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When it comes to Arsenal resistance is not useless; it is all that we have, and sometimes it works.

by Tony Attwood

Reading the always interesting “A cultured left foot” blog this morning in relation to the decision by Kroenke to bring his big game hunting channel to the UK, I came across the sentence

“The reality is that while the MOTV incident brings football into disrepute, nothing will be done.”

And yes, I can sympathise with that view.  But I don’t believe it is right.

I have no idea if anything can be done about stopping Kroneke and his TV station, but I am always cautious about the notion that “nothing will be done” and its variation “nothing can be done,” for multiple reasons.   And not least among those is that having studied a fair bit of English history I am convinced that most of the changes for good we see in this country comes out of resistance.

Indeed there is also the fact that if we give up on resistance, just as if we give up on analysis and fact finding, we are simply letting the rich, the powerful and the idiots take over and do anything they like.

Now of course many will say “they can do what they like – look at Kroenke.”  And there is something in this.  But sometimes we can clip the wings of the rich and powerful if we feel like it.  It might take time, and will lead to a lot of abuse along the way, but it is possible.

But most particularly I think we need to look at issues at this moment because the Kroenke debate brought in a comment that I have referred to before, suggesting that Untold had double standards for not criticising him and had double standards because we had always supported Usmanov.  Both claims were palpably untrue, and yet were made in comments to this site. (I posted up the the first of this type that came in, but deleted the rest – on the grounds it was all too silly.)

People have always been able to say anything no matter how stupid and how false.  Now however they are saying it all the time.

Of course the writer of “A cultured left foot” only said that nothing would be done about this Kroenke incident, and he may be right.  But still, I would argue, if we don’t believe we can make change, while feeling that there are a lot of things wrong with football, then what is the point of writing, or indeed making any other form of comment?

I believe there is a reason, for I do believe that some change has been made and will continue to be made because of our campaigning.

Now I know this endless attachment to certain issues can annoy many people – one of the commonest notes we get from people complaining about Untold is of the “stop going on about” … and I always find that encouraging.  Because when someone tries to suggest that we should stop raising a subject it generally seems to me that we are having an impact.  After all, if the topic in question were completely irrelevant, no one would bother to complain.  Complaints only arise when we hit a nerve.

Which raises the question: what have we managed to achieve in nearly ten years of raving on about various topics?  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a starter.

1: Transfers – how insane is a commentary system in which over 100 players are said to be joining Arsenal through the some, and every member of the team is leaving.  It is scribblers treating their readers with contempt and people with a list of players and a list of club suggesting they are in the know.  Transfer rumours were probably the origin of fake news – and we can see how where that has led us.  And yet I do see this summer a move, for although the newspapers have now set up their own bloggettas, they are gradually moving over to the much more honest approach which says “this is the player I think Arsenal should get”.  Has our laughing at them had an effect?

2: PGMO – would anyone know who and what PGMO is without Untold?  Maybe, but would they know about PGMO’s ultra secrecy and its adoption of a system of limiting referee numbers which the rest of Europe rejected after Italy’s match fixing scandal?   Before we started I don’t recall seeing PGMO ever being mentioned, and refereeing was never mentioned other than regarding an individual ref in an individual match.  And the great thing is that when PGMO tries to do PR it is so laughably awful at it.

3: The FA – although there is no real campaign against them in the media, at least there are articles about how out of date they are, how unrepresentative they are, and how inept they are.   Few criticise the FA for handing £m over to Fifa, but I feel rumblings of discontent – and that is always how it starts.

4: Fifa / Uefa.   When the authorities moved in and started arresting Fifa officials everyone jumped on the bandwagon suggesting they had been critical of the organisations all the time.  If they were I must have missed it – but much more to the point this story was never linked to having our country aligned to Fifa and playing in its competitions.  Worse, bidding to host its competitions.  We’ve perhaps made a modicum of progress in getting the topic away from being a sniggering little column in the Observer, isolated from all other football commentary, into a topic linked to all football and government.   But there’s still a long way to go.   On the other hand we did break the story (before the event)  that the Swiss had changed their laws thus allowing the arrests to happen, and I’m still pleased about that.

