How curious that the media reflect a split in the fan base at WHU but not at Arsenal

by Tony Attwood

It is interesting to note from afar that West Ham have been having a little local difficulty with different fan groups attacking and fighting each other.

True they have had a fairly grotty run of late…

Date Game Res Score Competition
27 Jan Wigan Athletic v West Ham United L 2-0 FA Cup
30 Jan West Ham United v Crystal Palace D 1-1 Premier League
03 Feb Brighton and Hove v West Ham United L 3-1 Premier League
10 Feb West Ham United v Watford W 2-0 Premier League
24 Feb Liverpool v West Ham United L 4-1 Premier League
03 Mar Swansea City v West Ham United L 4-1 Premier League

But prior to that they had seven without defeat – so why the upset.

I suspect, as a complete outsider, the issue relates more to the expectations that were aroused with the move to the old olympics stadium, the leap from 35,000 capacity to an average attendance of 56,000 approx, and the rather amusing and memorable words of the owners about it being the most successful migration from one ground to another in the history of football – when it clearly was not.

West Ham, like many clubs today, including Arsenal, has a number of supporters clubs which can be at odds with each other.  You might know I’m a member of Arsenal Independent Supporters Assn (AISA) and run the AISA Arsenal History Society.  I personally very much oppose the actions of another supporters group Arsenal Supporters Trust who have been very active in publicising their desire to get Mr Wenger out, although I tend not to go around threatening them – or anyone else come to that.

West Ham have the same divisions, but it is interesting that the Guardian has decided to focus on them “after the chairman of one of their supporter groups was left fearing for his safety, having received abuse and threats over attempts to organise a protest march against the club’s board before Saturday’s home game against Burnley.

“Mark Walker, the head of the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA), has said he plans to stay away from games for the foreseeable future. He questioned why senior figures at West Ham had not offered more backing after he became the target of an online campaign orchestrated by a rival fan organisation, some of whose founders are former hooligans and which has links with an unrelated group condemned by anti-racism campaigners.”

Later the paper reports that, “The abuse has gone on for a week and has seen the 35-year-old has received threatening text messages from unknown numbers and attacks on Facebook from members of the Real West Ham Fans Group (RWHFG), which was set up this season by Andy Swallow and Micky Morgan, founder members of the infamous unofficial Inter City Firm. Although Walker has not made an allegation of any wrongdoing to West Ham, he insists the club is aware of it and that it has offered only to move his four season tickets to another part of the stadium.”

Certainly those of us old enough to remember the Inter City Firm might understand why Mr Walker might want to avoid matches at the London Stadium, but it is interesting also that this split between fans groups makes such a big story in the paper when the division between Arsenal fans is by and large ignored both by the national media and the bloggettas.

Instead when writing about the views of Arsenal fans the only thing we ever hear or see is the fact that there is yet another protest, with photographs taken to suggest there is wholesale support for the Wenger out groups.

Indeed I recall writing a few years ago about how I delayed my entry into the stadium (not that that would be of any interest to anyone apart from the friends I travel with) in order to watch a Black Flag action day, and counted a much smaller number of protesters than were subsequently reported the the press.

Likewise the impression is regularly given that Arsenal Fans TV is a massive organisation whereas the number of people actively gathering around its position can be much more modest than one might assume from its publicity.

So why does a split between fan groups at WHU become news whereas the vision is regularly presented that there is no such difference of opinion at Arsenal?

I suppose the main reason is because the national media and its allies are universally involved in supporting the Anti Wenger movement – so involved that they find it hard to admit there is any large movement of people supporting the manager and the team.

It is funny how the news looks different when seen only from the media’s perspective.  As I may have mentioned before, they choose what is news, and they choose how to interpret and represent the news.  And that is the problem.


25 Replies to “How curious that the media reflect a split in the fan base at WHU but not at Arsenal”

  1. Mancs getting the usual favours from the compliant Ref. Should be down to 10 or less

  2. Will it interest Arsenal to sign the 19 year old AC Milan’s youth striker Andrea Panamonti next summer who is reported on this site to be 6ft 1inch tall with a good hold up play and a good defensive shift too to replace the departed Olivier Giroud.

    And another potential big next summer transfer in the offing that could happen to see the gifted midfielder Paul Pogba transfer away from Man U next summer window if the unending feud between him and his manager that is currently reigning is not settled. But will Arsenal capitalise on this unending feud between manager and player to make a signing move for Pogba next summer as a replacement for Santi Cazorla? I don’t think Man U will resist Arsenal moving for Pogba since his manager is looking not to want him at the club beyond this season.

