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August 2021

Guardian and the AAA on high alert in talking up Glazer inspired finance deal for dysfunctional Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

“Arsenal’s prudence is an open invitation to be gazumped on players” read the headline in the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

It was not a balanced piece – it was opinion.  Nothing wrong with that for newspapers print “news” (occasionally) and “opinion”.   But the Guardian seems to be doing a lot of this just now and indeed just the day before we had “Amy Lawrence: Arsenal are dysfunctional

Just to make sure we all got the message we had a “City on Alert” headline in which the story opened with: “Robin van Persie has dealt Arsenal a devastating blow”

Now again that might not be too much a deviation for some of the more obvious pro-AAA newspapers in Britain, but it was a bit of a swing for the Guardian, which now seems to be bidding to become the house paper of the AAA.  It is quite a turn around.

According to the opening article, van Persie’s statement, “threw Arsène Wenger’s pre-season plans into turmoil”, although the power of that piece was somewhat undermined by the subsequent  Arsenal have Robin van Persie exit plan, admits scout Gilles Grimandi.

Even the rather confused Guardian have to admit, I hope, that you can’t be thrown into turmoil if you already have a well-executed contingency plan for dealing with the issue.

But notice “admit” – as if somehow it was a secret, a nasty plan no one wanted to reveal, which the Guardian has teased out of the man who effectively runs Arsenal in France.  However I suppose “Grimandi points out that if we had done our homework properly we would have seen that Arsenal were already prepared for a possible RVP move, but we didn’t and got a bit too excited” doesn’t really have the right ring for a headline.

Sadly the desire to knock Arsenal has meant that the really interesting story (embedded in the quote, “it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal should move forward,”) was missed.   The notion that players should have the dominant input on their club’s management policy is indeed an interesting and challenging one and one that ought to be fully explored.  Power is moving away from the club owners, managers and directors, and across to the players and their agents.  Now there’s a thought.

Such a story has been around for a while of course (which makes it slightly more odd that no one is getting excited by it) as with the Guardian on 3 March 2010 when they said, “Nani orders Manchester United to buy Miguel Veloso” – a story that ” has put City on “high alert”.

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Which leads us to “City on Alert”.
What does this mean?  Does it suggest that the rest of the time City are sleeping?  Are the top dogs there sitting around smoking dope and drinking booze, until a buzzer sounds in their den with the word “ALERT” flashing on and off, in an attempt to wake them up?  And “High Alert”.  Move them to the top of the Ethiad Tower I suppose.

Not all alerts are high however, for on 5 March 2009 we had “Manchester City alerted as Valencia admit David Silva and David Villa for sale.

Sometimes lots of clubs get the alerts as when “Hangeland has had scouts salivating, with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City alerted”   Sometimes the City is not the City but The City as with  City on alert for United takeover bid  (17 Feb 2004) when Manchester United have been officially placed in an “offer period” by the Takeover Panel.  Confusing isn’t it.

Sometimes it is all too silly for words, as with… City on alert after Allardyce quits Bolton (The Guardian, 30 Apr 2007) and  Manchester City alerted as Valencia admit David Silva and David Villa for sale  (Guardian 5 Mar 2009)

As for the Dysfunctional story, this one tried out the notion that

a) Arsenal are owned by two billionaires who won’t talk to each other

b) They are therefore dysfunctional

c) “It is hard to see how Arsenal can ever make serious progress while they are so dysfunctional from an ownership point of view.”

So, let’s see where this one goes…

“These days, as far as the Arsenal fans are concerned, you either back Kroenke and the status quo”.   Not really.  The fact that Usmanov is there coming up with ideas that have just been used by the Glazers at Man U as a way of raising finance is neither here nor there since he has no power.  What’s more if he does buy those last dozen shares and go for a full scale bid he knows that Kronke won’t sell.   So he snipes from the wings – a bit like the Guardian really – which is probably why the Guardian has declared itself pro-AAA and thus pro-Usmanov.

And it is here we see the Guardian writers earning their crust – and they speak of “The ownership struggle”  when there is no struggle.   George Orwell, where are you when we need you?

The Guardian continues that the issue “would certainly be a less divisive issue if Kroenke at least sat round a table with Usmanov” – which then would of course give them another City on High Alert story in which imaginary people would have imaginary red lights buzzing.

