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The AISA AGM (from one who was there); a fairer deal for all

I have to say that meetings aren’t the most fun things one can do in life but when they take place in the posh bit of the Emirates (Club level) and free curry is included it all helps to improve the mood.

I am a committee member of AISA although I’ve struggled to make any of the monthly meetings they hold simply because I don’t live in London and so far they have never coincided with an occasion when I’m in the smoke doing historical research. I intend to make at least one in the next 12 months though.

This AGM was attended by about 100 people I reckon, maybe less maybe more. We were well looked after by Arsenal’s caterers, Delaware North, who offered two different curries (Chicken or Lamb) and a range of buffet snacks. Part of this was so the stadium’s catering person (I forget her name but she had a lovely Welsh accent) could get our views on food at the Emirates.

Tony and I along with a chap called Jamie we met were quite happy to put our views across. This is an example of AISA is about; setting out the views of the fans that come week in week out and put money in the Arsenal coffers. Jamie suggested a card swipe system so we could pre-charge our STs (and so cut queues) while I wanted more variety and suggested getting the locals involved (like the excellent Piebury Corner pies). She listened carefully and promised they had lots of new ideas.

The meeting started with all the usual committee stuff: financial reports (the group has about £38k in the bank), agreeing new members etc before Paul Matz got up to give us a progress report on the campaigns that AISA has been running. AISA has been on at the club to create more opportunities for youngsters to see the Arsenal. AFC has the oldest average age of supporters in the PL so its vital that we attract the next generation. The new Young Guns Enclosure (where for some matches JGs can get in for just £10) opened this season and AISA can take some credit here.

There are ongoing discussions about moving away fans to the upper tier but Paul explained that this has stalled – officially because the police objected but possibly because the club is worried about adverse publicity if away fans have to pay even more. Similarly safe standing was discussed; Arsenal are not opposed in principle but will not lead on this. Apparently Villa and Celtic might be driving this one forward.

Then we had Untold’s Tony Attwood giving an update on the Arsenal History Society and telling that the 3rd October 2013 was an important anniversary. This was 88 years since Herbert Chapman and Charlie Buchan sat down and invented WM – or indeed, as Tony put it, invented counter-attacking football. You can follow the History society’s work on Untold’s sister site.

The last bit of business was a discussion of new campaigns; what is AISA going to do in the next 12 months? There was a lively discussion of the arrangements for away fans at CL games. Several members had had awful experiences in some European cities and wondered if Arsenal could lay on local coaches to take them back from stadiums when they had been kept in for hours after the game. AISA will talk to the club about this.

The big talking point was about our more elderly supporters and the way the club treats them. A motion was presented by Brian Williams of the committee who spoke passionately and eloquently about the problem we have. He has been researching how other PL clubs treat their OAP season ticket holders and comparing it to us. It might come as a surprise to know that Arsenal offer no discount to OAP ST holders unless they are prepared to move to the Family enclosure. Then the discount is over 50% but they can’t continue to sit with their (non OAP) families and friends.

Arsenal are THE only club in the PL not to allow ST holders to retain their seat.

This is not a statistic Arsenal fans should be proud of. Brian pointed out that all the other clubs (except Spurs – which only has 76 OAPs*) allow ST holder to sit almost anywhere they like in the ground and some, like Southampton, offer substantial discounts once people reach pensionable age.

So we agreed this should be one of AISA’s campaigns.

That was about it really; Tony and I had a chat with an AST member too. Lots of people there belong to more than one supporters group and we agreed in the meeting that we have much more in common than we have against each other. AISA has a policy of not interfering in the team and management; it campaigns for the fans and for the match day ‘experience’ [sorry Tony!]. AST is about fan ownership through fanshare (as I understand it) and Red Action concentrates on the atmosphere in the ground. I couldn’t really get anyone to explain what the Black Scarf Movement is about but again, I am happy to agree with Paul Matz and Lois Langton when they say that ALL these groups want the same thing: success for the Arsenal.

So why not join in, sign up for AISA, come to the AGM next year, stand for the committee. AISA, AST and BSM all exist for the fans and are run by the fans, by volunteers who give up their time because they love the club. And the curry was not bad either..

Did I mention the curry?

Blacksheep63

* at least its nice to know there are 76 Spurs ST holders who can remember them winning the league…

 

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15 comments to The AISA AGM (from one who was there); a fairer deal for all

  • Oliver

    I’d like something to be done about the cost of the upper tier, personally. The extra cost makes not much sense to me and on cat A games it’s huge.

  • Rufusstan

    No Vegetarian option? Very bad form 🙂

    More seriously it is good to see reports every time the club engages with the fan groups.

    The BSM is an interesting one. I got instinctively put off from them by the perceptions of a brash attitude, and the association (whether real or otherwise) with some of the more vocal disquiet last year.

