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Untold Media: Are they out to get us? No, it’s even worse than that.

By Nick Tolhurst

Is the “Media” out to get us? – No, it’s even worse than that.

Explaining how the media got so negative and what it means for Arsenal.

For many Arsenal fans perhaps the most disappointing development of the last few years has been the increasingly negative media on arsenal related issues. Every defeat (or even narrow win), missed signing or injury seems to invite a deluge of “woe is Arsenal” headlines, while reporting on Arsène has gone from generally favourable articles of the “exotic”, “genius” and “professor” ilk to encompass the now obligatory terms of “stubborn”, “despairing” and “embattled”.

For the more paranoid amongst us, (and let’s face it following any football team with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune is quite conducive to paranoia), there’s enough evidence out there to give one pause for thought as to the motives and agenda of sports journalists.  Are the media really out “to get us?” I would argue no – but in actual fact it’s much worse than that.

To explain why this is so, you have to look at the nature of modern journalism and developments in public relations. The biggest development in journalism over the last decade has been the rapid decline of print media and the rise, and increasing sophisticated tools, of online journalism.

For many, online versions of the Telegraph, Mail or Sun are just that – versions of the print newspaper. In fact the opposite is the case. Print newspapers are old fashioned objects which cover, with sizeable delays, news which has already been discussed in far greater detail and greater volume online.

The Daily Mail, for example, is not a “newspaper” but one of the most viewed online news sources in the world with an accompanying print newspaper for a small minority mostly in Britain. Why should this make such a difference? The reason is the sophisticated tools and instant nature of online newspapers. The Telegraph, for example, has serious journalists on business and global warming and most journalists who write on these issues have a comment or blog page. While a newspaper can’t know which articles people read of the paper they can and do monitor intensely exactly how many readers “click” on any and every page online.

The reason of course is to maximise the amount of exposure to adverts. Each journalist is informed regularly on how much “traffic” they generate – if they don’t generate “enough” they will lose their comment page. So back to the Telegraph online, articles that the economy will collapse next Tuesday or that global warming is one big swindle always attract far more attention (and visits) than more considered articles. In the same way sports journalism is now largely online and thus “disaster” or “euphoria” articles inevitably garner more attention and thus more money and those journalists who write them will drive out the others.

With football it’s even worse though as there is no need for any real “news content” as anybody with an ipod ap or computer will receive instant updates on scores, injuries and transfers faster through twitter etc. than any journalist can deliver. The only way journalists can “add value” is by commenting. Newspapers have thus stopped reporting news and now basically provide comment which must be excitable enough (either negative or positive) to maximise visits (and referrals and “retweets” etc.).

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Arsenal have benefited in the past from this sometimes as when our youth teams thrash a decent team in the Carling Cup then the media has sometimes gone overboard on some of the young players. In the main though for a team like Arsenal being sustainable, bringing through young players, playing regularly in the Champions League is simply not a euphoric achievement enough to generate high “click counts”.

If you can’t do euphoria it has be disaster for example “New Stadium will Bankrupt the club!”, “Henry leaving – it’s the end!”, “Cesc leaving! – it’s the end of Wenger’s youth plan!” and of course the annual regular “Arsenal won’t qualify for Europe!” In addition to this, journalists now have to write far more to fill up the online version than they ever did before for print. Consider your average football hack will have to know a bit about every PL team, a bit about the championship plus know something on international football, la Liga and Serie A at a minimum.

If you do the maths the average hack will probably not spend more than an hour or so a week on any one team – that’s about enough to cover the weekly highlights and read a couple of his fellow journalists’ articles on the team. To expect well researched considered journalism from this is asking the impossible. This explains why so many “professional” journalists make elementary mistakes when reporting.

There is not much Arsenal can do about this, but they can do something about the second major development in business – public relations – which has increasingly become about using others to communicate your “narrative”. Harry Redknapp is a good example. The story is largely that he’s a cheeky chap, “Salt of the Earth” guy who has brought success to every club he’s been at no matter their size and that’s he’s the next England manager in waiting. There is some truth in this but there’s also another plausible narrative that he’s a personally dodgy character who after buying up large amounts of players on expensive long-term contracts leaves every club he’s at with high debts and expensive ageing players just in time for him to get another chance at another club.

Why does the first narrative predominate? Largely because Harry cultivates the press, is good for a quote, “spins” the news and ruthlessly plays off “friendly” hacks against “unfriendly” ones. Fergie at Manchester United goes even further. Write a negative report or ask a difficult question and you won’t be invited again. Everyone knows this, problem solved, even if it’s the BBC. Anyone who doesn’t believe me listen to Henry Winter next time Manchester Utd are going through a sticky patch! Of course you can’t win over every football hack but cultivate enough with access, advance tips and info regarding transfers etc. and you can get your “story” out – you also send out a message to other journalists regarding unfair or extreme negative reporting.

The unique thing about Arsenal is the degree to which even “pro Arsenal” journalists such as Amy Lawrence seem to have no problem heavily criticising Arsenal. A good strategy would be to get journalists who like Arsenal’s philosophy such as Patrick Barclay onside through better access even to confidential information. I don’t want to criticise the board too much but it does seem to me that even quite small Premier League clubs are ahead of Arsenal on this. The Wolves chairman for example regularly appears on football podcasts why not Ivan Gazidis? Such actions are not just about the message they can also very cheaply help spread goodwill towards the club.

Lastly, and people may feel I’m pushing the point here a bit too far away from football, it occurred to me during the recent riots that the “Arsenal story” is really worth telling. How about interviews and photo-ops with Wenger accompanied by Wilshere, Gibbs and Frimpong in Wood Green, Tottenham or Clapham on (Arsenal’s strategy of) backing English Youth (rather than – whisper it quietly – City’s mercenaries)? Also “a quiet word” in a few journalists’ ears about the “Arsenal Way” that is, that perhaps if the UK was run like Arsenal – low debt, sustainable, investment in infrastructure, emphasis on youth training and non-exorbitant wages at the top then maybe, just maybe, Britain wouldn’t be in such a mess. Now that might not only change perceptions it could make for a few interesting articles not only on Arsenal but on Man City and Chelsea as well….

Nick Tolhurst

The writer is a Germany & Mexico based Arsenal fan and author of numerous articles & books, including most recently “Responsible Business” (Wiley 2010). You can follow him on Twitter @nicktolhurst


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Evidence, who needs evidence?  The Guardian knows that Wenger is ill but insists on doing all transfer deals himself!

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Untold Media Review: the Telegraph

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The index of past articles now appears in our Media Index

130 comments to Untold Media: Are they out to get us? No, it’s even worse than that.

  • Gooneraside

    Bloody hell, Nick, you’ve done it again.
    Spot on about the changes in the press – comments on news that’s already been broadcast on the net instead of the news itself.
    And yes, the boss does (and other staff do) need to be more user-friendly regarding those same pseudo-reporters.
    Not too sure about the last part though – tongue in cheek?

  • nicky

    Many years ago, a very astute Arsenal Manager said “If Arsenal isn’t in the news, it’s bad news”.
    From the early 30’s the Club has made news,viz,
    Numbered shirts
    Floodlit games
    Midweek matches
    Murder film involving the Club
    Tube Station named after the Club
    World record signing
    Ignore the news about the Club, whether true or false, biased or not. Merely rejoice ( or “rejoyce” in my house, to give my wife some publicity) at the free publicity.

  • Sticks and stones comes to mind.Vermalen now out for 2 months
    thank God we did”nt buy Cahill with all that money we have”nt got.

  • Sammy the Snake

    The best way to combat this trend i sto avoid clicking on these sites. Don’t let your curiosity give the the satisfaction of a click!
    Good read!

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Funnily enough I would think that Arsenal’s young English players are waging their own PR war. Theo seems to be making himself very available to the press, Wilshere and Frimpong have huge followings on twitter.

  • Pete

    Thanks Nick – well reasoned, food for thought!

  • Anne


    “For the more paranoid amongst us, (and let’s face it following any football team with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune is quite conducive to paranoia), there’s enough evidence out there to give one pause for thought as to the motives and agenda of sports journalists.”

    I really do think that this is your most salient point in the entire article. But I do appreciate your providing us with an alternative theory of motive.

  • walter

    While reading this excellent article (thanks Nick for another great one) I was thinking back and wondered: just how long ago was it that we didn’t have all those online newspapers.
    I still remember that Ceefax (Teletext in my part of the world) was the fastest way of communication. But this was a very dry way of communicating. Like the final scores, the goal scorers… My God, it must have been a century ago.. 😉

  • walter

    One could also be using the colours black and white for how news is being made. It has to be the one or the other as it will generate clicks. But grey is never used anymore. Let alone yellow or red or green or….
    And the problem is that we all get caught with some of the headlines at times. Or we just could leave them out and just read Untold and It is what I try to do but must admit that even I sin every day…

  • Nicky – thank you for your comment which began “Many years ago, a very astute Arsenal Manager said “If Arsenal isn’t in the news, it’s bad news”.”

    I really am taken by what you have said, and will be developing it (with full acknowledgement to you) for today’s article on the Arsenal History site. Really good point – thanks for that.


  • 100 Years of Hating Arsenal – Innovation is Bad for You, now on the Arsenal History Site.

  • Tony – bad link… that’s an admin link not a public one – same on twitter. Too much clever clever stuff – oooh the irony!


    The actual link is here:

  • mogooner

    great article ! thanks !

  • Shard


    A very well written article once again (I guess being a published author shows) but like the last time, I have issues with your article.

    Last time you’d argued that Arsenal can’t compete in the transfer market, and should change the way we operate, ie break the rules because other clubs do so. I felt that there was more harm than good to come of that for us as a club, and I’d also like to know your thoughts on that bit.

    In this article the main gist is How to ensure that the newspapers get our story across in a fair, if not favourable way.

    The reason you assign for the journos writing what they do, is the pressure to generate ‘hits’, and that the extreme points of view sell more. Ok. So why is Arsenal potentially dropping out of the top 4, more extreme than Liverpool actually doing so? Yet we are told that every year for the past 4 years that Arsenal will fall out. Liverpool not winning a trophy for 5+ years and league for 20+ years isn’t as extreme as Arsenal building a stadium and managing to stay competitive, including challenging for trophies?

    Your solution? To treat the press differently. One example you give is of ferguson. He bans reporters who don’t write favourable articles or who ask tough questions. I don’t think you’re advocating that, but can you imagine the reaction if Arsene did that? “Oh the dictator has finally decided to cut out the free press” Arsenal are doomed (as per normal).

    Moving on to Harry Redknapp. Yes the media is very favourable to him. Frankly I’ve never cared to think why. But one thing is clear to me. Harry Redknapp looks out for No.1.. He’s a self promoter and nothing else. He doesn’t care about the clubs he’s managed, as evidenced by the trail of destruction left behind. So your argument is this goes unmentioned because he gives journalists good copy.. So does Arsene. He answers all questions that they pose to him respectfully and honestly and he gets absolutely pummelled for it. What makes you think giving them more access will make them change their tune?

    I suppose there are ways that we can change our PR and press policy (though I think you oversimplify the issue by talking about giving exclusives etc) But will doing that help? Will giving people interviews in which Arsene is being calm, correct, considered, and overall perfectly logical, suddenly take away the reason you ascribe to the negative articles in the first place..the Advertising? If 5 new signings with international and premier league experience can be portrayed as a negative thing, what positive message can Arsene and Arsenal possibly give out?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice one Nick , thanks . Regarding the statement about the riots ,I was looking out for somebody or other to comment and blame it on us!

    If Arsene or any of the boys had made an appearance there ,they may not have made it out alive !

