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Being upside down: seeing football from a completely different perspective

By Tony Attwood

Going away from everyday life for a few weeks gives one a chance to reflect, and given that Untold Arsenal is now over nine years old and by the time I get back from Australia will have published almost 7000 articles, on this subject alone I find I have a lot of reflecting to do.

Has it been worth it?  Should I give up so much time to keeping this going?  Have we achieved anything?  Should I worry when the abuse levels go up?  Did I pick the right name?  Who is Sir Hardly Anyone?  All the usual questions about life, the universe and everything.

In answer to the question about picking the right name, I certainly think I did, for the blog does consistently either cover the stories that others have ignored, or cover stories that other outlets look at, but from a different angle, and that was what I intended.    

As for “have we achieved anything?” yes I think we have – but I’ve been down this route before and listed some of the topics we’ve highlighted and which others have picked up on.   And I’ve been told to stop crowing.

So moving on…

If there is one thing that I really like about it all, it is the fact that Untold has a viewpoint, and we are clear about it, while most of the rest of the media pretends that they are just reporting the world as it is, pretending that they are not making an interpretation.  Sometimes that is just a writer’s naivety, but mostly it is done to hide a viewpoint, to make it seem that this viewpoint is THE OBVIOUS viewpoint, and anyone who says otherwise is a moron.  

Of course every day people write in complaining that we don’t publish certain comments and that we are afraid of alternative points of view.  My answer is always the same – there are thousands of blogs out there looking at the world through the same viewpoint.  So why should we give space to those who like such viewpoints, unless they follow our rules of not being rude, saying something we have not seen before on Untold, and giving evidence?  

My aim, at least in part, has always been to publish what was not out there – the Untold.  And in a world now dominated by triviality, in which what happened last is the only thing that needs considering, and in which context no longer has a point, there is a huge amount that is not considered, not debated, not discussed.  There is also a huge amount of misleading information being published, while simultaneously the trivial has become the defining quality of our lives, accompanied by made up stories presented as the truth.

I read this week that the average weekly screen time of an American adult is 74 hours (yes really) and is increasing each year.  And since each channel wants to keep the viewer it uses the most obvious technique: making each issue smaller and more trivial.  Everything becomes a tweet.  Who needs debate and paragraphs when you have the hashtag?

It doesn’t just affect the football debate – it affects every debate.  It allows a bunch of con men almost to get away with putting a compulsory purchase order out to destroy a football ground, based on a story that was wholly untrue, but which no one ever bothered to check.  It allows politicians to proclaim an £18.2bn annual increase in money available for the NHS in Britain if we leave the EU, only to drop the idea once the vote was one. Yesterday’s news – very boring.  Forget it.

The football equivalent is obvious: the “transfer rumour” becomes the dominant part of the football debate, when the reports have an accuracy level of under 3%.

Overall the current approach reduces debate to a playground squabble, and gives us a population for whom the evidence of their own eyes truly is the only form of evidence there is.  Statistics, data, analysis… it is all so passé.

And indeed it is because of this “evidence of my own eyes” issue that I have got so annoyed with newspaper stories that deliberately or through rank carelessness misrepresent what is going on.  

Yes my remorseless repeating of the “Arsenal had only two players scoring in double figures last season” is getting tedious, but it makes the point.  The comment was written by a highly esteemed, knowledgeable, intelligent writer working for the most serious paper we have got left; a senior writer supported by a whole roomful of researchers and checkers, and it was flagrantly misleading.  

Likewise the report recently about Arsenal’s psychiatrist not being up to the job.  I’m not picking examples from the Daily Star (which only exists to make the Sun look like a serious newspaper – that joke went down well last time I used it so I thought I would throw it in again) but from the papers that are supposed to give us insight.

And it is not just that in those stories that the Guardian and Telegraph reported untruthful comment – although they did exactly that.  But rather they did it in a way each story was designed deliberately to mislead in order to excite the readership and encourage a particular point of view among those who would swallow the story whole without thinking “is this analysis reasonable?”

Combine that with the under-reporting of the fact that two elected representatives on a local council claimed that Sport England were giving their scheme financial backing (wholly untrue) for an utterly scurrilous scheme, and that none of our so called investigative papers bothered to check if the money was really there, and that shows how much danger we are in.

