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By Tony Attwood
If you were not at the game yesterday it is possible you’ve not really appreciated how chaotic things were at the stadium yesterday. From getting into the ground to the VAR situation played out in the stadium it was mind blowingly mismanaged.
Starting with VAR, Arsenal had scored, the crowd and players celebrated, we were getting ready for the re-start and then suddenly without warning the VAR notice appeared on the screens.
We waited for what seemed quite a while (although of course it seemed longer than it really was) with absolutely no information of what was wrong with the goal) and then it was disallowed. And we still had no idea why. And we never got that information.
And then with the fourth Arsenal goal it happened all over again.
This is not entertainment but simply treating the crowd (the paying customers) with utter contempt. And this on a day when we had already been treated badly by a change to the way in which we got into the ground with a membership card which led to massive queues all round the stadium.
Goodness knows how many games I’ve been to at Arsenal Stadium, following the ritual of meeting friends at the pub, and then going to the ground in plenty of time to get in.
But this time as we approached the stadium it was clear something was very wrong – for the crowds outside were so vast that it was nigh on impossible to make our way around the ground to get in. As a result we were later getting to the queues, which then were so vast I, and many others, missed the kick off.
It was chaotic and it was dangerous, and whoever was responsible for the mess should be out of the club by now. Such a situation is ludicrous and completely unsafe, and totally the fault of Arsenal’s stadium management. The crowd outside was so vast and so unmanaged that if anyone had slipped over they were likely to be trampled.
It not only raises the question of who the safety officers of the stadium are, and whether they are being allowed to keep their jobs after this affair. And indeed whether the management of Arsenal as a whole are aware of how awful the situation was on Sunday.
So in effect we had mismanagement upon mismanagement. And indeed for once the Guardian agrees – at least in relation to the workings of VAR (although of course because they take no notice of how us mere mortals attend games they wouldn’t know about the chaos outside the ground) for they said of members of the paying public, such as my group of friends and myself…
“they are entitled to ask why an apparent winner from Sokratis Papastathopoulos seven minutes from time was disallowed after a lengthy VAR review with no explanation offered to anyone in the stadium, replays later showing a possible infraction by Calum Chambers in trying to reach Nicolas Pépé’s corner but nothing fitting a definition of “clear and obvious”. The level of communication with the paying public, not to mention those physically involved in the match, was diabolical and it cannot be right that the pitch of confusion is heightening, rather than abating, nearly three months into the season.”
The only thing that gave rise to a smile was that after the first VAR incident the microphone from the VAR studio was left on, and over the PA we got some jolly chitchat from the person in charge of communicating with the referee. All very droll and amusing but not really enough to compensate for a day of gross incompetence at Arsenal Stadium.
Arsenal had a turnover of over £388,000,000 in the figures for the last financial which has been published, but they can’t manage to make arrangements to get us into the ground safely, nor tell us why a goal was disallowed on a VAR call. And those two failings are before we consider what happened about Xhaka.
When he was substituted he was booed constantly by the crowd showing what of course we have known for a long time, that there is a mass campaign against him. And just think for a moment about players who are perhaps thinking about a transfer to Arsenal. For there was also the singing of the Ozil song through one part of the match, and all this follows, of course, the long campaign to get rid of Arsene Wenger.
The players who might come to Arsenal in the future won’t be aware of the turmoil outside the ground, but they might notice the dissent inside including the jeering of Arsenal’s captain and VAR incompetence, and quite possibly decide to go elsewhere when a transfer possibility comes around.
The problem is, having successfully combined with the media to get rid of Wenger a lot of a crowd are now working hard to get rid of Emery. So I guess the “get rid of” mentality is pretty much with us for a while.
I can’t do anything to stop that. But if only that approach to Arsenal could be extended to the notion of getting rid of the people who administer the stadium, then some good might come out of it all.
(And I haven’t even started on how long it took me to get some food at half time).
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