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Supporters Groups and Standing on the terraces

February 20, 2012

Posted early due to AST meeting tonight.

Supporters Groups & Standing on the terraces – You decide??

Supporters Groups. Currently the four major Arsenal ones are as follows with links:-

Firstly does anyone remember the days when you went to football, watched you team play win, lose or draw, chatted about the club, team, indivdual players and the performance, finances were never mentioned. Who cared? Today’s football talk between fans is almost 50/50 split between what is happening on the pitch and what is going on with finances and behind the scenes.

I wonder if the four groups would be better as one. A single large supporters group with many, many members that can use a huge following as representative of the clubs fan base. I would imagine a well run huge supporters group could when necessary put pressure on the club for change (when needed). Also to show huge support for the club when needed, it’s a two-way street.

I understand a lot of the frustration amongst Gooners out there with the club right now.

However, for me the thing with many supporters is they think they know best, however, being realistic that is not the case. We do not know every detail that is going on at the club. We do not know who the club are going for when looking for new players. Yes! the media put out rumours, some with more teeth than others, but then that is their job, to fill newspapers and TV air time.

Look I’m like most of you who will read this. I’m an ordinary Arsenal supporter. I played football, not to the greatest level, but I could drop a shoulder, give a defender the eye, trap a ball, dribble, cross a ball and score plenty of goals. Heading was not a strong point. Thought I did score a few .  I am not though part of the new generation of FIFA manager or FIFA 12 football fans who know how a team should set up and know everything about being a top class European manager. If only it was that simple.

I know enough about football I can tell you, but could I be a top Premiership manager? I very much doubt it.

For me one major Arsenal supporters group with the right people at the top of a huge member base would have far more clout when coming face to face with the people who run the club.  I am not sure a club being attacked from all sides by varying groups about varying things is a good way to actually get the boards attention. I would imagine it’s a case of “Oh no! Now what do they want?”

It’s surely in the interests of both the club and the supporters to talk with each other and try to get a good harmony between them. A football club and single supporters group running in tandem with each other would for me be best for all parties.

I think this is the way forward for the Club and Supporters Groups. Highbury Harold of @Blackscarf speaks with his heart and mind and you can feel the pain in his views. You can sense it gives him no pleasure to speak of Arsenal in a bad way and really only wants what is best for Arsenal and the supporters. HH would be a good choice for me to head a group with many of the silent board members of AST, such as Nigel Phillips & Glyn Taylor.  Paul Matz and Stephen Powell of AISA have always been good talking about Arsenal on TV in the past.

I see that tonight there is at meeting of the AST members, 6.30 at the London School of Economics, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Stay close to twitter to see who can fire off the quickest tweets with updates..  The agenda is set here as the AST debate the important policy issues facing the club. I can’t see much about the team’s performance.

It’s about the money, money, money We  need your money, money, money We just wanna make the club great, Forget about the Price Tag. …It’s about the (uh) Ka-Ching Ka-Ching. about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling … We Wanna make the team great.,

Still I assume these are important issue and as they say, “it’s a tough job and someone has to do it”

Standing on the terraces.

I know this “bloke” from an internet site. He’s a bit fly (Don’t think he’ll mind me saying that) “The bloke” now lives in Switzerland and travels a lot. This bloke supports FC Zürich when at home but is a massive Gooner from way back when he lived in Blighty.

There has been talk of bringing back standing at football grounds in England. Talking on a forum with “The Bloke” about the subject, I thought I’d do a blog.

First though “the bloke” says: –

“I hate sitting down at football, and it’s a joke that you can stand on terracing in Germany with 25,000 people in perfect safety yet you can’t in England. I have been watching a lot of Bundesliga recently, and the atmosphere in those stadiums is incredible”.

It’s still very commercial, but there is definitely more energy, and more getting done by fans for the Club for free in return. The fan groups make choreos and flags, and add to the atmosphere, which brings in more revenue, and the fans feel like they are part of the Club. I see it here where the fans really have a say in what they want – and can achieve things even against the football association and the powers that be, if the demands are reasonable, of course.

