The AST – where did it all go wrong?

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust was set up in 2003.  Its purpose was and, as stated on its website, still is to encourage the ownership of Arsenal shares by fans and to promote the involvement of fans in the running of the club.  Not every football fan will be interested in such geeky issues, but I certainly think the objectives are good and laudable.

And yet, in the last few weeks, the AST has been quoted publicly on topics relating to the manager’s contract and on the signing of players.  Its comments have been critical of the Wenger-Gazidis-Kroenke regime, strikingly so in the otherwise joyous aftermath of the Özil signing, when the AST bemoaned that Arsenal had left money in the pot and complained that the transfer budget needed to be better managed.

In the last couple of years, the AST has become more and more visible in the media in relation to such football issues.  But what have they got to do with the original purpose for which the AST was established, share ownership and the involvement of fans in the running of the club?  On what basis does the AST’s leadership feel it can weigh into debates in the media around the football aspects of the club?

Looking at the first seven or eight years of the AST’s existence, it provided an excellent forum for Arsenal fans on ownership and governance issues, including to provide authoritative and insightful commentaries on the club’s finances, to provide objective views on the stadium project and to act as a voice in the ownership controversies involving Fiszman, Kroenke, Dein, Usmanov, Bracewell-Smith, Hill-Wood and ITV plc.  It acquired three Arsenal shares itself, one of which was donated by the club, enabling AST members to become owners of a stake in the club we all adore.

The AST acquired a respectable position in the Arsenal community, in part due to the club according it respect from the outset, with regular meetings with Edelman, Gazidis, even Kroenke.  The AST built up credibility because it expressed objective, fair views on the state of the club’s finances (a sensitive topic in the years since the new stadium project was taken on), and campaigned for the unsexy objective of getting fans on the club’s board of directors and getting shares into the hands of fans.

So why is it talking on footballing issues, such as transfer budgets and the manager now?

And with what mandate does it express views on such topics?

There are numerous fans’ organisations that exist to provide different flavours of views on such issues: there is the Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association; there is REDaction; there is the Black Scarf Movement; there may still be (I’m not sure) still the Arsenal Supporters’ Club.  And then there are the many, many Arsenal websites, fanzines, bloggers and tweeters.  (We seem to have more fans determined to write about the club than any other.)  So there’s no particular need that the AST fulfils by taking it upon itself to express views on football aspects.

There’s no problem with individuals expressing views, we’re all football fans, which almost inevitably brings with it the holding of opinions about all sorts of things.  Each member of the AST, including its board members, has the perfect right to express views on which player should be bought, sold, picked or dropped, and whether the manager should be sacked or kept on.   But the AST’s purpose is specific, and it was not established to express views other than on ownership and fan involvement in the club.  And at a time when a fundamental division has built up amongst many Arsenal fans, the AST has been skating on thin ice for those of its members, and Arsenal fans generally, who don’t agree with the line taken in its media comments

This is a classic case of mission creep.  It seems to me that those running the AST got bored with limiting themselves to topics relating to ownership and fan involvement.  They like talking to the press, and now want to talk, and more importantly, be quoted, on topics relating to the game of football itself, not just those geeky topics the AST was set up for.  What can be more fun than real football journalists taking you seriously, when you express a view about the acquisition of players?  It’s almost like your opinion is equal to that of the manager.  The trouble is, to get that quote into The Times or The Standard, it needs to be said on behalf of that respected organisation, the AST; after all, without that, it’s just so much wind.

I signed up as a lifetime member of the AST some years ago.  My involvement has been pretty passive, but I was happy to see the AST playing its role on finances, ownership and governance at Arsenal.  This week, I exchanged emails with Steve Cooper, the AST’s Secretary, outlining my complaints and asking how the AST could justify its public position given the purpose for which the AST exists.  To be fair to Steve and the board that runs the AST, I received considered responses to my complaints.  But the content of those responses were unsatisfactory: the AST board feels it can comment publicly on anything relating to Arsenal because it owns shares in the club.  That is its justification for taking a public position on football issues.  They say that they were merely commenting on how Arsenal runs its finances.

But that really is asking AST members and Arsenal fans to suspend logic: how can the AST talk to the media, wanting to be quoted, about Wenger’s contract or how Wenger goes about signing players, without that being the expression of views on football matters?  It can’t, and the AST should at least be honest about what it is doing, not all football fans are idiots.  No wonder there are increasing signs of anger with the arrogance of the AST, such as the fine article that appeared this week on the Arsenal page of Vital Football (http://www.arsenal.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=537096).

I concluded my discussion with Steve Cooper by submitting my resignation as a member.  I do not want to be associated with an organisation that increasingly exists as a platform for promoting the opinions of the small cabal that runs it, an organisation that seems to have forgotten why it was set up in the first place.

Written by 26May89

99 Responses to The AST – where did it all go wrong?

  1. Gooner Sam says:

    I completely disagree and as a member of the AST am very happy that they speak for the fans on a more varied number of topics. In the debacle of what has been the last few years (in terms of investment in the team) and the arrogance with which the club has treated the fans, it is good that an appointed organisation has a voice that the club are compelled to listen to. I also feel that without their pressure (a long with unfortunately fans having to boo during matches (not something I personally agree with)), the club would not have invested in Ozil.

    Not everyone has to agree with fan groups and you have exercised your right to rescind your membership but I for one am glad that the AST acts for the good of the fans. There is clearly too little accountability and too much comfort at the club not to push and achieve footballing goals and so any voice that adds pressure to change this should be welcomed.

