Freedom of speech vs the need to support the team. AFTV in perspective

By Tony Attwood

I have recently run a couple of pieces expressing my dislike of AFTV (see for example here), and although many readers have agreed with my view, as is always to be expected some disagree.

Normally I’d leave things at that and carry on with Untold’s message of supporting the team and the manager, but a point was raised by several readers that I feel could do with a little more exploration.  This is quite simply the view that AFTV have as much right as anyone else to put forward their point of view and that Untold is arguing in favour of a removal of freedom of speech.

Of course everyone in a democratic society has the right to put forward their point of view, as long as doing so does not break the law, or encourage others to break the law.  (OK that is a simpilfication because there are all sorts of issues around racism, homophobia, arguing against specific religious beliefs in particular ways and the like which are illegal, but I’m sure you get my general point).

So of course under the law, and in terms of the democracy that I very much believe in, yes AFTV have as much right to be here as does Untold Arsenal.

But one issue struck me as I started to read some of the criticism being made of Untold and some of its readers, and that quite simply was that such criticism ignored the notion that some comments and actions are likely to harm the club and the team.  And that really is the essence of my point.

As anyone who has seen AFTV will know, a lot (not all, but a lot) of the comments made therein are incredibly negative – negative about the players and about the manager.  This surely can’t have escaped anyone’s notice – after all the attacks on Mustafi, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Chambers, Ozil cannot have been helpful… and that is before we get onto the players who have gone out on loan following constant criticism.

In relation to this criticism, if the only judgement to be considered is the one giving people who identify themselves as fans the right to criticise in any way they wish, then of course they have the right to say what they want, and of course AFTV should continue its own way.

But if one believes that the negativity of AFTV comments, combined with the incessantly negative comments on other blogs, on TV, on radio, and in the newspapers, can result in players losing their confidence and their form, then it seems to me to be reasonable to criticise the media that indulges in this behaviour.  If it also means that players then feel they would sooner play for other clubs where there is less criticism, then it means that Arsenal loses out all the time.

However if one feels that comments made on AFTV make no difference – then why do it, other than for the self-aggrandisement of those who comment?

And if one believes that the comments make things better, on what possible grounds can that be the case?

What we can see on occasion is a player who was an excellent player for his previous club, comes to Arsenal, makes a couple of mistakes as he is settling in, and starts getting booed and jeered in the game, and gets an endless assault from the media.   That certainly does not help the player settle in, so his performance declines still further and the boing and jeering continues, sometimes even combined with threats against him and against his family.

Such players are then inclined to ask for a transfer, and at the same time talk to other players who are thinking of coming to Arsenal and tell these players of their experience.  If you want to know why some of the dead cert transfers don’t happen, this can on occasion be a reason.

At the same time the club has to manage new players, easing them into the first team much more gently than might otherwise be the case, for fear that they will be on the receiving end of the anger and criticism, and will never settle down.  Remembering in all this, one poor match is all it takes.

This is not to say that everything always has to be sweetness and light in everyone’s commentary, but rather that the emphasis should be on supporting the team not criticising individual players and their manager.

What is particularly tragic is that in an era where much of course society is showing itself willing to acknowledge that mental health is as important as physical health, those who boo, jeer, insult and criticise, simply don’t seem to be able to take this step forward.  Instead one sees and hears comments that players should “man up” and “knuckle down” and “show some steel” and the rest – something that shows an absolute ignorance as to what mental health is about.

I do think AFTV and much of the media does a huge amount of harm to Arsenal, and that it should be criticised for what it does, and I really would like the players at Arsenal now, and those who maybe think one day of coming to Arsenal in the future, to be aware that there are many of us who thoroughly oppose the views often expressed on AFTV and wish they were not there.

Of course we are not proposing a restriction of freedom of speech; rather we are saying that AFTV and its allies in the media are harming the club we support, and it is time we spoke out against them and put forward the notion that what they do is harmful.  AFTV probably makes the people who put forward the negative views feel good and empowered, but it is hard to find any way in which these expressions do anything good for Arsenal.