But Kronke doesn’t want to talk to Usmanov, any more than Arsenal used to consult with Rangers when Rangers owned shares in the club.   No more than Woolwich Arsenal went scuttling off to Tottenham Hotspur when Tottenham owned a share in the club.  No more than Sir Samuel Hill-Wood consulted majority shareholder Sir Henry Norris Sir Samuel had taken over the chairmanship.

And that is no boring old history – that is during the Chapman era.

History in this sense is informative.  Henry Norris bought Arsenal and cleared the debts in 1910.  Then  he offered shares in the club so that the people of Plumstead could buy their local team.  Few responded, so he retained power and moved the club to Highbury where it had a much greater chance of financial sustainability – and his actions were a roaring success.  He built the most amazing ground in the country, and brought in the best manager.  That’s what you do with power.  You use it.  (If you want to know more, read “Woolwich Arsenal: The Club that Changed Football”)

Now here’s another Guardian AAA comment.  “Few teams win without people pulling in roughly the same direction. This unhealthy situation only increases the pressure on Arsène Wenger and the players to perform well. The minute they don’t, the daggers will be drawn.”  Ah, I see, that would explain our failure under Chapman then.

Predicting disaster is an AAA ploy.  But the fact is that Wenger has stability that managers at Chelsea and Tottenham can only dream about.  Wenger has the financial propriety that Sir Alex Ferguson has to manage without.  Wenger has a 15 year history that Man City can’t even imagine.

The fact is that the Guardian runs the story backwards.  It doesn’t matter what noise Usmanov and his supporters on the Guardian and in the AAA make, Arsenal has a majority shareholder, and a financially sustainable model, that is about to get better and better as the new marketing deals come on line as the front-loaded arrangements that took us to the Ems come to an end.   If you want to see Arsenal’s finances grow, just watch the new shirt deal arrive!

Here’s another one.  “The board has a very different atmosphere to the old days, when the monthly meetings at Highbury saw a group of directors who were all lifelong fanatics discuss everything with the aim of trying to pass any motion unanimously.”

Clearly the writer has never read the book by Arsenal manager Leslie Knighton in “Behind the scenes in big football” written in 1946.   Clearly the Guardian writer has never looked at reports of the Arsenal AGMs during the Chapman era when the chair regularly had to stop the meetings because of disorder, and where the police were in attendance to eject shareholders who got too excited.

The Guardian continues: “The current board feels less democratic in that most of the old school directors no longer wield any real power, having sold out to Kroenke. In the office buildings around the Emirates Stadium, the place is increasingly run like a big American corporation.”

So what is the evidence of this?  Would one of these big American corporations of which they speak actually arrange a situation in which the CEO – the top man in the whole show – gives up 90 minutes in the working day to talk to a regular supporter like me about how we can celebrate the club’s history?  Oh come on!

“Arsenal’s intention is to sit tight and hope the debate fuelled by Red and White blows over,” says the Guardian, fuelling the excitement of the AAA.

Again it is said with no evidence, it is merely said on the basis that if said enough it must be true and Arsenal are acting stupidly.   The reality is Arsenal have a model which of course allows Mr Usmanov buy shares and allows him to put his Glazer inspired no-dividend share model on the table, but which keeps the power in the hands of the man who actually owns the club.

It is called the capitalist model of running businesses and it is doing one thing brilliantly.  It is keeping the Glazer inspired no-dividend share deal at bay.

Personally I think that’s a rather good thing.



50 comments to Guardian and the AAA on high alert in talking up Glazer inspired finance deal for dysfunctional Arsenal

  • Silenstan

    Oh the irony of a blogger bemoaning ‘opinion’ in papers

  • Chris

    I totally agree withe the article….as a conclusion…Arsenal fans dont buy the Guardian!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Tony for this eye opening article. I finally know now what this ‘on alert’ is. I couldn’t understand it till now but now I know…. 😉 I thought that was very funny.

    With or without RVP we will be a force in the PL and they know that and try to bring unrest to the team.
    With or without the board fighting, Wenger will get his players on track. They know that and try to bring the board fighting on to the team.

    The only possible danger is that a part of the fans blinded by the light and the shiny hollow promises comes and spoils the fun. And that is what such articles try to do. And I don’t mean your article of course.

