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Supporting Arsenal Supporter’s Groups

Supporter’s Groups. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em it would seem. So says the prevailing wisdom of either side of the argument.

Supporter’s Groups. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em it would seem. So says the prevailing wisdom of either side of the argument.

In all my life I’ve never seen something as divisive as whether or not people should or shouldn’t join a supporter’s group. Next to whether or not Arsenal should wildly spend or be prudent in spending, the argument over Arsenal related supporter’s groups is always fever-pitched.

For full disclosure I was a card carrying member of the Arsenal Supporter’s Trust and Arsenal America. I am no longer an Arsenal America member for reasons I will go into later in this piece and I am no longer an AST member simply based on financial reasons – I am on the dole and every penny has to be counted.

The biggest argument I see against supporter’s groups is that they “don’t represent me.” This statement often comes right after one of the supporter’s groups is quoted in the press. Now let’s be clear, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, supporter’s groups do want what all supporters want – a successful club.  How they articulate that and present that and WHO does that may not be to an individual’s liking but right off the bat anyone should get rid of the notion that supporter’s groups are out in way to harm Arsenal.

Supporter’s Groups are arguing steadily over fairness in ticketing, improved atmosphere at stadia, Arsenal being run effectively and Arsenal once again being competitive. Now the last one is where I think most people get their panties in a twist over how the supporter’s clubs go about it.

The fact is Arsenal have steadily seen an increase in its financial resources. This has led to some to hope that Arsenal would spend the money it EARNED to build a better team. This year, the plan looks to have been laid forward. Still, there was more that could’ve been done and frankly, should’ve been done and the Supporter’s groups said so – albeit with one exception.

Those who argue that supporter’s groups shouldn’t be for a lack of better terms – demanding Arsenal improve Arsenal by spending money absolutely miss the point – they most certainly should. Supporters and Supporter groups should want their club to compete. At its base that is what sports teams are intended to do. To compete. When they don’t compete and they frustrate – repeatedly – then it has to be vocalized.

And no matter what we all think, Ivan Gazidis and the rest of the leadership of Arsenal aren’t reading through the individual tweets of or letters of the every day Arsenal supporter. When the club says in a statement when it states it has listened to fans – it means they’ve taken in some way the input from the supporter’s groups and applied them in a practical sense.

That could happen in the case of ticket prices, improving the environment of the stadia, supporting safe standing, away fan support, and (gasp) spending some money. Whether the individual supporter likes it or not, the club accepts at the table the presence of the supporter’s groups and as such invites them to have a voice. By extension the press sees the club meeting with these groups and clearly sees the groups as way to get a sound bite on the comings and goings of the club.

Sure, sometimes those comments are spun in a direction none of us may like. The may be facepalm or cringe worthy comments spun in a way to further beat a club we love. But they are a voice.

Now about that voice. As mentioned earlier the biggest complaint about supporter’s groups are – that they don’t represent my view. The comments in the press and INDIVIDUAL opinions of supporter group members on social media are often the rationale for this mindset.

However, statistically speaking your view is likely represented. In fair terms it is either impossible or impractical to track down every person who supports Arsenal. So the next best thing is a sample population. In this case our sample population are the supporter groups. They are small manageable groups, yet large enough for the club to feel it is getting statistically significant results – in terms of the key things that matter.

In most scientific samples to represent 1 million people, a simple population of 1000 works. Scientifically that is meaningful. Why? Because the population is actually big enough to offer a wide swathe of opinions to draw a reasonable conclusion to what matters most to people – in this case the Arsenal supporters.

Since I have no formal numbers in front me, I can’t say for certainty what the individual membership rolls of the various supporter groups equal. However, I believe that’s it’s safe to say that membership is between 750 to 2500. Again, it could be more or less. But in either case there are enough people in these groups that people with opinions similar to your own are in those groups and therefore representing viewpoints similar to yours.

However, if you feel that your viewpoint isn’t really being taken into account ( though science implies it is) do something about it. Get a group of likeminded individuals together, petition the club to recognize you and get a seat at the table.

Supporters and supporter groups are the only constant with our club. Owners, managers, and players come and go. We do not. This is our club for life. We found our way here at some point either years ago or even recently. But we don’t leave. (you know where you can go if you do) If we don’t have a voice, don’t have a say then our club will be trod over at the whim of any old transient wishing to make a few million quid off our hides.

You may not like what one representative who has his own opinion has to say about the club. The way a supporter groups voices its desire that the club return to glory may not meet with your approval. But there is so much more a supporter group does that merits your consideration in being a member and having your voice heard.

There is a quote to the effect that ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ – now none of our owners are evil. But the gist is if we watch an owner someday take dividends from the club or improvements not made throughout our club structure and our club suffers from it – by not saying anything we are complicit should those things happen.

Sure, that’s drastic but it can. Why were Liverpool Supporters so angered and vocal at the tenure of Hicks and Gillette? Why is MUST still trying to get the Glazers out of United? Because they don’t want their club to suffer and by being as vocal as they are, in way they make sure nothing happens.

The club need to be held accountable on so many levels. Both on and off the pitch. The club chooses to recognize the supporter groups and invites them to the table – if they club chooses to listen, shouldn’t you lend your voice to that?

About Arsenal America.

I was an Arsenal America member. My blog also came about because of my membership in Arsenal America. But Arsenal America even though it carries the tag “official” US supporter group –  is not a group representative of anyone. Simply because it offers nothing to its membership accept limited access to tickets which are easier to get from other sources.

This past month all holy hell exploded as the leadership of Arsenal America changed without transparency and without a vote by its larger membership. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. Additionally, there is very little anyone can point to in ways of benefits of being a member of the “Official” Arsenal supporter group in America. No one has a clue what the $25 membership goes for.

Only after the new “board” was announced and after chapters expressed their outrage, did the new leadership express that elections would be held in 6 months’ time and that oh there will be a national meet up.

For some this came a little too late.

Therefore, chapters from Philly, New York and elsewhere are forming their own groups and are directly petitioning Arsenal to recognize them.

For them I say bravo. They didn’t think their voice was being heard and they are doing something about it.  Good for them.

For my part once I get back to work, I will rejoin AST and whatever the Philadelphia Group decides to call itself because like you, I want my voice heard.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. pedantic george

    October 16, 2013 at 18:02

    Oops,typos
    But you are not taking a sample,you are looking at people who have joined a specific organisation/club.
    If you take a sample of American voters from the Tea Party,its unlikely to reflect the opinion of the general population.

  2. pedantic george

    October 16, 2013 at 17:59

    But you are not taking a sample,you are looking at people who have joined a specific organisation/club.
    If you take a sample of American voter for the Tea Party,it is unlikely to reflect the opinion of the general population.

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