and his enduring stay could well end up being a detriment to our season, and beyond. But the names and words involved have been horrible, and have no place directed at our own manager.

The very reason you are so disappointed, is the high standards you now expect. Those same standards have been instilled by Wenger. Without him, then you wouldn’t be as hurt, or angry.

Criticism is just, and some of the fare served up thus far has been dire, and deserved booing, as well as calling Wenger out on some decisions. His failure to address certain long-term issues have been a massive reason why we’re playing catch-up with the rest.

He doesn’t deserve hatred though.

Anger? Of course, and if you can’t separate the two, then you may have missed a year or two of education. It is quite easy to express displeasure without wishing harm on someone, or calling them hateful names.

Wenger has had his chips at Arsenal, and a better suited man is being lined up to come in, but Arsene should always have our respect. Even the most outspoken of our critics can see that. Lee Dixon and Ian Wright have spoken of our malaise and how Wenger needs to go, but notice the omissions of shocking language, and the need to pour scorn on the man himself.

Wenger’s results haven’t been good enough, but the man himself doesn’t warrant anyone destroying him. His capacity to do the job, perhaps, but not of himself. He has always carried himself with the utmost dignity, such is the Arsenal Way, and even in the face of some terrible results and fierce questions from the press, he has always done everything with class.

We could learn a thing or two from that approach.

It is his time to go, and at the end of the season we will face the decision to replace him. Until he goes, we judge what happens on the pitch. So let him know if things weren’t good enough, but refrain from verbally attacking him, either with keyboard or voice. It isn’t how Arsenal conducts itself.

It is hard to avoid how bad we’ve been, and he knows more than anyone how bad we’ve been. Just because he stops short of laying into his players, doesn’t mean he is oblivious to it. Picking out positives where he can is his way of maintaining what semblance of confidence he can for his players, who need that in order to play better.

Plus, if fans are stopping short of doing the same, it doesn’t mean we are crazy Wenger fanboys. We all pretty much recognise this is the end, it doesn’t mean we aren’t a little nostalgic, and even a little sad.

We want better just like the outspoken people do.

Let us unite behind the team until the time comes. Heaven knows, our team could do with the support.

Conduct In The Stands – An Arsenal RuleBook

Published on Goonersphere

Dear Gooners across the globe, thank you for taking the time to read this instruction manual.It has been circulated to every fan that is registered with us, and in light of recent events over the last few seasons we think it is time we acted.

Football fandom has changed inexorably with the explosion of social media. Before, if any of you wanted to share your opinion with the world, then the post-match phone-in was king.


Now, everyone has the power to broadcast their own views upon anyone who is willing to listen. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat, any impulse to air your voice can be acted upon.


It is both a blessing and a curse.


Surfing the web is now packed with interesting articles and compelling videos, as well as some material that is well worth swerving.


This is where we would like to step in.


We have kept our fingers on the pulse and noticed the rise in mobile broadcasting from within The Emirates during matchdays. 


Our home becomes a hive of sharing, and we would like Arsenal to become the face of such activity.


We already have the most popular internet show, and we feel that every one of our fans can only add to our power on the web.


We not only want to become the biggest club on the pitch – we want to become the biggest club on the world wide web.


So it is with this in the forefront of our minds that we issue you all with some helpful tips and instructions to aid you all in becoming a modern fan and embracing the power you all have at your fingertips.









Become an Arsenal Web Icon


1 – Before Kickoff, locate your nearest Arsenal Fan TV outlet, which will be conveniently located at handy places throughout the stadium. This will help when your opinions before the game starts need to be aired.


2 – All cameras must be turned inward to face yourself. Video’s and pictures during the game of you singing and shouting are welcomed. Remember – if you don’t record it, it didn’t happen.


3 – Success is found in retweets and number of shares. The more vocal your response, the better you will be received. Show your passion not with singing like in days of yore, but with videos!


4 – No matter what the result, you must focus on something that is completely irrelevant. If possible, you also must conveniently forget your basic vocabulary and make up words. This sends the internet into a frothing frenzy and aid our climb toward the top of the internet rankings!


5 – Finally, you may face adversity from some. Pay them no heed, your rise will be parallel to the club. Your passion for The Arsenal shines too brightly for some.

Thank you all and together, we can make Arsenal the biggest thing on the web since ‘Covfefe.’

Yours,

The Arsenal 

Sir Chips and Stan – the Dastardly Duo

The latest AGM received more newspaper lines than in recent years, but it wasn’t down to positive actions.

