By Tony Attwood
For the last two away wins two different banners have been produced at the end of the match saying that it is time for Wenger to leave Arsenal.
Seeing these on display I started to ask some simple questions such as
a) why would you make such a banner and pay £35 or so, to stand in the Arsenal end and then display the banner?
b) how come in an era when away fans are checked for individual components of flares (which typically are subdivided between various people in order to get them into the ground) something as big as a banner got past security?
c) how come the TV cameras were in exactly the right place at the right time to see the banner at the end?
The more I looked at it the more I found that all the answers pointed in just one direction – and I must say it puts BT Sport in a very bad light.
Question b is the particularly troublesome one. How come the banner got into the ground past security. If you’ve been as an away supporter at grounds you’ll know that you are checked to see you are not carrying weapons or components – and indeed I’ve been critical of stewarding at Arsenal Stadium as yet again Watford fans brought in at least one flare or smoke bomb. But a whole banner?
But first let’s think of why someone might do this on their own.
1: Because he/she is lonely
This ultimately is the cause of most strange behaviour in public. It is attention seeking. If you stand in the crowd and cheer you are just a person in the crowd. If you get to where the camera sees you, then you are at once an international film star and your life is made forever. If not in reality then at least in your imagination.
2: Because the bannerians believe it will be seen
Argument one falls down because banners are held up by two people, the bannerians. But to make this argument work the bannerians need to believe that Arsenal would be a better club without Wenger, and that putting up a banner to this effect would help in that process.
Now this is fairly dumb since everyone knows that the manager goes straight down the tunnel at the end of the game having shaken hands with the opposition manager. The directors shuffle off for drinks from the security of their box.
So no one who has real influence inside the club would see the banner. Which means it is not going to have any effect. Except…
If the bannerians knew that the TV cameras would pick out the banner, then there might be a reason. Not a very good reason, since there is every chance you might not get past security, unless someone on the inside helped.
However it all looks dubious. If these are regular supporters that means they are members of the travel club or season ticket holders with lots of away credits to their name, who can smuggle a banner in, take the risk of not being ejected and who just hoped maybe a camera might be on them at the end of the game (which is very unusual in itself).
Which leaves another option…
If TV paid you or encouraged you to display the banner and arranged the banner to be where the banner could be seen….
But still there is the problem of getting it in the ground.
At both games where the banner was, the banner was placed in a position where the camera could see it, and the camera was there at the end of the game. We didn’t see the banner through the rest of the game, nor that particular shot of the crowd. But come the moment at the end it was there, unfurled, to the waiting camera.
Of course you can believe this was a coincidence, just like its a coincidence that if I drink three glasses of wine and then sit down to write an article the words come out looking like vkjasdf jdo kj; josjmk rather than some erudite insights.
If the TV company helped get it into the ground
It is one thing for the TV station to spot some people with a banner and for minions to shout to the bannerians “OK lads over here” and they dutifully shuffle over. It is another for a media outlet to encourage the guys to have the banner and then be in the right place and even smuggle the banner in.
Taking banners into grounds is normally illegal without the club’s permission.
Since away support is ticket only, and since the grounds are all seater, everyone knows who is there. The bannerians have clearly broken the regulations surrounding the matches and the TV companies have encouraged them by giving them free publicity.
All this is bad enough. But when we come to ask how the banner got there, then a totally different issue arises.
Which takes us back to only one likely option: that BT Sport were specifically involved in getting the banner on show. Either because they encouraged some disaffected supporters to make it and bring it with the promise that they would “be on the telly” or, more likely, because they were instrumental in bringing the banner in – in order to stir up controversy and get pictures on BT Sport that are not seen on Sky.
In this piece I am looking at likelihood. There is no proof in the sense that I didn’t catch a man with a TV pass bringing a banner into the ground, but as scientific enquiry shows, most of the time, working to get rid of the highly unlikely, one ends up with the most likely explanation.
The two games that anti-Wenger banners have been shown at have one thing in common. They were both filmed by BT Sport.
- Everton – Arsenal 0-2: that is more like it.
- Everton v Arsenal: a preview, an analysis, a rant, a funny picture.
- Everton v Arsenal 19 March 2016 – The Match Officials. More of the same from PGMO this weekend
The Untold Books
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