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Celebrating our links with Arsenal Belgium: the annual report.



If you have been a regular reader of Untold you will know the strong link that exists between Untold Arsenal and Arsenal Belgium.   Walter Broeckx from the region around Antwerp joined the Untold team of writers in our early days, and has gone on to establish the referee review programme that we have on the site and also ran our site Referees Decisions for two years.  Subsequently he became a key player in Arsenal Belgium, the officially recognised supporters club for his country and is currently their chair.

Members of Arsenal Belgium and the Untold Arsenal team meet up regularly throughout the season (usually in the pub prior to matches) and maintain the close relationship that exists between the two.  Indeed one of the Untold Arsenal team even played (very poorly) for Arsenal Belgium in the annual five a side end of season tournament at the Emirates one year.

So, celebrating the strong links between Untold and Arsenal Belgium, we’re delighted to present the annual report from Arsenal Belgium prepared by Marcel Bogaerts

The Report

Arsenal Belgium, the only official supporters club of the Gunners in Belgium, has now concluded the season 2016-2017.  Three seasons have gone by since a motivated and enthusiastic new board decided to try and guarantee continuity of the club following the departure of founder Birger Vansever.

As our financial year runs from July 1 to June 30, the numbers are still to be finalized but we know that in these final weeks nothing spectacular will happen, therefore at the general assembly on June 17, followed by a sunny and successful barbecue, the reports of the board were presented to the interested few actually attending the meeting.

As a (now retired) financial analyst I am well placed to see the meaning behind the numbers and a decreased cash balance (although perfectly explained and backed up) of 9.5% and an ever so small step backwards in the total number of registered members of 3.2% left me pondering for a few days.

A great manager once said “If you can’t support us when we lose or draw, don’t support us when we win.”  This is supposed to be the credo of the real supporter, but reality shows that lacklustre performances and early loss of sight on the title, combined with humiliating results in Europe’s elite competition triggered reduced interest in the club.  Especially this Spring, we noticed a clear decrease in late member enrolments as well as in ticket applications.  It’s only understandable.

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We managed to organise only three group trips to the Emirates (Southampton, Bournemouth, Burnley).  This can be considered as a minimum.  The Premier League calendar was working against us.  Home games targeted as possible group visit for Arsenal Belgium were rescheduled to mid-week because of our FA Cup run.  Obviously Belgian fans need to take  one or two days off work to attend mid-week games in London; some fans don’t mind to do so and some actually did, but not nearly enough to organise group trips.

Although we do not wish to be solely considered as ticket office, we always want to give our members the opportunity to apply for tickets for other games than those attended in group.  Quite a number of small groups have seized this opportunity to go and watch The Arsenal live, especially in the second half of the season (Manchester City, Sunderland, Everton to name only some, and the Arsenal Belgium flag unfurled also in Paris and Munich).  It is needless to repeat the wonderful day of our chairman Walter had at Wembley, he is still buzzing about it.

In Arsenal Belgium we have a relatively small number of diehard fans, who have a room decorated with a large Arsenal flag and don’t let a day go by without browsing the media for Arsenal news.  

We have also another category of members and I think that this category is more seldom found in the local UK fanbases.  We refer to them as “tourists”.  People who like to take football trips to interesting cities in Europe.  London, Munich, Dortmund, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Glasgow.  It is well known that internet ticket offices and “football trips operators” charge a crazily high amount of money for tickets, and therefore these “tourists” like to call on supporter clubs to provide them with a ticket.  

They gladly pay as well our enrolment fee of 15 or 20 euro.  As an example we had a family mailing us in November, asking us to provide them tickets for the match on December 26.  They claimed to be most fanatic Gooners.  We did not hear them for a couple of weeks and then Walter wrote them asking whether they still wanted tickets and we received a reply “No thanks we’ll go and watch another club in London on that day.”

Also seriously taken in consideration by Belgian Gooners are the expenses incurred on a day Arsenal.  If we select a fixture category B, we are usually given tickets Corner Upper tickets, with a face value of £49.50.  At the current rate, booking and transaction fees included, this will translate to 59 Euro.  If we are so lucky to receive 25 tickets for the game, selling them all, we can charter a mid-size bus for 75 euro per person, shuttle ticket included.  We always advise our members to bring food and drinks for the trip, but one or more pints and a pie or a double cheeseburger add to the football experience.  

The Armoury is of course a magnet, and many of us don’t leave the shop without their new jersey, scarf, cap, or training gear.  Soon all of this adds up to over £200.  It is a day out that many housewives will approve of once or twice, but not more.  But clever husbands have their explanation  ready: “Listen darling, my pints were for nothing today because I saved 12 Euro on the ticket thanks to the favourable exchange rate.”

It has been said before that Belgian Gooners coming by bus to the Emirates have a long day ahead.  It is a minimum of 17 hours for the round-trip, but once due to shuttle problems on the way back home we needed 26 hours.  That’s why we will now reconsider transportation by Eurostar, and on the planning board is also a group weekend, leaving on Saturday morning, staying overnight and returning to Belgium Sunday late afternoon.  If the Premier League calendar and the personal agenda of interested members allow it.

One thing is certain for the season ahead: the board of Arsenal Belgium will hold fast and continue to work hard and represent our great football club, The Arsenal, in the best possible way.  Team performances, exchange rates, member motivations and bus schedules can (maybe) slow us down, but will never stop us.  Victoria Concordia Crescit!

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7 comments to Celebrating our links with Arsenal Belgium: the annual report.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Marcel, I couldn’t have said it any better 🙂

  • Notoverthehill

    Thank you. for the Annual Report.

    It is very obvious, that the TV scheduling of EPL games, is a disaster for faraway fans.

    Real supporters, not the unwanted time wasters!

  • omgarsenal

    I envy the ArsenalBelgium supporters….I am too far away to ever see a live match in the emirates!

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I am jealous of the Belgium fans because I can only catch games every couple of years when I visit family in England. Maybe when I retire…

  • Pat

    ‘Lacklustre performances’, ‘humiliating results’ – I thought it didn’t sound like our Walter! But thanks anyway, Marcel.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great job , guys . Keep the faith . And never forget , we always win when Walter is there ! It used to be a guaranteed 3-1 scoreline , but probably with the impending BREXIT and possibly the monetary disparity it was only 2-1 at the FA Cup final ! Buck up Walter !
    WOO HOO , HOO !
    Up the Gunners!

  • Menace

    Graet job Marcel & thank you to all the Belgian Gooners. Pomme fritz & mayonaise & pili pili sauce. Nothing to touch it before a beer.

    Looking forward to a great season of quality football.