  3. It’s hard to estimate exactly what the percentage of supporters would be who want Wenger to leave . AISA recently had a poll that suggested 88% of fans wanted him to go but as you say they may be deemed to have an agenda.
    My estimate it that it would be around 80-85% of fans who want him to go but I suspect this would differ between supporters who attend matches and those who deem themselves Arsenal fans. There are many regular supporters like myself who believe he needs to be replaced but out of respect to him would not protest or demonstrate. This was borne out last season by the Black Flag marches.
    I’m amazed how many active Arsenal bloggers never entertain the idea of going to matches

  4. I think that a relevant and news worthy element of the Guardian article on West Ham is that the owners may have encouraged the thuggish element of supporters to threaten the (possibly) peaceful protesters. According to the article, somebody had provided the thugs with 40 complementary tickets to distribute in the pub before today’s game.

  5. I’ve said without number that the issue of appointing a new senior team manager for Arsenal to replace the incumbent Arsene Wenger who has been managing the club for 22 years running is better left to the Arsenal majority owner, Stan Kroenke to decide on it. Because he’s the one that sanctioned the current 2 year deal Le Boss got at the end of last season despite the numerous agitation by Arsenal by group of Arsenal supporters to see him stop managing the Arsenal first team squad last season’s end but to no avail as Stan Kroenke sticked by him.

    And the possibility to see Le Boss continuing in his role as the senior team Gunners manager at the end of this season is in place. For, Stan Kroenke who calls the shot at Arsenal looks to still stick by Le Boss to continue as Arsenal manager this season’s end at least to see what big internal and external Titles Arsenal will win in 2018/19 season and from there see. But not sack him at the end of this season as it’s being demanded he does in some quarters of Arsenal supporters.

  6. 100% of the fans want the team to win regularly. And, since we are not, I would think a large percentage (a majority) of fans want a change so that we win. This may or may not mean sacking AW but rather could be a change in owner, a change in direction (whatever that means), sacking Ivan or buying new players. I think most fans see past the current travails we have but are caught up in a certain ennui because despite a shockingly long period of general success, including 3 recent FA cups, we haven’t hit the highest of high notes, that is to say a CL or Premier League championship. The euphoria of winning is a drug and the more you have the more you want and it takes more with each successive success to get that great feeling. My ManU friends are still pining for SAF and moaning about how horrible the football is at Old Trafford. Now that may be true, given Mourinho’s preferred style of play, but their club is in CL position and doing OK, if not actually winning the league.

  7. Other than a couple of blogs there doesn’t appear to be any united support for Wenger, so unless the media wanted to make it up there does not appear to be any opposing groups and no apparent conflicts.
    I can never remember any clashes within the Arsenal support one way or the other; not of the kind you’re referring to. Is this something Arsenal just don’t do?
    Anyway, good for the media in not stoking it up, and who really cares what West Ham or others do to each other.

  8. West Ham have just gone down 1-0 and the fans are starting to run on the pitch and remonstrate with the players… Oh dear 2-0 down now, fighting in the stands between each other.

  9. Liverpool succumb to their high intensity game and a days less rest, followed by an early kick off away.

    Can anyone else smell that rat? A lot of republican for your buck, tv rights in US main media US, main rights for next season US, game times dictated by rights holder, that game puts United 5 puts, 2
    Anti football performances away from safe top 4 likely top 3 am deathly focus shift to CL.

    US Saudi 1,2 both nearly assured position 1 very shortly, 2 more than likely but only needing top 3 anyways. Trophy would be good, not likely.

    Chelsea, I’m eager. Not sure Conte, say
    Goodbye to Coutinho, sorry wrong song, say goodbye to Fiminio, ok current chart topper wrong song, it’s the De Gea, no Courtois, no Hazard one! Blimey, they’ll have to do a Giroud one soon. Can see him packing it on very soon!

  10. OT: Per Mert gave an interview today with the Austrian press,(not sure of who the original interview was with or if they were just repeating the narrative from elsewhere)talking about the insane levels of pressure at club and international level, and the affects of this on the mind and body, and how he hopes to help with this problem with the Academy next year.
    It was quite an eye-opener-no doubt will start to filter through in the next few days…

  11. Markyb

    I saw Rashford get booked then a little later kick the ball away. A 2nd yellow should of ensued.

    Even the radio 5 commentator said the ref “didn’t want to see it”. Which is fair enough, but I wonder if they’ll go on and on about it like they did when it was deemed Jack got away with a 2nd yellow for a dive some time back.

    Maybe you’ll be able to tell me how they didn’t stop going on about it after the game Markyb?

    Somehow I doubt it.

  12. Rashford also went into the crowd when he celebrated his first goal and wasn’t booked.
    When it suits the ref he can ignore it’s one of those rules where a ref can manipulate the result.
    If he books him early he has full control if the ref chooses to keep him on the pitch or not.

  13. Morata just pulled the linesmans flag out of his hand, no yellow.

    This follows a perfectly good goal by Palace disallowed which would have made it 2-1 then Palace did get a goal which should have been the equalizer.

  14. Not only is that poor for Palace, it also means Chelski are 11 points clear of us and not 9 with a game in hand to us.

  15. @Tony,
    Excellent job highlighting the difference in treatment from the media between Arsenal and West Ham supporters.

