Arsenal Football Club is arguably the flagship football club in London. If one were to add up all the league titles won by all of London’s clubs, they wouldn’t even add up to even half of Arsenal’s League title count – Chelsea have won four, Tottenham Hotspur have won 2, while Arsenal have 13 to their name.
Added to this, there are many other favourable records to the north London club’s name, many of which are well-publicised and known.
They are also a club, if media reports are to be believed, in danger.
The relationships between fans and players, fans and the Board, and notably between fans themselves has marked a new ebb concerning the perceived turmoil surrounding the club.
And, as media reports suggest, there is an expected mass exodus of players, especially the club’s established stars – such as Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri, and even the likes of Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott voicing discontent at players leaving – instead of the deadweight squad members that the manager was intent on off-loading.
But it is perhaps the actions and decisions undertaken by the Board that are most concerning. The recent 6.5% price hike in season tickets sales has angered fans and understandably so. This was announced towards the end of a disastrous season where Arsenal were once again consigned to being ‘nearly men’, finishing fourth after being in a two-horse race for the title for the majority of the season and after their Carling Cup final heartbreak, after which this youthful, ‘spineless’ and leaderless side were to encounter a downward spiral of epic proportions in terms of ensuing results.
Of course, 2.5% of the price hike is in line with the increase in VAT, with the rest being as a result of the remaining inflationary increase which is a bitter pill to swallow for fans that pay amongst the highest prices in world football.
This has, as a result, priced a considerable amount of fans out of attending The Emirates regularly – a stadium noted for its lack of atmosphere and quietness, incidentally labelled as “The Library”, where the supposedly truer fans are excluded as they simply cannot afford the match-day experience, while the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ – a coin termed by Roy Keane describing people who attend football games or claim to be fans of football games because it is fashionable rather than due to any genuine interest in the game – get the privilege to enjoy live football.
The Board has a track record of ignoring fans. If one were to cast one’s mind back to a February 2002 game at Highbury against Southampton, there was controversy surrounding the unveiling of the logo – the one which is associated with Arsenal today and that you are probably familiar with. Images of the new crest were paraded around the ground which was greeted by boos and nasty chants from the fans. This mirrors the scenes witnessed at Arsenal’s last home game against Aston Villa last season – throughout the match and at the team’s lap of honour at the game’s closure, which of course Arsenal lost 2-1.