Sir Chips Keswick, Arsenal Chairman, slid the General Meeting into anarchy when he closed proceedings early when under the scrutiny of attendees questioning. Keswick’s refusal to face more questions from the crowd left a sour taste in mouths. Did he overstep the mark?


The separation between fans and the board has been a chasm in recent years and Stan Kroenke’s presence has only widened the gap. The annual meeting for shareholders is an opportunity for contact to be made, queries to be aired and grievances to be answered. It is a necessary measure for football clubs – especially ones of our stature.


Football clubs are run like a business and they need to be to keep up with the constant progression. Businesses and organisations place an emphasis on keeping tabs with their customers, whole departments even. This shows that with acumen comes the realisation that customers/fans are fundamental.


The AGM is one of the very few occasions when we have an opportunity to give the people who run our club a different perspective. They need this as they are so far removed from ground level so their view is compromised.







Events at the, well, event, started to sour when a show of hands declared their wish to replace both Josh Kroenke and Sir Chips Keswick from their respective positions. Democracy at its finest.


The next stage is an official vote. This is when things started to go a little awry. With a little over 67 percent of the shares, it meant Silent Stan had the deciding vote. He of course voted to keep the current incumbents in their positions and the hands that were raised as a show of defiance were mooted with one nod of Kroenke’s head.


Then, Ivan Gazidis took to the mic. In recent years, he has spoken eloquently and given viable reasons for our lack of success. 


This year he attempted the same, but his combination of spin and stats needed more punch if he wanted to paper over our fifth placed position last year.


He failed. Putting a positive on what was a poor season in the Premiership was not what we all wanted to hear. Honesty and a promise at an introspective look was what was called for.


This is what Arsene Wenger delivered. His emotive and impassioned speech showed that he was just as pained as we were at our failings, but he still believes that he is the man for the job. While that is very much up for discussion, his words soothed the masses at least.


Then, Sir Chips threw in the verbal equivalent of mentos in a can of Dr Pepper.


A female attendee took her chance to throw our Chairman a question she had aired for the last five years. Sir Chips’ swerving of a straight answer and his apparent indignance at having to answer such a question showed him for what he is – a terrible appointment and an antiquity being left behind.


Instead of being packed away with the rest of the heirlooms in the loft, Sir Chips is instead one of the working parts of a football club choking on the dust of our rivals.


He ended proceedings quickly. This could of course make sense of the fact that our owner did not speak – however it didn’t. We were all told that Stan Kroenke had chosen not to speak and we could read his comments in the Telegraph!


This is ludicrous and it was the cherry on top of the madness cake.


What can we do? Well, we tried the democratic route and we all saw how that paid off.


The only thing that can shake things up at board level is to hit them in the pocket, but a concerted effort to make an impact may just be passed us. The Arsenal business juggernaut is at full speed despite the hiccups in the road, and it is just the reason why Kroenke will be keen to not upset the status quo  – and also to keep his hands on his prized cash cow. 

The Ties That Bind Us

Published in Goonersphere.

The once vibrant setting had lost its colour, and now the stark greys dominated his eyeline. Listless noises filtered to his ears, but he paid no heed.

Hands stuffed in pockets to shield from the unforgiving wind that buffeted around his surroundings, his body language was not solely due to the harsh weather though.

He had been warned by his friends that this was a destructive relationship, that it had been doomed for years. Blindness goes hand in hand gleefully with love though, and he had blundered on, ignorant of the perilous path he was taking.

He had invested his life into this hazardous duopoly, and the scars had begun to show. The hurt that currently enveloped him had transformed recently from the all-encompassing misery of years gone by, into something akin to the numbness you receive at the dentist. 

Were they aware of the pain they had caused? Why did he continue to plough on when on the horizon was the very real threat of sorrow? 

He lifted his head and sighed. 

It hadn’t been all bad. The very nature of his bind was down to the memories which he clasped to him. The adoration he exuded toward his beloved had bloomed in the perfect storm. Technicolour snapshots of happier times was the matinee which played through his mind when his brain sought escapism, and it normally was the ideal medicine which he was always keen to sup from.

Right now though, in the aftermath of another blowup, another stumble in the relationship, the montage of bliss did nothing to avert his mind from the darkest of clouds which would soon overrule all in his mind. 

The rocky terrain which his faith in their liaison now sat on was down to the series of moments his partner had disappointed him. They say it is the hope that kills you, and he had hoped it would change, but the destructive behavioural pattern had shown no sign of changing, until recently.