And all this without even mentioning the FA and Fifa, and the support for both of them from government and the media.   Indeed the Fifa issue seems beyond belief to me: the most corrupt body you could imagine, still recruiting to its offices men who are being investigated for corruption charges, and our government continues to  finance the FA which in turn is continuing to throw money at Fifa.   How insane do you want this to get?

The issue of countries pulling out of Fifa and setting up a new, clean organisation is not a debating point in the media, although it seems to me to be a valid point to discuss.  Instead we are going to spend a fortune sending teams to Russia and Qatar, or at least waste a fortune trying to qualify.  And that is before the moral perspective about whether we should have anything to do with a state that uses slave labour.

Let me try this another way: the European football market is worth about €25 billion a year.   And it is regulated by a bunch of crooks.   And no one is even contemplating the argument that they should be thrown out and an alternative organisation set up.

Such issues don’t become debated  because the football industry is treated as trivia by the media.  And this is not because it is a hobby, not because it is not as serious as “real news”, but because now, everything is trivialized.  So huge issues such as the aforementioned slave labour used to construct the Qatari stadia, or the fact that football clubs in the UK have been used for years as a place of work for paedophiles, at best surface for a few days and then vanish because the story doesn’t fit with the overall message of mindless trivia and yesterday’s result.

The new truth, the new reality, does not recognise evidence in the classic sense of something provable, nor does it consider the past in terms of anything beyond the last match.   Nor does it have any morality.  Any attempt to look beyond that is a switch off for many people.

Or to take another approach, the fact that there appear to be people out there who call themselves Arsenal fans but who want Arsenal to lose so that the manager will be sacked and replaced by, well, we don’t know who, in a world in which most incoming managers are less successful than the man who has been at the helm for a few years, shows how bonkers all this has become.  Losing, to force out the manager when we don’t know who the next manager might be, and when most new managers fail, has not a single shred of logic within it, and yet it is a route that seems to envelope a fair number of people.

But the bonkersness of one issue isn’t the only problem.  It is that the bonkersness itself is not an issue for debate.

What Untold tries to do is not popular.  It is not the modern way.  We are trying to take up the fight against false arguments in a world awash with five second trivia.  It hardly makes us mainstream, which is why I am always so astounded at the size of audience we get.

What I felt we needed nine years ago when all this started was a way to put forward exactly this thesis.  Then what we needed was a strategy – and particularly on the issue of refereeing what we have is just such a strategy thanks for Walter, Andrew and Usama.  When we started no one talked about referees other than in the “all evens out in the end”.  Now the mainstream are fighting a rearguard action against us bringing in ex-refs to offer sanitised “insights” while still refusing to discuss the essence of the PGMO, an organisation now permanently in hiding.   It might not seem that we have got very far, but when you consider where we were nine years ago I think that is progress.

For the moment I’m working on the basis of seeing fake news and false allegations as an opportunity to make the point: we are being manipulated by a media that now looks more like its owners have read “Brave New World” and seen it as the blueprint for the future, rather than “1984”.

The mass media with the exception of the BBC is a selling mechanism, and sadly in order to protect itself against government cuts the BBC is forced to compete for audiences with the popular media.  In some fields, such as the news and drama, it often does this exceptionally well.  In football, it seems utterly unwilling to challenge the reality created by Sky, BT Sport and the press.

So what to do?

Well here’s some ideas

1:  Let’s not use the media as the definition of what is news and what isn’t.  Just because they decide x is the news, that doesn’t mean it is.  The media does not determine reality.

2:  We can look at football from the outside inwards and see what it then looks like, rather than following anyone else’s view from inside the game as to what the agenda is.  There is no harm in following completely different stories.

3:  Break with the established approach and do our own thing.  No rule says that after every five lines of text you need a picture.  No rule says that anyone should take phraseology like “Arsenal fans will feel” as anything other than the ramblings of a fantasist.

4:  Let’s keep looking at today’s headlines and seeing how they relate to last week’s and last month’s.  If nothing else it is amusing to see how inconsistent the message and the messenger has become.

5:  Think where this is going.  If we have this sort of approach and development in terms of both football and reporting continuing for another three years where on earth will we be then?

