Saturday, May 15, 2010

Signings or Sign Out

Does a gooner have the right to protest?

I'm thinking about that sign at the Emirates for the Fulham game, "Signings or Sign Out". And there have been talks about a black scarf day at the Emirates Cup if we fail to sign a 'keeper over the summer. And there was that shareholder's Q&A last year, when Wenger was questioned about his penchant for signing geriatric French defenders. These are signs of discontent amongst gooners.

Peter Hill-Wood probably thinks it's a sign that supporters are getting a bit lippy, and need to be flogged, or sent to the gallows or the colonies, or whatever they do with commoners who dare to question their betters. Ivan Gazidis probably takes the pragmatic view that for every gooner who tears up their season ticket in digust, there's ten more willing to take their place. And Arsene Wenger is probably speechless that there are gooners out there who think 3rd place isn't a trophy.

So how much say should a supporter have in how their club is run?

Clubs tend to emphasize the unique bond between a club and their supporters, and rely on unwavering loyalty from their supporters. Supporters spend a lot of their disposable income on season tickets, new kits every year, programmes, away tickets... and all in the name of "supporting the team". No other commerical entity enjoys such financial commitment from its customer. You don't see kids walking into MacDonald's dressed like Ronald MacDonald and singing songs about the Hamburgler.

And yet, are clubs held accountable to the wishes of their supporters?

Considering that I'm half a world away from the Arsenal, I'm not the best judge of it, but I'd have to say no. We get stage-managed Q&A events with the pre-approved questions and smiles all around. Discontent is vociforiously shouted down as "disloyalty". Banners are taken down mid-match. From half a world away, I get the impression that our club thinks that supporters should be seen, should pay for merchandise and provide an atmosphere at home games, but they definitely should not be heard.

It's a disappointing turn of events. A club, if open and accountable, would allow discontent to raise its head. It would listen to criticism, try and see what it can do to help, and then change its approach to accomodate the disenfranchised supporter. Stifling opposition will encourage the bitterness to spread.

It's not difficult to understand the basis of the doom and gloomer argument: use the money we have to buy experienced players to create a squad that can challenge for the league; don't use the money to fund a youth policy that's creating lazy, unmotivated, untacitcally undisciplined footballers; do everything in your power (within reason) to compete as hard as you can in every competition you're in.

These are emeniently reasonable points. You can say what you want about debt and interest rates and fiscal responsibility, but I think we've taken our eye off the ball. A club is in place to advance the dreams of its supporters. The dream of supporters is to win stuff. A club the size of the Arsenal has a duty to do everything in its power to support those dreams.

And no, Wenger, 3rd place isn't a trophy.

So on the 343rd last day of my 20s, I went for a jog, went to work, came home, ate two lunches, and had a nap. I do like a good nap. At work, my nurse (not the weird sex dream one) offered to set me up with a girl she vaguely knows. She knows virtually nothing about her, other than her availability.

My nurse tried setting me up with her cousin last year - I took her out a couple of times and I ended up pissing them both off within a month. So I guess she's learnt her lesson - only set me up with girls she can afford to let go. I'm of two minds about it; my heart's not in it for the obvious reason... but as my mate has repeatedly told me, I have no chance with the girl of my dreams.

So why not?

No comments: