This morning there are a lot of angry Arsenal fans waking up. And they have every right to be furious with the club. The recently unjustified 3% ticket rise is still raw in people’s minds, the condescending email to season tickets about the Bayern Munich game, has now been followed up by the realisation that we will not be signing anyone in January. The divide between club and fans has never been as wide.
The 3% ticket rise sickened a lot of fans. After the increase in TV money and the clubs bumper new agreements with Emirates and Puma, plus the new commercial deals we seem to be unveiling on a regular basis, there was no need for it. The club was due to increase revenues by nearly £100m next year. Why hit the fans with a 3% rise?
Following this up was the news about Bayern Munich. We all knew that the game would be Cat A, but it was the tone of the email that got up many people’s noses. When in the email the club failed to mention prices, it was clear they were hiding their shame at charging £62 minimum for a ticket. Arsenal have been made to look worse by Bayern Munich subsidising their away fans for the game.
The episode also showed how little influence fan groups have on the club, and how little the club really cares about them. Despite all groups – RedAction, AISA, AST & BSM – agreeing on an open letter written to the club, the club has gone against the suggestions and done what is best for them, not what is best for the fans.
Finally we move onto the January transfer window. It shuts today. Arsenal have yet to sign anyone, and yesterday it was announced the £37m deal for Julian Draxler was dead in the water. This is the straw that could break the camels back. Arsenal are taking more money from fans than ever before, yet are not investing it at a time when we are in the running for a title.
Rumours are that it is Arsene Wenger who was unwilling to pay the £37m. Whilst this could be true, it would not surprise me if the board have ‘leaked’ this to ensure they have a scapegoat for another farcical transfer window. After last years embarrassing pursuit of Luis Suarez, you’d think we’d have learnt not to put eggs in baskets, only to be unwilling to pay the asking price.
On the Draxler deal, I can see what it has not gone through, and maybe on another day, views will soften on it. Yes, he could become a Ronaldo type player. Yes, he has similar potential to Eden Hazard at 20. Yes, he is one of the most promising youngsters in Europe. But is £37m a lot for ‘could be’, ‘potential’ and promising’? You could argue yes, especially when you see Juan Mata going for a similar price.
Last transfer window, Tottenham signed a promising 20 year old Argentine with bag of potential who had impressed in Italy. Erik Lamela cost them over £30m. And where is he now? Who knows. What is certain is that after just 6 months, Spurs are looking for a buyer and he will be known as one of the Premier League’s biggest flops. Spending big on ‘potential’ is a risk. Will Arsenal regret paying the big bucks for Draxler, like they did with Ronaldo? Or in a few years time, will we be thinking ‘we got that one right’.
The bigger picture on the January transfer window is not really associated with Draxler. Not signing his is as justifiable as signing him. The disgraceful act is not signing anyone. With midfielders aplenty injured, suspended and ageing and with just 1 decent striker, it was clear to everyone where we needed to improve. The thoughts were, get in a defensive midfielder, get in a striker, and the league could be ours. In 2004 we signed Jose Antonio Reyes. Whilst he might not have been a success in the long term – and a perfect example of risking a lot of money on youth – he gave the fans a lift into the second half of the season. A shot of adrenaline.
Instead, we go into Sunday’s clash with Crystal Palace with no new signings, more injuries, 2nd in the league and with fan morale at an all time low. Rather than cheering the club on to victory, rather than being in a positive mood, the atmosphere in the Emirates will be a negative one.
It is hard to act. The club have been a disgrace and shown they do not care about the fans at all. But how do you let them know? Do it before a game, but still go in and it losses its affect. Do it during a game, and it could affect the team – remember, it’s the club not the team who are the disgrace. Protest after the game and again, the club have already got your money. It is such a fine line between getting your voices heard and allowing the negativity to damage the performance.
My only suggestion is next time Ivan Gazidas and the club invites you to a ‘meet Ivan’ event, accept the invitation but do not fo. Boycott it on mass. It will be an embarrassing episode and let him know clearly that Arsenal are a disgrace in the way they are treating fans. Yes, it might means the fan groups or bloggers fall out with the club. They might lose their place at the top table. Or god forbid, they might never be invited to meet Ivan again, or invited to have biscuits and tea after a shirt unveiling, but it is what needs to happen. They’ll be acting for the greater good.
Arsenal – You’re a. Disgrace. Sort it out.