  • Shard

    “For the more paranoid amongst us, (and let’s face it following any football team with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune is quite conducive to paranoia), there’s enough evidence out there to give one pause for thought as to the motives and agenda of sports journalists. Are the media really out “to get us?” I would argue no – but in actual fact it’s much worse than that.”

    As I’ve indicated before, I don’t think advertising revenue is a valid reason, because there are inconsistencies there as to why the coverage for Spurs or Liverpool has been so positive for years, despite there being less to be positive about, and why the media can’t find the positive extreme to write about Arsenal (something this site has managed to do)..

    But it is much more worrying that you classify the identification of the media bias as ‘paranoia’.

       [par-uh-noi-uh] Show IPA
    Psychiatry . a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
    baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.

    As this site has shown over many many months, it is not baseless or excessive behaviour to feel that there is an inherent bias (at least) against Arsenal FC among the referees and the football administrators, as well as in the media. It is precisely this attitude of calling it paranoia, or calling someone who voices concerns as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ that has allowed things to get where they are. And @Tony, Walter, Anne.. I am extremely disappointed that this site has seemingly started to change its stance and its editorial policy in this regard. Articles with a contrary point of view are good to engender debate and keep us all on our toes and not get carried away. But this shift in stance is almost reminiscent of what AK and the Sun did (as was excellently shown on this site) and I guess I am confused as to the message that this site puts out. It runs a section on the media, and then calls it paranoid to think there is something wrong there. It says it’s proud of Arsenal functioning the way we do and is full of praise for the team that we are building, and then suggests we change our ethos and break rules because we can’t compete. What next? How we should try and buy off referees since that will take away the ‘bias’ that they have?

    A good article. But not one I agree with in terms of the idea, and makes me question the spirit of the site.

  • Shard

    Oh and also..@Nick

    “Consider your average football hack will have to know a bit about every PL team, a bit about the championship plus know something on international football, la Liga and Serie A at a minimum.
    If you do the maths the average hack will probably not spend more than an hour or so a week on any one team – that’s about enough to cover the weekly highlights and read a couple of his fellow journalists’ articles on the team. To expect well researched considered journalism from this is asking the impossible. This explains why so many “professional” journalists make elementary mistakes when reporting.”

    That is absolutely correct. I know more about Arsenal than any of the ‘experts’ they have on tv, and probably much of the journalists.

    But.. one thing you don’t mention is that as journalists, they have access to a whole lot more statistical data than we are not allowed to have. (which should be a question in itself. WHY?) They get to look at the official Premier League stats which any one of us is simply not allowed access to. You could purchase the expensive OptaJoe stats package but I’m not sure that still has all the information.

    So if a journalist were to qualify his comment through the use of data I could understand it. When he claims Arshavin is under fire from the fans for being lazy, a journalist could easily just look at numbers of how much Arshavin has run and his heat map, and compare it to say Valencia, to say whether the ‘fans’ are correct or not. But that takes away their power to form opinion and be the mouthpiece for whatever section of ‘fans’ they choose to be.

    Even when they do use data, it is only the numbers that show a pre determined thought that are used. It is not used to ask questions or any analysis. (Martin Samuel’s article about Wilshere going to the U21 and his ‘statistical’ comparison with Ozil is a clear example)

  • Shard

    CORRECTION: But.. one thing you don’t mention is that as journalists, they have access to a whole lot more statistical data THAT we are not allowed to have. (which should be a question in itself. WHY?

  • Gooner S

    An excellent article and an interesting read.

    For me it isn’t paranoia it is about business…nothing more, nothing less. This is a well known business model. I do agree with Nick that Arsenal should be doing more about this, especially as I have seen ‘quotes’ from those at Le Grove in some of the national press recently but none from this site (for instance).

    Lastly, I would have added that it isn’t just the written journalism that this applies to but also phone-in shows, especialy Talksport. The ‘commentators’ on Talksport are there to keep you listening and of course listening to the adverts. How do they do that? They provoke you into a response and they are really good at it too!

  • Anne


    Thank you very much for saying that. I for one have never had any intention of changing the editorial perspective of this site re media bias.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    What you really need to do if you want to keep the media honest is a ‘journo watch’.

    Log their attitudes to Arsenal, as well as to other clubs. Tot up what percentage write anti-Arsenal, pro Utd stuff. Or pro-Spurs/Liverpool stuff.

    It’s not very hard.

    There’s a new story on the Express website now that Vermaelen has had a secret operation on his foot and will be out for 2 months. I have no idea if it is true,, especially as there is no similar story on the website. Which you might expect if a leading player had had surgery.

    The predictions will be as follows: if you believe that people only want to read things which confirm their prejudices, then the more global Man Utd fans out there, the more the online Press will favour Man Utd.

    If you believe that Man Utd fans are more likely to gamble on Man Utd than not, then the statistical probability of fixes favouring Utd will increase the more Utd fans there are.

    If you believe that the more commercially powerful you are, the more influence you have over the selection of referees, then statistically you will create cabals of superclubs who always win the Champions League.

    And if you believe that such things go on, you would be of the opinion that technology which can resolve dodgy decisions clearly, quickly, during the match, will be resisted as it reduces the ability to control outcomes using officials.

    If you believe all of that, then you start to ask whether football is still a sport or an extremely dodgy form of business.

    Whether you can put the genie back in the bottle I don’t know. Online gambling now employs many. Shareholders continue to want growth or yield. Fans of Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid and a few others expect trophies every year.

    I worked in an environment once where everyone was fiddling the system for their own benefit. I tried to clear out the rubbish, start again and do it the right way. It’s pretty impossible with global ‘scouting networks’ powered by the CIA, the FSB, China’s equivalent etc etc. Walls have ears, computers aren’t private, mobile phones track you, credit card companies pass on your purchases revealing travel plans etc etc. Arsenal were amongst the parties interested in various part of all that…..

    All that of course is not what our politicians, our leaders say we ought to do. We are supposed to be honest, not to steal, not to pry, to work hard and miraculously, if we do, all will come right.

    Well, sorry to say, they are liars, they know they are lying liars and they are brazen in their contempt for people who tell them that they know that they are lying liars.

    Arsenal fans need to wise up.

    Professional sport mirrors real life.

    And real life is pretty corrupt, dirty and unprincipled right now.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry to go slightly off topic ,Tony ,but here is a straight from the hip clip –

  • Well said Rhys… the ‘wise up’ part is the tricky bit though as you rightly say that the loss of credibility in the ‘sport’, that a lot of fans watch and seem to take on board as part of their belief structure, is too much for them to contemplate… better that they just shuffle along with the paradigm rather than shatter their dreams.

    I have been looking into this for years [believe it or not] and it’s really not as simple as shouting that the EPL has no scruples – you just get laughed at… a nervous laugh with beady uncertain staring eyes I’ll grant you… yet I keep saying it as that is what I see.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – football, in the bleary eyed sentimental sense, has died; it’s time to mourn it and move on and recognise the modern day issues that globalisation, gambling and corruption are placing on our sport – either that or the future of football will be empty stadia and a fanbase being replaced with a lot of online mouse clicks on the websites of various gambling entities… of course – you might get the odd ‘good match’ when say a BWIN team takes on BET365 team and they both take counter market stances but that’s not really football is it? Or is it?

    I just don’t know anymore…

  • mick

    I heard this on Talksport last Sunday and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The program was called…The Press Pass: Sunday 4th Sept. Des Kelly, Oliver Holt and Mick Dennis chew the fat on the Euro 2012 qualifiers and all the big deals in the summer transfer window. Listen to the 7pm to 7.30pm segment where they discuss Arsenal. There is an absolute gem where they all agree that the media campaign against Arsenal is a myth and the press collectively actually admire Arsenal and bend over backwards to be fair to them. Have a listen on this link…..

  • bob

    I’ve no time for a counter-article, right now; but what I can muster under my own pressures in this moment follows:

    I find your title deeply misleading and your analysis of a problem (not THE problem) accurate, but sorely underwhelming; and, alas, that it defocuses readers from what is TRULY “much worse” – the various areas (see below( that you don’t go anywhere near touching upon as key factors in the anti-Arsene/Arsenal campaign.

    You are, of course, so measured, so right, and alas, too safely narrow in making your accurate points. Yes, Nick, of course, good PR would help and is needed (Arsenal is far behind there and doesn’t stand up for itself, letting Arsene walk point while its suits stay under the radar), and there’s no revelation here, as several people here have been commenting here for months. And yes jornos do HAVE to (but many hardly are unwilling to) make their articles “clickable” as a matter of business profits. (And, btw, there’s also the headline crafters, lens crafters, who are not necessarily the writers.) But, you somehow miss so much else that matters, and matters more, and is tied in to what you note, but which you have disentangled from what you note, and is far more structural than what you “expose.” I find this disturbing.

    In fact, while you’ve detailed one layer of the problems that Gooners face, but you have obscured the onion. No, what’s afoot is far more than online business as usual and it begs questions you don’t touch. You make no mention that – right now – there is, in plain sight, a qualitative leap in both the level of the negativity and the scope of that negativity toward Arsene/Arsenal. No mention that there is – right now – a de facto and continuing campaign to bring down Arsene Wenger which is a ratcheting to a degree that is a new development. No mention that there’s – right now – a de facto assault on the very future and possibility of self-sustainablility as a model; which in fact is the business as usual of the billionaire takeover model’s media operatives.

    No mention of the de facto divisions that the ratched-up media misbehavior have and – right now – continue to so in the ranks of Gooners; and no question raised as to whether there is or were any intention here on the part of any media figure to do this, whether reporters, editors, managers or owners. And, in fact, you say nothing about management or ownership at all: whether in general, or with any scintilla of specificity. Why not? Surely that’s safe of you. Why not even suggest there’s another layer to visible jorno behavior and headlines? Let alone cross the line to analyze or detail it? Safe. And comforting. And, yes, we all do grasp the idea of “the business model” as long as its about the sound of clicks that go kerching. But there’s more to “business models” in the abstract. There’s the real economy in which they function and strategize and compete and monopolize on a higher level that you obscure with your current focus. And, further, there’s nothing about Arsene/Arsenal’s ongoing tense oppositions to the Associations and their operatives on and off the pitch. (Notice Arsene’s suspension being enforced now, by UEFA.) Why not? Safe.

    All of this, and more, I submit, have a bearing on the shape and content and qualitative difference (from even the recent past) of the current media atmosphere that – right now – goes well beyond the pressured or not behavior of jornos. The question begged is WHY is there that commercial pressure? And no single or simplistic answer. You stop at the first layer, the jornos, as if that surface is the real “shocking” and “far worse” answer. Nick, as you and others here know, the economic drivers of this anti-Arsenal atmosphere go far more than extra clicks competing with more extra clicks. It is that, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. That is NOT what is the “far worse” that you indicate in your headline; but that you, sadly, do not deliver on in this article. There’s no doubt you could deliver a more searching and penetrating analysis, and give readers a less comfortable but more interesting analysis with better questions to ponder. But, as we know, that is not safe. And so, you don’t wade into those waters. I know that it’s harder to get published all over the media map if you do. But while your outcome is accurate, I think it’s lightweight.

    To cross the line you draw is to risk being labeled “paranoid.” But you too are so quick, at the very outset of this article – (and you cleverly put it in “confiding” parentheses, like these) – to suggest and so condescendlingly, this: “(and let’s face it following any football team with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune is quite conducive to paranoia).” Right here you are playing the conspiracy card, Nick, and in a slippery way that doesn’t quite call those who go farther than you would as “paranoid”. No, you don’t come out and just say it. Rather, you say, oh yes, it’s understandable that some of us would feel paranoid, given the ref and media behaviord. Well Nick, either there’s demonstrable patterns of ref-shite against Arsenal, or there are not. Either there’s demonstrable or at least good reason to suspect deeper patterns of ownership grabs and manipulations at work against Arsenal, or there are not. And that this is reflected and advanced in and by the current media-funneled war against Arsene/Arsenal. Your piece states directly and by implication that there are not. (I think you know better.)

    Anyway, there’s more that’s awry with this underwhelming piece, and thankfully Shard does a great job in disentangling most of the threads and shedding much needed light where your piece casts shadows. Bravo Shard!

  • Mr Venger

    @ Mick

    Mick Dennis. Don’t you just love him??
    ” Mertesacker was the last toy available in the toystore on deadline day” What a tosser!

  • bob

    p.s. To be honest, this is not Untold Media. It is Re-told Media.

  • Shard


    True. John Cross had an article that said there is no media bias against Arsenal, but rather the opposite. the press have such respect for them. It isn’t us, but the fans who are actually negative.

    This article does much the same, except since it is on a blog where there are fans who quite clearly are NOT negative, it blames the club’s PR policy as the culprit, while giving the media the benefit of a relatively benign cause (ie advertising revenue). Football aside, readily accepting the media’s role as a business, and accepting that they abdicate a deeper search for the truth has many dangerous consequences anyway.

    While this article doesn’t really advocate it directly, it does indicate it.

    bob I’m glad you came out with some of the more abstract issues with the article because much of my focus was on tackling the article itself. So I guess we just formed a mutual appreciation society 🙂

  • Stevie E

    If I may add, the idea that this is purely click media is also wrong. I have read articles in papers (old-fashioned real paper papers) that have only an abstract relevance to Arsenal but the author feels the need to have a dig at AW or the club. Also, in the Evening Standard, one of the journos has his own column (which does appear online) with small micro stories alongside the main piece (NOT online) which he regularly uses to make spiteful comments particularly aimed at Arsene.

  • bob

    Indeed. And this article, by acts of commission (as per your points) and omission (what I could knock at on first sight), is deeply problematic on so many levels. But it’s both worth taking on as we’ve done and necessary to do so, if we’re to continue at UM to explore under the surface of things, rather than to merely describe them (however well) as Nick Tolhurst has done here.

  • bob

    I agree. And all those Metros on the underground which are read and re-read when left behind and so forth, all speak to a model of circulation that is not all about online, but that is both online and hand-held traditional newsprint and both have influence on people’s thinking and feeling. It is quite disturbing, if this goes on and on, that Arsene/Arsenal could be made into a national joke; a point of shared reference and common as breathing the air. It is vital to oppose this, not to let it off the hook or underplay it, as I feel, this article does.

  • Stevie E

    3,000,000 readers a day from 1,500,000 issues produced… How many clicks does an article get?

  • A Casual Observer

    Not to detract the detractors but I would like to add that I do find the ‘middle ground’ (or the establishment thereof) extremely valuable – truth comes in many flavours and I don’t think it is ‘conducive to change’ [in the hearts and minds of the confused consumers of football media] to stray too left of centre – after all, he who sits on the fence controls who jumps over it and he who builds the fence decides who can sit there.

    Too vague?

    Anyway – I have liked all the Untold Media articles in their spectrum as a body of work and in keeping with the ethos of the site and I especially like the discussions that they promote!

  • Shard

    On a more positive, and totally unrelated note.. Just saw Mikel Arteta’s interview on Arsenal Player, and at least to me, he seems genuinely excited to be at Arsenal. There was also a tweet from Conor Henderson I think who said that everybody was buzzing about Arteta when they got back from training.

  • Shard


    Who defines what the centre is? 🙂

  • A Casual Observer

    We do – and we’ll drag it a little more in our direction every day!

  • bob

    Shard, Stevie E,
    Shard, would you have a link to that article by John Double-Cross? What a snake! They sow divisions relentlessly and then step back and say, oh no, we deeply respect Arsenal and merely reflect the news of fan negativity (which, of course, people like him have done well to foment and ratchet up).

    I’ve also just read a great analysis of jorno’s in a newish book called CHAVS, by Owen Jones (Verso Press), which indicates how most jornos nowadays need to be either well-heeled or subsidized, because their starting salaries are low and the price of jorno-school is too high, etc., and they are vulnerable to pressures and editorial dictates not to go along to get along.

    And, in a real way, there is a de facto institutional filter at play in selecting (or self-selecting) the right kind of jorno for the jobs that be, that select for the right kind of education, and the probable willingness to do “thy master’s bidding”. Now on that sketchy summary of a very good book, I’d surely guess that the jornos at Guardian Football, for example, judging from their skilled word-smithery, have been well-educated and, not finding work in English lit or film studies or humanities or social science departments – which they should have been able to, but that’s another Pandora’s box – have turned their skills toward a place that pays something, to something comparatively good – the football gravy train. And that paying the rent means, naturally, cleaving to the party line on Arsenal and doing so with panache and cunning and skills to craft and hone the English language in demonstrable ways that advance the agenda of the moment. This is not free flow investigative reporting style journalism, to overstate the obvious. And at Guardian Football, it’s still in the gutter stuff, but at a cut well-above (in style and phrase-turning) Der Sun and Der Mirror and other red tops and tabloids that, alas, eclipse the Guardian in circulation. That, to me, is the saddest bit, because the Guardian is such a world-class paper in so many of its other areas and long-demonstrated capabilities.

  • bob

    Interesting point, this functionality of the constructed center. But being more specific would advance our great discussions, as you say. So come out some more and be less vague; and develop what is the “center” position on Arsene/Arsenal these days? Is there one? Is it Nick Tolhurst’s in this article? It would be interesting for us to have the more specific discussion you hint at harboring. So, stir the soup at least a bit more.

  • Shard


    I agree. and that is what has been happening with Untold in my view. And that is all the more reason I reacted the way I did. That slow dragging of the centre has been achieved patiently and with much thought and effort being put into it, and this article doesn’t so much as set us back, as yank it away. And it doesn’t achieve this through superior logic. Only with ‘common sense’ and as bob put it, with condescension. It takes a position (closer to the ‘centre’) but doesn’t in fact do anything other than scratch the surface of something that has already been scratched, and cracked, and polished away here at Untold, while calling those who have drifted to a more in depth conclusion (or rather inquiry) paranoid.

  • A Casual Observer

    bob – it is an ever changing metaphysical gestalt, a cloud in the void defined only by the boundaries of perception and it is something in which we can all have a stake… and now is a very good time, for us right minded people, to make our claim.

    Please allow me to abstract further on the condition:

    If one were to assume that the media machine has evolved to ‘divide and conquer’ the fan-base in terms of the:

    1) Polarisation of received ‘opinions’ through the strategy, and consequence, of ‘selling copy’ through sensationalism.
    2) Gravy-train riding apologist rhetoric.
    3) Bookmaker sponsored disinformation.
    4) Anti-Arsenal bias.

    We can further extrapolate that these extremes of non-news have stretched the middle ground rather thin.

    Usually when you stretch something too far it snaps and there is a backlash… when something is out of balance it falls over – but does the truism of the properties of elastic and gravity hold true with the psyche of the crowd?

    I would place myself in the ‘yes’ camp as I have a little faith left in human nature for that.

  • A Casual Observer

    @Shard – we have been dragging the center by the extremes of counterpoint [against a hostile agenda] – I would say that far from snatching away the message that this article is well written and will provide a ‘gateway’, of sorts, to further study… the same people who read this article will read these comments too.

    I would encourage you to charm them!

  • Shard

    I’m afraid I’m not much of a charmer 🙂

  • bob

    ACO, Shard,
    Charm + grit = the ways to go. Honey + Vinegar. Craft + principle.
    Our arsenal for the Arsenal!
    p.s. Shard, I fully agree with your gut reaction on reading this piece. It’s up to us, as ACO indicates, to push the door wider and wider; then again, it’s also up to us NOT to let Tolhurst’s point of view to define the UM center, as if anything that probes deeper is somehow more “extreme.” I can only hope that Tolhurst’s piece is a one-off as opposed to something more defining. (I hope that’s a clear enough message to those who may be concerned.)

  • Byo

    Talking about the media and bias- Tony Pulis is such a great manager w/Stoke even though they play the worst football in the league with rejects. Their wingers are praised to the maximum, and they play “effective football”!

  • bob

    I agree with Anne’s deeming it an “alternate perspective,” but,
    with all due respect, exactly what do you find that is “great” about Nick Tolhurst’s article?

  • This article is objective and well-thought-out. Clearly, it has no place in an English newspaper — or even an English “newspaper.”

    The problem with running a club, or a country, like Arsenal is that there will always be people who are, literally, reactionaries: “Don’t tell me that you’re building for the future! I want it NOW!” And you end up with a once-great club like Leeds United in the 3rd division, or a decent (if not “big”) club like Portsmouth having a Camelot-like “one brief shining moment” and then come within another moment of nonexistence.

    Or you get a country so close to the brink of collapse that they’ll take anything. Sometimes “anything” turns out to be a skinny black guy with a funny name who tells you “Yes, we can.” Sometimes “anything” turns out to be a broadcast-tycoon playboy who runs the greatest football club in the land but that’s his only virtue. And sometimes “anything” turns out to be a noisy guy who looks like Charlie Chaplin but promises a return to national greatness.

    I’m not saying Harry Redknapp is Hitler, or even Berslusconi. But he’s no Obama, either. And he does tend to leave clubs looking like they’ve been blitzkrieged. Mr. Cameron, please take notes: Austerity doesn’t work on a national scale.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The meida have a lot to answer for in their anti Arsenal stance but as indicated in this thread, the more you think about it, the more one realises there really is something else going on.
    The club and the manager are under attack it seems from all sides, or am I just paranoid?
    But , the club do not always help themselves on the PR front. These are one or two blogs, one especially stating the 5 recent signings were completely the work of the board, not Wenger, who apparently was only interest in the futile persuits of Hazard, M’Via and the young German chap. Probably no truth in any of this however these blogs have used the fact Wenger was out of the country on deadline day, the fact that he flatly scoffed at any suggestion of an Arteta bid the fact there has been no comments on the official site from Wenger since the Utd game etc to back up their claims. One site reports that Wenger has had control of transfers taken from him, if that were true, well..cannot see Wenger putting up with that! But my point, maybe we could do with a bit more on the official site from Wenger expressing delight that Gibbs now has a Brazil international to challenge / support him, or his approval at the Mertesacker signing, or lavish praise on the quality of Arteta or such the like. It is not the job of the club to constantly counter the more outrageous claims of the AAA but at times, a smarter approach with its own fans could pay dividends.

  • nicktolhurst

    Shard + Bob etc

    The thing is I really do agree with you 100% on the media and Arsenal, but its not enough to show that the media are publishing quite ridiculous and untrue stuff its important to
    1 know why
    2 what can be done against it
    Lets take Arsenal and Spurs. Any sane neutral looking back whether over 15 years, 10 or 3 would have to conclude that Arsenal (under Wenger) have been successful and Spurs have not. Arsenal have had success, established themselves as a top world team (and club) have a spanking new stadium and emerging youth players. Spurs have what? They have spent in the red virtually every year and apart from the odd carling cup and sneaking in once to CL have nothing much. Yet compare reporting on Spurs and Arsenal!

    Take last weekend Arsenal forced to field a carling cup team away at Old Trafford score 2 miss a penalty and have a dozen shots on target. Now im not saying for 1 minute the OT result wasn’t terrible but compare with Spurs. They field a near full strength team at home and get thrashed. Yet what amazed me was that afterwards journalists on serious papers where hinting or even writing that actually it was a cunning plan by Harry to get the board to release more fund. So a full strength team thrashed at home = cunning, but a vastly depleted team gets thrashed away by champions after having quite a few chances = end of the world. We ALL can see this happening in front of our eyesb but what explains it? Now I cant say whether Harry phoned around around or whether its “friends of Harry” or just journalists doing Harry’s bidding voluntary it doesn’t much matter – it works. Arsenal needs to do the same – that’s the way it works – otherwise you are dependent on lazy ignorant journalists doing the right thing.

    One thing I cant agree with though is that some people seem to be implying that making such comments somehow legitimises irresponsible media. That would be like saying an invaded country that organises its defences legitimises the initial attack. Arsenal didnt make the media or bring about the recent changes – but we live in a changed media world who have far less interest in the truth/news than before.

  • nicktolhurst

    Anne + Shard

    just to be clear I only write here on things I feel I can add something new to. The untold media section here has done a great job in showing up the quite frankly ridiculous reporting on arsenal – I cant really add anything new except to provide more depressing examples (and there are plenty enough out there). By concentrating on PR I had hoped my article would provide something positive ie there is something that Arsenal can do to counter this!

    The thing is if I thought biased journalists was the only explanation I would be quite happy – hacks come and go after all, but as I say its worse than that, much worse. The whole sports media industry is more or less unrecogniseable from even 10 years ago and clubs have to realise that.

  • A Casual Observer

    @bob – my use of the word ‘extreme’ relates to ‘news’ and ‘non news’ in that Untold Media’s counterpoint to extreme ‘non news’ is a strategy of extreme ‘news’ – does it make you an ‘extremist’ or, in a world defined by extremism, does it make you ‘normal’?

    What is normal and where did normal go?

    That was my point… or counterpoint – no offence and/or labeling intended.

    @Shard – oh pish-posh, I have casually observed your ‘charm’ in action, don’t deny it!


  • Passenal

    I partially agree with you Nick, but what does ‘arry, the wolves chairman and fergie also have in common with the journos? Nationality is the answer. Arsene and Gazidis are foreign therefore an easy target and not trustworthy to the xenophobic. PHW is too old school although he does seem to use his connections at the Daily Star to get messages out. I do think Arsene is too accommodating of the two-faced hacks who lap up all the copy he gives them by answering their questions and then they spin it against him behind his back. If I was him I’m not sure I could stomach facing that pack of hyenas on a weekly basis.

  • bob

    All well and good, on your advocacy for a strong (any) AFC PR front. Your posting to me is preaching to the choir. I agree with every syllable. What I’ve said is that there is far more below that surface and outside the frame of your article that influences the state of affairs that you aptly describe and which causes the crisis in the first place. And that level is neither just hacks at their keyboards nor AFC’s failure to provide (and you are right) anything near an adequate PR or counter-PR campaign on its behalf. Arsene is out there all the time as AFC’s flak-catcher. And he needs and deserves massive backup. So, to that extent, of course I agree with what you’ve just posted. But it’s not enough and most of all, it does not deserve that ridiculous overpromising headline of the truth behind the truth. Why not call it the PR Crisis at AFC. That would be more accurate and promise less while delivering far more. Let’s row the same boat, if you wish to look way beneath the surfaces, as many here at UA/UM have done and continue to do.

  • Shard


    and does that changed media environment extend beyond the media to the people as well? Or are they being paranoid for wanting to know more?

    I’m sorry but your article was not about organising defences against a media onslaught of negativity. It has no in depth look at what Arsenal can do to counter it, and what might be the pros and cons of any such moves. (Mandy Dodd gives a good suggestion) You give no thought to why it may be (point 1 in your post above) beyond the obvious and frankly nonsense idea that this is simply about generating hits. (I already said I’m not a charmer @ ACO)

    And its suggestion as to point 2, is also undeveloped. Harry Redknapp is apparently the prime model to follow here. So if the manager makes himself available every ‘deadline day’ and appears on Sky sports 3 times without buying the targets that were wanted, that would make for better press? No talk of how he might be well meaning but has too much responsibility? How the transfers have been draining for HIM and shows in his appearance? If he ‘cultivates’ the press, IE plays a game of chess and divide and rule with them, would this stop? What makes you think so? It used to be that we get too many red cards, and thus give the press a legitimate axe to grind. That we do not have any English players (even when we had Cole and Campbell), and now that we have 2 or 3 in the English team and more in the pipeline, it is because our press team doesn’t communicate itself very well.

    You tell me what EXACTLY this ‘cultivation entails’. Because I am very interested to know. What motivates a journalist if not the facts (as you have accepted yourself), and how do we actually overcome that earlier motivation and provide one of our own?

    If I breakdown your article, it reads nothing of the sort of ‘defense’ that you put up. You say the media ISN’T out to get us, but it’s much worse than that. What is this worse thing you allude to? You ascribe a relatively benign motive (hits) and you call that WORSE? Worse than what? You also say journalist don’t have time to look at all clubs. True. But they also have access to more information. Through ‘sources’ and through the statistical data that is made available to them AND ONLY THEM. Yet they pretend they are driven in their writings by the fans, and not by their own inclination to incite. In the post above, you say of course they treat us poorly, but you also ascribe only advertising (without explaining why Arsenal bashing is good for revenue) and the journo’s lack of time. So which is it? And what is the worse you hinted at?

    As I read the article, you assign the ‘worse’ to a) the club’s PR team for not ‘cultivating’ journalists. (again what EXACTLY drives a journalist is the main thing here then) and b) the people who are ‘paranoid’ as a result of the ..what was it..sudden changes of fortune. As bob said. Either the ref shite happens or it does not. Again, Which is it?

    The best your article offers is the analogy with Arsenal being a model for the UK, no less, to follow. The same model you advocated destroying (you’ll claim modifying) in your previous article.

    I’m all for the middle ground, and I know there are always shades of truth. As with anything, there are no absolutes. But, the middle ground does not mean not taking a firm stand. So please. Can you clarify where exactly you stand on the following.
    1: Is there a concentrated media campaign against Arsenal, and Arsene, or are they just dictated by the hits that they generate, and by them being lazy or not having enough time?
    2. What does ‘cultivating’ journalists imply. Basically, what motivates a journalist to write something (apart from, and superseding the hits they generate)
    3. Does the constant barrage of unfavourable refereeing decisions, administrative decisions, and media coverage, indicate enough cause to think about there being other things at play, or is that paranoia?

    (As a bonus) 4. I’d like once again to tell me what you believe Arsenal will achieve from starting to tap up players (something you haven’t addressed from your last article)

    And lastly, UM is (hopefully) more than about showing what nonsense the media spout. It is about educating everyone (including ourselves) about what tools the media use to carry forward the story they feel like running, and then examining why it could be so. As such, it was a better attempt at organising a defense than your article, which to me didn’t read like one at all. If it reads as a defense of anything, it is of the media.

  • nicktolhurst

    very very good point Passenal and something I missed in my piece. After all its surely not a coincidence that the one time spurs got bad media deal was when Juande Ramos was in charge (with his hesitant english) anglophile Martin Jol plays the media much better.

    Wenger also has trouble with the old style british managers drinking club of fergie, bigsam etc. who work together against “outsiders”.

  • Hi Nick you are spot on. But Nick those morons wont survive even a single day when they don’t write about the Arsenal.
    Arsene is a professional he knows who the bad guy are but he will give them audience, he is not like his friend you fuck up with him he does the same thing to you.Sometimes its wright to show those c…ts who is the boss but you let it go and make them look like they know more but in reality they know nothin. Thats why Arsene is a class apart. Those morons wanted Arsene to go long time ago but he is a survivor up to now and he will stay until he says so.
    Arsenal will never be relegated not in our life time,so all the doomsayers will just talk and talk and talk.

  • Shard


    Yes, a possible change in the PR structure is something others, and me, have asked for a few times. Still. I don’t think this article was about that. Also, I think there is a slight shift in the PR at Arsenal. A tiny one, but a beginning. One example is that Confirmations of signings are being given when they have agreed to sign. Earlier it was always when they actually had signed. Also, while people don’t always like it, (and bob and I have disagreed in the past about this), it should be acknowledged that the club make more efforts to engage with fans than I think any other club. Certainly more than any other major club. And this is something that should be acknowledged and isn’t. Gazidis is accused of being a ‘spin merchant’, and of course he is. He is representing the club at all times and obviously he won’t say anything bad about Arsenal, or say everything that is going on at the club. But the fact remains he doesn’t have to open himself to even that. But I suppose in a world where people have to moan about the announcement of the attendance figures (have they stopped announcing this year?) then people just want to moan.

    P.S. Which is not to say that I’m against the club reaching out. And in maybe better ways. But those need some discussion rather than a vague ‘could do better’

  • bob

    Not just mutual admiration society here, but your posting to Nick is great.
    Nick, if you would answer Shard’s points it would bring a lot of light to the discussions here. Shard’s stuff here is serious and far-reaching and deserves your in-depth and most honest considerations. Please get under the surface and not repeat more examples of media faux pas and bias that we all can see. Shard’s questions get at WHY they exist in the first place, and more. Not that I have to speak for anyone but me. But I so fully concur with Shard’s summations and questions to you that I can only wish I could have written them myself. (Charm offensive + truth seeking = hoped for constructive response.)

  • bob

    Dostoyevsky said that “style is fate,” but it’s not just Arsene’s style that irks the drinking buddies Don Fergus and Fat Sam. It’s a substantive threat he has been posing to their way of life and privilege. The oily-garchs that are increasingly running football aren’t the drinker’s types either, but you don’t see your media brats taking the piss out them. C’mon Nick, let’s get under the surface. It’s not all about style and the right spin. Though, I agree, in the UK press, breaches of style and spin are used to cover up the real, profound disagreements at work.

  • Marc

    Nice piece Nick. Your spot on in your evaluation of Henry Winter. A few years ago I used to read the Telegraph on a regualr basis but I only buy a copy once in a blue moon now and then I refuse to read the sport section. Winter seem’s to have got his head stuck so far up Fergie’s arse that even surgery is no longer an option.

  • Passional
    Just to repeat your words it is not enough for me.But what surprises me is the writer still he dont get it.British media are there to promote englishness blatantly..At the helm of Arsenal club is


    Immagine for one minute if Wenger was a british national.Do you reckon the british media will behave the way they are doing ?
    Of course not.

    Take a look from football point of view the Cahill situation versus Pet Merteseker for example.
    If one would ask the name Gary Cahill out there in the globe only few people may recall his name, and i just been very generous.(who knows he can be ours in jan…so i dont want offend him)
    Equally if the name Merteseker was asked around the globe easily tons of people not only heard his name
    but will tell us a lot of things about the German.
    The media they want us to believe that the viceversa.

    I do not blame the media on this but rather the over all philosophy of the club Arsenal.
    I dont think they envisaged properly the appointment of a french national at the top level how much furore will cause by the media.

    More than football it is politics i guess.

  • Shard

    Speaking about PR..How’s this for PR? 🙂

    So an injury and surgery comes with a positive message. That just made me smile. Some people might get angry over it, but I don’t have a problem with it. It wouldn’t have made it any better to say Vermaelen out for at least a month. This at least tries to be positive, rather than just bleakly reporting the fact. Another example of change I guess 🙂

  • nicktolhurst

    blimey Shard – I have enough trouble keeping my articles down to 1000 words to have written in detail the way you wanted would requite a journal article! I have some experience in media from both sides, but the following while based on exp is in the end just my opinion.