  2. Evönne says:

    26may – well done for quitting. As you rightly pointed out – they were set up for a specific purpose that did not include involvement with footballing issues. They became the Enemy Within and some of their press releases were simply harmful to the Club. ‘Fame’ and ‘Feeling Important’ clouded their judgement recently; great shame because of their good work of the past has been tarnished with latest shenanigans. Shame on you AST.

    Gooner Sam says: ” I also feel that without their pressure (a long with unfortunately fans having to boo during matches (not something I personally agree with)), the club would not have invested in Ozil” . Sorry Sam, but this disqualifies you as rational person.

  3. elkieno says:

    Mate, best article I have read since we signed Ozil. The man that signed him is a legend and thru are doubting him?
    It seems they are spending too much time in the arms of the media and now have become addicted to it. Every Arsenal fan wirth his weight in gold should know that the media hate us and rip into us at every chance they get. Now it seems the AST are in bed with them and that is the worst. They should be ashamed if themselves. Jesus walking in the desert for 40 days/nights while the devil tried to lure him away, he didn’t sway and stayed the course.
    That is how its done, by Wenger sticking to his ideals and principles and always staying the course to never be swayed by the devil in a media disguise.
    InArsene we trust!

  4. JanMan says:

    Very well written post 26May89 with very valid points. I am sure the original intent of the AST had the best interest of the fans at heart but as you have pointed out they are looking at perhaps going beyond their intended purpose?
    Looks like Gooner Sam wants the AST to be credited with the purchase of Ozil as well!

  5. chäs says:

    Excellent, 26.
    I hope your post receives the response it deserves.

    My experience of the AST from an outsider’s viewpoint is that it seems to be associated more and more with a negative slant on the club. Also the way it is used by the media undermines the club rather than supporting it.

    I do not believe it had any effect on Arsenal buying Özil.
    As for fans having to boo during matches. What?

  6. Norfolk Gooner says:

    Good morning to you all,

    That’s a well written and thought provoking article 26, thank you.

    It would appear that one of the main functions for which the AST was set up is now redundant, “to encourage the ownership of Arsenal shares by fans”, since apart from the three owned by the AST all the rest are in the hands of either the majority share-holder Stan Kroenke or Alisher Usmanov. Neither of those two gentlemen are likely to sell any part of their holdings to Arsenal fans or anybody else.

    As there is little or no likelihood of the AST getting sufficient clout to affect the way the club is run, the second objective is also redundant, as is the trust itself.

    One question remains, what has happened to the Fanshare scheme that was set up some years ago?

  7. Pete says:

    Completely agree with the article. The AST have been totally out of order – and, with the signing of Ozil, have made themselves look like fools. I have considered joining – but certainly won’t be now. Credibility built up over years is now shot.

  8. elkieno says:

    Wenger says, ‘we are not afraid to spend big money, but only on quality that we don’t have’ Ozil was not on the market until Bale was done, then Wenger snapped him up quick smart not cos of the AST or boo boys at Ems, but cos better quality became available just like he said.
    But no Gooner Sam knows why!!!

  9. Oscandwarf says:

    Remarkable how a well-intentioned drive to improve or help AFC has become little more than a vanity project.

    The arguments I’ve heard from them over the last 12 months have been naive to say the least and indicate either a worrying ignorance or a depressing assumption of supporter ignorance on the part of the AST. Neither is impressive in a supposedly serious organisation.

    Unfortunately, now they’ve shown themselves willing – eager even – to engage in the media nonsense that surrounds the PL, they will be expected to continue to do so. Based on their recent contributions I can only assume this will inevitably provide more opportunities for the AST to embarrass themselves and by extension the club,and continue to be a force for division within the world of AFC.

  10. Mike says:

    Great article. The power of the ego cannot be underestimated. Know your limits Tim Payton.

  11. Rasp says:

    Great article 26m. I have attended AST meetings and been impressed with their grasp of financial matters (not my strong suit). Their analysis of that side of the business would appear to be clinical yet accountants on here will often put a different interpretation on the figures – so there is always a level of subjectivity.

    The problem is that those who run the AST are also supporters and as such cannot be entirely subjective and the media’s endorsement of their status and the raised profile of certain amongst them has led to the problems you highlight.

    I agree that they should not be seeking to use their influence in areas such as deciding whether or not the manager should be offered a new contract … that is not within their original remit.

    IG in particular has been generous in giving his time to the AST and I wonder whether he will be so forthcoming in the future.

    Some of the things the AST have said and done have been constructive, it would be a shame if that good work has been lost amongst the negativity that they have been exuding recently.

  12. adam t says:

    Well done. To come out 2 weeks before the transfer window closed, critisizing the board, Wenger, just for a Talksport soundbite tells you everything you need to know about the AST.

  13. 26may1989 says:

    Morning all.

    Thanks for the response, including from Gooner Sam.

    Norfolk, in fact numerous Arsenal shares are owned by small shareholders. The AST’s website refers to something like 4.5% of the club’s equity being owned by such shareholders, with the trade in Arsenal shares taking place on a market called OFEX.

    Gooner Sam: We certainly come at this from different points of view: you see a “debacle of what has been the last few years (in terms of investment in the team)”; I see a period during which (as the AST itself has verified in its studies of the club’s finances) there has been virtually no money available from club revenues to invest in the team, so in fact the last few years are better characterised as the heroic defiance of financial disadvantage.