He had puffed his chest out and goaded the very friends who had denounced his affections. A few weeks ago, the relationship had been in the rudest of health. It appeared to the majority, even his doubting pals, that the habitual mistakes that had blighted their friends partner had been erased. 

That seemed so long ago as he stood in the same spot he had done for the past half an hour. He had ruminated on every second of the latest calamity, and as painful as it was, it had also served as an awakening. 

The fact that he would go into work and be the butt of the jokes, and be castigated for never learning, and how every weekend carried the ominous threat of ruination. It was the epitome of being a supporter.

The very word means ‘to support.’ Through the good times he had enjoyed, it was easy to declare your love for your chosen team. It was in recent years though, that had defined exactly what it meant to be a fan, a Gooner. If he even entertained the idea of cutting the ties which linked him and the club every time they struggled, then the ties weren’t strong enough to begin with.

He had angry thoughts and things he would like to change about the dynamic of the team, but he would never, ever stop supporting the club. 

They may be the root cause of many a lost weekend, arguments and pain, but when you choose a club, it is for life. There are some who wish ill on the very club they claim they support, but isn’t that an oxymoron, he pondered?

He could never even begin to think of hoping for a bad result, it just didn’t fit. He would go on and continue in the same vein of the last twenty or so years. He would look forward to next week and a victory.

A lady in a hi-viz jacket approached him, and said that the stadium was closing. He nodded and made his way down the concrete stairs. 

Next week may conceal another bout of anguish, but it also held the very tangible possibility of redemption, and the moment the ball hits the net from an Arsenal player – those seconds that your stomach lurches into your throat and you lose all sensibilities as you bounce around like a loon – were what makes these instances of gloom worth it.

He left the stadium with a little bit of hope again. 

Thank You Bradley Lowery

Football as a form of entertainment is being watered down in this modern generation.

In its purest form, we revel in the artistry that unfolds in front of us. We throw ourselves into the tribalism of it all, our fires stoked by the accelerant of competition. We all place men who wear the same colours as we do on a well-polished plinth, with every heralded touch and decisive goal they are raised yet higher to the heavens.

Yet, the sport is now caught in a maelstrom of sporting pestilence, supping away at the vitality of the game. Every game brings with it a noxious cloud of contentious decisions and professionals involved in dubious gamesmanship. Every form of media is emblazoned with reminders of the greed and corruption that takes place across the footballing globe.

Then there is the ridiculous sums of money that course through the veins of the sport. Obscene wads of currency bandied around for everything from players to corporate logos plastered on every visible surface.

It is enough to make you lament the state of what we once adored. The core of the game, the very reason we still tune in and pump our time and money into football is still present, but it is covered in a thick film which is difficult to remove from our fingers, never mind forget.

There are moments though, which are seared in our memory. They are the underpinnings of our passion, they are what forged our permanent fascination.

The inspiring story of Bradley Lowery is one of these – and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.









The tragically short life of this heroic little boy should not be remembered for the battles that he waged head on with neuroblastoma, not that they should be belittled. Every procedure, every day he suffered, he was face to face with an enemy that would have any of us on our knees. Bradley was an absolute warrior and his bravery was there for all to see.

It was his absolute joy at every minute of football that he watched. Camera’s may or may not have tastelessly fixated upon Bradley when he was in the stands or in an Executive Box, but his eyes told a different story to the signs of battle he beared.

They were illuminated by football, by his heroes.

He typified that wonder which we have all forgotten. The players from our past which all reside in a special nook in our memories, our own heroes. Bradley looked to the Sunderland players and despite their woes on the pitch – they were all he wanted, all he wanted to be. For this slice of time, there was no pain. He was with his heroes.

When Bradley was mascot for Sunderland, for England. When he led out the teams, his beaming face was the reminder we all needed that while there may be ills debilitating football, there may be times we forget why we are infatuated with twenty two men chasing a ball on grass, Bradley’s spirit is exactly what we need to summon, if that superhuman feat is possible for the rest of us.

We all fell in love with Bradley, all our tribes united under just one banner – the admiration and respect for a six year old who just wanted to watch his beloved Sunderland. This coming together of fans is testament to Bradley.

This little man has served as a wake up call – his strength in the face of such overwhelming adversity was a big dose of reality, and a huge inspiration.

But it was his love for the game, evident even to his last days, that serves as perhaps the most potent of smelling salts to us all. We can summon him in our mind’s eye when we are beleaguered by the detractors of pure football, and we can also do the same for any trouble which plants itself in our path.

Bradley Lowery was the biggest fan, and the strongest person I have known.

Thank you Bradley, you are my hero.