Friday, 26 October 2012

Annual General Meh.....

I feel compelled to write this, which is bad for you and good for me I guess but it's been a prickly few days in the history of our club and the fractious nature of both the AGM and the "Internal Civil War" between sects of fans is not surprising.

If I'm going to make a sweeping statement to kick this off then it's that modern society is lazy, maybe down to the way people are spoonfed everything, maybe down to the way that everything is usually available at the click of a button, however this sweeping statement goes further, it goes into media, it goes into the Saturday Night culture of watching pre-selected "singers" sing when in all truth the path of the "competition" is mapped out already, but it's also going into Sport....and Arsenal.

These days you either seem to be an "Arsenal Knows Best" or "AKB" or from the "Wenger Out Brigade", there is no middle ground and whichever way you sway to puts you in a box with a moniker you'll keep for the rest of your life. The Arsenal Supporters Trust are one example as the people who are strongly pro-Wenger think the AST have agendas to embarrass Arsene, and the other side of the spectrum think the AST are spoonfed by higher powers at the club to keep the Status Quo in turn to access to the big wigs. And there's nothing like the Annual General Meeting to show this up and magnify it ten fold.

First off, I don't know of a single other club who conducts their AGM in a similar, "transparent" way as Arsenal and lead themselves open to questioning with the countries media present, and if there are, then I haven't paid attention enough (Mainly because I don't really care I suppose) so some credit must be divvied up there. However, the sight of a irritated Peter-Hill Wood and nearly comatose Stan Kroenke doesn't ever fill me with any confidence that the club are trying to be dynamic and forward thinking, in fact I see the irony that a club that's well renown for trying to keep it's business quiet ends up with the most talked about AGM every year.

There was a banner from the people who call themselves the "Black Scarf Movement" - a splinter group of fans discouraged at the general direction of the club and the way that modern football is trying to price out the common man. "Kick Greed Out of Football" was the mantra and while I have first-hand knowledge of being priced out, the notion then to spend, spend, spend on players certainly made me feel a twinge on the Ironymeter as well.

Black Scarf's points are as follows;-

1. A season ticket "lite where you are offered a cheaper option season ticket without cup credits

I agree with this because for one thing, our progression in the League and FA Cup has not been far-reaching the last few seasons, we normally end up with less people at these games because of the standard of opposition and if these tickets are then offered up seperately and sold at the same price as the League Cup prices the last few seasons, you're more likely to get 60,000 while not squeezinfg out the hardcore support.

2. Move Away fans to the Upper Tier, let Arsenal fans have the cheapest seats in the ground.

Hard to argue again here since other clubs are already doing this to us, I cite Newcastle and QPR as examples.

3. On renewal, allow season ticket holders a short-term repayment option from May until June.

Arsenal's season tickets are expensive and in an economical time where many people are struggling, £1,000 is a lot of money to put up straight away and again is leading to people not being able to watch their team.

4. Give Season Ticket holders a chance to downgrade to Silver Memberships.

I can't really argue with this either, if you've been following Arsenal like I have for nearly 25 years and are squeezed out financially and then are made to start at the bottom again, it leaves you feeling pretty unwanted and unappreciated for the thousands of pounds and miles you've accrued over the years. 

5. Change the complacent board, Give R&W holdings a say in how things are run.

Probably the only point I'm unsure about, a lot of fans have misgivings over Alisher Usmanov from  alleged tales of his past to the fright of being at the mercy of a Billionaire's plaything. I do think he should be given some role on the board, at which other company do you know is a shareholder who holds nearly 30% and isn't involved in any decisions whatsoever?

I think the problem with Black Scarf Movement is the way they introduced themselves, I understand minority groups in an organisation need to get themselves heard but I've also noticed the way they present things going forward is a lot more professional. A lot of people I've come across on the Internet who identify themselves as BSM are very vocal about Arsene Wenger not being manager of Arsenal anymore, and here's where the clashes start.

I think a club and it's supporters should be able to critique itself when it goes wrong, and praise itself when it goes right and there are things wrong at Arsenal and people are right to point them out, if everybody was to blandly follow the party line then the things that are quite clearly wrong at the club will start as a small problem and then multiply into a bigger one.

I give you the trophy drought - lack of investment in the squad to replace players who are sold to equal ability has moved us further and further away from silverware for seven years, players like Gervinho are expected to replace Robin Van Persie, an aged, injury prone Tomas Rosicky is supposed to fill in for Cesc Fabregas and so on.......

I don't choose to be part of any supporter group for the simple reason I have differing opinions on several different matters, the spokesman for the AST, Tim Payton is a controversial character on Twitter (I've called him out many times) but he is an Arsenal fan of a long time and in any personal dealings I've had with the man, I've found him to be a gentleman through and through, it doesn't mean I have to agree with him though.

Why I'm writing this is because I'm pretty aggrieved to read some comments in the last week about disagreeing with the manager and the board. I'm saddened to read some comments from people overseas telling regular attenders to "shut up" and criticise them from having an opinion which dares to be different to their own, and also disappointed to read comments from those inside the country who question whether someone is a supporter because of location.

Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal for so long I can't imagine him not being there, and he has done many wonderful things for the club, but he is not some deity figure that does no wrong. There is a malaise at Arsenal, and has been for many years, the direction of the club is questionable at times, the loss of key personnel on and off the pitch are of massive concern but there is much to be proud of too.

It's in cloudy times like this where I enjoy Arsenal games more, I couldn't be more excited about QPR and Jack's return, so whether in Enfield or Eastern Mongolia...Up The Arse!

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