By Tony Attwood
Indeed because of the fact that I doubt that many, if any people have been converted by the arguments we have had of late, I wonder what the point is.
That is not to say I wonder why I publish Untold, but rather I wonder why people who believe that everything that Untold stands for is wrong, come on here and tell us so, and why we bother to publish what they say, and argue back. As far as I know know few, if any, have ever been converted either way.
This is not to say that we should reduce ourselves to the gutter level of the site that likes to take people’s comments, and then change them before publication, to make them look stupid.
But rather, as I recently said in a note I added to the comments article, there is a parallel here to a person who sets up a magazine on bee keeping, designed for bee keeping enthusiasts. They are quite happy running their publication for fellow enthusiasts but then they start getting letters and emails from people who claim that bee keeping is wrong as it degrades the DNA or something. Such an argument is against the whole tenor of the magazine – which is supposed to be a place where those who enjoy bee keeping can exchange thoughts and opinions and learn from each other.
What should such a magazine do? Probably not what I have tried to do on Untold, which is answer the points raised. But what made this difficult is that many correspondents come in with arguments against the position of Untold on football and Arsenal by repeating points that were raised in previous correspondence, or taking a stance that was so antithetical to ours that there were hardly any common principles on which to have a debate. It’s a bit like trying to debate issues with a racist – where do you start? (Which is not to say I am calling those who are against my ideas racists – just trying to make the point that sometimes we are so far apart on understanding there is no common ground on which to have a civilised debate).
I am also bemused by the fact that people who see everything we do and say as wrong headed or misguided actually believe that a) we will publish what they say and b) then answer them when they demand that we do. Maybe it was my fault to take up an opening position to the effect that this is indeed what we would do. I do believe in open and free debate, but we are not having that, because our values are so far apart. So why bother to keep up the attempt?
But I stress I am not saying “why bother?” with Untold. I think we have done some good and found some interesting facts, details of which we have been able to spread. And we have also seen a little evidence that there has been some movement on items that we find interesting and important.
1: Refs, PGMO, video refs, the Italian experience. Exposing the secretive way that PGMO works was something that we took on and proving that the PGMO is now organised along the same lines as Italian refereeing in its corruption era was a strong point. I got a sense that PGMO took a serious step back when that article came out. And they didn’t like it when we pointed out that the Telegraph was running their press releases as news.
2: Transfers – obviously one of our big investigations of late, and showing that there is no direct link between the amount of money spent and the position in which a club ends up, as well as noting the way that the media endlessly suggests that there is a link. Prior to this we also uncovered the notion of the vapour transfer set up to unsettle rival clubs, and the make-believe transfers of the press – and their impact on the gullible.
3: The stadium cost is an issue we have made a lot of although I fear most of our critics don’t understand the ramifications at all when it is linked with making business predictions over what other clubs would do next. But we have kept up the publicity about the shameful way in which the state has aided two clubs over the stadia and although that’s not made any difference to many, we have increased awareness.
4: Football as an arena for money laundering has not been touched on for a while – but we were certainly there when it clearly was a big issue, and I am glad we were. I think we edged a couple of newspapers into taking up this theme.
5: The FA as an obstacle to progress; and a lilly livered government department unable to reign in the Association, has been a theme we have followed constantly, and certainly last year the Daily Mail of all people took up the theme with us which was rather nice to see.
6: Fifa and Uefa as corrupt organisations – well, everyone takes that view now, although sadly few will follow up with the rather obvious conclusions that the FA which so loves to be close to them is also surely under suspicion. But I feel good about the fact we were running the story about the change in Swiss law which allowed the US officials to move in on Fifa. Indeed had Fifa bothered to read us, they would have held their meeting in Bolivia not Switzerland – although that’s not what we wanted!
7: The changing of managers – something that those against us want, is obviously in the news now, and it does seem important to me that we should be here pointing out the dire consequences that can arise from changes of managers. Of course eventually clubs do get it right – but how many years and how many changes does it take? Ask a Tottenham or Liverpool fan.
8: The issue of evidence has been played out, and I can’t see that we can go any further on this one, in that it is clear that huge numbers of people who write to Untold simply don’t have the same understanding of evidence as we do. Plus the endless and very boring commentaries that arguewe have written something and not ourselves given evidence (when in fact we presented it in detail a month, six months, a year ago) is really getting silly. Football becomes simplified, and edged with innuendo, and for many that seems to be the norm. We shall just have to remain outside that.
9: The arrival of abuse as a normal means of conversation I do regret. I would urge everyone not to do that no matter what the provocation.
10: The media as the problem not the solution has also been discussed many times, and I do think this is worth picking up on, particularly in the light of recent media commentaries.
11: The importance of the youth system is of course bypassed by the demand for high value transfers, but pointing out the value we have gained from Iwobi, Bellerin and Coquelin is something I think it is worth doing.
12: We were very strong on FFP, until it fizzled away and Man City fans argued that it was not happening even after they got fined. I felt rather proud of being there at the start, before the mass media got hold of the story.
13: The review of the notion of holding onto opinion to the very bitter end, even when evidence is against it, is however something we will continue to work on. That and the exposition of the way in which newspapers work seems to me to be an important addition to the debate.
14: We were also the site that came up with the explanation of why England are so bad – something that was then republished in several papers and became a fairly standard explanation for the defeat to Iceland.
15: The manipulation of football by TV seems to me something also worth pointing out, and I was pleased to find early mentions of this by the press in the 1970s. The press has been bought off now by the all powerful TV, but they did make a valiant effort to stop TV’s manipulation in the 1970s and that needs to be put on record.
16: Injuries – one of our success stories in pointing out that no, Arsenal is not the club with the most injuries most of the time – although the media still run the story.
And to top all this, with readers’ help we have our banner up at the stadium – and we have the history society too.
So to those against the Untold approach I would say, farewell, I just don’t have enough time any more to deal with your comments and criticisms. I have done my level best, but obviously it is not good enough to explain to you what I understand by the scientific method and logical deduction. No more argument from me.
Of course some of it has been fun – I did particularly like the comment that called Untold Arsenal the Scientology Wing of Arsenal support – very droll indeed. But for the rest – sorry I don’t have the time or the energy to answer the criticisms any more, or to keep up the level of monitoring the site for submissions that wholly disregard our rules on commentary.
I would say it has been fun – but it hasn’t. Untold will now resume what it was meant to be – a place of research and analysis where people who accept the fundamentals of research and analysis as we see them, and indeed as seen by such popular journals as New Scientist (a constant source of inspiration over the years), can explore data and share it alongside their support for Arsenal.
For everyone who likes what Untold set out to be – the site is once more yours. A few comments questioning the very essence of the beliefs and ideas we have will undoubtedly slip through in the coming days, but we will get them out eventually – some of the software we are now using is rather good at sorting that out without me having to get too involved.
Sorry for the interruption. We’re moving back on track.