By Tony Attwood
This year much of the the membership of the Arsenal Supporters Trust appears to be anti-Wengerian in its dominant outlook. For some years this view was, I think, mollified a little by people like me who were members of the Fanshare scheme, and as a result were sent voting forms for AST votes on the direction of the club. According to the AST website we are still affiliate members, but I didn’t see an email inviting me to vote this year. Maybe I just missed it.
But with Fanshare now sadly closed, and just going through its winding up processes, I guess that there are other people such as myself who maybe didn’t get their email, or feel they no longer have a vote in anything the AST puts forward.
I was never at ease with my association with AST, and in the past have felt moved to criticise its questionnaires because of what I saw as their lack of balance within the questioning. But again, maybe that’s just me. I chose to join Arsenal Independent Supporters Association whose objectives in terms of supporting the club seem to be closer to my own. Obviously I am not writing here on behalf of AISA, just reflecting that I am a member.
My point in all this is that organisations, just like magazines and newspapers, have a view. If the Daily Mail did a survey of attitudes to immigrants one might expect a different answer from that gained if the Guardian did one. AST mollified by the Fanshare associates had one vision. Now it seems different.
But this notion – that the electoral roll affects the outcome of any survey – seems to escape newspapers like the Independent which announces with ill-concealed glee that “Arsene Wenger faces mounting pressure to step down as Arsenal manager following an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the club’s Supporters’ Trust.”
I doubt that this is in any way true for I suspect that everyone with a position of power realises that this association of 1000 paying members is not representative of any other grouping either when they say that 78% of their members do not want Wenger to sign a new contract and 86% believe the Arsenal board are not acting in the best interests of the club.
So the AST pander to the newspaper desire for upset within Arsenal, as the media has done, all the way back to the days of the split between Woolwich Arsenal and Royal Ordnance Factories FC.
What is interesting however is the motivation of those involved in AST when they say that “In light of these survey results the AST now calls on Arsenal’s board not to renew Arsène Wenger’s contract at the end of the 2016-17 season.
“A substantial majority of our members believe he is no longer the right person to take the club forward. We are confident this is an accurate reflection of the wider fanbase. The AST will be writing to and meeting with members of the Arsenal board to convey these results and our position that they should now withdraw the offer of a new contract.”
Now we all know that the board is firmly behind Mr Wenger and Stan Kronke is not going to change his mind because of a vote of a very small fraction of the fanbase. So what do they hope to gain?
One answer might be publicity for themselves – so that they are seen as a focus point for the intellectual wing of the aaa and thus hope to up the membership.
Certainly they can’t seriously believe that a statement such as the ones they have been making will actually launch a process of change. Consider this
“The AST has long believed that change is needed in the Arsenal boardroom. The fact that only nine per cent of our members believe the Arsenal board have handled this issue well reinforces our view that a fresh approach is urgently needed.
“The board needs more dynamic and independent members with skillsets that reflect the challenges Arsenal face, including the need to grow commercial revenues and to rebuild a football management structure that increasingly looks out of date.”
I am not sure what the vote on such an issue was last year – certainly with the Fanshare members voting last year the majority of voters wanted Mr Wenger to stay as manager.
But if we look at the history of football clubs and the way in which they manage transformation, it is rarely because of a small number of people claiming that the board should welcome in other people. And I can’t think of occasions where the development of an organisation has been enhanced by a group demands that the board reforms itself and kicks out its manager.
Since the AST know this, and know that statements like this are very unlikely to make a difference, their aim presumably is disruption and turmoil – and in this regard they certainly have the media on their side.
But whether the media has ever had the best interests of Arsenal at heart… well, that’s another matter.
- Arsenal v Manchester City Sunday 02 April 2017 – The Match Officials
- The tapping up of youth players: it just goes on and on, and still the FA won’t act properly.
- Arsenal are the club most prone to injuries (again, and again) Well up to a point…
Ongoing: The series on Arsenal in the 1930s is complete and the first six articles in the series have now been completely revised and updated including new pictures from the first Racing Club v Arsenal match.