    You see “the arrogance with which the club has treated the fans”; I see a club that, without being fully open, has engaged more regularly and more maturely with fans than any other PL club. In fact, the access afforded to the AST, and the valuable share the club donated to it, are very good evidence of that engagement, as is the availability (much abused) of the manager at the club’s AGM. I want more than that, I want to see the English game move towards the German model of guaranteeing substantial fan ownership, and I want to see fans elected to the Board of the club. But I am also willing to acknowledge what it has got right.

    You say the AST is “an appointed organisation [that] has a voice that the club are compelled to listen to.” Here’s one of the problems: the AST is appointed by no-one other than its members. It has no official status with the club, the PL or the FA. And when it recruited you and me as members, the AST explained what the point of the exercise was. That’s what I’ve described in my post, and what they have got into the habit of doing goes beyond that remit.

    You, like numerous fans, see successes like the recruitment of Ozil as proof of the validity of the critical approach. I think you are completely wrong. I see that line of thought as being a retrospective justification of an ill-founded negative position, when the negativists ought really to be acknowledging that they seem to have got it wrong in the first place. But that’s opinion, neither of us can know the truth of what led to Ozil agreeing to join us.

    Hopefully, for all of the division between Arsenal fans in recent years, we will be able to move beyond the more bitter arguments, and can concentrate on disagreements about what happens on the pitch. Onwards and upwards!

  14. Tim says:

    Well said, and well written. I also wonder as to the objectives behind a supporters trust fueling the anti-Arsenal media campaign every summer. It is a strange situation, even if you ignore the ego issues – I’m not sure if people are capable of stopping the negativity habit.

    “There is clearly too little accountability and too much comfort at the club not to push and achieve footballing goals and so any voice that adds pressure to change this should be welcomed.”

    This is just complete nonsense. The achievement to keep us competitive through the financial hardship of new stadium investment has been nothing short of a miracle.

    I’m glad people like this blogger are calling out the empty rhetoric, fuelled by outside interests. It’s the media who are being held unaccountable for spinning negativity about one of the only sound businesses in world football.

  15. 26may1989 says:

    And Norfolk, Arsenal Fanshare is still going and continues to be promoted by the AST. Go to http://www.arsenalfanshare.com if you want more info.

  16. 26may1989 says:

    Interesting to see that Real’s Pres, Perez, has been slagging off Ozil, suggesting that it’s all about the young German’s rampant womanising. And Ronaldo is completely chaste, is he??

  17. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Nice one 26.

    First of all i have no problem with the AST or any other Arsenal pressure groups, i am convinced most of them mean well.

    Were did it go wrong? Well firstly they have limited influence. Its not a trade union with a million members, its mainly a bunch of geezers with good intentions getting together to try and put together a unified voice in communication with the Board.

    it is up to the individual to judge whether there “unified message” is something they agree with or not.

    Personally, they have incurred my very limited wrath on two occasions.

    Firstly, last year they gave the impression that the Club had to have a transfer surplus to break even. I argued against this premise based on amortisation principles, which they totally ignored in the message they put out. Recently, Swiss Ramble addressed this in one of his posts.

    Secondly, there call for the club to spend got on my wick. This sort of statement just appeals to the more base side of human nature. I just put trust in Arsene and the Board to what is right.

    This is why i am not a member of any mouth piece organisation. I can only take responsibility for my own actions, not other peoples.

  18. 26may1989 says:

    Actually, there is one PL club that definitely does better in its relationship with its fans: Swansea City. If you want to see more about the amazing story behind how the fans saved the club from destruction, see the BBC’s documentary, which is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoLT_0LH51I.

  19. dandan says:

    Well written and perceptive article 26, Unfortunately adam t has stolen my thunder a bit.
    As for AST’s financial pronouncements on the club, a visit to the Swiss Rambler for an unbiased view, would seem a far more sensible route for those interested in quality financials to take. I also object to so called polls of a few of their members being used to provide headlines suggesting that “Arsenal fans vote for xxxx” as though it were a majority of supporters who had been polled rather than there own vested interest pressure group. Finally, as for allowing committee members to become Rent-a-Gobs for Talksport, well words fail me.

  20. GazzaEsq says:

    I agree that the AST seems to be creeping beyond it’s own original remit to investigate and expain the Clubs financial affairs. I wonder if the “spokeperson(s)” responsible for all the recent criticism of the Clubs transfer activity sought the opinions of all their members before making such ill judged (my opinion!) remarks to the popular media

  21. goonermichael says:

    The day after we signed Ozil there was a negative article in the Evening Standard. I started reading and realised it was all about the AST so I stopped reading it. They seem to have become the go to organisation when the press wants something negative. Great post Rocky

  22. Rasp says:

    Hi gm, Rocky’s great post was yesterday 🙂 26may wrote today’s article

  23. Evönne says:

    off the subject for a mo, sorry 26m

    Agents. They have players best interests at heart, of course

    “Eduardo’s agent Zdravko Mamic has sued the former Arsenal man after Eduardo stopped paying him a fee agreed upon in his civil contract.
    When Eduardo signed with Mamic the player agreed to pay the agent 20% of everything he earned over his lifetime. Eduardo’s earnings dropped dramatically when he left Arsenal and since then has stopped paying the agent as Dudu no longer believed the contract was correct and changed agents”

  24. goonermichael says:

    Sorry 26may. I’ve got manful 🙂

  25. goonermichael says:

    manflu even

  26. 26may1989 says:

    Got manful, like it! 🙂

    Don’t worry though, I was very flattered by the Rocky reference. Get better soon, hair doesn’t cut itself!

  27. dandan says:

    26 your article has been recommended on Untold Arsenal today by a poster, they too have had a dig at AST in the series or articles they have run over the last three days. It would seem that AST are not the most popular of bunnies at the moment

  28. 26may1989 says:

    Thanks dandan, I’ll check out their discussion.