  • boomergooner1727

    so the new shirt deal is imminent??? *crosses fingers*

  • Doublegooner

    RVP to City…

    He’ll be living in the City,,playing for United.

    How about that for high alert !

  • g clarke

    seems to be the norm that media knock arsenal maybe arsenal should hire media lawyers to look at situation

  • WalterBroeckx

    Reminds me of the number of “snubbing” articles in the media.

    First they invent a story: “Arsenal interested in Messi”
    (name me one team who wouldn’t be interested)

    And then a few days later: “Messi snubs Arsenal as he said he wants to stay in Barcelona”.

  • Brian Rosen

    WEll said. I’ve been reading the Guardian for years, and also ranting about its generally anti-Arsenal claptrap for years too. First they groaned on about George Graham’s one-niller defensive sides. Then they ranted about Wenger’s ‘gets more red cards than anybody else’ sides. Then they ranted about Wenger’s sides’ lack of big-time tackling defensive play. Then they ranted about Arsenal’s lack of trophies since 2005. Then they ranted about Wenger not splashing the cash on big name players. And so they go on and on. As you say so rightly, it’s not ‘news’ as we would understand the word, but all about sh**-stirring subjective opinions in which the journalist seems more intent on showing off how perspicacious they are, than about investigation and argument based on hard facts and evidence.

  • Mike the max

    Great article. The reason we get this rubbish from the media is because of xenophobia by the press and the fact that Arsenal fans are generally intelligent enough to join the debate, neither of these reasons are likely to change anytime soon.

  • Mandy Dodd

    The guardian in bed with usmanov? An interesting concept, or a complete sell out in all the publication once stood for?

  • Mick

    Walter, the club has been ‘snubbed’ so many times by so many players it could be excused if it developed an inferiority complex. I also wouldn’t mind a pound for every player we have supposedly ‘missed out’ on over the last few seasons!

  • Shakabula Gooner

    In reality, apart from Arsenal being a haven of stability, it is more likely to affect the direction of football development in England in the light of the country’s recent experience in the just concluded Euro2012.
    Unfortunately, masterpieces take time to emerge from the canvas and not too many have the patience to watch the master artist paint…

  • Matt Clarke

    ‘Arsenal’ sells papers. Crappy gossip and wild rumours sell papers. No wonder that the papers combine the two.

    I haven’t bought a daily on a regular basis for more than 30 years. I realised then that they were interested, mainly in selling papers (and thus advertising) and also in selling political views. (Think of The Sun and Hillsborough)

    Conclusion – do not buy.

  • ARSENAL 13

    news papers write any thing to sell. I dont understand how therz a turmoil when one person owns 69% of the shares and a person who owns 29% is making the unwanted noise. …

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    I’ve called it “The Manchester Guardian football department” to distinguish this gangrenous part from the rest of this in many ways world-class newspaper. Distinctions need to be made. The same paper can have one section run amok with Murdoch-like slash and burn tactics against AFC, while the rest of the paper has been first and foremost to publicize the Hacking Scandal against Murdoch’s papers. Our understanding of the media landscape ought to take into account that every institution in not a monolith, though some are more so than others (Murdoch’s Der Sun leaps to mind). I’ve regularly slated David Hytner, Williams and Wilson for being chronically viciously AA. And I’ve thought – until this AFC-basher by Amy Lawrence, that she was a fair broker relative to the rest of the trough-eaters. So it’s important, imo, to maintain a more nuanced view to “read” the media.

  • bob

    Brian Rosen,
    I don’t have time to do the research, but I’d wager that you’d find Messers. Wilson and Williams among the Arsenal bashers going back to 2005. If you have any time, it would be really useful, imo, to see who and for how long certain writers at the Guardian have been on the Arsenal Beat(down). These two, plus David Hytner especially have been the reigning mud slingers.

  • bob

    Matt Clarke,
    I’d counter-argue to buy the Guardian for many good non-football reasons; and slate their biased footballing coverage when it (all too frequently) appears. All papers, including the same paper, are not the same throughout.

  • SurferX

    Im not sure Id go so far as saying Arsenal are dysfunctional, but anyone that thinks that a material shareholder (owning nearly a third of the club) is optimal is misguided. The fact of the matter is this- Usmanov isn’t on the Board: if he was, he would be part of the team and the expectation would be to back the party-line. He isn’t, and he clearly doesn’t want to be- what he wants is full ownership. So the statement was obviously timed and phrased in such a way to stir up feeling against the Board. I don’t have a problem with that- if I owned 30% of something, I feel like I’d earned a right to air my thoughts too.

    The key point is this: FFP will determine whether Usmanov’s views carry merit- not anything else. If FFP is enforced, then all the rights-issues and capital injections in the world wont help. If it proves to be a toothless-tiger, then why would a man with nearly double of the wealth of Abramovich look to saddle the club with debt? Think about it- $18bn net worth and people are worrying about asset-stripping, Glazier debt models and so on. Its scare-mongering on the proportion that you accuse the ‘AAA’ brigade of (which I find as facile a term as ‘AKB’).

    As for Amy Lawrence- she is a life-long gooner. You might not like the tone of the article, its conclusions or incinuations: but its no more anti-Arsenal than this site is.

    Papers will always put a slant on things for a story; but the fact remains: Arsenal will struggle to achieve while a significant shareholder remains outside of the people running the club. As soon as a ‘crisis’ point is reached, we will continue to fire PR to suit his own cause. I think the article was spot on.

  • SurferX

    And (apols for double post).. explain how this is a bad thing?

    “It is keeping the Glazer inspired no-dividend share deal at bay.”

    All public companies have a stated dividend policy. Some are high dividend-yield looking to attract investors required a regular return from capital. Others are growth policies looking to typically attract longer-term investors looking for a return based on a appreciation of share price.

    Just because it was the Glaziers doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. Its arguably the most sensible thing they have done since they arrived (excluding getting rid of the PIK’s with a bond issue). The problem with the Glazier’s was the initial debt-leveraged acquisition- swapping the debt for equity can only be a good thing.

    I would welcome Usmanov’s offer- even though its undoubtedly intent was more political than practical. It would allow for a one-off cash injection that- if both parties took up the offer- would in-turn lead to more competitiveness in the transfer market. However, it won’t happen because Kroenke doesn’t want to sink anymore funds into his growth-investment. And he certainly doesn’t want to issue more capital that could be acquired by Usmanov.

  • Wooby

    @Walter at 9:56 … you forgot to add “Arsenal unable to afford Messi – club set to head into decline” 😛

    Media sensationalism involving (against?) AFC, I fear, is something that is not going to die for a few more years yet. The media is stuck in an outdated business model and as one of the few clubs with a global fan base, it makes good business sense to target us and stir up as much sh** as possible so you can present to advertisers “Look at how many eyeballs we have”. I think we had a similar discussion about this in another post.

    @Tony, the points you highlighted are reasons why I am thankful to have found Untold and will continue to read and support it. I do not agree with everything that is written here but at least there is a genuine commitment to begin with facts/numbers and then proceed to discussion/debate.

  • insideright

    Until fairly recently quite a few senior people at The Guardian were Arsenal fans. This included the Managing and Marketing Directors. The Digger column was also penned by a Gooner. They have all left in the last few years
    Despite The Guardians offices moving even closer to the Emirates (you can walk betwwen the two in about 20mins) the editorial line seems to have gone pretty negative – even if taken by other declared fans such as Amy Lawrence.Maybe the previously pro-Arsenal stance was seen to be ‘old-school’ or maybe something else has happened to upset them.
    Sales in London are absolutely vital at all of the broadsheets which lose readers to their online versions far more readily than do the tabloids but this is difficult to (jargon alert) monetise.
    Could it be that by being negative about the Club generates more online comment and that is saleable to advertisers as time spent on the site and therefore potentially exposed to advertising? The Times has gone subscription to bring in the cash but The Guardian hasn’t.
    It’s a theory.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes, Amy does seem a bit anti the club at the moment. I wonder what the jouralists really think. I heard a radio interview with John Cross, on talksport of all stations, whereby he clearly stated he was a fan and a great admirer of Wenger, but at times, editorial pressures led him to a different line. His twitter page used to, and maybe still does explain pretty much the same thing – his views on there should not always be confused with what he writes in the Mirror. Strange. But one thing, seems like a lot of the media ire has shifted from the shoulders of Wenger and onto the board, a bit like the recent attacks attributed to VP and Usmanov. Strange.

  • paddy

    Around the same time as this appeared in the Guardian (which I buy for non football news) there were two well balanced, pro Wenger articles published. One in the daily mail and one in the express; Two reactionary, morally suspect sh*itrags, if ever there were any.

    Totally fair comments here about the disparity between the Guardians approach to news journalism, which is respected globally for its integrity, and the populist drivel they endlessly spout about Arsenal.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I would be surprised if the Guardian has not done some statistical research about what type of story generates the most hits on their football page and found that stories about Arsenal perishing (somehow) do well. It makes little sense for a news organ to publish anything that doesn’t help them financially. Of course their could be direct monetary links…

  • bob

    Mandy Dodd,
    Interesting observation about Cross John. Did he use the expression “editorial pressures” or express anything more specific about the identity of any who pressured him? Did/Do you have anyone in mind who might have done the presurring? It’s a very key admission for an iconic pundit.

  • bob

    “or maybe something else has happened to upset them…”
    OR, came along to tempt them. 🙂
    They’re senior crew is consistently and viciously anti-Arsenal and, imo, young wordsmiths like David Hytner understand all too well how to curry favor with them and gain a future there, or has come there with a serious axe to grind against AFC/AW. Do you know whether seniors like Williams, Wilson have a know ManUre background? They especially, and the department in general, have treated Don Fergus like a god waiting ascension and Arsene Wenger as one inch from drooling in his tea.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Wish I knew ref John cross, do not recall him mentioning individuals, just it seems the papers policy.
    A similar statement at the top of his twitter page!/johncrossmirror

    Wonder if that refers to reporting on arsenal, of just anything in general……mind you, most of his posts are to do with our beloved club

  • bob

    You don’t name one of the two writers, Paul Wilson. By not mentioning his name, you do avoid personalizing your critique; but, in so doing, run the risk that uninformed readers will think that the entire paper is at fault, if no bent (which I feel you know is not the case).

    In any case, what a waste of keystrokes by two jornos who don’t report the whole story, but who nevertheless can write. Above, SuferX says that Amy Lawrence is a “life-long gunner.” Do you/does anyone know more about The Gazumper, Guardian senior writer Paul Wilson? Any objective content analysis of this guy’s body of work would place him at the forefront of Guardian’s – and tied for the lead among the worst of the – Arsene/Arsenal bashers.

  • patrick

    The question of who should be the next captain is a difficult one as there is no guarantee that any player will now see put the end of his contract. Both Wilshere and Vermaelen have said that they’ll be “Gooners for Life” in the past couple of months, but who really believes this if we remain without silverware and richer, more successful clubs come calling, either from home or abroad in the coming years? Who is likely to remain as first choice in his position, not look to move and also be free of injury? Given his years, I’d plump for Sagna, but who knows if he’ll ever be the same. Jack might take time to recover and I hope he doesn’t suffer a setback. In any event, he’s too young to be skipper. Cesc was mistakenly given this position by Wenger at far too young an age and was then expected to carry the team on his own, when he should have been learning from more experienced players. We overplayed him and forced him to play through injuries as we previously did with both Henry and Vieira so he always seemed to miss more games than he should have at the end. I hope we’ve learned the lesson with Jack, but nothing surprises me any more. One final question that puzzles me- why are we now expected to cure our woeful defending with Bould in charge? Did neither Wenger nor Rice know how to coach defensive play, free kicks, corners, high balls into the box or how to deal with counter attacks, because we’d committed too many defenders forward? This went on for years, with Gallas charging forward thinking he was Billy the Kid every time we conceded a goal, now Vermaelen, Song, etc and we’ve been conceding goals like this for several seasons- why?

  • Anne

    Great article, Tony.

    And as I’ve said many, many times, this could not be explained simply as being about generating more hits. When you see the same talking points repeated across multiple media sources that are seemingly unrelated, as we’ve seen regarding Arsenal for years now, it would appear that what you have is an organized propaganda campaign.

    Let me just give you something from the wikipedia entry on “propaganda” to explain what appears to me to be going on here (wikipedia, that bastion of conspiracy theory):

    “Third party technique

    Works on the principle that people are more willing to accept an argument from a seemingly independent source of information than from someone with a stake in the outcome.

    It is a marketing strategy commonly employed by Public Relations (PR) firms, that involves placing a premeditated message in the “mouth of the media.” Third party technique can take many forms, ranging from the hiring of journalists to report the organization in a favorable light, to using scientists within the organization to present their perhaps prejudicial findings to the public.

    Frequently astroturf groups or front groups are used to deliver the message.”

    It would probably be worthwhile for Arsenal fans to familiarize themselves with the rest of this entry as well. Particularly the various propaganda techniques, and the definition of “black propaganda.”

  • SurferX

    Sooo.. what you are saying Anne is that there is a secret cartel that are colluding to write anti-Arsenal propaganda. As opposed to Arsenal, as one of the biggest supported clubs in England, being news-worthy enough to generate sales via headlines? And seeing as there have been no trophies for 7 years, the only headlines to make are unfortunately negative?

    I do love a conspiracy theory. Lee Harvey Oswald was a gooner, don’t you know…

  • asd

    I wait to see the day someone from untold writes an article which tells its reader to be wary of a positive written in a newspaper.

  • bob

    Surfer X,
    Did you read this any of this blog last year at this time and at any time through the fall? You show up and do a content-free drive-by hit with your snarky jibe at Anne’s offering, as if you’re sane and her analysis is from Mars. If you followed – I mean analyzed it as opposed to wallowed in it – the blood sport against AW/AFC last summer-fall, you would know that there indeed was a set of identifiable – indeed, identified – set of so called jornos whose Beat(down) was AW/AFC and whose months-long feeding frenzy was never apologized for after our great turnaround and third place finish. Your labeling anyone a conspiracy-monger without grasping this context, a context in which regular readers here know well; and to slag as superb researcher and committed gooner as there is, Anne, is as laughable as it is nasty.

  • bob

    p.s. and your snide use of the word “cartel,” as if that somehow makes the writer a raving lunatic, has a consequence that you may or may not actually understand: it tries to bully and thereby cancel out the ongoing analysis here to analyze the set of intersecting interests that want an Arsenal take-down. In my book, your inside-the-box masquerade of normalcy makes your comment a part of the problem; not close to any part of any solution.

  • bob

    Wow, you sure got us here. Brilliant comment. Absolutely spot on, f*&king brilliant.

  • Pat

    Thanks Tony, especially for the historical perspective that proves so many of the Guardian’s sweeping statements wrong.

    Thanks Anne, for another reminder of how many different methods are used to deceive the unwary. Your articles on the Robin Van Persie media coverage made me think. No matter how hard a person tries, it’s a hard job to stay ahead of all the media tricks. Well, they spend plenty of time and money on them!

    As to conspiracies, in general we don’t know the half of it! Most of the time we can only deduce from very partial information.

  • Doanythingformoney

    Mmm….SurferX has mentioned the C-word– the alarm bells are ringing!!! You are beginning to sound too much like a member of the ‘secret cartel’ you were so careful to bring up.
    How have the Banking Elite made their zillions? They do it by loaning monies (to countries), so massive, the debt can never be repaid. A sick country, debt ridden, is easy to control and eventually, own. Real, Barca, ManU, and others are either controlled or well on the way by this same means. Arsenal are not. So AFC not only control their own soul but stand to prosper big style under FFP rules as they have no debt. More Arsenal success means more world-wide support and less profit for the Banking Elite as their teams suffer. With zillions- you can usually control any person or organisation you want. This would include newspapers, TV companies or even the AAA. Strewth- even the BBC is their for the taking with enough money!!!

    Please tell me SurferX– has anyone EVER stood up and offered, in open court, to challenge an allegation of corruption (which is what a conspiracy theory is) and succeeded? I can list you hundreds of such allegations but struggle to find one knocked down under those conditions. And I can think of many which have been subsequently proved and accepted as true by everybody–even you. The fact is– such theories always have a large amount, enough, embarrassing truth. Nobody wastes time inventing and researching groundless theories. And when thousands of researchers come to the same conclusion- yes that smell is definitely a rat- it will be mostly fact. Arsenal are being shafted. I have told you what my research tells me. Go and do your research and come back and tell me why you think Arsenal are being bullied!

  • SurferX

    So- this is what I think (Bob and others). Arsenal are one of the 3 ‘biggest’ teams in England (Man U and Liverpool being the other two). Chelsea and City may be in-vogue; but they both at least 3 generations worth of football to catch up on before they come close in terms of shifting print.

    When one of the big-three fails in someway- expect the headlines. When one of them succeeds (I mean, properly succeeds- a trophy for example)- expect more headlines. What isn’t a great way to sell newpapers is “After the worst start in history, Arsenal recover to cling on to 3rd place”.

    There is bias in certain people (ie against-Arsenal): match of the day’s editorial & commentators being case in point. But, what I dont buy into is the suggestion that there is some kind of anti-arsenal agenda en-masse. Two articles were cited in this blog- which were then held up as more evidence of this supposed cartel (by Anne). Im an Arsenal fan of 40 years: I thought the Amy Lawrence piece was bang on the money. And I know she is a lifelong gooner (having been brought up very close to the stadium). She expressed my thoughts perfectly; does this make me complicit in the cartel too?

    I think this paragraph from that piece summed up the current situation beautifully;

    “There are currently two clearly defined, opposing camps – something reflected in arguments among supporters. Few teams win without people pulling in roughly the same direction. This unhealthy situation only increases the pressure on Arsène Wenger and the players to perform well. The minute they don’t, the daggers will be drawn.”

    Untold preaches an ‘eyerything in the garden is rosy’ message. Things that detract from that are labelled ‘AAA’- even to the point that you see collusion and agendas where there are none. Go elsewhere, and you’ll get the polar opposite (everything is terrible, we’re in decline, sack the manager). So anything remotely positive and your are an ‘AKB’. And that dichotomy is now reflected in terms of club ownership too. The minute something goes wrong- expect the mud-slinging to start. Arsenal used to be a club that no-one liked- but we, the supporters, didnt care- we were all in it together. Now? Well, ironically at the point we we are the neutrals choice (pretty football, etc)- we cant stand each other.

    I dont think Arsenal are bullied mate. I dont think we are conspired against, or treated any differently from anyone else: I dont think we need to be. Right now, the biggest enemies we have are ourselves.

  • ASD – I wait for that moment too when we have to say, well I think the press are being a bit optimistic here.

  • Gooner S

    I really enjoyed this article. Thought provoking.

    I’m still not totally onboard with the conspiracy angles, I think it’s more subtle than that; a mixture of selling product and doing what it takes to do that and in this respect Arsenal are news – it’s a back-handed compliment to the club. Also there is the manipulation of the media by business and high profile people. There is a lot of this going on too. R&W might be doing it with The Guardian but Arsenal do it to! Funnily enough Hill-Wood always seems to speak to the Daily Star 🙂

    Anyway the main point of my response was the use of AAA and AKB tags. This drives me nuts and is probably the single most diversive element to evolve in recent times of supporting Arsenal. Why don’t Untold rise above this and just not use these terms. I consider myself in neither of these camps if there is such a thing. We are all Arsenal supporters. I do realise that a lot of abuse comes your way and it’s totally uncalled for. Crikey, Pedro over at Le-Grove as done an about turn in recent weeks and fair play to him.

    Just a thought.

  • Mandy Dodd – that was exactly what I was getting at.

  • Gooner S – I do take your point, but the AAA has been with us a very long time indeed, and is a part of Arsenal’s history.

    Take a look at the article on 120 Years of the AAA – I think that puts it in perspective.

  • bob

    What isn’t a great way to sell newpapers is “After the worst start in history, Arsenal recover to cling on to 3rd place”.

    Did you totally go on Pause? This could well have been a big media story. It doesn’t sell in a chronically anti-AFC atmosphere. And you know what, SurferX, how come this was not a HUGE media story: “Don Fergus Falls on Face after Last Minute Goal, after ManUre loses 8 Points in the Last Three Weeks.” How come that COLOSSAL loss by the anointed one, Lord Fergus to be, Fell So Hard. How do you account for that disparity?

    As for no bullying? Do you follow the ref reviews along the way and being summed up hereabouts? Do you give all of them your eyes wide shut?

