A £40 million offer for Wilfried Zaha. That’s what Arsenal fans are getting for their financial commitment to their team. It’s time they take their football club back and boycott the Emirates.
For far too long, Arsenal have been stuck in the middle. While Wenger certainly tainted some of his legacy by overstaying his welcome in north London, it’s now more obvious than ever that the restraints he was under were crippling.
The hierarchy need to make a decision and quick: either pump money into the club in the hope of becoming competitive with the nine-figure transfer splurges of the sides above them – or consolidate, drop ticket prices and accept their mediocrity. Right now, the most expensive ticket in the Premier League is the £97 one that lands you at the Emirates in a slightly more comfortable seat than usual, watching absolute dross.
I feel for Arsenal fans. I feel for any fans of Premier League clubs. Their identity has been stripped away and swapped for globalised nonsense. It’s basically become a money fight and if that’s the only weapon you possess in the upper echelons of the sport these days, you’d better have plenty of resources to hand.
The thing is, though, that fans have always been secondary in American sports. The difference is – they’re happy to be secondary in America – and their ticket revenue doesn’t actually generate more income for teams in the NFL, as the money is guaranteed by the league.
When supporters are actually fuelling the on-field product with their pockets, they deserve to be rewarded by executive decisions.
Of course there has to be a grace period, but there hasn’t been a big-name signing since Mesut Ozil. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been a godsend, but his pricetag being a club record is more reflective of transfer market inflation than it is of any great intent from the board.
That was 18 months ago and it looks like that the move will be used as collateral when the abuse rains down from the stands of the north London venue come October. And the boos will come. And so will the banners. And so will the vlogged post-match reactions. But this is little more than hypocrisy. People wanting to be seen to be upset rather than genuine frustration.
Arsenal are being turned into a dot on a stock exchange and nobody is cutting the lifeblood from the owners at source. This is because being at football is now more important to most than being involved in football.
Why is this? Because we’ve grown so accustomed to being accessories. In Italy, supporters hijack games to voice their discontent. This happens in Switzerland too. But it doesn’t happen in England when it should. You’re not on a television programme, folks. Take back your club by hitting executives where it hurts.
You pay far too much money for this product for it to be so poor. We’re getting very close to the point where Premier League clubs will survive without the money from ticket sales. Honestly, we’re about two television rights deals away from that happening and it’ll be too late.
Arsenal Football Club has a proud tradition and it’s being rewritten in spite of increased revenue. The race to midtable is well and truly on – and only the supporters hold the handbrake.