17 Replies to “Freedom of speech vs the need to support the team. AFTV in perspective”

  1. i agree, again. i have to admit the “robbie responds” video made my day; it’s always such a treat when the would-be bullies can’t help but turning into the crybabies they really are, not to mention the cowards (the “racism” sucker punch).
    as for the harm they’ve done, we have an example in plain sight, with granit who might be on his way out … and wait! now, laca’s becoming the new target of those sorry people and their narcissistic personality disorder
    they have to be stopped, our away fans at everton showed us the path to be trodden

  2. Le Gall and Tony!
    Hear Hear!!!
    Lets call out these frustrated and spoiled kids and really SUPPORT!

  3. Free speech is fine and all that, but some of this lot are making money out of negativity against the club, hence some waving bank notes at Robbie the other day.
    No, the club is not beyond criticism, they have made serious mistakes, some recently, but this should not be taken out on players on the pitch.
    Still, if some , so called Arsenal fans want to do the bidding of the media, the PGMOL and clubs opponents, and in some cases, make a shed load of money , and raise their profiles to levels any narcissistic attention seeker would dream of, that’s their call, but at the same time, they must expect a reaction. People in glass houses and all that….
    Now you have key AFTV types seen in the club box levels from what I have heard, and cosying up with certain players, including our current captain, which is an issue in itself, and reportedly recently caused a training room bust up between our current and an ex captain who has been on the receiving end of AFTV .
    If the AFTV punters hate the club and it’s workings so much, suggest they seek solace following a club further north, one whose players can press for 90 plus minutes every game, with physical stamina a Tour de France cyclist would be proud of, yet rarely getting significant injuries, one who gets virtually every referee decision going, and one who will win the league this year.
    Robbie has created a monster, possibly a bigger one than he intended, if I were him, I would walk away counting the money

  4. Posted this on the AFTV article but more appropriate here so please forgive me for re posting:

    craig arendse

    “….Robbie for our failures he doesn’t train the useless brats or work on formation”.
    Charming. With ‘supporters’ like you who needs enemies.

    As I intimated above,(on the AFTV thread) apart from the last 2 years we’ve been more successful than Liverpool and Spurs yet neither of those clubs has a TV channel constantly berating their every false step, or flying planes or protesting in and out of the stadium.

    That’s without mentioning every other Club apart from the big 3 and Liecster that have won absolutely nothing for years and years.

    Yes you have the right to moan and groan, whinge and whine, and even call them ‘useless brats’ as much as you like, but:

    It doesn’t make it right.

    It doesn’t make it helpful.

    It may make you feel better to have a good old whinge, but as players and managers and psychologists have said time and time again, it does nothing, absolutely nothing to help the team, which after all was what I thought we would all want to do?

    But no, certain outlets think it’s their right to call out every player that doesn’t quite live up to their demands.

    Again as I pointed out above, WE ARE A SUCCESFUL FOOTBALL CLUB ffs.

    OK the last 2 years could of gone better but both Man UTD and Chelsea have fallen, and actually ended the season, in similar positions to where we are currently.

    I never saw a plane or heard a demo. And they certainly haven’t had a CFC or MUFC blogg set up with what seems the specific purpose of telling the World what a shite Club they ‘support’!!

    Honestly, having ‘the right’ or not, is pretty irrelevant when what we are supposed to be are ‘supporters’ that ‘support’ their team, their players, their Club, through thick and thin, especially through thin, don’t you think?

    That’s what I thought being a supporter was.

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s all about whinging and whining at every player who has a bad game. At the team every time it loses. At the Club every time they don’t buy exactly who YOU thought they should.

    Honestly I just don’t get it.

  5. Your point is well made and I also agree that it has nothing to do with circumscribing AFTv’s freedom of expression. As sure as they do have a right to air their opinions they ought to also accept responsibility for the effects of their reckless utterances and the effects they have on the Gooner sphere. The negativity is totally uncalled for and rather than get improved outputs from the team it will ultimately lead to declining performances from them.

    Freedom of expression is to be jealously safeguarded if society is not to descend into totalitarianism of some sort. ‘Opinion is free, but facts are sacred…’ as is said; but AFTv will do well to deal in facts and leave the viewers to make up their conclusions. However, if they continue to treat opinion as facts and make it out that AFC is just plain “useless” then they will have to brace up for even more vitriol from those who disagree with them.

  6. Again as I have said elsewhere, the fact many of my friends and work colleagues think that AFTV is laughable (not in a funny way way) puts into perspective the credibility of the channel.

    Now under normal circumstances just ignoring them would be the answer, but alas in this case that is not the answer.

    And it is not the answer due to it’s insidious relationship with the Arsenal hating media.

    They feed each other.

    The media say Arsenal are crap. AFTV confirm Arsenal are crap. The media say ‘look, even Arsenal fans think Arsenal are crap’, and what’s more they quote AFTV as if they talk for ALL Arsenal fans, which they clearly don’t.

    But, like propaganda, if you say black is white often enough even the sanest of people can begin to believe that black is white.

    That is why what these people do is so harmful to our Club because no matter how hard a person may try to ignore the negativity, the insults and the abuse it becomes very difficult when it continues on a daily, and in some cases, an almost hourly basis.