5: Media stories / media language.  I made a lot of fuss about the “Arsenal had only two players who scored in double figures last season” piece because it was not only typical of the misleading statements made, but was written by one of our most eminent football journalists.  It was the word “only” that did it for me – the truth was only five teams that season had two or more players scoring in double figures in the league, so Arsenal were in the elite.   The statement was true but utterly misleading.   This summer the same writer has written a preview of Arsenal for the new season which is much more measured, much more reasoned.  Did we cause her to be more careful this time?  Probably not, but maybe we acted as a gentle reminder of what one misused word can do.

6: Questioning TV.  There have now been a few people looking at the way TV reports football with its cut aways that won’t show time-wasting, its refusal to engage in the fact that (to take one example) the Norwich ground was incredibly dangerous to players because of the placement of cameras, the use of failed managers (now called experts) as critics of current management teams.  Maybe we helped that along a little.  Certainly their audiences have collapsed.

7:  Refereeing.  Remember the announcements that 98.4% of all referee decisions were accurate and how the media swarmed over it saying that anyone who said otherwise was an idiot?  And our review in depth and with video evidence of the first 160 games of this season, which showed what was really going on?  Since then commentary about refereeing has changed, not least because each time a newspaper tries it, we pop up with statistics and evidence to show they are wrong.

I could go on and on (as I usually do).  Transfers not working, the introduction of the name the “Tax payers stadium” to keep that subject alive (thank you Guardian writers for following us on this one), the issue of the transfers of children which is now still bubbling away (occasionally), the FA’s appalling way it is handling the child sex abuse in football situation, the reason why England does so badly at internationals (this is one where our analysis is now widely used by the media), the dangers of Brexit to football in England, the fact that we are not the club with the most injuries and how most injury statistics are extremely weird, the fact that Mr Wenger’s win percentage is the best of any manager Arsenal have ever had, even though he has managed many more matches than anyone else, the corruption of the transfer market…

OK you are screaming “enough!” now and I’ll stop.  But the reason for writing Untold is not just because a few of us enjoy it – which we do.  It is to change football.  It will take a long time but change is possible.  If we keep trying.  And maybe we have, in just under 10 years, done one or two things that make it worth keeping on.

Click here to sign the petition to protest against Kroenke’s animal killing TV channel

21 comments to When it comes to Arsenal resistance is not useless; it is all that we have, and sometimes it works.

  • MikeB

    I enjoy your posts and believe that Untold enjoys a measure of gravitas that many other sites lack. However, I also believe that this issue reflects very badly on our club, and as an animal lover would like to see a much stronger stance on this from Untold. Sites that reflect the majority view, rather than the anti-Arsenal/Wenger lunatic fringe, have a significant and meaningful role to play in reflecting the abhorrence of the majority of ordinary and decent football supporters at the glorification of cruelty and barbarism towards helpless animals. I can understand that you may not see this as falling into your remit, but further believe that, when it directly affects our credibility as Arsenal supporters and decent human beings, we must all bear some responsibility for standing tall and showing our distaste when the majority shareholder of our club makes such a crass and ignorant mistake.

  • Gunnerjoe

    That’s why this is my go to site.
    Dont forget FFP when those angry man city fans came here to tell us it wouldn’t apply to them.
    Well it did.
    Interesting to see how PSG work out with the Neymar transfer with the Spanish fa theating to make a complaint to uefa if the Neymar deal goes through.
    Keep up the good work.

  • insideright

    Does the way Roman Abramavich acquired his wealth reflect badly on Chelsea? Do the goings on in Qatar reflect badly on PSG? There are hundreds of examples of owners or investors doing ‘bad’ things in one market and what are perceived (admittedly not by everyone) to be ‘good’ things in another.
    We live in a capitalistic society which upholds free speech. Kroenke has done his research and knows (presumably) that there will be sufficient advertisers to warrant the broadcasting of this channel to what will be minuscule audiences in this country. If he’s got that wrong it will fail anyway.
    The old adage will apply – he may well have spotted a gap in the market but will it turn out that there is a market in the gap? If you want the latter to apply don’t buy what it advertises. That’ll work nicely.