  29. dandan says:

    Oh Dear, Just to go off subject, it would seem the Times has no love for pundits,this is today’s editorial, given the views regularly express on here, I thought this might raise a smile

    Put out more flags! Fetch bottles and glasses! Alan Hansen, the BBC’s “voice of football”, is standing down next summer, after the World Cup. No longer will Match of the Day resound to the clichés of a man who, as John Arlott once said of another sportsman, was “beautifully trained to say nothing”.
    “You never win anything with kids.” Tee hee, we all sniggered when Manchester United won the double of Premiership and FA Cup in 1996 to prove Hansen wrong. It was muddle-headed, like nearly everything he has said. Pelé was a World Cup winner at 17. Mozart turned the crowned heads of Europe before his voice broke.
    What did you think of the Prague Symphony, Alan? “Incredible.” The Marriage of Figaro? “Unbelievable.” All right, Hansen is merely paid to waffle about people booting a ball across a meadow. But there are other ways to address a TV audience if you are trousering more than £1 million a year.
    Think of Geoffrey Boycott and Ian Chappell on cricket or Brian Moore on rugby union. Those successful sportsmen-turned-pundits are not scared to swim against the current of received opinion. Or consider Cliff Morgan, whose passing last week prompted such warm eulogies. Where is the footballer who can stand against such people and not feel small?
    You have to cross the Irish Sea to find one. John Giles, who played for the Uniteds of Manchester and Leeds, and later managed West Bromwich Albion, makes Hansen and Co look like schoolboys. No clichés for him. No cosy compliments or calling players by their pet names. No ducking of questions. Instead viewers are given a thorough examination of the games they have watched.
    During Hansen’s playing career, as a superb defender for Liverpool and Scotland, he was described by the great Brian Glanville as “an elegant giver of second chances”. Yet, after 22 years in the TV studio, he has uttered not a single sentence half as memorable as Glanville’s. If the BBC paid him what his words were worth, rather than indulging a celebrity, they would have change from a sixpence.
    With a few notable exceptions, top footballers are not bright. But that does not mean the ones who cross the floor to join the media they claim to despise should imagine viewers and listeners are just as stupid. Why don’t they cock an ear to Nasser Hussain talking about cricket to hear what real expertise sounds like?
    Hansen will never be the worst offender while the likes of Robbie Savage are around. But he has had two decades to justify his position, and every time he bears down on goal he usually boots the ball over the bar. Unbelievable. Incredible.

  30. wally says:

    The criticism of AST is all hindsight isn’t it. Their comments, at the time were spot on. In the aftermath slagging them is easy.
    And after yesterday’s article about everyone getting on the same page I find this article to be ‘humourous’. Get on the same page as us is what was meant.

    And the constant blaming of the media is puerile. To believe their influence on supporters you’d have to believe that for most Arsenal supporters tying their shoes in the morning is an exhausting mental exercise. Believing they shape our view of events and strategy at the club gives them far too much credit.

  31. Gooner Sam says:

    26 May, good to see that you are able to have reasoned debate unlike some of the people commenting on your comments section. There are always two sides to the argument and I don’t think that it is as black and white as right or wrong.

    I am completely in favour of managing the clubs finances and making sure that what we generate is what is used but i do feel that the club has not used its finances as it should have over the past couple of seasons when the money has been available. I do believe that Arsene Wenger is the man to take us forward but I do feel that he has too much power in the club and that (understandably) he is unable to give enought focus to some areas of the club. I am delighted with the Ozil signing and it gives me renewed optimism but I do worry that in the long term many of the more structural issues (mentioned above) will cause problems to happen again unless changes happen. Some young blood on the board would be a good start.

    Going back to the point about the AST, although their approach has changed and is not what it was initially intended for, I still think there is merit in their actions. I have also been told that the AGM screens all of their questions before, which for me takes away the idea of giving your views / asking the questions we want answered. I get that you have to manage idiots who ask aggressive and rude questions but to the same extent it does smack a bit if censorship.

    Anyway something that I am sure you will agree with us that I hope that the team pushes on to the the next level and competes more this year. It’s a good start, long may it continue!

  32. RockyLives says:

    Cracking Post 26 May – a proper harpooning of the Arsenal Underminers’ Trust.

    Gooner Sam
    Firstly, thankyou for making reasoned arguments in putting your case (and I’m not sure that there has been much in the subsequent comments that could be termed unreasonable).

    You will be swimming against the tide a bit on this blog because, although all aspects of Arsenal opinion are welcomed and are frequently expressed, I would say the prevailing sentiment here has been more supportive of the club’s policies and approach in recent years than many other Arsenal blogs have been.

    I don’t really have much to add to 26’s reply to you at 10.31. To me it is clear that we have been working on such a tight budget since the stadium move that the mere fact of remaining in the Champs League positions during this period will, in future, be seen as one of the great miracles of modern football management. And by management, I don’t just mean what AW has done with his teams (assembled, let’s remember, with a net spend of less than zero). I also mean the management of the club by Gazidis and Kroenke.

    It must have been so hard to keep strong hands on the tiller and hold the course while all around were clamouring for the usual quick-fix suggested by the ill informed in all walks of life: “throw money at the problem, even if we can’t afford it.”

    As Gazidis made clear at the start of the summer, we have now navigated our way through the stormy waters and there is plain sailing ahead – which means money to spend. And AW has spent a huge chunk of it on a genuinely exciting player. For the AST (AUT) to respond to the Ozil purchase by demanding that the club should have spent all its available money just because it was available is immature in the extreme.

