Morning folks. Hope you are well. The European Super League stuff keeps rumbling on and I suspect will do for quite some time. I can’t speak to anybody else, but it has left me feeling quite hollow, I have to say.
I started the first iteration of this daily blog in August 2011. I remember it well because it was the summer that we signed Arteta from Everton. It was a platform for me to just speak my mind and because i’ve always enjoyed writing, for me to write about the thing I love: The Arsenal.
It has often been frustrating, I’ve ranted many a time, I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the highs of writing after some of the many cup wins we’ve had since then. Arsenal has completely enveloped my life and it has been a constant throughout. I have made so many friends through it; drinking buddies, online buddies from across the world. In 2019 I met a load of Arsenal fans at 8am on a Saturday morning in Memphis; the power and joy of Arsenal and I still follow those guys on social media and we occasionally interact.
Yet right now everything feels a little up in the air. Perhaps I’m sounding dramatic and over the top today, but everything feels like it has just been ripped apart by an entity and family in the Kroenke’s with whom I have never felt any kind of affinity with. I did not trust them from day one and I have long feared that their view of ‘custodianship’ will morph into a form of greed and land-grabbing that could destroy The Arsenal.
Or at least the Arsenal that I know and love.
And that’s what it feels like today.
This blog is my opinion and as such it is inaccurate at times, it can be a little emotional, sometimes I have people telling me I’m an idiot. But it is my vehicle to voice what I’m thinking and that’s why I enjoy doing it. Well…’enjoy’ is a relative term on many occasions, granted. So with today’s thought’s I am only speaking for myself. I am not representing Arsenal fans as a collective, I am not second-guessing what Arsenal fans want, I want only to explain why I am feeling so hollow.
I never managed to get a season ticket at Highbury. The waiting list was too long, Arsenal were one of the best teams in the country, I wasn’t going to get a regular match day experience for years. So when I did get my season ticket at The Emirates I was over the moon. And I have been thankful ever since because it has given me access to seeing my passion live and in the flesh ever since. I genuinely thought that when I got that ticket there would be nothing that would prize my name from that little gold card and my space in Block Five. It was going to have to be prized from my cold, dead, fingers, so to speak. Yet with the announcement of this European Super League I am finding myself wondering whether I want to renew when all of the ESL stuff gets ratified. Do I really want to put my money into the hands of the greed-fueled American owner who has been a key player instigating what is essentially going to be a European equivalent to the NFL? Do I really want to see Arsenal getting battered each week by teams who have more money than us to spend on the megastars of tomorrow? Am I going to contribute to the problem by handing over my money to them?
I don’t want to. Lord knows I don’t. But Arsenal is an obsession and that can’t just be switched off.
It’s the same with supporting the team from afar. Can I just switch off the TV and make a stand by not watching Arsenal ever again if this Super League comes in to force? I don’t know the answer to that right now.
But what I do know is that the Arsenal I thought I knew and loved would be gone forever. Replaced instead by a franchised sports team, owned by a billionaire who has decided his methods of not putting a penny in of his own money wasn’t generating enough cash to sweat his asset, so he’s colluded with other billionaire owners – many of whom are American and will be very on board with the American sports franchise approach of no relegation, competition or jeopardy – to create a new monster designed to drive the profit and loss rather than to achieve glory, make history, or anybody happy other than their own bank managers.
Do I continue to bother to blog if all I’m seeing is 10 – 15 exhibition games a season? Do I still have the desire to go on podcasts? Will I still have these same friends to regularly meet up with? I’m sure they will all stay friends, but our common unifier was The Arsenal. If we’re not talking online about the Arsenal, what is our anchor point to bring us together? With so many friends I’ve met we all live so far apart. It’s not like you’re popping around the corner where you live for a beer with somebody. If Arsenal is taken from my life I will still try to meet with so amny of the people I am friends with, but will it be the same?
These are just some of the thoughts – perhaps irrational – that are going through my mind at the moment. And I realize that it is a very specific set of circumstances I find myself in: Not everyone can afford a season ticket, not everyone can go to all of the games and watch live, not everyone is geographically fortunate to be based within an hour of the ground. But as I said at the top of today’s blog, this is just my experience, my thoughts, where my head is at.
This European Super League feels like it will leave me rudderless from a football point of view. It will also crystallize whether or not I even like football. Or is it that I only like football because of the love of The Arsenal. I don’t watch too many other games of other teams these days. I just can’t be bothered. There are other things in my life worth spending time on (wife, friends, family, other hobbies, etc). And so if it transpires that I decide to make a moral standpoint and to just not get involved with Arsenal any more, do I realize that in fact, I don’t even like football?
Anyhoo, just some thoughts on a Tuesday morning. Life is too short to get too hung up on this sort of stuff, so fill your life with more things that bring you pleasure. That’s where my head is starting to turn already.
Catch you all tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll feel a little differently.