  • frOOm en ski (fr)

    I don’t know how long you work on this site and these articles each week (i’m sure it’s a lot of hours), but I know how much I love what I read here and the way you try to explain to the world a clever vision of what happens around football.
    Thanks a lot for that. And once more keep up your extra-ordinary work!

    Now on french TV you can watch at every sport journalist and ear the same thing: they all want Neymar to PSG and this biggest transfer of all time to happen. No question about the insane amount of money and the financial fair play. It’s a bit like everybody on TV was working for PSG. I’m afraid that the french ‘Ligue 1’ becomes like the Bundesliga, a one team league…

  • Chris

    By the way, in France there is a TV channel called : Chasse et pêche (hunting and fishing)

    Never heard that it made much ado,
    There is (or was ?) a political party called the same.

    Then, I do not watch it, so can’t say what is shown, but I guess the title is self explaining.

    Other countries, other traditions.

  • OlegYch

    Untold have been long advocating for responsible owning of football clubs, Kroenke being perhaps the only example of that
    then, as WOB started to realize there is no way Wenger is bowing down to them and switched to Kroenke, Untold jumped on the bandwagon
    why that happened became a mystery, just ‘not supporting the owner’ was added to the motto
    this was pretty disappointing to see, but whatever
    now they use Kroenke name to smear Arsenal FC in attempt to promote their agenda, and again Untold is on the bandwagon
    the postWOB agenda is pretty clear – get the club to spend more money, whatever the source and consequences, eventually remove Wenger and damn his name
    they are happy to accept money from Usmanov, listen to P. Morgan, and probably secretly salivating about all the money Chelsea is getting stolen from russian citizens

    i can only assume that Untold (or maybe just Tony) has the same agenda, and that i think shows that Untold is no more

  • Porter

    You missed a bit Chris :- Other countries, other traditions , are fine in other countries , I would think that most in this country would prefer that they didn’t bring them here.

  • Josif

    @Chris

    With all due respect, according to your “other countries, other traditions” rule, Man City owners could start a TV channel called, say, “Stones TV” (lame pun intended) where stoning in Abu Dhabi would be covered live.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Arsenal are reported to be finding it difficult to off load about seven of their on the fringe Gunners the want to off load this summer to free up the spaces and wages they are occupying in the squad and earning at Arsenal. So that Arsenal can bring in other fresh targets they want to brig in this summer.

    Unfortunately, Arsenal have found it difficult to off load these their 7 on the fringes Gunners so far, as the Gunners involved in this off loading have refused to accept wage cuts on the wages they’re earning now at Arsenal as offered to them at the clubs that want to sign them. While in the other hand, Arsenal are reported to have turned down some of the bidding amounts submitted to them to sing some of these their on the fringe Gunners as they considered the bidding sums submitted fell short of their expectations.

    What is the way forward so that Arsenal can get what they want done and move forward? I think they should keep holding out for a while to see if the transfer fees for the Gunners they want to off load will appreciate in the market before it closes. This could make it possible for them to get the correct bidding sums of money they want to get in the transfer market for the sales of their 7 on the fringe Gunners.

    Nonetheless, if Arsenal can’t wait as time is of the essence and to avoid missing out on their other intended targets they still want to sign this summer, they could workout the difference in amount of money that will make up the full payments of the wages these on fringe Gunners are earning currently at Arsenal and the wages offered to them to earn at their new clubs that want to sign them, and be paying them the shortfalls in their wages at the club they’ve joined on weekly basis till their deals at Arsenal expired in a year’s time.