    And as for the purported media/string-pullers synergy of interests (oh no, one dare not call that conspiracy) – what you love to pooh-pooh and bully away as “The Cartel” – you look back at the 24X7 specifics last summer-fall’s massive feeding frenzy in EVERY mainstream media venue – papers, TV, blogs, etc. etc. – and you then come back and prove that there’s nothing coordinated in that. Go back to Old Trafford 2004 and prove that Micky R’s ascension to PGMOL chief after that “performance” was sheer coincidence. No, SurferX, it’s not that Arsenal is divided against Arsenal. It’s that those with a thirst and respect for what is really going on run up against those who settle for the old surface explanations and truisms which they (including you) parrot without any need to actually try to back up anything you say with actual evidence.

  • bob

    Are you a practising or ex-jorno? Do you know Amy Lawrence? If so, ask her what it’s like to work in that stable known as the Manchester Guardian’s football department and ask her whether or not there is an editorial line at work that, stated or unstated, is meant to bash Arsenal. Ask her to ask Paul Wilson, and Hytner and Williams. Ask her whether they are straight shooters or not? Ask her whether she has ever felt the need or pressure to overcompensate in the other direction for being “the lifelong gooner” that you claim she really is because she grew up near the stadium? Ask her whether any of her pro-Arsenal stories have ever been heavily re-edited or even snuffed, and at what stage in her writing career there. Will you do that, please? Wherever the chips may fall is fine.

  • bob

    When one of such media stature at Cross John is willing to go public to say: “My views don’t always concur with those I report on,” are you willing to do any more than stay on the surface of that remark? Why, after all these years, does this man allow that much of a crack to peer through? For you it’s well, he’s admitting to bending what he sees to sell papers, no big deal. For me, he’s saying, in the typical understated way, something much bigger. Blow it up and it becomes possible to start to look for something below the surface of things. It appears, SurferX, that you are trigger-quick to snarl at those who want and try to research below the surface – that would be re-search, get it – and label them conspiracy nuts who see Cartels everywhere. Like I think, it’s eyes wide shut, with a tired excuse.

  • bob

    Oh, and happy Bastille Day.

  • Anne

    Personally, I would be willing to consider compromising and changing the name of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal to (drumroll):

    “The Anti-Arsenal Astroturf”

    What do you guys think? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can refer to Wikipedia on propaganda.

    And speaking of propaganda, here are some standard techniques. See if you can spot any of these being used in the media against Arsenal (or even in the Untold comments section!):

    “Ad hominem:

    A Latin phrase that has come to mean attacking one’s opponent, as opposed to attacking their arguments.

    Ad nauseam:

    This argument approach uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth. This approach works best when media sources are limited or controlled by the propagator.

    Appeal to fear:

    Appeals to fear and seeks to build support by instilling anxieties and panic in the general population…”

    Sound familiar to anyone? If you do some research on propaganda techniques, you might be able to find some more things that sound familiar.

    The tricky position that we’re in is being able to recognize the tactics, but not knowing the agenda. On that, we can only guess, and attempt to deduce through tactical analysis.

    My current working theory is that whoever is behind this campaign is attempting to asset-strip Arsenal, with the money being laundered through the transfer market (and possibly player wages to some extent as well). Whoever these persons might be are attempting to accomplish this asset-stripping by means of tricking Arsenal fans into demanding that this occur.

    That’s my current theory, but I could be wrong. Anyone else have any ideas?

  • iniez

    Why do fans like you get upset when questions are raised about the state of our game? You come on here with this holier than thou attitude, label us conspiracy nutjobs, initiate an attack, then so coolly say arsenal fans are at war like you’re some innocent victim of it. You don’t have to believe what’s written here, you don’t even have to read it, so what exactly is wrong? No one is tying you up to a chair a la a clockwork orange and trying to brainwash you. What’s wrong with digging a little deeper and asking questions? Whether we find something or not what’s wrong with that. Is anyone getting hurt? Are you worried arsene will read this and not open up the purse? I want to understand why arsenal fans are so threatened by this site when we have nothing to lose if we find nothing, and so much to benefit from if what we suspect is true. What exactly is the harm being done? Is it an issue of blame allocation?

  • Anne


    I always enjoy your comments 🙂

  • Stuart

    On the subject of media, Talk Sport for once had a positive Headline about Arsenal.

    I had to double, triple take:-