    As 26 says, it seems the AST – despite the admirable intentions that led to it being established – has got a bit carried away with the platform it has been given by certain media outlets (including some with a consistent track record of bashing Arsenal). When AST members speak on Talksport they allow Talksport to imply that they are speaking for all Arsenal fans. They are certainly not speaking for me.

  33. Rasp says:

    Hmmmm ….. “good to see that you are able to have reasoned debate unlike some of the people commenting on your comments section.”

    …… In general I think today’s comments have been well reasoned. We have to allow some latitude to those for whom English is not their first language, but I have yet to read anything that is particularly unworthy. Some would have you believe that most fans are gullible cannon fodder for the press and others consider this a condescending view of the fanbase. It is certainly true that some commenters are not as able to express themselves so coherently as the solicitors and accountants among us but their opinions carry equal validity.

  34. RockyLives says:

    GM
    How could you think I wrote this Post?

    This is a Post with real substance and not just a candyfloss of whimsy and wordplay. 🙂

  35. RockyLives says:

    Rasp
    “twinsies” as my teenage daughter would say 🙂

    As I said above, the discussion has all seemed pretty reasoned and reasonable to me.

    But with the prevailing trend of opinion of here I can understand if Sam feels somewhat ganged-up on.

  36. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky, we could have adapted a well know phrase as a subtitle for today’s post …. ‘We want our old AST back’ …

    The original concept was great and endorsed by the club, I hope they can find a way of returning to their former standpoint.

  37. RockyLives says:

    Rasp 😀

  38. RockyLives says:

    dandan
    Nice Times piece.
    I liked this phrase: “All right, Hansen is merely paid to waffle about people booting a ball across a meadow.”

    Sort of sums up football very neatly. We all get so obsessed and passionate about people booting a ball across a meadow 🙂

  39. DAC says:

    I agree about AST. They started off well meaning and have now become completely the opposite. I have stated on other fora that they don’t represent me or my views on the club. Yet to listen to them sounding off you would think that every Arsenal supporter is a member. In fact they have 850 members and 2,000 (I assume that also includes the 850 members) are members of fanshare. That is hardly a strong minority even!

    I agree with the post above to read Swiss Ramble from time to time for an unbiased view. As for getting on the same page, that’s OK as long as you agree with what is written upon it!!

    COYGs

  40. JanMan says:

    26May1989. I enjoyed your 10.31 response. Gooner Sam your 12.02 post carries a much better tone than your original post! Perhaps the facts that were outlined by 26May1989 and a few others contributed to that point. Personally from what I read, none of the posters on here were abusive to you. However, you don’t do yourself any favors when you attempt to see the point that the AST were responsible for the purchase of Mr. Ozil.

  41. jnyc says:

    How many times i have stated that i love Wenger, but sometimes i have felt frustrated at some inactivity. I dont mind some voices calling for action, as long as its done.in the right way.
    i was surprised to hear their negativity following Ozil. Reminds me of a politician who will never, ever admit their opponent has got something right. Its a sign that maybe the AST has lost its way a bit.
    you got it right 26, some people become enamored with the sound of their own voice, like being quoted in the press- it makes them feel important. And spot on with mission creep! great analogy! !

  42. JanMan says:

    Reference my 1:21 post. Sell the point, not, “see”

  43. LB says:

    Wow, you learn a lot on this site. Great read 26.

  44. N5Artillery says:

    26M89, a very well written article. However, I would question you about the timing of its publication given that A!A! just published an article yesterday asking for unity. This article talks of splits, disharmony, and withdrawals, not attempts to reconcile, provide a watching brief on the actions of the AST or its comments.

    My tuppence is that a lot of fans got frustrated through a number of different paths.

    1. Misreading Wenger’s intentions vis-a-vis the acquisition of new players. We all thought he should be fleshing out the squad with pretty good players, he decided he wanted to raise the overall level of quality.

    2. The politics of what funds are available has been readily played out in public. IG and AW have both been guilty of raising expectations with their various pronouncements on “money is not the issue”. But if we combine this with a misunderstanding of 1. then it leads to an almighty level of frustration, which has been apparent in various FanTV rants and the AST snipes.

    While it is probably too late for you to rescind your resignation, I would hope that others would adopt a watching brief and look to affect things through discussion and comment and remembering that when games like Sunday happen we all glow with a big cheesy smile and that is the end goal, winning games and hopefully winning enough of them to win a trophy.

  45. Bïg Räddy says:

    26. Very well written post.

    We “chatted” about this a few days ago. As I said then, had I been a member I would resign as you have. The arrogance of the few who represent AST using their position to speak for the whole defies belief.

  46. RockyLives says:

    NS
    Thanks for the comment and some very reasonable thoughts.

    In 26’s defence I believe he wrote today’s Post before my one (from yesterday) was published.

  47. chas says:

    AA doesn’t have a blog standpoint on anything apart from respecting other bloggers, does it?
    Why should posts on consecutive days follow the same message then?

  48. RockyLives says:

    Fair point Chas.

    Indeed if someone from AST wanted to write a rebuttal I’m sure it would be considered for publication.

  49. chas says:

    Oops, should have said posts by different authors………

  50. chas says:

    Rocky,
    I was hoping someone from the AST might come on today, but yes a replypost would be excellent.

  51. Rasp says:

    Thanks chas/Rocky, I was just about to respond along the same lines.

    N5Artillery (great name) yesterday’s post was by a different author. We publish articles reflecting any standpoint or issues relating to Arsenal and there is an open invitation to anyone and everyone to write for AA.