I’m so excited this morning as today I can go and stand on the terracing in my city, something we have been fighting for with peaceful actions, such as unscrewing all the chairs before one home game – and then putting them back again. Like I say all peaceful, sensible actions.

In England it is different now. I know. I don’t want to say that England is rubbish and we’re so great here, as that is not the case. The Premier League is the best league in the World, with the best players, and the TV audience and money generated, etc., etc., it is 1st class. But there is something missing. That bit of energy, adrenaline, and the soul. I didn’t want to say ‘soul’, as it sounds so naff, so thinking of another word. Spirit, like you said. That says it all, the spirit has gone. Well, not gone, but it is weak.

How to get it back? Well, a standing area definitely generates energy in the Stadium. The movement, the buzz, the noise, that’s for sure. On thinking back to the 6-1 win against West Ham that we were talking about the other day. OK, it doesn’t quite need that level of energy, but something between the two and it would be perfect. Standing terrace also means that the ‘working-class’ people have access to football again; you could make a standing terrace behind each goal at the Emirates and generate the same income from charging £400 for a Season Ticket in there.

On the one seat equals three standing basis, especially the wider seats in the Emirates, a seat behind the goal costing around £1,000 now, when divided by three gets you £1200 meaning the club are in fact £200 up on every seat . Of course three eat and drink more than one, especially if they’ve been jumping and singing on the terraces, so more money generated. Attendance also increases, so more can come and see The Arsenal play. I would imagine you could get an extra 10,000 people inside, and for £400 for the ST, there would be no shortage of takers.

Safe Standing is possible. You just have to google to see a dozen different options. Changing a ‘law’ is also possible”.

  • So having read the views of “The Bloke” – can safe standing be brought back into stadia in England?
  • Do the clubs want it brought back?
  • Are clubs/Government/Police afraid of trouble that might raise its ugly head again in or around stadia or is it about the money clubs can get from all seated stadia??

Questions that maybe some of you may be able to  answer.

My view.  “The bloke” says above about the lower priced season ticket option on a 3/1 basis however, with the thought of  trouble back at football it might put off a lot of the business/executive/upper middle class people who attend from going to football. Trouble could also bring back problems with sponsors who would  not want to be involved with football if it went back to how  it was in 70’s and 80’s.

I have now worked for Solicitors since 1979 and believe me in the late 70’s and 80’s no one in the trade wanted to talk about football at work. Nowadays they can’t stop talking about it and asking me to get tickets to go to matches. This is due to the clean up of the game and making a much more friendly atmosphere in and around the stadia.

However, when you look at in the cold light of day, things have moved on in football and therefore  I cannot foresee a problem with what “The bloke” says. Safe standing surely can be introduced and policed well and I doubt it would mean a return to the bad old days of football violence. 

Having a  large share of season tickets made available at reasonable prices for the working-class football fans, the fans who normally are happy to stand at football which brings along with it a much better atmosphere in the stadia, surely good news all around.  A change in the law would surely be a simple matter.

I am all for safe standing area’s. The question  is does football/Government/Police have the resolve to allow this.

Just a thought

Stay safe out there.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. sean fitzgerald permalink
    February 20, 2012 13:37

    I can see one major stumbling block with having just one supporters group. And that is the fan base is so entirely polarized at the moment you’re either wenger in or out, sack the board, usmonov in and you do the hocky cokey and you turn around etc, that I cant see how they could possibly represent all of the interests of every fan.

    • February 20, 2012 13:43

      I see where you are coming from. Right now that would be a problem. However, if they could get together, pick the best from each group to lead the supporters into proper debate on the big issues that affect everyone, no just in London, England but the World. Also with such a large group the club would be foolish not to listen. That’s how feel. Thanks for taking time to comment Sean. COYR’s

  2. KnysnaGunner permalink
    February 20, 2012 14:14

    Steve, You may be trying to bring about unity amongst the fans in your own way, and that has to be applauded. However, when you suggest that Highbury Harold should represent the fans in a unified organisation you lose me completely.