    And for those that want to deny the phycology involved ask why it is that the KOP can be Liverpools 12th man?

    So if a cheering crowd can have such a positive effect why not a baying crowd a negative effect?

    I know from experience when I played football my confidence was key. I had managers that knew that and managed me in a way that absolutely got the best out of me.

    I had managers that didn’t and could destroy my confidence and lose who was basically a decent player simply by not dealing with a loss of form in the right way.

    Maybe I should of been stronger. That’s not the point. I am what I am and needed managing as such.

    Honestly if I was being booed, jeered or insulted I know I would not of coped well.

    Wrong maybe, but wrong or not it’s the human being I am.

    If people refuse to acknowledge the psychological aspects of footballers then expect consequences, because humans are fallible, whether they are a minimum paid cleaner or a Millionaire footballer.

  7. I believe this AFTV channel is earning its owner(s)good money. Conflict and (negative) arguments bring in lots of people. Which is a reason in itself to keep on fomenting dissent, trouble, and to a certain extent hatred (because what Xhaka was confronted with was exactly that).

    Then, on the other hand, I believe an organisation has a DNA. In Arsenal’s DNA there was (partial) ownership by the fans, which has been forcibly ‘removed’. So probably in the ‘fanbase’ there is this DNA mutation that is now on the ‘negative’ and wants ‘revenge’ from the organisation. Which would explain why this is the only club having to put up with such utter malevolence.

    I don’t care a iota for AFTV, the guy(s) running it, who they are, where they come from, what they drink, nor for their basic stupidity in believing at all they are a positive energy for the club. But I’ll be damned if I agree that they should fall in the ‘fan’ category like I am in the fan category. To me this is insulting.

    These guys are vultures and don’t give a s… about AFC. Their worst nightmare would be that AFC starts winning. They’d be out of a job, out of a reason to complain. I wonder if they’ll tell their kids : kid, wife, mom : you can be so proud of me, I am soooo good, and all the AFC players love and respect me and can’t wait to talk to me.

    The worst thing is that Nitram is right. We are more successfull then many clubs…yet there is no CFTV, MUFTV, LFTV, whatever….

  8. I am sorry to say I have had to block a much larger number of comments than normal, both in relation to this post and the earlier posts about AFTV.

    As it has always said in our comments page, simply calling me a racist and similar slurs doesn’t actually take the debate further forward. To the seemingly many people who think that because the owner of AFTV is black and I am white, and my arguing against AFTV makes me racist, all I can say is, I wish you would explain how putting forward the arguments I have against AFTV makes me racist. I would love to see the logic.

    But as has been the case for 12 years, replying to a post or comemnt by abusing the original writer, isn’t, to my mind, helpful, and thus I tend not to publish these.

    Worrying though, just how many people seem to think that a) I am racist, and b) that a guy who happens to be white, aruging against the work of a guy who happens to be black, makes the white guy racist.

    If that is where our society really is, we are all most certainly in trouble.

  9. @Tony,

    well these people tend to see everything in black and white….either you agree or you are the ennemy… ;=)
    Maybe they all play the piano.
    So they project onto you who they are.

  10. Keep up the good fight , Tony. And balls to all those non Arsenal fans!
    They can blow themselves silly fo all I care.

  11. The Divorce Settlement

    A married couple is driving along a highway doing a steady forty miles per hour.

    The wife is behind the wheel. Her husband suddenly looks across at her and speaks in a clear voice.

    “Darling,” he says. “I know we’ve been married for twenty years, but I want a divorce.”

    The wife says nothing, keeps looking at the road ahead but slowly increases her speed to 45 mph.

    The husband speaks again. “I don’t want you to try to talk me out of it”, he says, “because I’ve been having an affair with your best friend, and she’s a far better lover than you are.”

    Again the wife stays quiet, but grips the steering wheel more tightly and slowly increases the speed to 55.

    He pushes his luck. “I want the house,” he says insistently. Up to 60mph.

    “I want the car, too,” he continues…65 mph

    “And,” he says, “I’ll have the bank accounts, all the credit cars and the boat.”

    The car slowly starts veering towards a massive concrete bridge. This makes him a wee bit nervous, so he asks her: “Isn’t there anything you want?”

    The wife at last replies – in a quiet and controlled voice. “No, I’ve got everything I need.” she says.

    “Oh, really?” he inquires, “So what have you got?”

    Just before they slam into the wall at 75 mph, the wife turns to him and smiles. “The airbag!”

