The level of influence fans have in determining which players stay and which go



By Tony Attwood

There was a time this season when I thought Karl Havertz would leave Arsenal.  Indeed it was under a month ago that Football.London was running the headline, “Arsenal get ideal Kai Havertz transfer replacement …”

This came as 442 ran the item “Arsenal losing patience with Kai Havertz – and could SELL the German this summer:”  He is currently our third highest goal scorer with nine goals in all competitions.

That reminded me of another headline, “Chelsea fans boo as Raheem Sterling sends a free-kick over the bar!”  That was on X with a more full report on Football Bible

The question is then raised, does this sort of fan activity and this sort of reporting actually encourage players to leave?

Part of the answer to this question came in an article in the Telegraph about a Chelsea player whose agent does not sit in the seat he is assigned as many agents do, but actually gets a seat in the midst of the noisy fans both home and away, in order to “get a sense of how supporters perceive his client. “

The report makes the point that he is not there to note the occasional negative comment but to see if there is a significant negative feeling against his client.  The simple fact is that if the fans have turned on a player then the player and agent will talk, and if they agree the agent will go to the club, put the facts on the table and suggest it is best for all if the player leaves.

And that is a worrying aspect of contemporary football in England for several reasons.  One is, I think most of us would agree, that management tend to know more about running a football team than most supporters and certainly more about what is going on than most journalists.

A second is that unwarranted booing of one’s own player will affect the player’s ability to perform, and of course the third is that the player can then be persuaded to ask for a transfer and a potentially good player can be lost.

But worse than that there is a fourth issue.  Players talk to each other – they do not exist in isolation.  They know where fans can turn on a player, and generally speaking prefer not to go to such clubs.  Indeed when fans complain that a club has been too slow to sign a particular player who is wanted, the problem can, on occasion, be that the player simply doesn’t want to go to that club, because of the way the fans treat their own players.

But worse for the Premier League this final point tends to be an English issue.  Reports suggest that although it can happen abroad, it is far less common and so some players do opt to play in other countries.

Such increased awareness in the power of fans to disrupt a team they allegedly support, comes at a time when players are increasingly seen by some clubs as financial assets, rather than men who can boost the chances of the club doing well.

An example of this comes with the case of Brennan Johnson.  Rather than being described now as a decent player he is noted in the Guardian, as “a key asset” – by which they mean a “key financial asset”.

The point here is that the player came up through the ranks of the academy and thus any sale of the player would count as pure profit in terms of Financial Fair Play. accounting.

But it was the failure of Forest to sell him when they had the chance that led Forest into the financial mire.

They were offered £42.9m for the player by Atlético Madrid but wanted an extra £13m, so turned the deal down, along with other offers.    As a result he wasn’t sold in time for the sale to be part of the year’s financial fair play arrangements and so as a result Forest have been docked four points and drop into the relegation mire.  

Now these points are linked.   Holding out for the last few million pounds got Forest that extra money, but has seen them had four points removed which might mean that they will be relegated, and lose far more than the few million extra Tottenham paid for the player.

Here’s how the bottom of the table now reads (with Arsenal’s position left in as a point of reference)

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 28 20 4 4 70 24 46 64
15 Brentford 29 7 5 17 41 54 -13 26
16 Everton 28 8 7 13 29 39 -10 25
17 Luton Town 29 5 7 17 42 60 -18 22
18 Nottingham Forest 29 6 7 16 35 51 -16 21
19 Burnley 29 4 5 20 29 63 -34 17
20 Sheffield United 28 3 5 20 24 74 -50 14

Maybe it is not such a good idea to boo your own players.  Or to hang on for the extra £5m and then miss the financial deadline.


7 Replies to “The level of influence fans have in determining which players stay and which go”

  1. I have never understood the concept of booing a player. I don’t mean the occasional, “what the f*** was that” when a freekick is blasted 20 metres over the bar, A La Sterling, but the constant abuse of a player, no matter how bad your perception of him may be.

    I know people pay a lot of money to watch their team, but to me that is irrelevant, and this is why.

    –I don’t support Arsenal to see them win trophies.

    -I don’t support Arsenal to be entertained.

    -I don’t support Arsenal because they were the nearest team.

    I support Arsenal because they were handed to me by my family. My dad, my Mum and my older brother all supported Arsenal. It was inevitable because my family ‘loved’ Arsenal, that I would love Arsenal as well. Arsenal were like a member of the family. They are still a member of my family.

    I queued overnight in the cold and rain to get a cup final ticket.

    I queued for hours to get locked out.

    I got in to stand amongst 24,000 soles to see the most boring of 0-0 draw.

    I got in amongst 100,000 to see us win in injury time. ‘Get That b****** Back’!!!

    I travelled far and wide to see us win, lose and draw.

    I’ve had my heart broken in Belgium and London.

    I’ve cried with joy on more than one occasion.

    But not once. Not ever. Have I booed one of our own. No matter what.

    Arsenal are my family. I have been with them, and they with me for as long as I can remember.

    It’s love. No, it’s not perfect. Love rarely is. But love it is.

    Why would I ever even consider booing someone, something, I love so much?

    I think I must be odd, because to me, doing so is simply unthinkable.

  2. Nitram, I share your views about the booing of players as absolutely unacceptable. I just wonder what all the Xhaka haters have to say for themselves given that Leverkusen is 10 points above Bayern(the German champions) with Xhaka as the main driving force in the team. And this in the FIRST season after he left Arsenal. People forget that they ‘abused’ him and Giroud as ‘not good enough’ for a few years before they left. Giroud lifted the serie A title in his first season after leaving Chelsea and it sure looks like Xhaka will do the same in Germany this year.
    Always great to see our ex-players doing well, even though our ‘fans’ did not really appreciate them.

  3. It goes back to Herbert Chapman’s time. In my time, I have noted Jon Sammels being a target, with, more recently, a number of others including Almunia, Fabianski, Eboue, Gervinho and Pepe being picked on, as well as Walcott and Ramsey on occasions. Even Bergkamp, Pires and Henry may well have had their share of such treatment during their respective settling in periods.

  4. Dawie

    Me too.

    I will always remember them as true Arsenal greats. I loved Xhaka from the first a remember fondly his rocket against Watford.

    Girud had the touch of Bergkamp and the power of Radford. Will always be remembered for 2 of the best Arsenal goals ever scored. 2 touches in the build up to Whilsheres wonder goal and of course the Scorpion.

    The boo boys should hang their heads in shame, but of course they won’t because it’s their right!

  5. As for Granit, we must recognize that the player and Mr Arteta did all they could to mend the relationship.
    But it all started with Mr Arteta standing behind (or in front) of him, defending him come hell or high water.
    And we’ve seen Mr Arteta do it with other player, the last one being Haavertz.
    In this regard, in his way to stand up for the players, to tell fans : you are wrong, support him, encourage him, I think he is kind of a unicorn. He and The Arsenal as an organisation definitely have made lots of efforts to bring fans behind and make supporters of them.

    Letting Granit Xhaka go was a no-brainer considering that Declan Rice was coming. It is not like they started looking at him once Granit went…. he left with full credentials, sucessfull and an Arsenal player we’ll all remember as THE one who got lost and came back. Credit to him as well.

    To me, this is all credit to Mr Arteta. Long term thinking, even if the team comes first. I hope he stays for years to come and makes a mark on the club as Mr Wenger did.

  6. And lest I forget, credit to Granit as well, who accepted the challenge, stood up to it and to me became an Arsenal great. I can’t remember another player taking so much shit, sticking with it and proving all and sundry wrong. Talk about deserved redemption. And he may end up an ex-Arsenal invincible…..

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