    The bottom line is, if Arsenal accept to pay these shortfalls in wage earned by their 7 on the fringes at Arsenal and at their new clubs, Arsenal will not be losing much but in a small plus as they wouldn’t have to be paying full wages to their 7 on the fringe players if they stay put at Arsenal but be part paying them for a year. I am sure Arsenal know this very well, but I am just saying it for saying sake.

  • Chris

    @Porter, @ Josif,

    fully agreed. Not saying that traditions are ok across a border, needs to be legit as well and morals play a role.
    Raises the question of customer/citizen responsibility and action to change something.

    I just don’t feel that Arsenal need be involved.

  • Polo

    @ Chris, I like to differ from your comment (which is very rare) about Arsenal shouldn’t get involved. Stan is connected to the Club and his actions will affect the Club and its’ supporters. As a supporter of Arsenal FC, I would like Arsenal a Club I believe endeavor to have high moral and ethics to take a stronger stance on this, whether the result from such stance is effective or not, at least it show that the Club cares and in a way represents the view of its’ supporters. I am no animal activist and I eat meat which is bred and kill for consumption, but to kill an animal for fun and make a show out of it is just despicable in my opinion.

    Those that say let the market rating sort out the longevity of the show but how many more animals must be killed before the show stop?

    @Stan Kroenke, you are a wealthy and a very successful businessman, there’s no need to promote this despicable and cruel activity. I am not and never have been a ‘Kroenke Out’ person and I have respect on how you run Arsenal FC, please do the moral and correct thing and kill the barbaric tv show.

  • Chris

    @Polo,

    I understand your point of view. But where do we place the cursor ? let’s start with the football…the round leather thing they kick around. Where are the petitions requesting a law that outlaws imports from countries where their manufacture is done by kid slaves ? What do we know about the team shirts sold in the shops ? And how they are produced ?

    Where is the petitions against Emirates because their owners are the autocrats controlling a country where human rights are not up to our standards and democracy not established as in our country ?

    Or refusing to play in the CL (well not this year…..) or the EL because it brings revenue to a corrupt organisation that itself works with another even more corrupt organisation – because we could consider ourselves accomplices. Or come to think of it refusing to play against Barca, Madrid our City because they have done some illegal things recruiting too young kids or because they seem for the spanish teams at least, to be dishonnest with the tax authorities ? all this because us playing them means they earn more money, so we finance them in a way.

    In these cases Arsenal are directly involved.

    That is where I have my issues. Where do we place the cursor because once we place it, we need to look at the whole picture and be systematic with every issue one side of the cursor.

  • Oleg, I can of course have no control over your assumptions but they are, I can assure you, utterly false.

  • Arvind

    I find this whole thing fairly hypocritical really. There was a post by Nitram yesterday which said that since he/she ate meat, he had no right to take a moral high ground. It is the same with anyone here finding this channel ‘offensive or despicable’ or what not. If you are a vegetarian/vegan or whatever and do not harm animals in any way – then you are right to complain. If not, hunting is aonther form of harming animals.

    IMO you cannot just ease your conscience by saying ‘Ah but I just eat the excess animals, because of overpopulation’. Someone just makes money out of it, that’s all – something more than all the non vegetarians on this thread do.

    Ask yourself the question, if there was no overpopulation anywhere, of animals – would you stop eating meat? If the answer is ‘Yes I would’ then maybe you have some right to feel outraged.

    And really, Kroenke will do what he has to do – it’s not like every other big businessman is all clean. And yet we all support all of them. Some are probably at Arsenal too, just that we don’t know about them – that’s all. It’s just overly simplistic to say – ‘I’ll stop supporting Kroenke’s channel’. How about everyone stopping to watch Arsenal then? Now that’d be a statement. The rest – just makes us all feel good we are doing something (signing petitions for one). And yes, I sign them all the time – but am skeptical about how much they mean.

    Oh well.

  • blacksheep

    with respect @Arvind I can’t agree with you.

    Eating animals that have been reared to be eaten or wearing leather from animals that have been bred in captivity is a world away from hunting wild animals for fun. Sheep, chickens, cows etc are treated well or cruelly by the meat and dairy industry but there are rules that govern this.

    There may well be no perfect system of animal husbandry (or at least none that vegans and vegetarians will find acceptable) but if you are careful and read the labels and use your local butcher or a responsible supermarket you can eat meat and eggs and dairy.

    But eating a managed or cultivated meat product is not the same as killing endangered wild animals and filming it for your friends to watch. It is immoral and inhumane and regardless of laws that allow it in some countries, or cultures that accept it as ‘ok’ I do not and will not accept this as decent moral human behaviour. So I condemn Kroenke and his TV channel and anyone that watches or subscribes to it.

    You can’t just throw your hands up and say, well they are all bad, all businessmen all companies, there’s nothing we can do. Hit SK where it hurts, in his pocket. But I dont ask people to stop watching Arsenal live or on TV; just don’t buy any merchandise, any match day material, or food or drink from the club. If 60,000 people did that every week he’d notice.

  • OlegYch

    Arvind, i’m sure there are honest people who are against any kind of cruelty, and there are some hypocrites who think it’s ok to kill animals only if it directly benefits them
    then there are just ill-informed people who think trophy hunting drives animals to extinction

    but all of this has nothing to do with recent petitions which are driven by glory hunters which believe replacing Kroenke will give Arsenal loads of cash so they can enjoy their trophies
    notice how all of them are titled with #KROENKEOUT
    it is very similar to WOB campaigns which were using any possible excuse to promote their agenda, and are dating back to 1996 when Wenger was accused of unspeakable things

  • Arvind

    @blacksheep: Thank you. In the end though, you kill an animal. For your pleasure. In one case it’s the taste buds, in one it is arrogant gloating on worldwide TV. The latter is worse, yes – because the animals are endangered. But that does not mean the former is right.

    I guess it is true that I find even killing an animal horrid (as I’m a vegan) – but that is a whole new debate altogether.

    The condemning of course is your choice, and it is probably right. I’m just a bit bitter, that the fact that animals are slaughtered ‘humanely’ everyday gets no coverage, but the moment it is on TV (in a different form) people have a problem. Personally, I’d sign a petition for the world to go vegan 🙂

    @oleg: Yes, I agree. Meat tastes good to many, and hence it is easier to justify it. As for the WOB’s I’m done giving them any of my energy. They’re a waste of time.

  • Nitram

    I’ve never understood why fishing gets off so lightly.

    Hooks in the mouth, down the throat.

    Broken lines leaving the hooks embedded in the animals mouth, throat gut?

    Abandoned line and hooks coursing untold suffering to other animals, especially water fowl/swans etc.

    I’ve seen the glorification of landing ‘game’ fish, freely broadcast on British tv many times. It can put the animal through pain for hours. In fact it’s all about exhausting the helpless animal.

    Shooting certain kinds of birds for fun seems acceptable as well.

    How many of those criticising Koenke, and or signed the petition, happily encourage fish to swallow hooks? It’s likely there are a few as there are over 1.5 Million fishing permit holders in the uk alone.

    As I say, I’m not happy about this but I think a bit of perspective is needed.

    I’ve openly stated I feel a bit of a hypocrite, rightly or wrongly, one things for sure, I don’t think I’m alone.

  • Arvind

    Thank you for being honest about your views, Nitram – it is more than what many on this thread and everywhere else have done.

  • Oldham Gooner

    @ Arvind & Nitram, I hope your sentiments for human suffering are equally strong.

    Morality and societal pressures colour our choices in life, occasionally equals and other times not so.

    Personally, I disapprove of hunting but contrarily, I approve of animal testing.

    Regardless of one’s stance, the freedom to choose, debate and discuss is truly golden.

  • Nitram

    Oldham Gooner

    “I hope your sentiments for human suffering are equally strong.”

    Why should they be? I mean, I care that an animal doesn’t suffer, so obviously I don’t give a shit if a human suffers not?

    What have I said, ever, that would lead you to feel you even need to ask such a question. Or do you think that because you care about one you cant care about the other ?

    What an odd question.

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