    A few days ago I had the option to peruse their stated goals

    http://www.blackscarfafc.co.uk/our-campaigns.html

    and you know what, while I am not on-board with everything there, most are things I’d be happy to see. I cannot speak from the inside (not a member), but the agenda seems to be aimed at assisting/getting value for fans and helping build the next generation in financially difficult times.

    In the end, time will tell as to whether I am right, but I’m far less dismissive than I was a couple of weeks ago.

  • Sid

    What? No veggie curry option??? I am disgusted!

    Unless an OAP is actually in hardship I dont see whay they should get a discount just for reaching a certain age… That’s ageist that is. 🙂

    I also dont see why the club would want to put away fans in the upper tier? That would just encourage them to throw things (like cups of p*ss) down onto Gooners!

  • Sid

    Rufus

    You beat me to it! 🙂

    Not sure about the BSM though. I saw one of their “leaders” on SSN (where else?) a few months back and he was an eejit.

  • WalterBroeckx

    What??? £38K in the bank??? Time to spend the f*cking money 😉

    Serious now. Thanks for the write up. It is always nice to hear what people who take the trouble to work on this are trying to do.

    About the place of the away fans: couldn’t we put them on the backside of the stadium? 😉 The thing is that they now have a prominent place in camera sight and that our own redaction fans hardly come in to the picture. They should have shifted them away from a favourable camera angle. But I am afraid that moving them around will be hard to do for safety measures now.

  • Rufusstan

    @Sid — you have to be quick with easy feed lines like that one. 🙂

    More seriously, the jury is still out for me as well, but I’m more inclined to cut them some slack right now than the AST after their stunt in the transfer window.

    @Walter — or tie them to nice long bungee cords from the edge of the upper tier? It would give those in club level something to do.

    In practice, the focus will happen wherever they are put, just as our away support dominates wherever they go — and in a lot of places they are stuck upstairs or a 50/50 mix.

    I think any real solution with most of the issues with away fans is safe standing of some sort, and that would make the visibility problem even worse, so it might be a case of having to live with it.

    @Oliver — Cost of the upper tier? With a few exceptions, in the upper tier you pay for the view, because its a new, well designed stadium and being there doesn’t mean you are miles away from the game (where the traditional cheap seats are in old stadiums).

    In any event:
    Block 5 season ticket — £985;
    Block 94-95 season ticket* –£1260 and change.

    So the difference isn’t that huge in any event.

    The only place there might be a problem would be upper tier behind the goals, but I’ve avoided sitting there so have no way to judge.

    *Block 94-95 are directly above block 5

  • Pat

    @Sid

    The reason for charging OAPs less is that most of them are living on a fraction of what they had to live on when they were working.

    At the same time they are paying the same prices for food, gas and electricity etc. as everyone else. The only advantage they have is some free local public transport.

    A friend of mine who was at the AGM had reported to me that only Arsenal and Spurs made their OAPs sit with the kids and I was quite shocked. So I hope the campaign to change this is successful.

  • @Swales68

    Things I would like to see-
    1/ each gate entrance to the ground to be named after ex players Gate A-Adams B-Berkamp etc with a list of all players with that initial listed just inside.

    2/ season tickets to be used like Tesco club cards, if you by goods from Arsenal shops or food & drink from inside the ground you get points that can be exchanged for either discounts on food, drinks or clothing or maybe towards the cost of the season after ST

    3/ four supporters bars open before the game where fans are encouraged to drink competitively priced beer/lager with big tv’s showing games or old Arsenal games. To help encourage singing etc

    4/ blocks directly behind goals to be ST only free seating areas, no numbers but sit where you like. Encourage fans into the ground earlier and to try and build an atmosphere before the match starts. Fans in the ground when players warm up singing players names etc

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A nice read ,wish them well in their noble endeavours to better the matchday for all the faithful.
    Not too convinced by that other lot ! You can never ever be sure what lurks in men’s (or women’s) minds .

    A woman baked bread for members of her family and an extra one for a hungry passerby. She kept the extra bread on the Window-sill, for whosoever would take it away. Everyday, a hunchback came and took away the bread. Instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words as he went his way: “The evil you do remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” This went on, day after day. Everyday, the hunch-back came, picked up the bread and uttered the words: “The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The woman felt irritated. “Not a word of gratitude,” she said to herself…

    “Everyday this hunchback utters this jingle! What does he mean? “One day, exasperated, she decided to do away with him. “I shall get rid of this hunchback,” she said. And what did she do? She added poison to the bread she prepared for him! As she was about to keep it on the window sill, her hands trembled. “What is this I am doing?” she said Immediately, she threw the bread into the fire, prepared another one and kept it on the window- sill. As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the bread and muttered the words: “The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The hunchback proceeded on his way, blissfully unaware of the war raging in the mind of the woman.