  52. Rasp says:

    I’d love to publish a response from the AST. It would be afforded the same respect and support as any other article we publish.

  53. Evönne says:

    wally at 12:02 – I am risking being told of by Rasp for upsetting you, but I could not agree less with your comment.

    Hindsight has nothing to do with criticizing AST, quite the opposite. The Club, like all business enterprises has responsibilities to all the stakeholders. To fulfill those there are aims and objectives; plans are drawn, some short term and some long term, with checkpoints and caveats to allow for any unexpected events. Business plans have tasks, milestones and goals, timescales and budgets. I have no inside information on the subject and can only assume that AFC’s long term plan was to maintain competitiveness, financial sustainability and to expand operation.

    I am sure that one of the milestones was to achieve certain level of financial stability that would allow significantly strengthening of the squad – and presto Ozil arrived. I really don’t believe that the Board has changed their long term plans because AST were unhappy.

    The Club employed an evolutionary approach, which is often slower than revolutionary one, but provides more security, consistency and more predictable results. The revolutions at Chelsea, Man City or Cardiff will only benefit supporters for as long as the owners are happy to play with the new toys. Our Club’s model would survive with or without Kroenke.

    As for the media – if you think they don’t ‘shape our views of events’ than you are deluded. Hopefully you are right about the second part, ie media having limited impact on the ‘strategy at the club’. Those 2 are distinctively different concepts and I am not sure why you placed them under the same banner.

    And lastly – yesterday’s article called for unity. Today’s blog outlined discord caused by the AST among the supporters. From where I am sitting these 2 pieces of narrative go hand in hand.

    It is not my intention to alienate you wally, but I just cannot leave your comment unanswered, got my feathers ruffled 🙂

  54. Bïg Räddy says:

    Precisely.

    Just because Rocky preaches a hippy-dippy, California style, vegan, smelly-candle, peace and love-in amongst Gooners doesn’t mean he speaks for all of us 🙂

  55. Rasp says:

    I remain a member of the AST and will continue to attend meetings when I can. There is no harm in listening to what others have to say.

  56. RockyLives says:

    Peace out BR 🙂

  57. Thanks for another fantastic read, 26M.
    Politics and football isn’t exactly a harmonious union, and when politicians interfere they always get it spectacularly wrong.
    For me, football reflects life, and so much of it is stage-managed, you start to question the whole authenticity of what you’re actually witnessing.
    Regarding Arsenal, I’m sure we’ve all either had dark moments, or just empty, head-scratching, when no matter how intelligent we are, there appears to be no logic, or no simple quick-fix solution. But evolution can be equally as effective as a revolution as long as fans are kept in the loop regarding the club’s long-term strategy.
    I’ve only heard of Tim Payton through various media sources, and have no real opinion with respect to the AST, but I consider it right that the club and its administration are accountable for their performance to supporters, especially with the direction football has taken in terms of its economic structure.

  58. Big Raddy says:

    Looking forward to watching Theo and Jack tonight. Important they come through unscathed

  59. 26may1989 says:

    Thanks again for the comments. Just a few responses:

    Wally (12.02pm): It wasn’t hindsight on my part, my first complaint to the AST was written on 20 August, the day they issued a press release on the subject of Wenger’s contract, that prompted an article in The Times. My second set of complaints began the day after their comments post-Ozil. But you may be right about some of us who have been defending Wenger thinking “Get on the same page as us”.

    Gooner Sam (12.02pm): We don’t agree, but fair play to you.

    Roky (12.24pm): Shut up, a candyfloss of whimsy and wordplay indeed!

    Rasp (12.31pm): “We want our old AST back” – funny and pithy!

    N5 Artillery (4.17pm): As others have said, different authors will have different views, and anyway, I wrote this one before the Joan Baez number that appeared yesterday. Anyway, the AST should, like any association, be capable of being held to account. In my correspondence with them, they were unable to back up their original assertion that their public pronouncements were consistent with their constitution. When you go beyond your original remit, which was the basis on which they took my money and that of others, it is fair to challenge them. And likewise, when they take sides in an argument, they have to expect that there will be some people who aren’t very happy with what they say. (Great username, by the way.)

    Rocky/Chas/Rasp: Excellent idea about getting someone from the ST to reply, I’ll ask them.

  60. weedonald says:

    Any group of AFC fans or any organization proposing to represent them, must appreciate the unavoidable fact that AFC management are in no way obliged to pay ANY attention whatsoever to any fans,either individually or in a mob, regardless of whether they have a few shares or some imagined moral imperative to try and interfere with the running of the Club.
    How some moaner fans can believe that AFC take them seriously after the plethora of negativism, anti-Arsenal viciousness and vitriol spewed forth, even after Ozil’s signing, all of this by a tiny minority of discontented whiners who represent nobody in particular and certainly not the majority, is both irrational and therefore beyond comprehension.
    The AST’s self-declared mandate limits their aegis to a very narrow and well-defined field of interest, and is commendable for its specific goals BUT this has clearly been hijacked by a few inflated egos who love the cheap notoriety and 15 minutes of fame that come with a little media publicity.
    Those who are foolish and blinkered enough to believe their opinions hold sway at AFC just because they are ¨fans¨ and that ¨their¨ Club must listen to them are living in cloud castles where, having once bought a ticket to a Gunner’s match, everyone believes that act confers on them the mantle of ¨ownership¨ of the Club in some miniscule way and entitles them, not only to silverware BUT to criticise all and sundry at the Arsenal.
    I am fully in support of fans expressing their opinions and positive criticism in a respectful and constructive manner, as long as they aren’t under any illusion about whether anyone at AFC is listening or is obliged in any way to credit their contributions.
    Arsene Wenger, Gazidfis, Kroenke, the Board and the general management of Arsenal need not worry about this onslaught of negativism, hubris, narcissism and diaper-soiling that a tiny minority of frustrated moaners display like clockwork. the vast majority of true supporters, even when expressing concern and disagreement with the Club’s occasional mysterious strategies, implicitly trust the professionalism and expertise of the men and women who have delivered superb Football over Wenger’s reign. That won’t be changing anytime soon.