6: Re-think what it means to write about football, and to investigate football.  Of course we can’t expose the perfidious nature of Sam Allerdyce as the BBC Panorama programme did, but we can look for anything that simply makes no sense, and ask what is going on.

7:  Be bold.  Untold has re-written some of the rules about commentary on football; I think we should continue.  And let us never worry if some of the experiments don’t work.  That doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that some of them do work.

8: There is nothing wrong with a starting point that says everything in the media is made up.  Every outlet is biased – including Untold.  The point about Untold is that we are adopting a form of bias that counters the dominant form of bias with the intention of making the current dominant form of bias more obvious, countering the view that the common approach is common sense.

9: Let’s have a few laughs along the way.

10: And remember, there is no point 10.

Art3

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Woolwich Arsenal: 1893-1915: The Club That Changed Football by [Attwood, Tony, Kelly, Andy, Andrews, Mark]

Now available: Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football (Kindle Edition)

For full details please see here.


During February some of the regular home page features will be missing due to the fact that the publisher is also missing.

What passes for a normal service on this site may be resumed at some stage in the future.

 

 


28 comments to Being upside down: seeing football from a completely different perspective

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Tony,

    Thanks for all the work you have put in down the years and I’m glad to have been able to contribute.

    Whilst there may well not be a point 10, there is one other important point that I would like to add:-

    Arsenal football club will still exist tomorrow, next week, next year and next decade. Those involved will certainly change but the Club will be there and will still need our help and support.

  • Pat

    Well said, Tony! Keep up the good work.

  • Philbet

    We live in a strange world where people are constantly minipulated and brainwashed and despite having the intelligence to know its happeming still go along with it if it suits there own personal agenda,its almost as if being part of a clan or group is more important than doing the sensable thing, to lack objectivity is one thing to lack the ability to foresee the pitfalls and problems that may ensue is almost “anti humanity” its as if we have lost the balance and perspective and replaced it with “lets all self desrtuct together”

  • Polo

    Thank you Tony and all the contributors for creating this great blog and all the work done through the years. Much appreciated and keep up the great work.

  • Saadman

    Edward snowden said that he is happy if at least one person gets to know the truth that he risked his life to tell them. And I think that you should feel the same too tony. This comment section is testamant to the fact that your work has not been in vain. Confused people like me who were agnostic about Wenger got a better perspective on things by reading the material being written on this site. Comgrtualtions on reaching 9 years. You guys deserve more recognition but unfortunately your hipster mentality towards football doesn’t get you the attention you guys deserve. Cheers.

  • Thanks Tony for the great work. This blog has been a source of inspiration for me right from the first day I found it till today, I av been trying on working on similar objectives in regards of the Nigeria professional football league. I am a young Nigerian hoping to contribute to the development of the way the Nigeria league is viewed. I Would be glad to get advice from you on how to go about it.

  • Simon Morgan

    Things will not change at arsenal until Stan Kronke leaves and David Dein returns.
    I actually believe Wenger could deliver more success if Dein was there to guide him, and get some desire for the club to succeed back into the ownership ranks.
    As much as Usimov worries me I at least believe he loves the club and will do anything to make it a success rather than a cash cow.
    Guys please push for this change!

  • para

    Untold, a lonely voice in the wilderness whose words are being carried by the wind across the earth.

  • Zedsaunt

    ”How insane do you want this to get?”

    There’s still a long distance to go before we hit the bottom. The EPL is a template for the 21st century – how is ‘false news’ to be presented in an echo chamber, how does that echo chamber itself become the bubble of reality?

    I started reading Untold a few years ago because of the quality of the writing and the comments. As far as I could tell the EPL had come off the tracks. It was being run as soap opera, with narratives modelled on English soaps. The pgMOB wwere central to this because the ref was paramount.

    Nothing overrides ‘paramount.’ The paramount authority. In cricket, tennis, rugby, the paramount authority no longer existed. There had to be evidence. Now, in 2017, thanks to the efforts of Untold, it is possible to argue that there are very specific reasons why the EPL and the FA will not accept a Europe wide interpretation of the rules of football.