    @Henry Root,
    The survey was done by the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) not AISA. They surveyed their members about Wenger leaving. AST has about 2500 members maybe, but did not say how many of their members actually responded to the survey. Typically, online survey response rates are between 10-15% so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was less than 200 people that responded. Statistically their survey is insignificant.

    It is more like a statement from a cult rather than the majority of supporters. AST is a joke and an embarrassment to majority of Arsenal Supporters. If they were really supporters, they would say something nice about the club once in a while. Just my opinion about AST.

  16. Jerry,

    About 45% of the AST members responded to the poll. This is from the Arsenal America Facebook group posts.

    Do you have a link to the interview? It’s going to be in German, but at least Google Translate can help people like me making sense of the contents.

  17. ‘Nitram
    11/03/2018 at 5:16 am

    It’s cheating. Plain and simple.’


    There was a lot of it that went on. Young pulling on Salah & the assistant choosing not to see it. The PGMOL honorary patron was in the stands watching his bum boyz perform his bidding.

  18. Kenneth

    Many thanks for that link. I read German so I could understand it. It is indeed very revealing about the pressure on professional footballers. He says he felt this pressure even from the age of twenty one, so that when Germany was knocked out of the cup all he could feel was relief that it was over.

    It makes it even clearer what a massive task it is for a great manager like Arsene Wenger to keep motivating his players, reassuring them and making them feel they are good and it is worth all the pain.

    The least we can do is support them and him.

    At the end Per says how important it will be in the academy to also emphasise general education as such a tiny percentage of the young players actually make it. Another great point. More thought for the human beings involved in the professional football rat race that makes so much money for the owners and shareholders.

  19. @Florian,

    AST’s official post (which I linked) did not mention the number of how many people completed the survey, so it would be interesting to find out how Arsenal America got 45%.

    Another article I saw said they received 450 responses, while another article didn’t list the number of responses, but listed total membership at 2500 so that would be well below 45%.

    Anyone that has administered surveys knows that 45% is a highly unlikely response rate. Also, just because 450 people responded, it does not mean 450 people responded to every single question in the survey which can also skew the numbers. And just 450 out of 60000 fans that visit the Emirates is less than 1% (0.75%) of supporters. If you include worldwide supporters, AST’s survey results are completely insignificant, not even a drop in the bucket.

  20. Nice understanding of statistical manipulation Jezza!

    Nitram, everyday I love you more and more! So are saying Chelsea should almost certainly have dropped points and United most likely?

    Sounds what I’d expect, missed the games!

  21. Tony. My impression, for what it’s worth, is that most pundit/media/blogger comments reflect the idea that there is a split amongst Arsenal fans about Mr. Wenger’s future, rather than wholesale support for him to leave. I have read reports and accounts of arguments between our away fans, some chanting for “change” or “Wenger out”, while others getting angry at what they see as disrespect. I attended one of last season’s marches and you are right, we were relatively few. ( I didn’t attend any others, but I have missed a lot of home games since, something I’d not done in 40 years of being a fan). For me the number of people who don’t attend matches is more indicative of the declining support for Mr Wenger and the current team. Now clearly a lot of people still turned up for the Watford game and supported the team (or watched them at least) . But having a third-empty stadium is not what the Emirates was built for or what the Club aspire to. A sizeable number of fans, even having spent the money, DID NOT TURN UP (even after a very fine away win in Milan) and it’s possible that the same thing will happen at quite a few of our last league home games.
    I think its fair to say that in the past at Arsenal when gates have declined, essentially when the team has been producing poor or unsuccessful football, change has followed. In the past it would have impacted on income. These days, fans staying away impacts on the Brand, our reputation, which in turn makes us a less of a draw for top players, sponsors, world tours etc. I think the Club is trying to change things (behind the scenes at least). Maybe they would have changed things had there been no protests, no banners, no critical bloggers, no empty seats. Maybe they were always going to create a new structure as part of planning the future and even had we qualified for the Champions League last year, planning for no Mr Wenger would have gone ahead anyway. But to be fair to all of those fans who felt the need to protest and criticise, none of us had any confidence that the people who were running the Club had a plan of any kind or that they even cared much. The AST started out as completely positive outfit with a view to facilitating fan ownership. They had many positive meetings with Mr Gazidis but the Kreonke decision to block real fans from any kind of ownership involvement, even a nominal one, meant AST had to change tack. The membership are die hard Arsenal fans who want the best for the Club and want the Club to be the best it can be. I believe die-hard fans who are committed enough to pay their money to follow Arsenal have every right to try and influence the Club and to put pressure on it. Especially when the Club appears to be allowing itself to drift and is often dismissive of fan opinion. Yes a lot of it is shrill and disrespectful and media hyped but Arsenal make a mistake if they ignore the underlying sentiment that empty and silent seats speak to. I am more hopeful now than before that the Club is acting. And I can’t be sure but I think supporters voicing disquiet in a number of ways has contributed to the changes we are seeing.

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