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“Just because we’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get us”

September 26, 2012


Last night’s Capital One Cup matches got me thinking… (Yeah, you’re thinking, that must hurt) However, I keep taking the tablets

The big clubs and Spurs 🙂 have now entered the competition. The attendances at early COC matches has never been great over the years. Supporters being fleeced at the turnstiles for League, FA Cup and Europe matches with high ticket prices, that these early round matches are not really that important to the fans in the big scheme of things.

Man City with had 28k at home to Aston Villa and Chelsea had 32k against Wolves both were well below capacity. Obviously it has to be taken into account that the big clubs put out severely weakened teams, in fact many other teams are doing the same due to having bigger things on their minds.

Looking around online media pages, as I am not one who pays to read some of the trash they write, I could not see to much of a downer from the media on last night’s attendances. UPDATE!!! 58.000 at the Emirates. Lots of Empty seats at Old Trafford.

Cast your mind back one year when Arsenal was the new black and the fashion was to knock the club from every angle, from the board, down to the tea lady for not serving Earl Grey in the press office because of a poor start to the season and the selling of another top, top player.

Injuries were mounting , AFC played a weakened team at Old Trafford. Then AFC played Blackburn away and with two own goals and some Keystone Cop defending lost 4-3. Four points from five matches, journo’s were circling like buzzards and not going to pass up a chance to knock the Arsenal.

Arsenal played their first game in the Carling Cup at home to Shrewsbury and the attendance that night was 45k. Yes! Arsenal sell tickets at reduced prices, but surely this is a good thing, market forces, crowds being low at this stage of the competition. Surely a positive thing. The club decided years ago to not include these games in the cost of a season ticket and open the ground up for all comers priced at £5/10 lower tier and £10/20 upper tier. This meant that Arsene could rest his first team and use his youth in these matches and basically the COC was the 4th choice of silverware to win, bigger fish to fry.

The club was looking to be fair and with these reduced prices and exciting young players, the crowds flocked to the Emirates and enjoyed the games. Arsenal beat Shrewsbury 3-1 after the shock of conceding an early goal, I read in the media a lot about how only 45k turned up, part of the it’s trendy to knock Arsenal stance the media were taking.

There are bigger clubs football wise than Arsenal (not many, but there are some) however, Arsenal do have a massive world-wide following. They also have a massive following in this country. Arsenal have a huge following on Twitter and Facebook, almost dominating Social Networking sites. Not that I tune in, but it would also seem that shows like Talk-Sport make a living off Arsenal fans calling in. Someone I know mentioned that John Cross of the Mirror said “Arsenal stories were the most viewed” in the Daily Mirror.

Maybe what JC says could be why Arsenal attract plenty of negative media and the doom and gloom that surrounds the club in the last few seasons. After all doom and gloom sells in the media, good stories and positive stories become yesterday’s chip papers quickly, so to speak, negative stories and doom and gloom linger.

I suppose I am throwing the question out there do Arsenal fans themselves help create this cloud of doom that seems to surround the club?

I ask because though the media highlighted the reduced gate that night v Shrewsbury, there were many times last season when even though the official attendance was given as 60k plus, there were obvious gaps showing on the terraces. I would say at some matches at least 8k down on capacity.

The facts are that the club give out the attendance as seats sold, NOT people who came through turnstiles on the day. Why they club choose this was of announcing the attendance, I do not know, maybe tax reasons. (The club have even stopped announcing the gates now at the end of matches).

There was a lot of debate from supporters of the club on the issue. Many highlighting the figures given as if the club were committing some sort of crime. Fans were saying it is “embarrassing” that the club were trying to make out the ground was full. Is it such a big deal if the club are actually giving out the attendance as seats sold? I mean if people pay for their season tickets or buy papers tickets weeks in advance and then don’t turn up who is a fault?

I have spent the best part of my life going over Highbury, now Ashburton Grove and yes! At times the attendance was over 60k. Even somewhere in the region of 70k one afternoon when we played Derby County in the FA Cup. There was only 51k in the Fairs Cup against Anderlecht.

In all my years of attending Arsenal at Highbury, since the early 60’s Arsenal NEVER had average gates of 60k over a season. Arsenal got over 70k a few times when we played Champions League matches at Wembley. Back in 1971 when we did the double, our average gate was around 43k. The best we managed was in the 50’s when a couple of times we got around 55k over a season.

When the gates last season were given out at 60k, you could clearly see there was only about 52/55k, I thought to myself this is still a lot better than anything we used to get. Now before anyone says, yeah, but if Highbury was bigger from 1993 onwards we may well have bigger gates, I can only refer back to when Highbury could hold 67k  Arsenal very rarely got full houses. While we might have got 62k at home to Chelsea in the 6th round of the FACup or Liverpool in the Old League Cup the flip side was we got 28k at home to Coventry or alike and these were days when you could pay at the turnstiles.

Just as a guide I list below average attendances for Arsenal in years Arsenal won trophies during my time of supporting them.

  • 1970 Fair Cup Winners – 35,758
  • 1971 Double Winners – 43,776
  • 1970 FA Cup Winners – 36,371
  • 1987 League Cup Winners – 29,022
  • 1989 League Champions – 35,595
  • 1991 League Champions – 36,884
  • 1993 FA Cup & League Cup Winners – 24,403 (though the new North Stand was being Built)
  • 1994 Cup Winners Cup Winners – 30,563
  • 1998 Double Winners – 38,053
  • 2002 Double Winner – 38,044
  • 2003 FA Cup Winners – 38,042
  • 2004 League Champions – 38,079 (Invincibles)

I feel far too often supporters and not just Arsenal supporters go with the flow and if say, Koscielny in his first season is not having the best of starts (though I always though he looked class) then the Social Networking doom and gloom appears, it quickly build. Many follow the lead of what I call super social networking people, no names mentioned, but run supporters groups and stuff like that. If they feel something is not right then it cannot be right and so the doom builds.

Thus the Journo’s on Twitter and they are all there can also feed off this negativity and there goes the neighbourhood.

I’m not saying that the club/manager/players should be free from criticism, far from it, that would be crazy. The thing is criticism should be fair and balanced.

All factors should be taken into account. Clubs have to be self-sufficient and though we would like Arsenal to spend £3o million on a player, which becomes £70m over the life of a five-year contract, sometimes you have to accept, it can’t be done. Not when the fee’s and salaries are being artificially inflated by Chelsea and Man City and high transfer fee’s for English players. Sunderland paid £12 million for Steven Fletcher, West Ham £11m for Jarvis, yet Arsenal paid £15 for Cazorla. Arsenal brought Koscielny, TV5 and the BFG for the same amount City paid for Lescott.

I do wonder if at times the doom that some fans think surrounds Arsenal is actually there as much as they think it is.

please feel free to comment.



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