  • ossasa

    Oh the irony that Trump is not happy with the media either. The above is a bit like the Florida rally yesterday. Self congratulating followed by the apostolic adoration. Brilliant!

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I watched a video of the pre-Sutton press conference. The press had come in with their stories already written. Maybe there was one question about the upcoming fixture…the rest were predictable doom and gloom question/comments.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Was Harry Kane fractionally offside when he scored that Spurs’ 2nd goal? The Fulham keeper raised up his hand to indicate Kane scored from offside position. But the linesman and the referee were all adamant and the replays looked to have been edited to favour the goal. Thus, one can’t know for sure if Kane was actually off or not.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Mr Atwood, well done!. You are on the right track. Without the UA publications of Arsenal history, we wouldn’t have known deeply about Arsenal history as we have known and are still knowing. And Without the UA reviews of referees performance particularly in their officiating in the Premier League, we wouldn’t have known how wrong and bad some of them are as the mainstream media never questioned the referees referring malpractice. Without the Untold we wouldn’t have known how bad the corruption at Fifa headquarters has reached and needing to be acted upon before the arrest of some of their executives at a hotel in Zurich. Without the Untold the FA may have gotten away without reforming itself. The reform that is now seriously on the table for action due to UA exposing the ills at the FA. There are so many knowledge on football issues and matter which the UA has impacted on their readers which we wouldn’t have known as the mainstream media never highlighted such news for the sole aim to cover a bad story up. My Kudos.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Carry on the good fight ,Tony . Well at least till its proved without a shadow of a doubt that –
    – The EPL is really not fixed.
    – The PIGMOB are all honest and sincere and do really get 98% of it right .
    – That the journos , pundits and ex players are really sincere in their opinions.
    – That the FA , UEFA , FIFA and all other football bodies have only the good of game in mind in all their dealings .
    – ‘them’ are really Arsenal fans .

    As I see it, Untold Arsenal is going to be around for quite a long time . A very , very long time !

  • Temitope

    Well done team untold; my thanks to you all.
    I have stop listening to AAA news report and stop worrying myself all because of you guys(untold team).
    Thank you once again.

  • Mac

    Ha. Tony you open with why you ban posters on here with” unless they follow our rules of not being rude, saying something we have not seen before on Untold, and giving evidence? ”
    And yet one or you most regular posters menace who because he supports and has every excuse in the book for our manager is still allowed to post.You cannot preach values on this site when this vile vulgar and racist bully is still allowed to be a regular member.

  • Notoverthehill

    Untold Arsenal, is different from the other Arsenal sites, that exist to attract click-bait.

    Like the mass media, dependent on advertisements.

    Continue the good work, Tony and the regular contributors. May the advertisement continue, to prove that the probable truth still matters.

  • Florian

    Congratulations Tony & Co. for the nine years! If there was one Arsenal supporters’ website worth following, this is the one. I will never forget the first time I stumbled upon the articles uncovering the media ineptness and the ref reviews. Oh and it was so great to meet you in person, together with Andrew and Blacksheep. On to the tenth year now!

  • Mac it was not my intention to preach values. The fact of the matter is that Untold is an operation run by a tiny number of people in their spare time and we cannot monitor each and every post all of the time. So we use automatic systems, which are far from perfect. I have often said that here. I do try my level best to keep things under control but I am far from perfect.

  • Zuruvi

    Thanks Tony for starting Untold.
    Thanks to all contributors too.
    A special thanks to those readers who bother to comment. I really enjoy reading the comments. I agree with many, I disagree with a few. But … I really enjoy reading them all.
    I was going to list the regular readers who make this website vibrant with their comments (constructive comments and not-so-clever comments, positively Arsenal comments and some weird comments).
    Thanks Tony. Thanks readers.
    Untold is a great platform for us the genuine Arsenal fans.

  • Rantetta

    Tony,

    Thank you.

  • Zedsaunt

    ossassa posts

    ”Oh the irony that Trump is not happy with the media either. The above is a bit like the Florida rally yesterday”

    Trump is the latest in a long line of tinpots who first take out the media, and then the judges, and then promote themselves as the only leader who can save the country. Feelings are deliberately targetted, reality is manipulated, facts are thrown out the window. As the Ukip donor Aaron Banks explained to the Guardian June 29, 2016 celebrating Brexit,

    ”Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip’s referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.