    Briefly, you ask:
    1: Is there a concentrated media campaign against Arsenal, and Arsene, or are they just dictated by the hits that they generate, and by them being lazy or not having enough time?

    Its more complex than that. I dont think theres a group of “anti Arsene” hacks who spend every day working together to derail Arsenal. But as I say Its worse than that. journos care about 2 things “readership” & “credibility”. Lets imagine arsenal win league or CL this season. Most journos faced with the fact that they were stupidly wrong will then argue that thank god Arsene listed to them and bought decent players instead of relying on youth. basicaly,
    a Over the last 10 years instant, exciteable media has driven out considered stuff. You can still find good stuff but not on the daily Mail website
    b Media has become “self reinforcing”. In the old days a hack wouldnt have 100s of cheaply produced instant articles online for free. For example most transfer speculation involves journos simply rehashing others articles which were rehashed themselves and so on and so on

    In arsenals case journos have stict deadlines to produce stuff which people must click on and which is largley based on other peoples speculation. The fact that arsenal are successful, well run, great to watch and possibly only wont not win the league because of the obscene oligarch financial “doping” doesnt really make great copy. As such Arsenal are an easy target. And journos love easy targets – there is simply no downside to writting bad stuff about arsenal right now. Once a team, person, politician, celebrity becomes a target the problem for journalists is they get lost in the crush ie they need to be even more extreme than the next one.

    A similar thing exists with the english national team for years before every WC journos rushed to outdo each other predicting a WC win. Then afterwards rushed to say how stupid the manager was until he got sacked. The internet makes this worse – its a herd mentality not a conspiracy.

    So what can we do? Which leads on to

    2. What does ‘cultivating’ journalists imply. Basically, what motivates a journalist to write something (apart from, and superseding the hits they generate)

    journos want access to power people, access to confidential info, quotes, flattery, free hospitality. Chelsea are particularly good at the latter, city are improving fast (from what I hear), Utd are 1st class at controlling which journos get in and which dont. Utd also operate a sophisticated “punish and reward” system on journos depending on what they write. The spanish media is effectively divided between Barca and RM press offices – Im not joking here im quite serious. Harry is on the phone hours every week in private to individual journos – thats common knowledge. Arsenal are “nice” Wenger takes time to speak to journos but doesnt really favour one over the other and we have a great press centre.

    but basically I would say most top clubs run the press like political parties, while Arsenal present a sober, old school public service type operation a bit like the BBC press centre. The advantage of Arsenal is you can trust it. You know the website will only put up stuff thats confirmed etc and there will be less “briefing behind ones hand” – Wenger just doesnt do this and I wouldnt change him, but somebody needs to do this otherwise you give the initiative to others to brief against you.


    3. Does the constant barrage of unfavourable refereeing decisions, administrative decisions, and media coverage, indicate enough cause to think about there being other things at play, or is that paranoia?

    This is very difficult for me to answer. I dont know, I can guess but I cant offer much proof. Whats clear to me though is that Arsenal seem to have less influence than other big clubs when it come officialdom. Fergie is a master of this – the FA are simply scared of him and his network – Arsene doesnt really have a network so theres no downside to enforcing a tough decision on Arsenal (whether its right or wrong).

    In many ways arsenal are in the curious position of being a “big club” but run like a “small one”. Small clubs dont attract the media frenzy but get a raw deal from officialdom and referees, big clubs have the media frenzy but use thier influence and power to lean on officials and “impress” referees. Its not quite corrupt but its a morally grey area. In a seaons worth of 50-50 decisions man utd will always come off better than smaller clubs. The problem for arsenal is we get for the most part the disadvantages of both at present.

    hope this helps.

  • Anne

    @bob, Shard, Stevie E, Mandy Dodd:

    Very good points, particularly from bob and Shard who have gone into this more exhaustively than anyone else. I was planning to jump into this debate, but you guys haven’t left much for me to say. I’ll just second you.

  • Anne


    I do believe that some of the points you’re making here are good points, and no doubt play a role in the current media stance against Arsenal.

    However, you undermine any positive, constructive intent in your article at the outset, by deriding those who hold certain “other” points of view (myself included) as “paranoid.” That’s a loaded word and an insult, and I find it difficult to believe that you, as a professional journalist and published author, don’t realize that. Bob was correct to describe it as “condescending.”

    Perhaps you would receive a more “constructive” and “positive” response to your efforts if you didn’t begin the article by insulting those who disagree with you?

  • Shard


    Yes it does.

    1. I think you are absolutely correct in your assessment of it being more complex than that. There are many interests at play, and of course journalists have pressures to stand out. I also agree (and have said before) that it is of no loss to them to criticise Arsenal right now. Everyone does it, so even if Arsenal are proved right in the end, no one at least is blamed individually. In a sense it is a case of just going with the flow. But, is that all that is at play here? Basically what I’m getting at is that even if at some point it becomes self feeding (needing even more extreme viewpoints to stand out), what started this Arsenal in crisis talk in the first place? And since it worked in creating more hits (I’m not sure it did that actually), why has it not been done with, again, for example, Liverpool? We’ve been hearing about our years without a trophy for 3 or 4 years now. Why don’t they? So, I think you are correct, but I still think you are unwilling to go the extra mile to look further. Or just being safe.

    2. “journos want access to power people, access to confidential info, quotes, flattery, free hospitality.”

    Apart from maybe the last two, the other things are still not what they want (if they do). It still remains a means to get what they want. Access to powerful people and to confidential info means nothing on its own. Has no value. So What are we supposed to offer them, to be more..ahem.. considerate of our feelings? What sort of information are we talking about?

    3. Again. The network, and FA’s fear of acting against it is just the symptom. Not the underlying cause. Wat is this network? What does it do? Who all are part of it? How far does their …camaraderie..and their reach extend. Why would the FA be scared? What can Arsenal do to counter this? If it is to join does that entail. It is as you say, more complex than that. There are many various interests working here, and the way I always sum it up as is: Dodgy decisions + selective reporting + lack of accountability and transparency + huge amounts of money = ???

    Nothing good is the only answer to that in my opinion. And while you are correct that the club should think of ways to counter this, I still don’t know what to demand from the club, without knowing what the club is expected to do to achieve that aim. Actually, that would be my question to Gazidis if I were to be at any meeting with him. What Arsenal intend to do about the stream (or flood?) of negative reporting, that even Wenger has alluded to recently.

    As for being run as a small club, despite being a big club. That bit is definitely true. We used to hear about how Arsenal is more a family club than a professionally run business. But I do feel it is in the process of changing. Gazidis and Fox’s appointment, with Kroenke taking control, will see that happen, for better or worse. Here’s an article on them, and the role they have played

    Nick. Your above post makes a lot of sense, and is very reasonable. I still feel it is too ‘safe’ even now, but I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that when you assign reasons like generating hits as the cause behind the media barrage and leave it at that, I feel you are bringing up something which has already been discussed here on this site, really a long time ago, and I saw it as seeking to legitimise the media behaviour by assigning them a cause which is obvious, and obviously present as well, but doesn’t even begin to analyse what you yourself said above is a more complex situation than that. As I said, I think you’re still being too conservative but I guess that’s you’re call. I still wouldn’t have your article on Untold Media though , but I guess that is not my call either. (no offense, though I’m sure I’ve given some-no charm you see)

    Special mention to you saying that journalists care about readership, and credibility. I’d say this is exactly what UM is about. Credibility. I agree that there are no ‘anti Arsene hacks’ out there (at least mostly) and that the motivations for this go beyond that even if it exists. And someone brought up xenophobia, and while I think that definitely exists in English football, again I think that it goes beyond that, and Wenger being French plays only a very small part in this, if it does at all. UM, in my opinion, basically seeks that we as fans realise this, and not fall prey to the negativity, and look at everything the press say with a critical eye.

    Speaking of which, other issues with your article(s) are the unmerited use of the word paranoid, and of you bringing up Arsene’s appearance as exhibiting him being drained. So now. If you could just explain why you felt we should start tapping up, like some other other clubs…?? 🙂

  • nicktolhurst

    shard + bob

    in PR terms I also missed out the use of explayers. Pat Nevin (whom I personally admire) is a classic example. Pat is a great, intelligent comentator and so when Chelsea had the bust up last year and Wilkins was sacked I watched out for Nevin’s comments. He was as expected suddenly very diplomatic and moved the subject on with ease – why? because whatever his personal thoughts he earns money from chelsea and is guaranteed access. Chelsea have played nevin smartly – he is a respected guy often in print and on radio. He is respected for his charachter.

    Now there are quite a few arsenal players knocking around the media world but very few who still work for arsenal. Why? This is “open door” for arsenal – this is classic PR good practice: use the existing assets and get “friendly” assets onside and inteam. More disturbingly one of the exceptions – Stewart Robson – works for Arsenal TV and has laid into Theo Walcott publically a few times – and not in a “constructive critisism” way but really quite harsh. This reflects well on Arsenal’s free editorial line but you can guarantee the other big clubs would not accept this.

  • nicktolhurst


    “Access to powerful people and to confidential info means nothing on its own.”

    I work with and advise companies & journalists in some of these areas These two things are very very important. Good contacts and good sources are basically 90% of a journalists assets (assuming they can string a sentence or two together).


    If you read my article again you will see I dont “deride” anyone for being paranoid.
    Its one sentence in brackets which quite clearly includes all fans including the term “any team” ie all fans including of course myself. The point being that whether one is right to believe that some journalists “out to get us” – and you will see I dont discount this – there are serious problems with modern journalism as well as things one can do against this.

  • Shard


    They still remain only a means to an end. Don’t they? Having good contacts is obviously an asset, but ultimately it needs to pay off in some way for it to be of value.

  • nicktolhurst


    I admit I have mixed feelings on “tapping up” and “grandstanding” – but I think its worthwhile putting “it out there”. transfers and the assorted circus include lots of dubious moral behaviour some of which clubs cant really avoid anymore whatever thier own feelings. Ive always been certain that one of the reasons Arsene like to develop youth is not just this alone but that it enables him to avoid agents and their ilk as much as possible. Can Arsenal succeed and avoid all the residual dodgy behaviour that will be difficult and is getting more difficult every year. But dont blame the messanger here!

  • bjtgooner


    Interesting article and well thought out, however, I think it important to realise that the continued criticism of Arsenal and/or Wenger in certain parts of the press and media is consistent with an organised campaign.

    Equally, there is grave concern that the series of wrong referee decisions that we have suffered are not coincidental but are also part of a deliberate campaign. There is then the possibility (or probability) that the two campaigns are not separate but are co-ordinated by someone with a vested interest in undermining and destabilising the club.

  • Shard


    It wasn’t just about feelings. I’d said how I felt it might be harmful to the club. What I’m asking is what value you think we might get out of it. Agents will still try and raise their price by creating an auction, and we still won’t be able to compete on wages with and fees with the other big clubs. Add to that the risk of being punished (and we have that more than other clubs anyway), and of course, the dent our BRAND takes because of that.

    Believe it or not, but our positive behaviour acts as a selling point (to fans, and to players). It is the whole basis of the Arsenal image. That is why you have Gazidis always talking about the club’s values. See that’s also why I have a problem in Arsenal going down say the Fergie route and managing the press corps that way. If an a****** acts like one, it is of no consequence. If the upstanding and pleasant person acts like one, it causes outrage. The media will rip into Arsenal, at least during the transition, and it will hurt us even more. Will it be temporary? Who can say? Even if it, will the ill effects of that persist in the long term? Possibly.. That’s why, it isn’t as easy as just changing the PR efforts. they have consequences which need to be thought about.