    Here we have someone who has an extremely confrontational style. Who regularly and very publicly tells everyone prepared to listen that the board consists of people who have no clue what they are doing, who are there only to screw the fans and make themselves rich, are not able to give the manager the guidance he so clearly needs. His personal attacks on Stan Kroenke are there for everyone to see. He does not even bother to make sure of his facts.

    And you suggest that he should represent the fans in a unified organisation. Don’t think so.

    You are talking about an organisation which has followers post comments like the following on their facebook page (very easy to delete if they wanted to):
    “What the Fu–k are you doing to my club. I am very sorry for i am about to say. But get that French c–t out of my club. He is only pasting through , i will be there to the end. What the Fu–k are you doing to my club.”

    Do you think the board or Arsene Wenger or the majority of fans would be happy to have this man as head of an organisation representing Arsenals millions of fans?

    As for the Arsenal they want back, is that the one under George Graham (thinking of your recent comment that you want to be entertained)? Or which Arsenal do they want back? If it is the one under Wenger during his first 10 years or so, they should start by showing a little bit of respect. He has earned it.

    No one is happy with the current state of affairs – not Wenger or the players, and I am sure not the board either. But how do you address it? By standing on a soapbox and shouting to the world that Wenger is a c__t, that Kroenke is not interested in the club, that PHW is an old fart who does not know what he is doing? That the board should be more transparent and tell the fans who they’ve bid for and who not, who they’ll try and sign next year? To tell us exactly how much money is available for transfers so that our competitors and potential selling clubs know exactly where to push us. Or do you address the problem professionaly? The board and AW deserves our trust and respect to sort this out.

    I have no problem with fans talking to the club and making them aware of any problems – ticket prices, food arrangements, etc etc. I have a huge problem with the way it is being done. Because at the end of the day Arsenal is being harmed.

    • February 21, 2012 12:24

      Afternoon Gary. Let em say that at the early stage I thought the very same about HH on Twitter. However I feel he can change. As you know I very much dislike so called supporters who us abuse as a way of debating on SSN sites. I totally agree on the “Arsenal back comment as well. The only Arsenal many of these know is that of Wenger. I want to be entertained and I think Arsene likes entertainment as yet the current side is well devoid of that. However, if anyone can bring that part it has to be Arsene. He should build his side around what made him successful, not the Barca model. I also though that early GG sides were quite entertaining. I think one fans group is the way forward. I think that only major things should be taken into account.

      Right now because we have a problem, everything is highlighted and heightened. For instance if we were winning the league and Champions league year in year out, we could play in Pink and the fans would not complain. It’s that type of thing that gets me.
      Arsene Wenger will always have my respect, full on. However, things change, times change. Football moves on and maybe others have sussed Arsenal out.

      We need some serious change in playing staff and how we play. Maybe even how we play for certain games and tournaments needs to be looked at.
      I’m a Gooner. I don’t knock my team unless I feel it is necessary to do so, even then I will do it in a constructive manner and what I think is a fair manner.

      Surprised you un-followed me.

      Cheers
      Steve

  3. The Bloke permalink
    February 20, 2012 16:24

    Good afternoon ‘Man from Harlow’.

    Bloke here, Firstly, it’s FC Zürich and not Young Boys, but apart from that cheers for the mention.

    Not sure whether the perceived threat of hooliganism is really relevant, as the standing terraces would only be for home supporters with a season ticket, so no chance of the chaos that you and I lived through in the 70s and 80s, with the away fans in the home end, and the ensuing fun and games.

    The problem is whether the powers that be give a damn about what the people want, and clearly they don’t.

    As you well know standing areas were banned after the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. On that day, at 15:06 on Saturday 15th April 1989 I was – like you, I imagine – standing on the North Bank watching The Arsenal play Newcastle. We were playing for the first Title I would witness as an Arsenal fan, and Brian Marwood scored the winner in a 1-0 victory.

    At about 10 past 3 the Stadium Announcer announced that there had been an incident at Hillsborough and there had been fatalities. I remember the discussions going on about what sort of incident it had been, as the Bradford Fire was still in everyone’s minds, and of course football violence was very much in the news. People were trying to ask blokes with radios what the latest news was. At half time the Stadium Announcer said there had been a crush, and that twenty people had died. The rest of the match was rather subdued, and I recall thinking about the number of times that I had been pushed almost onto the pitch after The Arsenal had scored.