    “It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

  • Menace

    There it is openly Untold…. with the odd flash of comment pungency because ‘them’ will not see.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    “Be honest about what you can get. To make a sacrifice and to get what you want you need to be very certain. In other words: always think about your objective, have a clear goal and commit to it from the heart.”

    ” You have to enjoy life. Always be surrounded by people that you like, people who have a nice conversation. There are so many positive things to think about.”
    -Sophia Loren

  • Dr Duh

    I made my first trip to the Emirates for the Hull game and seeing the “Football should be an art” banner was one of the highlights. Reading your blog is both educational and a pleasure. I appreciate both your insight and your rigor. Thank you.

  • Gord

    Is the New Statesman a good read?

    In any event, they have a couple of articles that have come across my Google News searches.

    In one, they look at the Moneyball approach as being applied at Brentford.

    The other, looks at the life of a Spud supporter. In particular, he wants to donate some of his memorabilia to the Spud Museum. It talks a bit about the construction progress.

  • Gord

    Corruption News

    Apparently FIFA is having a hard time selling advertising/access/whatever you want to call it to World Cup 2018.

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/sponsors-shying-away-from-fifa-as-russia-world-cup-draws-near

  • I chuckled, UNTOLD is perfect, I’m supposedly about to hit it big, Newsroom anybody!?

    This blog; sometimes it feels as if it saved my sanity, in an insane world, to hear people of a likemindedness, see them exist even if only in type for now.

    Sutton tonight, pray he plays the second team, I fear the break isn’t long enough to stifle the hatchet boys efforts with reperatory surgery.

    Sutton man is already giving the teams obituary and he sems a genuine football kind, understanding the need for th A Cup and countermanding Wengers exasperations regarding youth development as teams such as those crooked blues simply horde young talent before offloading at a profit, with the player only having seen the first team pitch the day he arrived.

    IN H&F, C&K and accros Londons upper middle class regins, pitches are errected, yet where there may be even greater talents lurking, nothing, the youths are left to scrape livings on push bikes, meanwhile education still languishes low down on the list of priorities, all the while they suggest more talent should be nurtured, whilst clubs plough money into foriegn pockets and the FA deems discrimination the key to a changed ideology, stating quotas. China make adaptations, that illustrate their may e a need for change, but in a realm where quality is imperritive, you may need to look to lower tier leagues for the advanceemnt of the young englishmen. And we are back to money.

    Greater rewards for smaller teams as they advance in the cups maybe, quotas for youth representation over the course of a season also, but is it not our culture which fails to distill and indeed instill quality in our sporting secotr? Team GB fair exceptionally well, yet English top flight teams struggle to nurture fresh new talent, what is going on here?

    Meanwhile I audit Jobcentre Plus and Universal Credit and find it to be a fascist, racist regime aimed at marginalising those who have worked tirelessly in the country over 4 years from Eu Shengen states. Somebody call Carlos Teve and ask him how he feels about guilt by association?

    As the Metro reports a study illustrating that if all economic migrants stopped working for a day, the UK would lose £385m or there abouts, probably a whole lot more, maybe 33% of those migrants wont be listed in any official quotas, NEo-Colonialism in action, in evidence on and off the field.

    I win, you win, you write I add, autonomy, maintained. Insha Allah as the Muslims say, and indeed God Will good things to those hildren Unicef see at risk as forces push to take dusty townships as legitimised insurgents seek foriegn resources as once again the Western cool climates flag, with or without thier smartphones, which cause ill health.

    Samsung heir up for corrupton, Trump wants to screw his eldest, well at least he has good taste. Foriegn houses left to rot, as foriegn investments makes football a political issue, meanwhile some ask why has the issue moved from football, to such topics. Ooh boy he says, sat in the library quiet area, supposed to write a Cv he will never need, whilst he contemplates the fate awaiting himself and those who perpetrate against him and his.

    Indeed if there is to be no god, then lets start Cantona-ing the rest of the teams, or get a boot out and throw it.

    When G Neville defends my good man, I am sure that we are a tipping point and goodness will prevail, he even mentioned in reference the ECHR, we shall not be moved.

    Keep up the sterling work!