By Tony Attwood
If Arsenal sail forth and continue with their current form in the Premier League, last night will be forgotten by many Arsenal supporters, and quite possibly the amnesic media. But there were scenes last night which had nothing to do with football which should bring absolute and continuing shame on the club.
Now as I reveal that I am talking about a roof leak rather than the result you might think that I have finally fallen over the edge, but the scene of gallons upon gallons of water pouring through leaks in the roof over supporters and forcing them to vacate their seats will have caused much mirth among supporters of other clubs and anger among some Arsenal fans. (And I’m not the only one annoyed by this – see here and here for example)
Anger indeed because those leaks have been there for over two years and have not been repaired, while the club has continued to sell tickets for seats below the leaks knowing that in heavy downpours fans will be drenched and forced out of their seats, and then face the further ignominy of been harried by stewards for not sitting in the seats they have paid good money to be in.
So while we can debate how it was that Arsenal lost a game we all hoped and expected they would win (given the result of the first leg) the abject failure of the club to make the stadium an acceptable, safe and indeed dry place to watch a match is an issue that will linger on.
Repairing a roof cannot be that hard, and it could and should have been done either last summer, or indeed during the break from the lunatic mid-season world cup. Between 10 November and Boxing Day Arsenal did not play a match at home – it could have been fixed then. Between 26 May and 13 August Arsenal did not play a match at home. It could also have been fixed then.
Of course, it is possible that the long-running issue with the roof was fixed before but the fix was botched (maybe they used the wrong glue, or given the way the stadium is run, sellotape) but the fact is that this is a club spending almost £100m last summer on transfers. Surely another £1m could have been found to fix the stadium roof so that those spending huge amounts on tickets could have been kept dry.
As it is Arsenal has been made the laughingstock of the Premier League, and fans who spent a lot on the seats below were forced to move away, and I guess, not see the game.
What we really need to know is who took the decision either to do nothing or to use cheap materials liable to disintegrate at the first sign of a downpour, and that person or those persons should be out of the club now and publicly humiliated.
But such is Arsenal’s detachment from reality when it comes to fans that this disregard even outweighs the appallingness of Fifa’s head of state (for so he appears) Infantino when he this week compared his personal journal in becoming unchallenged head of Fifa to what in the word of the Guardian was that of “Rwandan Tutsis annihilated with medieval barbarity.” It shows, they continued, that Infantino “is not fit to inhabit any office, let alone to preside over the one truly global game.”
One might say something similar about those whose job it is to make Arsenal’s stadium safe and fit for purpose. And those whose job it is to oversee the work – all the way up to the top.
And this is not the first chaos at the ground. I made a bit of a fuss about the way entry to the ground was completely unsafe back in September 2021. I’ve no idea if the club saw my post – after all this is just one blog among many – but they did sort out the issue by the next home game. That was quite probably nothing to do with my writing, although prior to that article the club seemed utterly in ignorance of what was happening. Afterward they took action. Let’s hope the same coincidence happens again.
Of course some might say that the injuries to Takehiro Tomiyasu, William Saliba, Gabriel, Aaron Ramsdale, Trossard and Zinchenko could cause Arsenal on the pitch problems. If so that will make the headlines and the mulitple gallons of water pouring on spectators won’t be mentioned because it didn’t happen above the seats given to journalists.
But one day, the club will wake up to the fact that without supporters, they are nothing.
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate