Do Arsenal communicate more openly and honestly with their supporters than other clubs? And how do you know?

By Tony Attwood

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (of which I am not a member but was associated with – if that is the right term – when the Fanshare scheme was running) does a survey each year, and this year on reading its results through I find I have have a few doubts about its veracity.

My concern is that they tend to ask questions that depend on a certain amount of knowledge which the reader might not have.  They are also asking for opinion without evidence, so as an opinion survey it is interesting, even though it may be an uninformed opinion survey.

For example there is one question that says,

Do you think that there needs to be more professional football experience either added to the Arsenal Board or made available in an advisory role to them?

How does one answer that?  One could say, “looking at the board, none of them has been a manager or a player, so yes they need more.”  That’s the first off view, and since this is an online questionnaire, the view that most people will go for.  Tick the box move on.  But then one might argue, we have a club management that has a huge amount of professional football experience, so what is the point of having another lot at director level?  

Or one might say, “that is interesting, how has it worked with other clubs when they have moved some senior management staff into the board room?  (In fact a quick review of the situations suggests it causes discord as often as it improves things.

One might also ask, what does the board do?  From the point of view of the aaa I suspect what they want it to do is to stop Mr Wenger doing what he does, and get him to do something else.  But you don’t need a person with professional football experience to do that.  86% agreed with the proposition – which of course was a foregone conclusion.  They were bound to.

But I wonder how many of those answering actually had a clear idea of what a Board does.  I think I do, because I am a director of four companies (although two of them are very small).  Each has a different sort of Board makeup and that leads to all sorts of issues, and that’s always the key issue.

Then there was the question “Are you satisfied with the performance of Ivan Gazidis?”  Now we have the point, “how would anyone know?”  What do you know of the work of Mr Gazidis apart from what you might hear in the press, and the occasional meetings of supporters he attends?   How does any of us know how he liaises with the media, works with Mr Wenger, arranges the affairs of the club etc?   There was no “don’t know” box, and the largest number of voters chose the “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied” which could mean “I don’t know” or could mean “he does some good and then some bad.  37% were quite or very satisfied, 26% quite or very dissatisfied.

There was then another question in which we were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much we believed the owner and board were doing all they can to help Arsenal win the league.

This is curious because “all they can” assumes a knowledge of the individuals’ mental ability and effort combined.  Again how on earth are we to evaluate that?  Sir Hardly Anyone, if on the board, might flap around a lot and gather irrelevant facts.  One could argue (if one didn’t want a fist in the face) that is all he can do, given his refined upbringing on one of the great rural estates of the country so he does all he can.  I don’t think that is what the question meant though.

Then there are the questions which have lying behind them all sorts of other issues…

For example there is the question, “The AST campaigned this year for more of the new TV money to be spent on reducing ticket prices.  The club subsequently announced that they would free home ticket prices for three years. Do you think this is enough?”

26% said yes, 70% said no, 4% said don’t know.

Now the problem here is one that relates to what happens to the money.  For example if the additional money is used to buy more players that the manager wants, then many might think this is a good idea.   If the money goes on ever escalating player transfers and salaries however, because there is no salary cap and no control on transfer levels, this perhaps is not a good idea.  We want our players to be paid well, and we want them not to leave Arsenal for Chelsea or Man City – clubs with massively more wealth than we have.  So it might have been better to ask, “would you be happy to pay £20 less a game, even if it meant Arsenal was more restricted in the transfer market?”

As for “How satisfied or dissatisfied are you that ticket prices at the Emirates stadium provide good value for money, again how does one value that?   Would the value for money have increased if we had won the league rather than come second?  Or maybe the value would rise if one didn’t sit in front of a young gentleman who shouts out instructions to players in one word commands through the match.

It is a question which then raises the issue of how we judge value for money in a club.  I imagine it must include

  • The facilities for watching the game
  • The facilities related to the game (entering the ground, refreshments etc)
  • The performance of the team
  • The performance of the referee and the opposition.
  • The result

So does that mean that we only get value for money if Arsenal win the League rather than come second?

On the question of Mr Wenger being the right man for the job, no alternatives were put forward, so this is a judgement in isolation.  49% agreed he was, strongly or somewhat, 38% disagreed strongly or somewhat.

Which tells us… not much.  It would be good to know who those who disagreed wanted to have as manager.  But then we also have the fact that this is a poll of members of AST, a body that has long expressed a certain point of view.  Ask another organisation and you’d get a different answer.

There was also a question about how strong a sense of belonging with Arsenal people felt now compared with five years ago.  44% said they felt they had a weaker sense of belonging.   And I would really love to know how that was measured.  If I think back five years I find it hard to judge my relationship with the club then – but if it was more or less, what made it more or less?

The last question that troubled me was one that asked “In comparison with other Premier League Clubs do you think Arsenal communicate openly and honestly with their supporters?”

Now that is tough.  How do Tottenham communicate with their supporters?  I don’t really know.  Occasionally I have a peek at their web site, but really I still don’t know.  Most club web sites are the bland leading the bland.  And Man U?  Man C?  Chelsea?   How on earth do people know how to answer that question?  At least 31% said they “don’t know” and that seems to me the right answer.   16% said Arsenal were better 20% said worse.  I’d love to know how those two groups came to their decision.

Thus I emerged not much wiser.  Perhaps next year the questions might be changed a little – although I am not sure they will. But as I said at the start, I’m not a member.

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19 Replies to “Do Arsenal communicate more openly and honestly with their supporters than other clubs? And how do you know?”

  1. Fantastic article…always value someone who has an objective view on these sorts of things.

  2. I think you are missing a “z”. Club would _freeze_ home ticket prices.

    > The club subsequently announced that they would free home ticket prices for three years.

    It sounds like a bunch of twits made up that questionaire. If nothing else, some of the questions are highly loaded.

  3. You know as a supporter of the club you blindly support the team that plays. Because they alone bring the shouts of joy and tears of despair. You go all out to support them. It is beyond me to think of how the club is run from an operational viewpoint because hey guess what it isn’t my job. So when that being the case for most fans I don’t know how they were the best people to adjudge or run a performance appraisal of the board or any one involved in operations. I guess they could ask fans attending games at the emirates how their overall experience was. What are the inadequacies that could be improved upon like Tony mentioned above. Something constructive so that AST is looking out for fans. But otherwise they would seem like a small group of mutinous pirates spreading toxicity even before the new season.

  4. Tony

    Good piece. You say you have doubts about the surveys veracity, and so you should.

    Agenda riddled, full of questions trying, oh so hard to sound ‘intellectual’ and ‘fair’, but in reality where simply loaded to induce a ‘not satisfied’ result.

    As you said:

    1) How could they possibly answer most of those questions without a) Knowing the people and there inner thoughts, or b) knowing many of the facts required to make an informed response?


    2) How would the answers of changed had we won the PL rather than finishing 2nd?

    I would suggest quite a lot.

    In other words the AST could of saved themselves a lot of time and effort, and still got the discontented response they so obviously wanted by simply asking:

    How satisfied or dissatisfied are you about us not winning any trophies last season?

    At the end of the day, for so many people that seems to be, the one, the only measure of how well the Club is run.

  5. Ajay

    Good points

    “I don’t know how they were the best people to adjudge or run a performance appraisal of the board or any one involved in operations.”

    They certainly are not.

    “……but otherwise they would seem like a small group of mutinous pirates spreading toxicity even before the new season.”

    They certainly are.

    The AST has one aim in mind and that is to feed the Arsenal hating media with more negativity. You can rest assured samples of this ‘survey’ will be reproduced endlessly and used as ‘proof’ that Arsenal fans are getting ever more discontent with every passing second.

  6. Szcesny will apparently miss a game due to injury.

    To me, it looks like English and Russians fans want their respective teams kicked out of UEFA 2016. More problems today.

    Koscielny and Giroud starting for France.

  7. For services rendered’ the club’s majority shareholder Mr Kronke has been paid £6 million.

    What those services were/are the club has yet to communicate.

  8. seems to only support M$ and Apple, or that was the situation the last time I looked.

    It seems like they also made use of flash to do video type content. I will not allow flash in any web browser I oversee.

    I don’t know if I’ve seen a commentary at for the men. The Ladies do have a twitter feed, which is similar. I don’t pretend to be an expert on twitter, but if had a bot watching for twits from Arsenal Ladies, they (possibly) could rewrite the twits to allow for the hover and links I mention below.

    Let’s look at a commentary snippet (Guardian – France vs Albania). What is there, what could/should be.

    > 8.21pm 20:21 17 min: Payet teases a dipping ball into the area from the right. He’s looking for Giroud but it’s slightly underhit. Yet Ajeti is grateful to see his wild miskick spin behind for a corner. That could have been disastrous for the Albania defender. As it is, they deal with the resulting corner easily enough.

    > [ Facebook ] [ Twitter ] [ Google+ ]

    We have 2 times, one being AM/PM and the other 24 hour. It might be that one is local time (to the game) and the other is the time at The Guardian were the feed originates?

    Next up, we have the minute counter in the game. No problem with this.

    The only link in the body of the text which constitutes that commentary item, is [Albania], which links to some Guardian content on the country.

    There should be content which displays with mouse hover for a lot of content, as well as links.
    1 What number is the player wearing
    2 What position they (appear to be) playing
    1 Roster type information on player, for that team.

    I don’t know whether it should be hover or link, but there are a lot of words in typical English commentary that people who’s mother tongue is not English have trouble with. For example:

    > A neat move from Albania ends with Lenjani drilling one over from 25 yards.

    Some definition of “drilling” is needed.

  9. I think I can answer your question Sir, Mr Attwood.

    I believe Arsenal board do communicate more openly and honestly with we the Arsenal fans through the Boss holding press conferences and through the Arsenal official website on issues and matters relating to our club which the boss and the Boss believe we should be told.

    But sensitive and classicified issues and matters relating to the club finances and transfer biddings are kept aside from our immediate knowledge until a later date for the club’s security reasons.

    The BR have reported today quoting a reliable source that Arsenal have summited a £20m bid to Dortmond FC for Henrykh Mkhitaryan. Despite the player’s preference to go to Man Utd as per his agent comments, (for likely higher wages than Arsenal will offered him?). But Dortmond are reported to have refused Mkhitaryan’s wish to move away from the club.

    But if Arsenal pressed on with their bidding for him and upped the bidding price to £25m and also upped the wages of Mkhitaryan to £120/w, would that be okay to convince Dortmond to allow this player to leave them for us if Mkhitaryan agrees the £120m/w pay packet. But with no string attach by Dortmond and Mkhitaryan to the transfer deal?

  10. Tony………….I agree that these questions were too complex and sophisticated for the average Gooner but I sense a hidden agenda behind many of them. Most non-standardized questionnaires actually fail to give anyone really useful information, because they ask the wrong questions in the wrong order and manner and are not well thought-out. They are also not comparable to any other information and that is their principal failing. What AFC and their numerous affiliated Trusts etc. need to do is a properly conducted market survey with carefully crafted and coherent questions that actually mine needed information from the respondents. .

  11. what we dont want to see is the AST using this survey result as a tool for them to claim they represent the voice of majority Arsenal fans who is dissatisfied about the way how Arsenal football club board is operating n use it as a reason to create more discontented among supporter, even before the new season kick off in order to archive their agenda.(it can be many things) in reality they just a group among many other supporter clubs of the Arsenal football club who may have a different views n ideas about Arsenal board n their staff. sure the club will be more open n honest with the supporters as long as there is respect, also if the fans can be reasonable n sensible with their demands. the other thing with some of this fans, they always act like they are the expert n know all the stuff about what board do, in the same time keeps belittle the Arsenal board over n over

  12. I do believe that before we take a survey of fan’s opinions , we ought to do a survey of the mindset of those fans that we are surveying . As well those of whom are preparing the survey questions.

    How truly random were the sampling fans ? Did they subscribe to a certain school of thought or were they chosen at random from a very wide ranging fan base .

    Are we sure that those doing the survey are sincere and honest in their intentions ?

    Are they truly asking relevant questions or just looking for fools to rubber stamp their biases , and to further their own agenda ?

    Were the fools also pre-selected for their known biases , their stupidity and/or their lack of knowledge as well as for their pliability ?

    Finally , would anybody really take the AST’s findings and recommendations seriously , or would they then reject them as being flawed and biased ?

    As for me , I am very happy with the progress we have shown over the years; a have the utmost faith in the manager and the board ; and a sincere belief that we ARE on the right path .

  13. Brickfields I am with your last para. We are on the right path. ‘Though I would love a share in the profits of “Golden Tickets To Heaven” 😉 !

  14. Brickfields Gunners

    “Finally, would anybody really take the AST’s findings and recommendations seriously, or would they then reject them as being flawed and biased ?”

    The Media and the AAA types, at whom this survey is aimed, will certainly take it serious.

    I have absolutely no doubt they will see it as a flawless, scientific survey, carried out with complete impartiality, and as such report it as irrefutable proof of every Arsenal fans complete and utter dissatisfaction with everything at Arsenal football Club.

    They couldn’t give a shit whether it was flawed, biased or both, just as long as it was negative and fitted there hate filled agenda.

  15. I knew a bit about the last question because of reddit. A primary school project to see which club has best responses.

    Also i think there was the recent ticket prices descrease from the new TV money and a newspaper asked all 20 clubs and only Arsenal gave a proper response the other clubs said they cannot comment on external things. I cannot find a link for a moment.

  16. The AST questionnaire has been going for years (in different forms and via different delivery mechanisms) and has always had the same flaws driven by the same agendas. Numerically the sample for the ‘research’ is less than half of one percent of the total Arsenal Club membership – and even then only a minority of eligible people respond. Sadly, the fact that the views propounded by the response were shown to be in a tiny minority by the ‘protest’ at the stadium late in the season, won’t put them off. They have painted themselves into a corner and they can’t disassociate themselves from their long held agendas. But at least the Board and the Press saw for themselves how small a minority they are. Stan Kroenke’s purchase of yet more shares a week or so later says all all need to know about his view!

  17. Unfortunately the AST isn’t really “The blind leading the blind” it’s more ” The tunnel vision’d leading the partially sighted”.
    AST hasn’t reflected the supporters views for many years now.

  18. The AST should most probably be called aaa-lite.
    They sound similar and most probably have a high level of cross-membership.
    AST and aaa are probably two chicks from the same bum.

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