  61. dandan says:

    Gnabry just scored great goal for Germany, he is having a fine game.

  62. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    You tell em Weedy. hahahaha

  63. dandan says:

    Weedonald I think you and I share the same Hymn-book mate. 🙂

  64. Evönne says:

    WaTA – I don’t believe the Club has been particulary secretive in the way they conducted the business. They set out to build a new stadium, pay for it, recoup some of the debts, remain competitive and near the top, until the time comes that the Club and the team are ready to challenge.

    No business is completely transparent and Arsenal are no different. They told the supporters as much as they could. Some would never be satisfied and others don’t want to know. They want to watch the beautiful game and leave the running of the machinery behind it to those that are in the know.

    Plus, total exposure may have undesired advantage to the opposition.

    They bought Ozil this summer becasue it was the right thing to do. Do you think that the team was ready last year to challenge with even more than one addition? I don’t

  65. weedonald says:

    We do indeed DanDan but we aren’t diaper-soilers like the cloud castle dwellers!

  66. I’m pleased to announce to u fellow gunners.
    Ramsey is captain of Wales tonight
    Sheep ™

  67. Bïg Räddy says:

    Khyle Walker is terrible. Jenks would do a much better job

  68. No sign of Gareth bale he’s worth to much LOL

  69. Rasp says:

    Seems its not just EPL teams that rotationally foul Jack 😦

  70. Bïg Räddy says:

    JW feeling his way into the game. He isn’t making the runs we are used to seeing. Is this Hodgson’s management?

  71. arnie says:

    Fantastic post, 26may. Great read, informative and critical, but positive and proactive. Fantastic discussions all round. Really really enjoyable. My sincere apologies, 26may, after being one of the persons requesting this, I have very little time to discuss. Really busy at work, what a pity.

    Having disagreed with you in the past about resignation being the way forward. I now see where you are coming from. Your position is very clear: “I do not want to be associated with an organisation that increasingly exists as a platform for promoting the opinions of the small cabal that runs it, an organisation that seems to have forgotten why it was set up in the first place.”

    So, congratulations on making the right decision from your perspective, and for taking the moral high ground in this respect. In some ways, and unfortunately I think, your position is vindicated by the fact that Steve Cooper did not manage to (did not make particularly persistent efforts to?) dissuade you from resigning. Really gives the objective of the AST away? Really to represent a negative view of the club management, without consideration for representing the balance of opinion amongst the fans. As far as I am concerned. this was really the common minimum denominator in terms of what I expect the AST to do. Very sad indeed. Hopefully there will be enough pressure put on AST.

    Dandan: you are threatening to take away my post (oh dear!). Or are you planning to write on the “kids” project?

  72. Bïg Räddy says:

    Pleased to see JW subbed. Hope he is fit-

  73. Bïg Räddy says:

    Theo looked crocked. Could be out for the weekend.

  74. Bïg Räddy says:

    No-one to play with.

    Good book awaits 😦

  75. Evening all, fine post 26 very informative.

    Perhaps one of the most surprising stats coming out today was the Membership Numbers of the AST 850? Is that seriously it?

    We get more independent visitors on a slow day at AA, lord knows what Arseblog, LeGrove et al generate.

    My two big problems with the AST have been covered today already

    1) using polls as a basis for Press Releases, from memory they issued the results of a poll last season and many a press man picked up the stats joyfully and set to work using them to represent their angle, from memory there were a little over 300 responses to the survey….less than half a percent of the capacity of the Emirates, some of our Greatest Squad polls had many more votes and respondents.

    I didn’t see the press run a Arsene Wenger: Greatest Ever Arsenal Manager Headline as a result of our poll which had the same amount of respondents.

    2) The fact that they are as about as open as the Board of Arsenal, ask them where they get their information they clam up “can’t reveal sources” etc

    3) And now along with the Driving Instructors* appear to be able to get their voice into the press and like the sound of their voice in the press or on the radio. There is nothing like the words “Tim Payton joins us later” to find me re tuning and then looking at Twitter to see how many Gooners he has pissed off this time.

    *BSM boom tish

    Raddy it did look as though Theo was struggling, but three days to sort it.

  76. dandan says:

    Thomas and Theo both injured, our new man will have to work hard up north this weekend

  77. BFG and Ozil scored for Germany

  78. wally says:

    Evonne,

    Not too worry, You’d have to go a long ways to ruffle me. I’m too well caloussed to be offended by differing view points.

    I’m not going to pretend to be completely aware of all of ASTs public pronouncements and frankly, in general, i could care less what they say. But i do think their comments re his contract and getting the stick out and getting some business done were spot on and reflected the anxieties of most Arsenal supporters. They certainly reflected mine. And prior to that they were advocating patience among supporters. They were quite supportive of the club and its intentions. it was only when it all seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket that they spoke up. As to what they’ve said post-Ozil i don’t know and don’t care. If they want to be kick up a fuss, let them. Let the results on the field speak for the club.
    In the end, whether by luck or design (and i think it was the former) it’s all come good. So hooorah for the Arsenal!!!

