Friends of Le Grove, welcome to the Sunday show.
So, the big news first of all… Arsenal are back in the mixer for signing children. We’ve bagged Joel Lopez, a 15-year-old from Barcelona. Good times. Remember the days when we’d have gaping holes in our squad and we’d go out and sign Giles Sunu as our first target. You’d complain and fans would say… ‘SHUT UP MATE YOU HAVE TO DO THIS, MORE TO COME’… then nothing would come and we’d all be sad. Then Sunu would end up being shite. Then we’d be even sadder.
Torriera looks like he could be close to joining, the Jean Seri rumours won’t die and we’re still linked to Caglar Soyuncu.
Get ourselves a keeper and it’d be hard to deny we’re having a great summer.
Sometimes, online, you land yourself in a debate you immediately regret. I did that when it was announced the Arsenal Magazine had closed down. People immediately looked for reasons as to its demise, pointing out the very real threat of digital media on print.
My views is there are many reasons the magazine folded.
Firstly, marketing basics. If you’re a magazine, your sole purpose for existence is elite content. If you’re selling a magazine to football fans, it needs to offer up something they’re interested in. GQ don’t put average people on their front covers for a reason. The last 10 years under Wenger have been painful. They’ve lacked progress, high points, or anything press worthy a club could write about. Yes, spaces like this have thrived, but that’s because we can write about whatever the fuck we want.
The demise of Arsene’s magic touch was certainly a factor in declining sales of magazines. Do I have the exact numbers? No. But let’s be real here, our ability to thrive commercially tells you all you need to know about fan propensity to spend. Our shirt deal is substandard, the amount of commercial partners we boast compared to United is pitiful, and no one is looking to break any records to give us a new kit deal. We are not appealing to sponsors, because we don’t win. If fans don’t look at your product association with Arsenal and want to buy, that’s an issue that can be extrapolated into broader elements like what our ability to sell to a global fanbase looks like.
More circumstantial evidence is sentiment around the club, it’s been appalling. Fans weren’t showing up to tickets they’d purchased. The notion that this didn’t impact the sales of all sorts of things is ignorant. To think this wouldn’t have impacted the sales of a magazine or a matchday programme even more so.
Then look at who our partner was for the magazine… Trinity Mirror Group. An organization that has been tanking for years. The magazine looked like shit, it was positioned poorly, and the content ended up online. There was literally no reason to buy it.
Then the question was, how do you buy it? I’ve never been served an advert for it.
Print is struggling, but it’s not dead. There has been a resurgence of fancy mags over the last few years. Mundial, Monocle, Cereal Mag, Racquet and Fantastic Man are just a few examples of publications that are getting it right. They’re beautifully art directed, they’re small batch collectables, they have exclusive content just for print, and the work is always excellent.
If Arsenal wanted to make print work, they could. They could partner with a small print house, do a limited batch run, fill it with exclusive offline-only work, fan op-eds, historical revists, and detailed insights into what goes on behind the scenes. And not the basic bitch shit, I’m talking to sort of work that goes into books (like the GFFN Emery interviews).
They could have made it interesting from a distribution perspective. Look services like Birch Box, where they send you a package of goodies every month for a small fee. Imagine getting a beautiful coffee magazine with some other exclusive club apparel (badge pins, scarves, salt beef bagel coupons). They could tie it up with a paid for app where you could pay to get exlusive long-form content, a bit like a Patreon. It might have podcasts, audiobook stye long reads, and first access to interviews.
There are so many ways Arsenal could have made print a part of the experience. They gave up. The decision would have considered many factors. Their deal with Trinity probably came to a close, they might have shifted staff aroud, and they might have weighed up the chances of a bounce-back being unlikely this year. But let’s not pretend it’s just because print is shite. I feel like Arsenal fans are very quick to give in to the party line, like when the common view was money was the only way for Arsenal to succeed.
… my point here is Arsenal could make this work if they wanted. Vinyl is still a thing, because people like records and bands realised that they could make the product an experience exclusive designs and easter eggs. Hardback books are still a thing, because people like having them on their shelves. Amazon just bought Wholefoods because people still need brick and mortar shops.
Digital has the ability to disrupt many things, but at core, we’re still a tactile species and there will always be a place for the tangible, even in something as fleeting as football.
SEE YOU IN THE COMMENTS PODCAST RETURNS MONDAY NIGHT x