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Fan Stupidity Part 2 – When Fans Become the Story Not the Club

Seeing an English football club in the news after a European night or after Premier League fixture, will normally mean you hear about the result, the ebb and flow of the match, which stars shined and which didn’t and whether or not it’s representative of either the Premier League’s European resurgence or decline. However, in the past few seasons though there seems to be more in the news being made by the fans than the actual match they were attending.

We have seen numerous examples in this season alone.
The Arsenal away match at Stoke was marred by the behaviour of a small pocket of fans at Stoke-On-Trent train station. You’re all familiar with it by now.  IF not, you’ve likely been living in a cave. Needles to say the behaviour and disrespect shown Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was totally unnecessary. And if that wasn’t enough you had a fan shout towards Joel Campbell  “Joel, do the best thing mate,” “Get out while you can, Joel.” We can all understand the frustration from supporters when results were as poor as they were that day. It is a fans right to get upset. We all get frustrated and upset at times, if not you’re not invested in the club, but this sort of behaviour only gives news reporters more ammunition to make the club and more importantly supports look bad. With the millions of people now using social media, it takes mere seconds for a story (good or bad) to be seen all over the world.
Fans should have a voice, I totally understand that, but what happened after the Stoke game was out of order and not in line with even common decency you’d show normal people. Unless that is typically how one behaves, which you can’t discount here. By all means express that you are upset, fans do pay these players and managers wages after all, it does however need to be done tactfully.
Unfortunately due to the prevalence of social media and it’s ability to inflame opinions it seems that at the moment the game is going down a perilous path where more of these kind if incidents will be every day. Fans do pay huge sums of money each year going to games and buying club merchandise they should be able to express their feelings, but are they going about it the right way?
For Arsenal supporters we were hearing and seeing incidents pop up with alarming frequency. There was also the incident at the Hawthorns back in November. Danny Welbeck won the game for Arsenal 1-0. Again a small section of fans put Arsenal Football Club in the news, not about football but about Arsene Wenger and his position at the club. The post match news conference had more questions about the banner, than the game we had just won. I wonder how the players felt after seeing a banner like this after a victory, surely this is a time to get behind your team? You only need to search for ‘Arsenal banner’ on Google, to find the many images of this.
I know many people who are for and against the boss continuing with his job. All have their reasons and frankly there are rational points to be made on both sides of the discussion. Yes, it was a difficult time for the club but surely getting behind the players would be a better way of getting positive results. Slagging off the manager in front of the players and the millions watching worldwide surely can’t help.
These instances of fan stupidity aren’t just limited to Arsenal Football Club  either. Chelsea, Newcastle, Man Utd, Tottenham West Ham, and recently Aston Villa to name a few, have all seen their fans the focus of poor news reports.
Chelsea were in the news after their Champion’s League Match in Paris against PSG. Again a small number of supporters had the club all over the news, not about the 1-1 result away in Paris, but for the poor behaviour of a few fans. The behaviour of these supporters was not only seen in the UK media but also all over Europe and the world. Friends were away in Spain last week and not surprisingly the Chelsea  was on the TV there. Regardless of whether it’s a true depiction of the Chelsea fanbase or not, it’s a PR nightmare and doesn’t put Chelsea or the English match going fan in a good light.  Another issue with fans becoming the focal point for all the wrong reasons and the story rather than what their team achieved on the pitch that night. It was so bad that it became banter material for other club’s supporters making image memes and videos mocking the Chelsea supporters. Clubs want publicity however, this isn’t a kind they want.
Unhappy supporters aren’t something new. Vile remarks by fans aren’t something that just occurred. However, with football no longer confined to it’s local area and remarks contained within a tight kit group, the prevalence of these incidents coming to light is only going to increase. Worse still, with a 24-hour news cycle and a video camera in the hand of everyone they are no longer just a local event that can stay hidden.
The worrying trend is as these ‘occurrences’ happen and the clubs take action, those fans will no longer have access to the club the say they love. While the remarks of some fans can be vile there is a sadness to some respect with that. Now, no one is advocating that passions be put aside, no the grumbling and griping of fans is part of what supporting your club is all about. What we are advocating is a time, place and way to do everything and unless you want to find yourself banned from seeing the club you love, the sooner we learn this, the sooner we can appreciate or moan about how our clubs perform on the pitch.

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