    Everyday, as the woman placed the bread on the window-sill, she offered a prayer for her son who had gone to a distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him.. She prayed for his safe return. That evening, there was a knock on the door. As she opened it, she was surprised to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His garments were tattered and torn. He was hungry, starved and weak.

    As he saw his mother, he said, “Mom, it’s a miracle I’m here. While I was but a mile away, I was so famished that I collapsed. I would have died, but just then an old hunchback passed by. I begged of him for a morsel of food, and he was kind enough to give me a whole bread .”As he gave it to me, he said, “This is what I eat everyday: today, I shall give it to you, for your need is greater than mine!” ” As the mother heard those words, her face turned pale.

    She leaned against the door for support. She remembered the poisoned bread that she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been eaten by her own son, and he would have lost his life! It was then that she realized the significance of the words:”The evil you do remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!”

    Do good and; Don’t ever stop doing good, even if it’s not appreciated at that time.

    -Author Unknown-

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Maybe the message gets lost in translation .

    A preacher wanted to raise money for his church and on being told that there was a fortune in horse racing, decided to purchase a horse and enter it in the races. However, at the local auction, the going price for horses was so high that he ended up buying a donkey instead. He figured that since he had it, he might as well go ahead and enter it in the races. To his surprise, the donkey came in third!

    The next day the local paper carried this headline: PREACHER’S ASS SHOWS.

    The preacher was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and this time it won.
    The paper read: PREACHER’S ASS OUT IN FRONT.

    The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the preacher not to enter the donkey in another race.
    The paper headline read: BISHOP SCRATCHES PREACHER’S ASS.

    This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the preacher to get rid of the donkey. The preacher decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent.
    The paper headline the next day read: NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN.

    The Bishop fainted in shock. When he came to he informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.00.

    The next day the headline read: NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.00.

    This was too much for the Bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey, lead it to the plains, and let it go.

    Next day, the headline in the paper read: NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.

    The Bishop was buried the next day.

  • blacksheep63

    some interesting ideas there @Swales. Are you an AISA member? if not you might consider getting involved

  • Rufusstan

    @swales68 — Some really interesting ideas here.

    In the first one, just take the gate letters away as well, asking a steward and being told to go to Clock end Keown gate just makes me smile. Should really be part of the ‘Arsenalization’ process (I hate that term).

    I initially step back from loyalty card ideas, but thinking about it, as a marketing tool, tied to the club’s commercial partners, it could be an everyone wins situation.

    Going to one of the Club’s partners earns you points, of you get something from them as a season ticket holder.

    3. Will run straight into Delaware, so might be a non-starter because of that.

    My real worry is it would just move people from the local pubs around Finsbury Park and the Holloway Road into the stadium (or tradition and inertia means we wouldn’t even get that).

    Mixing things up behind the goals is a really good idea. For me the endgame would be Safe standing there, which would hopefully have a similar effect.

  • @Swales68

    @Blacksheep63 no I am not a memeber of the AISA or anyother group associated with The Arsenal. If somebody from the AISA likes the ideas they can have them for free .

    The gate idea would be easy to set up and can be removed for non Arsenal events, the only problem will be deciding who would be on gate B for example Bould Bergkamp Bastin. Gate W would it be Wright or Wenger? Etc

    The Arsenal club card/season ticket/membership card rolled out to all sponsorship partners using the same format as Tescos club card 1 point for every £1 spent. This could be used in local pubs & restaurants perhaps to help encourage use of local businesses. Double points if used in the stadium before and after the game?

    Would Delaware not want more customers inside the ground using their facilities, perhaps Red Action could be given 2 bars (1 north bank the other clock end) to use as official bars instead of using the Rocket. Reduced beer prices (and club card points) before and after games.

    Having free seating arrangements behind the goal area would encourage fans into their seats early so they get the seats they want. I have been in my seat 30mins before games occasionally and the place is dead. The players come out to train with a small ripple of applause. Remember the old days of the northbank singing the players names out when they stepped on to the pitch.

    Arsenal need to encourage fans in to the stadium and in to their seats earlier to help increase atmosphere before kickoff

  • blacksheep63

    @Swales thanks, I’ll pass them on!

    I think this loyalty card scheme has real legs and presumably is feasible. After all I have several ones,from giants like tesco to my local car wash. I might write some of these ideas up for another article for untold if Tony thinks its a goer. To be honest its good to hear supporters discussing innovative ways to improve everyone’s visit to the Grove rather than slagging each other off over who is the biggest fan/grumbler/AAA devotee etc.
    But I still think you should join AISA Swales 😉

  • @Swales68

    @blacksheep63

    Looking at the groups involved with Arsenal AISA is probably the closest of the groups that I agree with the way they go about business with the club. I will perhaps look into joing in the future