“High ticket prices and lavish wages for players are cited by supporters as the main cause for a rash of early booing in this new football season,” pronounced the Telegraph.
“At least four Premier League teams have been booed off the pitch already, two games into the new campaign. Arsenal were jeered for losing at home to West Ham on the opening day; Spurs were given the bird for surrendering a 2-0 lead over Stoke and West Brom and Sunderland have been derided for the crime of general mediocrity.”
Of course I don’t know about the other grounds because I was at the WHU game, and yes there was a little booing at the end, but from maybe a few hundred people at the very most. About half of one percent of the Arsenal support I would guess. No one near me certainly.
So would those few have booed less if the seats had been cheaper as the Telegraph suggest?
I doubt it very much. People boo because of frustration, annoyance, and perceived lack of effort and a feeling that they are entitled to see an Arsenal win.
Some speak of the estrangement of fans from the teams, but fans have been estranged from the teams for about 40 or 50 years. I doubt there was much mixing of players and fans at any time since the 1960s. And if you have read my recent publication on Tom Whittaker and his management period, you will know that the fans got on the Arsenal players backs then, even when they were in the process of winning the league. Chapman suffered booing and tried to persuade the directors to eject and then ban fans who booed. The directors would not oblige so he wrote about it in his weekly newspaper column and called them the boo boys. The Telegraph however doesn’t do history, so they don’t know this little aspect of our past.
So is it as some say, “The conversion of fans into customers or consumers”? No, I doubt it, because I don’t think many of us in the Emirates feel like anything other than fans. We spend the money to be there because we are fans. Besides, just this week Arsenal was advertising tickets for youngsters in the Arsenal v Stoke match at £10 each, which is a fairly good deal. And when people had the chance to see a brilliant game of football in the under 21 league recently under 2000 showed up, although it was free.
So the Telegraph said, “Booing used to be a sanction of last resort at many grounds. Now it is an accepted part of the “match day experience”, as a marketing department might put it.”
I can’t see that – especially given that booing has been part of the deal forever and ever. It is what happens and what some people choose to do.
What might be happening is that the way the media focus utterly on the latest match, all there is, is short term focus, instead of seeing things in perspective. But I suspect that scenario has been growing for quite a few years.
And there is the fact that while groupings such as the aaa used to have limited outlet other than the fanzines, now they can flounce around anywhere and proclaim how useless the team is, and tell anyone who can’t see that, that they are deluded. The lack of logical argument and discussion is overwhelming; booing is their equivalent of reasoned debate, sponsored by and promoted by the media.
Supporting the team is about supporting the team, and that’s what the real fans do. We don’t get any coverage in the media because we’re boring – we do the same thing regularly – we support Arsenal. We don’t whinge and moan, we turn up at each game no matter what.
That’s the deal, that’s how it goes.