Back in August last year Arsenal made around 55 employees redundant.
The redundancies were mainly a mixture people working with the recruitment, commercial & retail departments.
The recruitment division had been under scrutiny for some time, with Sven Mislintat labelling it “bloated” and “dysfunctional“.
The commercial side was also unsurprising – with no football in grounds there was no requirement for as many people to be selling those executive boxes. With no football these people literally did not have a product to sell.
Many of the retail redundancies came out of the closure of the Finsbury Park shop, which had been on the cards for some years due to dwindling sales.
Whilst Arsenal were heavily criticised in the media at the time, the redundancies were understandable from a business point of view – no business should keep someone in a job if they do not have a role to do.
However in recent days Arsenal have started the redundancy process of some roles and people that leaves a distaste in the mouth.
Whilst many of the commercial sales staff and scouts did not do their job due to the love of the club, it was merely a pay cheque, the recent redundancies include many “proper Arsenal” employees.
One of those under consultancy is Mark Brindle, the Supporters Liaison Officer.
REDaction have released the following statement on Twitter detailing the important role Mark has played, and continues to play within the club:
Mark helped run the South East Essex Supporters’ Club for many years, chaired REDaction for 10 years, served on the board of AST for a time – then joined Arsenal as SLO 7 years ago. He has spent literally decades working – paid and unpaid – to help Arsenal fans.
Our biggest concern here is that the relationship between club and fans is disintegrating.
In his SLO role, Mark has had deep relationships with supporters’ clubs worldwide, fan groups in London, and individual fans – the SLO is the ‘glue’ between club and fans.
It seems the SLO duties are being divided between a few roles – some in ticketing, some ‘customer service’ etc.
The club need to have a single point of contact for fans and fan groups – especially on matchdays (and especially away from home) – and we see no sign of this.
As Redaction have stated, the SLO position is one which brings fans closer to the club.
Often he is the first port of call if anyone has an issue – whether that be an individual fan seeking information, clarity or help, or a supporters club (or group of supporters looking to set up a supporters club).
The SLO is the ‘glue’ between club and fans is a spot on statement.
This is also not just about match going fans. Mark works tirelessly for supporters group across the world.
We spoke to Mark back in April 2020 to discuss the good work himself and others had done during the early days of Covid19.
The SLO position might not add any value “on the pitch”. It does not raise commercial revenue. But it is an important position. It links fans to the club. A club which is becoming more and more commercial, less and less caring.
A sales executive working at the club would have quickly found a new role, whether in sport or another luxury sales industry. But for a role like the SLO, it is much more than a job.
We have already emailed Vinai Venkatesham with our concerns, receiving the below Email as a response:
I got a reply to me email to Vinai RE – Mark Brindle…
Pretty sure everyone is getting similar replies, but a reply was appreciated.
We leave the final word on this to Redaction:
This does not do anything to dispel the idea that Arsenal have remote ownership, and that the club are less and less interested in the match going fan.