By Tony Attwood
The supporters’ rebellion at Manchester United this summer was supposed to involve season ticket holders not renewing until the last minute.
But the trouble with rebellions is that they can sometimes get a bit out of control. I am not sure that the middle class members of the 3rd Estate in France in 1789 quite wanted their reforms to end up with the Terror of 1791, any more than those who campaigned for the end of the maximum wage for footballers quite wanted wages so high that the players would be in part responsible for the bankruptcy of clubs. (Not that there is any link between football wages and the Terror, you understand).
But there is trouble afoot in both Man IOU and Liverpool territory, just as the Anti-Arsenal blogs that pretend to be Arsenal blogs (one might call them Anti-Arsenal Arsenal) are getting more and more worked up with their tales of impending doom, and I am just starting to wonder how far it is going to go.
As we know Liverpool teetered on the brink throughout last season and are now run by the banks who have installed a Chelsea season ticket holder as the chairman of the club. Oh what must the kop enders be thinking. 20 years without winning the league, utterly bankrupt and supported only by a bank that wants its money back and run by a Chelsea man. No wonder the manager is rather worried about playing in the double extra pre-preliminary extra round of the Dopey Cup this week against Bloghurstein Village Juniors. It is going to be a tough one.
But back to Man IOU. The great revolution involving wearing scarves of different colours from the team (while still wearing a shirt of the team) has always looked a little odd to me, but we were promised a much more vibrant campaign when the season ticket holders held off renewing until the last minute.
And those season ticket holders have done just that. In fact their watches must have stopped as they were looking for that last minute because Man IOU are now anxiously trying to flog 4000 regular season tickets.
Of course 4000 season tickets probably only represents around 8% or so of the total volume of season tickets on offer at Very Old Trafford (100 years old this year – see “Making the Arsenal” for details of its birth). But there are two facts to note.
- One is that these are regular season tickets – not club class or anything like that.
- Two is that there is no waiting list at Man IOU for season tickets.
Now this summer there was a very real attempt by some of the anti-Arsenal Arsenal (AAA) blogs to try and suggest that the Arsenal season ticket waiting list had gone and that something like 80% of season ticket holders were walking away. Apart from this being a thoroughly bizarre statement given the fact that every game sells out, all the evidence is that this is not true, and indeed it is hard to find many people who have given up their season tickets this year. Likewise the waiting list seems as strong as ever. But more on Arsenal and the AAA in a moment.
First, what’s to be learned from the downturn in demand at Manchester IOU?
Clearly it can’t be the lack of success on the pitch. No, it is something else – the feeling about the club. Some people just don’t want to be a part of the Glazer machine any more. They don’t want to feel that the money they pay for their tickets goes into the Glazer created interest account used to pay the banks and others for their borrowings.
Of course we have no way of knowing if this decline in interest will continue any further. Searching back through old messages on the Man U supporters sites http://community.manutd.com/forums/t/14459.aspx for example it is clear that in 2008 there was a waiting list and that many people who were on it were not getting season tickets that year.
Back in July 2007 Man U were reported by Channel 4 to be saying that they had 56,000 season tickets and 40,000 on a waiting list.
All these figures are hard to validate, and many don’t believe them. Arsenal FC constnatly state that there are 40,000 on the Arsenal waiting list now, but many of the anti-ArsenalArsenal blogs reject this figure – largely it seems based on having a number of mates coming along and offering to do illegal deals over season tickets with AAA site owners.
But let’s ignore the constant, endless attempt by the AAA blogs to destroy our club and its support, and look at what seems to be a real decline in the Man U situation. From 40,000 on the waiting list to 4000 unsold and no waiting list in 3 seasons, two of which included winning the league.
Certainly if this continues then either this year or by next year there will be gaps on the Man U seats, and we will truly have seen a wholesale revolt of supporters against owners. In three more years Very Old Trafford will be half full.
So could we see that too at Arsenal – with the AAA orchestrating a campaign that gets Wenger out?
It seems unlikely simply because Wenger has a massive level of support – you only have to go to the games to hear the pro-Wengerian chants. At Man U you can’t find a single person who supports the Glazers. Apart from the board.
The fact is that nothing can redeem the situation at Man U, whereas Wenger’s continuing success in keeping our club profitable and in the top four, with an astonishing array of talent coming through, gives hope to many who think about Arsenal in the broadest sense.
While the AAA shout and scream that we have only bought two players this summer, the real supporters know that we have in fact also got a bunch of teenagers of amazing ability coming through – Wilshere, Frimpong, JET… all of whom will be featuring for us this year.
That’s really the point – there is a solid and clear reason to support Wenger and there are tens of thousands of people without tickets who would love tickets, who do support Wenger. Thus the waiting list stays solid. At Man U, no one likes the Glazers, and people are simply walking away.
Interestingly, because the AAA’s campaign to destroy our club is not making much ground they are trying new tactics – you may have spotted one of the most amusing creeping into Untold with comments suggesting that I am a Tottenham supporter in disguise, and that Untold itself is anti-Arsenal because it talks so much about money in football. There was another one yesterday, saying that I really ought to learn something about football before I tried to run a blog.
Fair enough – each to his/her own opinion. There’s no problem with these comments, because unlike some of the AAA sites Untold doesn’t change people’s comments once they have been posted. If they are copied from other sites, or if we find people writing in using different names to try and make it look like they are several people rather than one, yes I do take action. But otherwise, its an open forum.
Perversely I quite like the attacks on Untold and these wild stories about 80% of season ticket holders giving up, because when the ground is once again full for games next season, and we see yet another brilliant team produced by nurturing young talent, it really is very funny.
Having watched the couple of games so far, I am getting a really strong buzz about this year. I think we might not only be able to beat the other clubs, but also deal with the injury jinx. At last we might have just enough bodies to survive the onslaught of the anti-football clubs.
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying
- Where there is power, money and greed there is corruption