  • Anne


    “If you read my article again you will see I dont “deride” anyone for being paranoid.
    Its one sentence in brackets which quite clearly includes all fans including the term “any team” ie all fans including of course myself.”

    I disagree. Let’s look again at exactly what you said:

    “For the more paranoid amongst us, (and let’s face it following any football team with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune is quite conducive to paranoia), there’s enough evidence out there to give one pause for thought as to the motives and agenda of sports journalists. Are the media really out “to get us?” I would argue no – but in actual fact it’s much worse than that.”

    Does this quite clearly include “all fans?” No. Your reference to “any football team” is qualified with the further descriptive language “with all the regular debatable refereeing decisions and sudden changes of fortune.” That is a specific reference to Arsenal as it has been covered on this site, and your comment, evasive wording not withstanding, is clearly intended to convey the message that you are referring to Arsenal, and thus Arsenal fans.

    So, the “paranoia” portions of your comment would be read as follows: “For the more paranoid amongst us,” following Arsenal, along with the surrounding factors detailed on this site, is conducive to “paranoia.”

    And what is this “paranoia” that you’re referring to? Well, according to you, “paranoid” (and only “paranoid”) Arsenal fans would “pause for thought as as to the motives and agenda of sports journalists,” and conclude that the media are “out to get us.”

    You exclude yourself from this category by stating that you, in fact, do NOT hold these beliefs, as you’ve already made clear in the article headline.

    Let’s look again at the definition that Shard provided of “paranoia”:

       [par-uh-noi-uh] Show IPA
    Psychiatry . a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
    baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.”

    Let’s go a step further and look at the definition of “paranoid” as well:

    “par·a·noid (pr-noid)
    1. Relating to, characteristic of, or affected with paranoia.
    2. Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others: a paranoid suspicion that the phone might be bugged.

    So, basically, you say that any Arsenal fan who questions the “motives and agenda of sports journalists,” and concludes that they are “out to get us,” is exhibiting an extreme and irrational distrust of others, mental disorder, and delusions.

    I personally find this to be an insult to anyone who does hold these views, myself included. The only way you could argue otherwise would be to say that calling someone “paranoid” isn’t an insult.

  • Anne


    Thanks for responding. I personally share your view on this.

  • walter

    Wow, I must say that one little sentence created a lot of comments.

    Now I must say that when I read the article I felt that Nick was meaning that being a football fan always has a kind of paranoid feeling in it.
    I didn’t find it a bad name because well I think you should be a bit paranoid when following a football club. (Doesn’t it drive you mad at times…)
    But maybe I’m not that sensitive to some words and I think the word paranoid is more negative for native English speakers?

    And maybe because in the Dutch speaking regions we have the habit (I like it very much) of turning a bad name in to a name of honour. The Spaniards (when they occupied us around 1500-1600) said about the nobles and the rebels that was fighting them : ce ne sont que des gueux” And a “gueux” was the french word for a pauper or a beggar. We turned this insult in to a name of honour and even now we use the word “geuzen” (in Dutch) as a name of honour. And saying I a a Geus is seen as a good thing.

    So maybe I just don’t read much in any names they call me because of my cultural background.

    Anyway, happy to be paranoid 😉

  • Mandy dodd

    A chink of good news this evening amongst all the gloom and negativity, that is Rambos motm performance this evening.
    I may support England in such games but great to see him doing so well.

  • Shard


    It wasn’t about taking it personally. Rather about the message it sends out. Not something I’d associate with Untold Media.

  • Anne


    I personally find it to be a loaded word. As bob put it, it’s really just another way of calling someone a “conspiracy theorist.” And I guess I took it personally because I found it to be directed at me 🙂 I suppose it’s possible that Nick meant it to come across the way that you took it.

  • Ian Trevett

    A bit of a weird one this as I agree with both sides. I thought it was an excellent article by Nick and good points by Shard and Bob.
    I agree with the idea of rewarding positive journalists such as Patrick Barclay with better inside stories. Wenger has always been very generous with his comments and thoughts in the press conferences and the press/media have just used his openness to attack him. It is a shame that it has to be this way. They get intelligent and thoughtful opinion and they just spin it into sensationalist crap.
    I’m sure that Wenger must have ben stung by the vitriol of the hacks and, perhaps he will be more selective in who he talks to.
    I don’t like the idea that managers choose who they talk to and that they should ‘reward the good guys’. But everyone is doing it. The hack know they can write any shit about Wenger and they know they will still be welcome in the press box. Much as I hate censorship it has to be time for the free lunches to finish.

  • Anne

    @Mandy Dodd:

    Thanks for bringing us something positive 🙂

  • nicktolhurst


    “”So, basically, you say that any Arsenal fan who questions the “motives and agenda of sports journalists,” and concludes that they are “out to get us,” is exhibiting an extreme and irrational distrust of others, mental disorder, and delusions.””

    No what you have done is to take my sentence apart and add extra words in order to make it mean something that the first sentence doesnt. Im a little bit bemused about this. My meaning was nearer to Walter’s comment. I would for example also describe myself as a “mad arsenal” fan but that doesnt mean Im ready to have myself locked away just yet…..

  • bob

    In terms of what interests me, you’ve produced the following insight: “Whats clear to me though is that Arsenal seem to have less influence than other big clubs when it come officialdom.” That’s it? That’s what you can say other than “I don’t know.” Do you have to know with absolute certainty to venture an informed opinion? We are about launching hypotheses at UM and trying to argue them and refine them and get well beyond you level (or stated level) of clarity. I can see that you are practiced at offering the minimum, and that that might or might not be good advice for AFC at different moments. But I must say, your refusal to touch the question of whether there is anything orchestrated, and putting it down to Arsenal being a big club that acts small, is incredibly underwhelming. You are safe and careful, and that’s your right. I find you evasive and being walking advert for why you see PR as the proper skill to advise on: how to appear to say more than you are actually saying. I’d love, if you can past that, to share a pint sometime and speak some truths into the late night; because my early morning wake-up call did not come with your posting. Jeez, Nick. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  • Mandy dodd

    Had to be done Anne! When we are up to strength, Rambo will be joined by jack, hopefully a fully recovered diaby, song, the soon to be phenomenon that is frimpong, arteta, yossi, rosicky and arshavin in realisation they have to compete hard for a place, ox and ryo ready to burst in on the scene, maybe Theo and gervinho depending on where they play. Probably missing someone out, but when that mf starts firing on all cylinders, the media and the aaa may have to think again. The last few months have been painful, the media have not helped, but this team can prove them all very wrong.

  • bob

    As a fellow paranoid, it makes me paranoid to think that you found Nick’s article “great.” C’mon, Walter, no warts in his presentation? 🙂

  • bob

    You write back to me about PR as if you are addressing or appearing to add on to having addressed my point about PR. Which is that a PR perspective and antidote deals with the surface problem, a PR problem, in your sense of what needs to be done. My question was whether you’d dare venture beneath that surface to offer an informed opinion on whether there’s an orchestrated campaign vs. Arsenal and who might be involved in the orchestration. Your answers, “I don’t know” and Arsenal has “less influence” with officaldumb than Fergie, are your polite way to say that you won’t venture forth below the surface. I can only presume that you don’t see anything below the surface; or that you won’t see anything – in public – about what’s below the surface. Sorry, Nick. I’m really unimpressed and find you not forthcoming at best.

  • walter

    Talking about pundits and media.
    I was watching the game Germany-Poland (2-2) And after the game the German pundit was the friend of Mad Jens, and as mad as Jens was: Oliver Kahn. So a world class keeper who should be able to tell a bit about world class keepers.

    And after the game they showed images and analysed them. And one was a shot in the second half to the top corner from Germany and the Polish keeper produced an amazing save and turned it against and over the bar.
    And this is what Kahn said about the Polish goalkeeper: “We must give credit to the Polish goalkeeper who in my opinion gave an absolute world class performance” The reporter then asked: “No weaknesses in his game?” And Kahn replied: “Well I haven’t seen any, and when you think about a world class goal keeper performance is when you see him stop shots with great reflexes that the public already saw ending in the back of the net. And that is what makes a world class keeper”.

    Taken from the goal keeping bible, published by Oliver Kahn and speaking about our own Szczesny.

    I think Kahn wouldn’t make it as a pundit or media expert in the UK.

    Must say it really made me proud hearing such a great keeper talking about our keeper.

  • bob

    p.s. When you tweak the paranoids about being locked away, yet, let’s not forget that you are rather willing to lock yourself away with your advisees and lock yourselves into a communications strategy – presumably normal, then? – which raises evasion to a cleverer speech form and makes a meal of it. You are locked away from what ails Arsenal now; and it’s something beyond your PR gifts to fix. Please don’t apply.

  • bob

    p.s. the above to Nick. No one else get paranoid, pllllleeeese.

  • nicktolhurst


    maybe we come form different perspectives. If I get you correctly you are alluding as much to the matchfixing info as to the media stuff? In my line of work im very careful not to commit something in public which can be in anyway disproved or might libel someone else. I think this is always wise not least for legal reasons. I think one has to be very careful when publically accusing a particular person/org. of corruption. That doesnt mean I dont believe that corruption doesnt exist.

    I have my thoughts on this, and have followed Walter’s work with interest. Much of what has been talked about on referees mirrors what happened in Germany and has led to changes in the way refs are rated. I dont think its neccessary for me to add more than Walters suggestions re foreign refs, transparency, increased no. of refs etc All of which I agree with. In any case hes the expert in this area.

    The interesting thing for me is why these things happen and what Arsenal can do to tackle them. More useful would be to add what I know about how modern journalism works and how organisations work. I think there is a parallel between man utd getting more favourable decions and the press piling in on Arsene yet again. There are somethings that Arsenal can do better to fight their corner. I think some people here have seen my comments and find some (implied) suggestions that arsenal should play “dirty” re transfers, officialdom, PR wrong. Thats fair enough – I have no problem with this critisism. The fact is though top clubs use their “weight” to gain advantage and in PR terms, corporate terms, in journalism/media and with officials, Arsenal are punching below their weight.

    You say I should wake up and smell the coffee? I ask you in all honesty which do you think is the easier more likely change: That we have a move towards a full transparent european refereeing system or that Arsenal ups its strategy in management, PR, media etc? Both would be good but, to put it crudely, at the moment Fergie is more powerful than Wenger – we are not really at the table on this if Arsenal’s agenda is to be taken seriously it needs to be at the table with the power to negotiate. We are not.

  • Mandy dodd

    Is there an argument someone like David dein could help with this power imbalance?

  • nicktolhurst

    mandy – I think more or less all the board members who were bitter at Dein have left the board or are about to – so now might be the time for him to rejoin. In any case a “Dein type figure” would be welcome. We are lacking greatly in this area.

  • Mandy dodd

    Have to agree with you NIck. Dein has not proven infallible but he is a qualified student at some of the darker arts, he has influence and he is a fan. He may also be able to exert control over his son should he so chose!

  • nicktolhurst

    walter do you follow alot of bundesliga on german TV?

    I cant help but be impressed how much more serious the analysis is in germany rather than shearer and Waddle sitting on a sofa discussing Theo’s “football brain” or some such. I also cant help thinking that one of the reasons the german national team does better than england is that the media dont go off on crazy benders of euphoria or pessimism before a world cup.

  • Anne


    Thanks for those quotes about Szczesny. I can’t even begin to express how impressed I am with this guy, and glad to hear that others agree with me 🙂

  • Shard

    @Nick (regarding response to bob)

    Fair enough. I wish that your article actually spoke about the specific steps the Arsenal PR machine can take. Because the way your article reads is more an acknowledgment of some genuine issues facing journalists (pressure to generate hits, lack of time to look at a club very closely) and indicate that THIS is what the Arsenal PR dept fails to combat, and that an inherent sense of paranoia among SOME football fans leads to the contention of the press being against their club (which on a platform like Untold Media really seems out of place, and insults all the work that has been done here), thereby indicating that the major fault lies with Arsenal..