    Anyway, enough about that. We all know that the standing terrace had nothing to do with that, and if it had been an all-seater Stadium then the same disaster would have happened. It was due to bad policing by the South Yorkshire Police and by the fencing at the front of the Leppings Lane terrace .

    So, now we have a situation where standing is not allowed in the Premier League or the Championship, but allowed in League 1 and 2. It’s just ludicrous. The fact that standing is allowed in the Bundesliga, and teams like Dortmund have a standing terrace that is full every other weekend with 25,000 people standing safely with no incidents seems to indicate that a solution is very easy to achieve.
    Also the fact that many fans in the Premier League stand throughout matches in seated areas not designed for standing, where there is then a much bigger safety risk for those involved.

    At the moment the idea with the most chance of getting through is this one…from the Football Supporters’ Federation.

    http://www.fsf.org.uk/campaigns/safestanding.php

    Pic. of the safe standing

    I wrote that a standing area would get 3 times as many people into the ground. This seems not to be the case, as the FSF say that it will be approx. 1.8 times as many, but still instead of 100 seated fans there would now be 180 standing fans in the Stadium. In Germany though they work on the principle that there is space for two standing fans for each seat removed. If we take that then if we took 10,000 seats out of the Emirates and replaced them with safe standing, then an extra 10,000 people would get to see The Arsenal.

    Have the Season Tickets priced at half the cost of of a normal ST, and the Club would lose no money from ST sales, and would generate considerably more revenue from food and drink and other sales. If the average supporter spends just a tenner on food, drink and merchandise at a game, in an average season of 20-25 home games, that would mean extra income of £10 X 20 X 10,000 = £2m. Two million extra! Also the normal fan could afford £500 a season, so helping the supporters get to see the Club play, and with cheaper Season Tickets it would not only encourage different classes of people to go again, it would also give an opportunity to the younger fans to go regularly, so you help to get the next generation of life-long fans.

    With the introduction of the standing areas in the grounds it would also make the ‘Match-Day’ experience better for our Club Level fans, as the atmosphere would be much livelier and it would give them more enjoyment and thrills for their money.

    Of course a standing area with safe standing rails makes it much safer to stand. I know this, as I have had to stand in an all-seater Stadium for the last couple of years, and the amount of times I have come home with banged shins is not countable. I was even considering taking shin-pads to the games. With the removal of the seats the people who want to stand can do so without putting themselves in danger to do so, and of course if there is a standing area then the people who don’t want to stand can sit and watch the beautiful game without having to shout ‘Sit Daan!’ every 5 mins, so making their matchday more enjoyable.

    I’m rambling now, as I usually do, sorry mate. Could go on about this subject for hours/days/weeks/months/years/ever!

    I’ll leave it now, and see what happens, but what I do know is that IF every football fan who wants to stand would get off their arse ( pun intended ) and do something, you would be standing safely by season 2014/15 at the latest.

    Oh, and before I forget.
    2 good bits of news.

    Aston Villa – a Club I have a lot of respect for ( The Arsenal of the Midlands, I always thought ), have examined the introduction of a safe standing area aat Villa Park.

    Paul Faulkner, Villa’s chief executive, told a supporters’ consultation group that he recognises fans want to stand, that safe standing areas could help improve the match atmosphere, allow for some cheaper ticket prices, and therefore attract younger supporters currently priced out by the cost of seats.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/jan/19/villa-park-terraces

    Second point: The Scottish Premier League will consider requests to pilot safe-standing areas.

    The SPL announced a relaxation of their rules on standing following a general meeting of all 12 clubs on the 18th December, 2011.

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Scottish-Premier-League-to-pilot-safe-standing-areas-article844660.html

    Lastly, even our own Club has looked into the possibility.

    Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis told supporters he is “open” to the possibility of safe standing areas at the Emirates Stadium and acknowledged the positive impact it could have on atmosphere. The comments came at a Q&A organised by Arsenal Supporters’ Trust on Monday, 13th June, 2011.

    http://www.fsf.org.uk/news/Arsenal-Chief-Exec-open-to-safe-standing.php

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

    There is no proper argument against safe standing. It is only a question of enough people getting together and making a stand ( again pun intended ) against this ridiculous ‘Law’.

    Stand Up for The Arsenal! ( or whoever your Club might be, yes, even tottingham. )
    😉

    Take it easy, Man from Harlow.

    • February 21, 2012 12:44

      Afternoon Bloke.. Good point on the season tickets playing a big part in reducing trouble at matches. I fully remember that day in 1989 when we played Newcastle, I was there. I walked back to my car parked in Clissold Park and when I turned on the radio I was shocked at the news coming through. I remember wondering if the season was going to end right then.

      You do make a good case for safe standing and when you think about it, it does seem crazy that standing at football could not be re-introduced. The world is a different place today and football needs something to liven up many a dull football ground that has no real atmosphere. Many top matches save the seriously big ones like Arsenal/United – Liverpool/United – Arsenal/Spurs of derbies are just like going to the theatre nowadays. Even then all you hear people doing is moaning.

      Good to see some examination into safe standing from Villa, Scottish League and maybe even IG. I am sure if it looks a goer then more fans will start talking about it and maybe, who knows, it’ll come back… The Emirates with lower tier standing at either end for say 7000 Gooners at the North End and 3000 away fans at the south end Upper in the corner would make a huge difference.

      Look after yourself.

  4. The Bloke permalink
    February 20, 2012 17:36

    Cheers for changing the team, Man from Harlow. Wouldn’t want to be associated with young boys!
    😉

    And sorry for the length of the post, but it’s something I believe in fanatically.

    Just to let you and your readers see what the lads at FC Zürich did to get rid of the seats.

    FCZ got a new stadium at about the same time as The Emirates was being built, and were promised a standing terrace.
    The Powers that Be then changed their mind, and an all-seater stadium was built.

    There were lots of arguments and protests, and the main argument against putting in a safe standing area was the cost of removing the seats and replacing them with barriers, so the fans of FCZ had a novel idea to show the Powers that Be that this was not the case.

    First, the home fans’ end was covered with a huge flag before a game.

    http://www.efzezet.ch/gallery3/var/thumbs/Saison-2010-11/FCZ—St.-Gallen-/IMG_1775.JPG?m=1286353128

    Little did the Powers that Be know that under the flag everyone was busy unscrewing the seats, so when the teams walked in…

    away comes the flag…

    http://www.efzezet.ch/gallery3/var/thumbs/Saison-2010-11/FCZ—St.-Gallen-/IMG_1778.JPG?m=1286353149

    and in come the fans…

    http://www.efzezet.ch/gallery3/var/thumbs/Saison-2010-11/FCZ—St.-Gallen-/IMG_1785.JPG?m=1286353171

    Then, after the game, the seats were all screwed back in properly, to show just how easy it is to safely remove the seats.

    The fan club then organised a fund-raiser, to cover the cost of removing the seats, and the fans raised well over 100,000 swiss franks in a matter of weeks to give to the Club and the Council.
    They made a huge board of the south terrace, with a picture of all the seats in there, and then asked each supporter to pay 50 CHF – about £35 – to cover their ‘seat’ with a sticker.

    Here’s my seat covered with my sticker. Most fans just got the white sticker and wrote their name on it. I didn’t. Guess which one’s mine?

    Once a Gooner, always a Gooner!

    Anyway, last weekend was the official opening of the new standing terrace.

    http://www.efzezet.ch/gallery3/var/resizes/Saison-2011-12/FCZ—Thun-1%3A1/IMG_1651.JPG?m=1329602245

    The wording reads ‘Everyone stood together, so that we can finally stand again’.

    http://www.efzezet.ch/gallery3/var/resizes/Saison-2011-12/FCZ—Thun-1%3A1/IMG_1665.JPG?m=1329602240

    Where there’s a will there’s a way.

    Stand up and be counted!

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