  12. Beyond pathetic.

    Accusations of racism for simply disagreeing with someone about football undermines the genuine battle against racism that we should all be fighting.

    Would these people think it fair to accuse AFTV of racism every time they criticised a white player ? I hardly think so.

    Honestly Tony, all it does is expose the absence of any genuine debate.

  13. It would be more worrying if Robbie himself had claimed racism, but he’s far too clever for that. I tend to not agree with most of his Arsenal opinions, but he’s entitled to them anyway, although he has always had my admiration for what he’s achieved with just himself a cameraman and two muppets.
    I like the bloke.

  14. You would normally have a debate with people who are engaged in the topic in discussion and who want a commonly acceptable outcome. But is AFTV truly engaged in the AFC improvement debate? I think they are not. The outlook seems, looks, feels, reacts and behaves mercenary. This is what makes it so thoroughly objectionable and unacceptable to treat it as an AFC supporting outlet.

    Free to speak your mind? No problem. Free to deliver hate inducing opinion? An emphatic NO! We shall not ignore their vituperations and they should also expect to hear our very very loud disapproval’s of their methods to becoming ‘Kroenke like’.

  15. Tony I can see why you’ve had to block lots of posters. Your last article where you celebrated physical attack on aftv didn’t go down well, maybe you felt it was a mistake allowing many of the comments criticizing you, since they actually made solid points against you and quite many didn’t employ insults or threats, so you did come out badly. Perhaps you decided it was safer to block them this time around.
    Freedom of speech means aftv can say their stuff and you can criticize them all you want too, even blame them for the Holocaust if you want, but what nobody should encourage is hooliganism, bullying and physically molesting anybody else. You have your platform, say what you want on it. Besides aftv allows fans to say their thing, the predominant opinion will always win. Democracy is a system where everyone gets his say but the majority gets its way. Aftv had Ty who was staunchly pro-wenger, he was allowed to say what he wanted, even after the 8-2 against man utd or 6-0 against Chelsea. He was pro Wenger and allowed to have his say. You say criticism of the team, players don’t help, so let’s muzzle people? What stops you from increasing the volume of your support?
    Face the facts and stop deluding yourself, the predominant fan opinion is that we are not doing well. I remember when Thierry Henry was signed by sky and untold (especially Walter) was celebrating that sky now has a strong pro-wenger voice, 2 weeks later, untold was accusing the same Henry of being a traitor. Is it possible to sit in front of live TV after being spanked 6-0 for example and say Wenger is the best thing that happened to arsenal? Maybe you can put a spin on it, but that’s your special gift, you cannot place that expectation on anyone else. So instead of blaming others for not being able to spin the arsenal situation like you can, take up the job and spin your yarn all the way. Someone on untold said in the last 5years arsenal have been more successful than Liverpool, based on the 3FA cups and community shields. I disagree, looking at the it like having 3 bronze medals to Liverpool’s single gold medal, but that’s his opinion, it makes sense to him, my opinion is different but I won’t go and physically attack him or encourage those that will do so.
    Please let’s be guided

  16. No Deb you can’t see why I blocked so many posts. At least there is nothing in your post to suggest you have grasped what was in the posts I blocked. I am not sure where I celebrated physical attack, but if that is how it came across I am very sorry. I did not mean to give that impression nor do I celebrate the physical attack on anyone.

  17. Debs

    It is probably me you are talking about when you say:

    “Someone on untold said in the last 5 years Arsenal have been more successful than Liverpool, based on the 3 FA cups and community shields. I disagree, looking at the it like having 3 bronze medals to Liverpool’s single gold medal, but that’s his opinion, it makes sense to him, my opinion is different but I won’t go and physically attack him or encourage those that will do so”

    But you should learn to read properly because not once did I say “…the last 5 years Arsenal have been more successful than Liverpool”

    This is what I said:

    “I know Liverpool have now got it right but they went over 10 years without a trophy and until this year nearly 30 without a title, yet I never heard their fans ‘Demanding’ this that and the other. Or flying planes over their stadium. Or protesting outside, and inside the ground. or setting up bloggs that do nothing but moan.”


    “Maybe that’s because I saw a 5 year period of 3 FA Cup triumphs, 3 CS victories (9 Wembley visits, 9 victories) along with a runners up finish, as all rather good fun, a period Spurs, and at the time Liverpool, would of died for.”

    I repeat: “…and at the time Liverpool”

    Which is not the same thing at all.

    So I echo what Tony said, if you want to call people out you should perhaps grasp what they are saying.

    Seems you do a lot of reading but very little comprehension.

    You could apologise but somehow I suspect you wont.

Comments are closed.