    The steps in regards PR that you mention are also not really clear, and I think do not lead to a debate on what each such step can deliver in terms of value, or can take away as well. It is my contention that while we may need to change some of the things about how we operate, that change has to be careful and considered. My opposition to some of your ideas isn’t really just about it being a case of playing ‘dirty’. I’d like to know what specifically Arsenal stand to gain, or lose from any move that you might suggest. And I also think that a blow to Arsenal’s clean image would actually represent a major loss for the club (not just sentimentally), which surely you, with your experience in PR, can understand. So while you may be just putting ideas ‘out there’. I’d urge you to be more specific in that, and leave out the bits about Wenger looking drained, Arsenal not being able to compete, vagaries of fortune leading to paranoia etc

  • Tasos

    Scratching beneath the surface;

    I hope I’m not going of subject here.

    Only last week Bolton WFC rejected a bid from Arsenal for Gary Cahill. The Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, seemingly outraged by Arsenals reportedly low bid, openly attacked first Arsene Wenger, then the club itself via the social media outlet “Twitter” in which he initially Tweeted the words “piss off Wenger” although he quickly retracted and removed them from the site but not before eagle eyed journo’s and football fans had spotted it!

    (Update: Gartside retweeted: ‘Arsenal are you taking the piss 6 million for Garry Cahill f*** right off!!’)

    On a side issue one eagle eyed UA poster spotted these derisory comments by a certain journalist on the matter;

    You probably saw this but on Sunday HENRY WINTER tweeted to Phil Gartside “Message to @pagartside…if Wenger rings in the morning, tell him it’s £30m for Gary Cahill now”

    I have awaited for some kind of reprimand from our football governing body, The FA, for Mr Gartsides comments but they have so far failed to publicly discipline the man for his remarks. I find this bizarre as The FA have previously acted upon remarks on Twitter from the likes of Ryan Babel and Carlton Cole, charging both parties with improper conduct.

    Babel admitted a charge of improper conduct at a Football Association Regulatory Commission hearing.

    “Social network sites like Twitter must be regarded as being in the PUBLIC DOMAIN,” said chairman Roger Burden.

    At the time of the Carlton Cole incident an FA statement read: “The FA has charged West Ham United’s Carlton Cole with improper conduct relating to media comments”.

    So why haven’t the FA upheld their stance here?
    Surely it has nothing to do with the fact that Mr Gartside is actually on the board of the FA, does it?

  • Ronnie Brown

    Reading the comments has been interesting. I think the media treatment of Arsenal is a very complicated issue making up a number of factors, one is a lack of understanding and a win now at all costs mentality that is around, in the period we haven’t won a trophy we have challenged in the league a number of times, been in a champions league final for the first time in our histroy, been in a carling cup final twice and have had some great results like beating Barcalona, the impatient simplistic mentality is repeated and when people actually try to explain the TRUE reasons for things being the way they are they are dismissed as excuses. How can we be in a crisis? lol, to anybody logical that is completely and utterly ridiculous, we qualified for the champions league and have played 3 games in the league, two of which were against Liverpool & Man United before we reinforced and after loosing great players through transfers, injury and suspension, the way the media talk it is like we have been relegated, even us finishing 5th/6th wouldn’t be a crisis, a crisis would be getting relegated or being in extreme financial trouble which we are not through been well run. Arsene LOVES the club, he would not put personal glory over the future of the club and he always does what he feels his best for the club, what an incredible servant he has been for Arsenal, you can critise him if you wish but what is undeniable is his love for Arsenal and the incredible loyalty and commitment he has shown, and it will be hard for whoever eventually (and I hope in a VERY long time) replaces him to have the same kind of love, loyalty and commitment Arsene has shown which is rare these days. I have so much to say so thoughts might be a bit scattered but if Harry Rednapp had Arsene’s recent record he would be heraladed as a genuis for getting the team so far, look at the response when Spurs got in Europe, but when Arsenal do it consistantly we get dimissed for this, if Arsene were English and had Harry’s personality it would certainly not happen, they would be lauding him for still competing with his restrictions, I’m so glad Arsene is the way he is, it makes me proud he is the manager and of the club. I’ll come back to more of the reasons later but ultimatly the realistic ways we can change this is through success on the pitch (which can be done even with the bias’) and through Arsenal fans being more vocal in their support for Arsene and the club as a whole, calling these idotic media avenues with messages of support for us and logical reason, the other side of the fan base needs to be heard, we are getting bombarded by negative morons that people now think is the main voice of the club. Sites like Le Grove and others have really hurt the club with their negativity, they increase the negativity and it translates to real life, as soon as someone makes a mistake there called a useless cunt, it’s just vile disgusting behaviour and it’s partly why there have been boos on the pitch, the atmosphere sometimes created at our ground is one of anxiety, it’s harder to play when you know the crowd are almost waiting to get on your back, this goes partly to explain our good away record and relativly poor home form last season, it’s less pressure away, even watching on TV you can feel the negative vibes. We need to call out the refs for unfair treatment, call out everyone that mistreats the club, let our voice be heard, it puts more pressure on them and let’s a positive voice be heard, who agrees with this? Cause I am deadly serious about helping do something regarding this and Untold could be a forum where we organise and bombard places with e-mails, comments, calls, whatever is neccessary but only if we receive unfair treatment, we could try and get some answers and let our voices be heard, because right now people are taking the piss, the refs, media, uefa, it’s unjust what is going on and the supporters role can be as a protest against this.

  • Ronnie Brown

    My previous comment was getting a bit long but to continue… Arsene also set the bar very high with the previous success, the invincibles season and a lot more so people are judging us on those high standards, without taking into account the very real changes and restrictions that have taken places, basically they have no understanding of football management, they just want to see trophies, they are so stupid it’s ridiculous. Also Arsene doesn’t sign the players they want us to sign most of the time, the likes of Gareth Barry, Jonathon Woodgate, Joey Barton, Lee Bowyer, Scott Parker etc, so instead of looking at the bigger picture and the actual truth regarding us not crossing the finish lines recently they blame it on things like that because it fits in with their own opinion which is limited, not saying I would say no to Parker as I beieve him to be a good player but I would certainly say no the Woodgate, Barton, Bowyer etc, there is undoubtely much racism cause we have many foreign players, and there is also negativity cause we have signed cheaper players, which doesn’t always equate to them being terrible, RVP was cheap but is world class, also Arsene’s battles with the press and other managers defending the clubs honor have always created negative false sterotypes, like Arsenal are soft etc, mmm Diaby, Song, Wilshere, Sagna, Frimpong and many others are not weak players, this is an old sterotype that has stuck, the season we had Denilson playing many games we were a bit weak in the middle but it’s VERY rare you will see someone out muscle the likes of Diaby and Song and Sagna win most physical battles too, we are not weak, Vermalan was physicaly superior to Carrol in the Liverpool match, infact he was superior in everyway, but I thought we lack an English spine? Come on, it has nothing to do with race, the invincibles had Campebell, Keown, Cole and that’s about it, the other players were foreign, it really doesn’t matter, do Barcalona have an English spine? No and they dominate Europe currently, so this hypocrital small minded nonsense is almost laughable in it’s idiocy. They also see Wenger as someone who complains, it is basically a build up of several factors over a long period of time, and it has affected the refs, media, some of our own fans, and even those within the club, negativity has spread. Arsene is a genuis, he warned us many times recently we have to be united to have a chance, if we have our own fans against us it will be even harder. What I do believe is we shouldn’t betray our principles no matter what, we just need to try to get the right players, a strong squad and work on on the pitch issues and team building, mentally, physically and technically, if we get that in squad unity we could do great things, we have some fantastic players and assets at the club, I’m excited and proud to be an Arsenal fan.

  • Ronnie Brown

    In regards to the media, it’s largey the 3 I’s, ignorance, incompetence and idiocy.

  • nicktolhurst


    I Didnt catch that Henry Winter comment – is that really true? If so its rather strange behaviour for supposedly a lead writer of a serious newspaper. Mind you nothing would surprise me where hes concerned…

  • Anne


    “No what you have done is to take my sentence apart and add extra words in order to make it mean something that the first sentence doesnt.”

    No, what I did was insert the actual definitions of the words you used into your sentence (albeit in a paraphrased way). That is LITERALLY what you said. And I, in turn, am “bemused” by your attempts to deny that you said it. So, please allow me to explain in further detail:

    As you’re familiar with our previous Untold Media work, you’re aware that we regularly argue that there is a deliberate campaign to target Arsenal through the media. We’ve specifically emphasized what appears to be the dissemination of certain “talking points” through various journalists and media outlets.

    I’m sure you’re already aware of how common these campaigns are, and the idea that one could be used to influence public opinion about a football club is not unreasonable, or even unlikely.

    And yet, you belittled this idea in a couple of ways. First, with the phrase: “Is the ‘Media’ out to get us? – No, it’s even worse than that.” (Incidentally, I don’t see how you can tell me that you “don’t discount” this idea when you categorically rejected it at the outset of your article).

    By characterizing the idea that there is a deliberate campaign to target Arsenal through the media as a belief that “the ‘media’ are out to get us,” you are both trivializing the argument by over-simplifying it and, through your word choice, implying that it is far-fetched.

    Putting the word “media” in quotes could be read to imply skepticism, and the phrase “out to get us,” in and of itself, triggers preconceived notions of delusion and paranoia in the mind of the reader. This naturally evokes a skeptical response to the idea, which you then reinforce by using the words “paranoid” and “paranoia” to further describe the belief that the media is “out to get” Arsenal.

    As a published writer, you are most certainly aware of the power of word choice in conveying certain ideas to readers, and should thus be unsurprised that multiple readers interpreted your comments as offensive and referring to their beliefs as “delusional” (which, after all, is the literal meaning of the word you chose to use).

    Being familiar with Untold, you should be also be well aware that the “conspiracy theorist” label is often applied to us in a derisory way, and that it’s not uncommon to be called “paranoid” or “delusional” in the comments sections by people attempting to insult or “deride” our arguments (to use my word). As such, characterizing viewpoints previously advanced on this site as “paranoid,” or resulting from “paranoia,” naturally calls this same concept to mind.

    As evidence of that, you need look no further than the responses of the multiple readers who interpreted your comments in precisely this manner. That’s what I meant when I replied to Walter that the words you chose were “loaded” words. And at the current moment, I’m honestly having difficulty believing that you wouldn’t have anticipated that (in light of your extensive writing experience).

    Anyway, I hope that this explanation is sufficient to clear up once and for all the disagreement over what exactly you said or didn’t say. That being said, if what you’re actually trying to claim here was that you didn’t MEAN to say that, or that you didn’t mean for your use of the word “paranoid” to be taken literally, it would be much easier if you just get directly into that. As opposed to continuing to argue that you didn’t say what you quite clearly said.

    So, on that note, could you clarify your comment that “My meaning was nearer to Walter’s comment?” Specifically, what exactly WAS your meaning?

    As I already said above, I actually liked many aspects of your article, and I’m really not wanting to fight with you over this. I appreciated some of the complimentary things that you said about Untold Media in the comments above, and I want to emphasize that the tone of this comment is not intended to be “angry.” I’m NOT angry. However, I do think that your word choice was fairly interpreted as insulting, and if that wasn’t your intent, I would appreciate it if you would just explain what your actual intent WAS. 🙂 Thanks. -Anne

  • Match

    I believe there is an agenda.

    From the FA or general British managers. Especially the older ones against wenger. Whether it’s jealousy or whatever.

    It’s no co incidence Rednose came out and mentioned “man united provides the players for the england team”.

    Is the FA trying to put pressure on arsenal to include more English players and contribute to the England supply line ?

  • bob

    As I read Nick’s comments, his intention is not to be libelous and to suggest an aggressive PR antidote by AFC to the media negativity. But being not-libelous and offering up an analysis/hypothesis about what’s going on are not one and the same thing.
    I would like to hear some of your thoughts, that you purport to have, without being libelous. Many people here are up front and honest with their thoughts. I think, right now, you are not forthcoming with your thoughts; and are using ‘I don’t say what I can’t prove and risk being held libelous’ as a way of saying nothing. It’s your right, of course. But it’s also my right to say you have hinted at having something to offer that you won’t, in fact, be willing to share in a non-libelous way. Surely you could if you would, but you won’t. And, btw, how did you arrive at that headline?

  • Anne

    @Ronnie Brown:

    “through Arsenal fans being more vocal in their support for Arsene and the club as a whole, calling these idotic media avenues with messages of support for us and logical reason, the other side of the fan base needs to be heard, we are getting bombarded by negative morons that people now think is the main voice of the club.”

    Ronnnie, I appreciate that you have said this. This is the main thing that we’re hoping to provide a counterpoint to in our efforts with Untold Media. I don’t care how long your response was. I sense that it came from the heart, and that’s the most important thing to me 🙂

    “Cause I am deadly serious about helping do something regarding this and Untold could be a forum where we organise and bombard places with e-mails, comments, calls, whatever is neccessary but only if we receive unfair treatment, we could try and get some answers and let our voices be heard, because right now people are taking the piss, the refs, media, uefa, it’s unjust what is going on and the supporters role can be as a protest against this.”

    That’s EXACTLY why all of us Untold Media volunteers are here in the first place, Ronnie. 🙂 We’re all unpaid and un-“professional,” in the literal sense of the word. But we’re here because of our mutual sense of frustration at the way that all of this anti-Arsenal crap has, at long last, finally jumped the shark, and reached a level that ordinary fans can no longer tolerate.

    In other words, we’re here to draw the battle lines, as best we can with limited experience 🙂 If you would be interested in volunteering, you can find my email address at the end of the following article. I would be interested in hearing any ideas or thoughts that you might have w/ regard to what we can accomplish through Untold Media:

    Cheers. -Anne

  • Anne


    Just a sidenote here from a lawyer, but there is no basis for a libel suit based on secondary analysis of opinions that have already been published in the media. In other words, Nick has nothing to fear from giving his opinions about the potential motives that can be derived from existing press copy addressing Arsenal.

    At least, so long as he doesn’t attempt to convey that he has “inside” knowledge about the specific motives of any of the individuals concerned. In fact, if he doesn’t name any individual at all, but rather just focuses on “the media” in general, or a specific media outlet, there are no libel concerns whatsoever. I believe he already knows this given that his references to “libel” concerns were in relation to allegations against specific referees.

    Now, granted, my opinions are based on U.S. law, and I know that libel laws in England are much stricter, but I believe that I’m correct in these essential…

    But Nick… If I’m totally wrong about this, I hope you’ll let me know. I’m taking it as a given that you have a MUCH better understanding of libel law in England than I do. So, Cheers, and hope to hear back 🙂

  • Anne


    Further to my previous response, I hope that my comments here aren’t coming across as an “attack” on you. I’m worried that they are, but I really just meant it as a challenge to you. I’m not intending to convey a lack of overall respect for you. Just wanted to clarify that. -A

  • walter

    Yeah, 109th off to read the article 😉

    sorry just couldn’t help it.. 🙂 🙂

    Or in fact this is a (funny) attempt to express my admiration for this once again great interchange of thoughts and words on Untold Arsenal. And can’t help it but what a difference with some other blogs. And I don’t know how Tony has managed to get his site going with great articles and an even better comment section but it was the reason why I liked Untold more than any other blog and by the look of it, it will stay like that for a while.

    Oh and don’t stop. I’m enjoying this.

  • walter

    off topic to Nick,

    I do follow the Bundesliga a bit (but have to restrict it to keep my wife happy 😉 ) She can forgive me all the time I put in Arsenal but I should not go over the top.

    But when the German team plays an international I like to watch as they show a lot of other games after that and so I get the talk of the pundits. Which is mostly of a higher quality than the usual Hansen or Shearer blah blah blah.

    Oh and by the way on Szczesny: his name was sung by the Polish crowd yesterday during the game.

  • I am sympathetic to the idea that there is an agenda but I would be more inclined to believe that there are several partially aligned agendas at work, the locus of which is Arsenal FC. For example:
    1. Our dilution of the News International-Manchester United ‘brand’;
    2. Our attack on traditional English footballing values (though I find it hard to see how the FA can be against this, except for the favoured status the spine of the England team gets from referees);
    3. Our somewhat undeserved popularity on the internet (surely we don’t have that many fans, using my Marxist definition);
    4. Our unwillingness to play the ‘game’ (behind the scenes) in the manner of a ‘modern’ club.

  • Gennie


    You are right on many things, but I guess (at least I believe) Arsenal suffer from their “Frechness”. This goes back to the history of the two nations, England and France. If you watch carefully, there is always insinuations about the manager (who is none other than the finest manager France, in my eyes, has ever produced, which England has, in the recent past, failed to produce) and french players (who have made more than half of the team at some point). People might disregard this but there is no doubt in my mind that it stems of the rivalry the countries have had over the centuries. So England journals enjoy putting down a Frenchman. Of course Wenger does not help it when he seems too much of a wise and genius guy in his talk and team building methods.

  • Anne


    Not sure that I’m liking it so much right now, really. 🙂 Mainly because I feel that Nick is being disingenuous about some of the factors attached to his opinions, but I guess he hasn’t actually responded yet, so I should withhold judgment 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    @ Anne

    Having read through all the comments again this morning and indeed the initial article once more, I don’t think Nick has adequately explained his title i.e. he has not shown anything worse than “is the media out to get us” in his article or responses.

    He has not commented on a deliberate media campaign to target and blacken Arsenal (as Bob pointed out), so I feel you are quite correct in raising concerns about this article. I did not read your comments as an attack or anything close to one, I took your comments as raising concerns that many fans, including this one, share.

  • steww

    I think you’re both right. There is clearly an agenda against Arsenal, but there has also been an appalling collapse in the quality of sports journalism and this article neatly explains that and the reasons for it.

  • bob

    I’m really glad you went back over it all and came to your conclusions as you state them.
    Yet again, what did you find so “great” about Nick’s article? I can appreciate mutual admiration, but that headline for that article are a terrible mismatch; and I’d have no hesitation showing the red card with a three-match suspension and my ref review in this case is well, not 70 percent 🙂 . I think Nick is really smart and a very able wordsmith, to say the obvious. But beyond the obvious traits, Nick uses them to gloss over and evade; and where he could, without resorting to libel (as per Anne’s analysis and challenge) her surely won’t – or hasn’t yet – shed light. Perhaps Nick well yet have a think and give us a trifle more, but that may not happen until after Ed (in yesterday’s comments) has his rationalization for the bad Cesc return on investment fulfilled – namely, that Arsene asked for less and convinced the board to go for the deal because Cesc will come back to AFC after he wins one at Barfa. Nick, please don’t wait that long before giving up a tidbit or two to us paranoids who dwelleth in darkness.
    Thanks for posing the libel question.

  • bob

    If only the headline stated that the article would be about what you do rightly state. The headline, however, misleads readers away from the other deeper considerations, even as it gives the distinct impression that the piece is going to get into “the worst” It’s a tabloid headline and hook, and suggests that the content is meant to look into the “real” problem; but, only one part of the problem (yes, worth looking at as you say) – and decidedly not “the worst” part of what’s afoot right now – is what has been analyzed.

  • Anne


    Thank you. 🙂

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    I agree that there are many factors at play here, and that each factor that you listed is actually motivating at least some of the actors.

  • Anne

    Apparently, Nick’s diplomatic skills have failed him as far as responding to our comments is concerned…..

  • Rich_Fryer

    It’s true that made up disaster stories draw interest, especially from concerned Arsenal fans – the key is then for us not to click and read, otherwise we are giving them what they want, the hits for advertising buys. Boycott the made up bad news and, perhaps, the nonsense might decrease.

  • bob

    That’s it? Still no reply. Well, good old, forever young
    Cole Porter spun a nice send-off (and I really like the song, so I indulge until perhaps a next time…)
    “So good-bye, dear, and amen
    Here’s hoping we meet now and then
    It was great fun
    But it was just one of those things.”

  • Stevie E

    Bob, Anne all
    I don’t know if you’re aware but another journo is in the news today after being arrested for phone hacking, this time it is Raoul Simons, the ex deputy football editor of the Times no less, another News International title…
    Tip of the iceburg my friends

  • Shard


    regarding your message to steww.. I don’t think it is just about the headline. Even if the headline had said what you suggested earlier about say Arsenal’s PR crisis, the article still says that the PR battle that Arsenal need to fight is against a culture of the media needing hits, and there it stops. Which really says nothing about the counter point that the Arsenal PR machinery have to take. If you do not acknowledge what you are fighting AGAINST..I don’t see how you can talk about organising a response. Plus of course, the condescending use of the word paranoia implying that all the work on this site, with the media, and the refs is just some form of a delusion that unfortunate circumstances bring about. The fact that it was placed in the opening part of the article (which lays the groundwork) and that despite being challenged on it Nick has refused to retract that word, suggests to me that the article really was about that, and not about the PR policies of Arsenal.

  • bob

    My extensive Nick-crit throughout is not only about the screwed up headline. Yes, a proper article about PR wouldn’t stop at the level of computer clicks. And I’d be more comfortable if the “you” were applied to Nick.

  • Shard


    Sorry. The ‘you’ was more a general term not directed at anybody really. I just meant it to be read in the passive tone.I’ll rephrase that to..if ONE doesn’t acknowledge… I just thought that was too archaic to use 🙂 Sorry about the misunderstanding.

  • FinnGooner

    I just read on Tomas Rosicky’s website (it’s in czech but google translate it for me) interview of him. HE said he couldn’t understand or like about REALLY negative stories in press (about NT) and as captain he had to say something. So it seems Czech Reb NT gets similar way negative comments even when they are not so bad. Rosicky even mentioned that with his age he has is it worth to play in NT…

  • bob

    Stevie E,
    So sorry I never got back on the latest hack-a-playa.
    so that’s G. Taylor, W. Rooney and now Rouls Simons
    from the football orb. With thousands on the list, surely
    there’s a few more to surface.

  • Just a word about headlines on Untold. Some headlines are written by the author of the article, some by me. I change the headline sometimes to draw as many readers in as possible. I rarely change an article (at least without the originator’s ok) but with headlines I feel free to do so.

    This is common in newspapers and in copywriting – writing headlines which draw in readers is a little bit of an art, and is something that one has to work at doing. And drawing in readers is good, because it helps our site grow. True, it sometimes gives a slightly false impression, but if that is the price for helping people who are like minded find us, then I feel it is a price worth paying.

    Besides writing headlines is part of my job – not at Untold, but in my work that pays the bills, and indeed which pays the fees to keep Untold running. So it is sort of second nature.

  • Stevie E

    No worries, but I don’t think you read it right, Roaul is or was the Times deputy football editor. Before that, he was a reporter for the Evening Standard