You can’t hide from it, people are talking about it all over the web, in comment sections, on twitter… it’s the planned demonstration planned by Where has our Arsenal gone (WHOAG). It’s happening at 1430 on the 15th of May before the Aston Villa game. At the moment, rumours are that 200 or so Arsenal fans are going to meet, don black scarves and wander up to the ground to make a statement of dissatisfaction against the club.
I recently wrote that I’m not a fan of protest and pop up action groups. I still stand by that but what I am a fan of is people who actually want to do something. I’m a fan of supporters joining together to do something they see as for the better of the club and I’m a fan of giving everyone the choice to make a rational decision on whether they want to join.
From what I can gather, they are in the main marching against the increase in season ticket pricing. The group are not a collection of post 1996 Arsenal fans, they are in fact the opposite. Many of them have been season ticket holders since the 70’s, they’ve seen the dark days of Arsenal football club, they’re members of the AST and AISA but they want to take things into their own hands to let the club know they’re not happy about the way things are going.
Some of their ideas are very fair. They want the club to recognise that increasing the cost of season tickets is hitting fans hard, they want to offer the chance for fans to downgrade their seats, they want the club to allow fans the chance to have a season ticket holiday for a year, they want the away fans to be moved into the upper tier into the more expensive areas so there are more affordable seats for the faithful.
A protest about season ticket pricing makes absolute sense to me and that is a cause I’d absolutely back.
The trouble from where I’m sitting is the press release about the march lacks direction and clear objectives. They veer off into areas like commercial activity, corporate fan slagging, the manager’s lack of spending and sacking the Chairman. All debatable points on their own, but all they do for me is add confusion to the situation and they muddy the water.
A protest needs goals and objectives. If no one is exactly sure about what they’re protesting about, you allow the rest of the web to make snap assumptions. Many people are calling it a ‘Wenger out’ protest. Le Grove has dealt with people who make assumptions about our site without reading it and I fear that what is essentially a good willed movement is being tarnished by the very vocal and aggressive AKB.
This is the problem with new groups, it’s very hard to create an organisation when no one is fronting the group. I tried to contact them via their twitter account last night for a few words and I’ve heard nothing. That’s why my preference is go through more official channels like the AST. You know every statement made by them is carefully researched and rational. The AST wrote an e-mail to Ivan Gazidis the day after they found out about the potential hike in season ticket prices way back in February. Do you think it’s a coincidence the club has waited so long to announce regular season ticket increases?
I don’t like the factions that have been created at Arsenal this season, it’s really sad that we can’t all get along. It’s sad that fans are tearing lumps out of each other in the ground and it’s sad that groups like WHOAG have to set up in the first place. I won’t be joining any protest until there is more clarity around exactly what the goal of it is supposed to be but I do admire that a group of Arsenal fans are willing to take their grievances to the street and make a public point to the club.
What I’ve done is join the AST. I’ll be filling out the end of season questionnaire which goes directly to the board. I’ll then be attending the AST Ivan Gazidis meeting (June 13th) where he’ll take questions uncensored for an hour and a half from anyone who is a member. For all the criticism the club receives, there aren’t many CEO’s that would put themselves through such an ordeal.
We may have lost out way on the pitch this season but I strongly believe the club tries its best to involve the fans every step of the way. 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.
Hopefully when Ivan Gazidis takes his hot seat in June, he’ll have snapped up a decent player and the fans will feel somewhat appeased. At the core of it, we all want what’s best for the club, we all want to be optimistic and we all want to feel our club is trying its hardest to be the best that it can be.
This summer is the chance for the club to unite the fans again, I just hope Stan understands that sentiment.
So… will you be protesting? Let us know in the comments!
P.S. If you get the chance, could you vote for Tatty Designer Darrell’s design in a competition? (CLICK HERE!)
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