By Dan Ferguson
In the middle of this rumour-fed silly season Arsenal has had a serious kicking from all aspects of the media relating to our budget, planning and lack of on both fronts.
I started thinking about why people are writing so much and specifically about Arsenal.
This is quite a complex series of events. I don’t want to be one of those conspiracy theorists who moans about how unfairly their club is treated in the media. Instead I am going to focus on fact and assumed facts.
Firstly, Arsenal has a very large social media reach.
Only Man U and Chelsea are bigger.
Second, a couple of our players have huge social media followings. Ozil especially. So when anything is written on social media and tagged with #arsenal #afc #ozil #gunners, it is going to create massive traffic.
If you couple that with the form of Ozil, or Arsenal’s slump at the end of last season, it invites massive negative reactions and that is just as lucrative as positive stories when it comes to social media.
The next part is also intriguing.
It is very difficult to go back far enough to verify, but if we look at the slow decline of both Man U and Arsenal over the last 5 years and how it’s been reported, I would examine how the business models of both clubs have helped spin stories.
Man U have a huge reach, tv channel, business links all over the world. They have a history that is the envy of almost every British club, and it is in their interest to spin positive stories at all times about either football, or if that’s bad, the financial base and their power.
Arsenal have nowhere near that size of base.
We are a club that is run on a structure that isn’t loaded with huge debt. This boring to fans who want to read about big signings etc. But the negativity and insults score well among our base, and the opposition/rivals.
So in many ways, Arsenal’s fabricated negative spirals will drum up as many hits, likes and comments as any Man U piece. People love to laugh at Arsenal. A club that likes to talk about their own ‘class’ and history opens itself up to serious abuse, and why not? If you’re gonna talk the talk….
Next, punditry is dominated by ex-players and managers from the big 6 clubs.
The principle here is to kick out at the cliches of who your club hates, who is your second most-hated team etc.
Oddly enough, considering how much Chelsea and Spurs hate each other, Liverpool, and the two Manc clubs, you can bet your shirt that most pundits will still have a pop at Arsenal.
From Michael Owen to Steve Nicol, Mark Lawrenson to Gary Lineker, the Redknapps and so on, they are paid to say negative stuff to create a stir on TV or radio. This is then carried on to alternative media platforms and can double or triple traffic and responses.
So why don’t they target Chelsea’s reasons for their transfer ban? (It’s boring and will lose readers like this does 😉), or Liverpool’s lack of transfer activity, (they did just win the Champions League!), or Spurs’ inability to find the steps to the next level.
Or the players wanting out of Spurs? Or the lack of clubs coming in to take those players off Spurs? The articles are actually there but they don’t generate traffic because far fewer people are interested in Spurs. So they don’t get as big a kicking, but they still get a kicking.
Finally, our fans.
This is the biggest dilemma. With Arsenal Fan TV, social media and beyond, enough Arsenal fans without the ability to contain their thoughts, continually mug off the club, players and their fellow supporters.
Now this happens to all clubs to some extent, but we are gifted the perfect storm of the following: history, class, old successful era, budget, soft centre, overpaid players, dead wood, bad management, bad infrastructure, popularity, infamy, etc. You can take any two of those ingredients and create a story out of thin air.
How many people who have no direct link to the inner circles of the club come out with exclusives? It’s ridiculously obvious, yet continually effective and it generates money. It’s all about money. They need our anger and joy to create cold hard cash.
All of the above makes Arsenal one of the most lucrative vehicles in good times and bad.