    As to evolution and revolution that’s all fine and dandy but at the end of the day it’s about results. And the results, and the nonsense about the lack of resources, indicate that there were some serious mistakes made over a long period of time. (We’ve consistently had the 4th higherst payroll in the league and it’s been stuffed with very average players. (thus the cleanout this year.) You can’t have that kind of payroll and claim lack of resources. It was bad personell decisions.

    Anyhow i digress. As to the media, if your views are indeed shaped by them i don’t know what to tell you. I could care less what any journo thinks. Very few have any insight into what is actually going on. Cross, Lawrence, Winter, sometimes Samuel are worth reading but the rest who gives flying fcuk. Their job is to sell papers and if it requires negativity and people buy into it then good luck with that.
    And if the club does pay any attention to what a paper says then that bozo should be handed his walking papers yesterday. And i would tell you to ignore them. I just have a tough time believing what journos says drives what fans think. It’s all talk and in the end no one cares if you deliver the results on the field.

    I’ve been very long-winded, my apologies.

  79. Gooner in Exile says:

    I love Brazilian football

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24029055

  80. Hi evonne,

    there is no moral ground to be gained here. I didn’t say anything particularly controversial, if I had, I’m sure many others would have challenged my comment.
    Words carry different connotation and emotion, I didn’t use the word secretive, nor did I suggest that Arsenal were worse than any other club concerning any lack of clarity over their business dealings.
    Football is a competitive sport that exists because supporters want to see and cheer on a successful winning side. I think the majority of Arsenal fans want that too, big transfers or no big transfers.

  81. Bïg Räddy says:

    Morning All,

    Wally. “I just have a tough time believing what journos says drives what fans think.”

    Really? Explain the Aussie elections?

    I have a tough time believing that you have a tough time believing the media do not drive public opinion. 🙂

  82. Rohan says:

    Fully Agree. Been thinking the same recently.

    Since when is Tim Payton an authority to decree that Julio Cesar is a better option than Viviano.

  83. Shärd says:

    Thank you for writing the post 26m. Much more considered than I would have been when talking about the AST. Good on you for resigning from an organisation that abuses its mandate, and the trust invested in it by the club that they purport to support.

    Unless they reform quickly, I think the AST will soon lose whatever credibility and importance they have. The only reason I felt they were worth listening to earlier, was because they had legitimacy due to the club willing to talk to them, listen to them, and make them a part of the process to take the club forward. They certainly never had the numbers or clout to command such legitimacy otherwise. With the AST now just mouthing off negativities to the media about the club all the time, I think they are gradually being cut off by the club. And hurrah for that.

  84. Evönne says:

    wally – not long winded enough 🙂 keep writing!

    You are right about many average players on the payroll and this problem being addressed this summer. I was shocked how much in total these players were paid each week!

    You are right about the journos; personally I don’t believe a word they say, but believe me many, many people take it as a gospel; I have heard too often ‘it was in the papers’ so it must be true.

    And finally you are wrong!! 🙂 “In the end, whether by luck or design (and i think it was the former) it’s all come good.” I believe it was extremely hard work, dedication, insight and professionalism of AW and the Board, that we are in such privileged position now. Nothing to do with luck. Rocky believes in fairies and unexplained, but I don’t. Luck does not come into it, when you are in charge of huge business like the AFC.

    So, all in all is 2:1 to you 🙂

  85. Evönne says:

    WaTA – I deliberately didn’t use your words – it would be plagiarism 🙂 it was my lose interpretation of what you said.

  86. So injuries 😦

    Theo (achilles)
    Ramsey (cut elbow)
    Rosicky (thigh strain)

    So Saturday Ozil will have to start probably with Flamini and Wilshere, Cazorla and Gnabry?

    Still looking a bit thin

  87. evonne says:

    oh GiE 😦 at that rate Ozil will play on his own

    How serious is achilles?

  88. arnie says:

    Theo did look uncomfortable. But could have been worse. It was a deliberate clip to the Achilles, though did not catch him fully. I am of the firm opinion that in Europe there should be zero-tolerance on deliberate sinister intent, or suspicion of intent. On this occassion, it was only a yellow.

  89. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evonne it’s a contact injury rather than a strain so hopefully not too serious.

    However it will be uncomfortable and could affect his movement trying to compensate for the pain, and then result in other injuries.

    Watching the replay it looked like the guy clipped both achilles, like Arnie I think it was a shocking tackle that should have incurred a harsher sanction

  90. Morning all

    Sorry I’m late ……… New Post ………………….

  91. […] Is the Arsenal Supporters Trust getting to big for its britches? […]

  92. thehothead says:

    Most of the comments on here don’t represent the arsenal fans I see going to the emirates week in week out and they certainly don’t represent my views.

    The AST are a supporter’s trust website itself says “Ownership, Representation, Influence”. Some of you have come to your own conclusion about what the AST represent this is in fact NOT what the AST represent.

    The AST have every right to question the direction the club is going in especially when we celebrate 4th place as a trophy, we charge the highest prices in the league for fans to sit in a sterile atmosphere watching a team that the manager refuses to invest in and instead prefers to erode squad quality … to make profit. We are a business first and a football club second.

    If any of you “so-called” fans have been happy with the way the club has been run for the last few years, you are not REAL Arsenal fans at all !! The AST have rightly given Gazidis, Kroenke and Wenger a tough time of late, REAL fans are sick of being palmed off with lies from the club.

    Champagne prices for lemonade football.

  93. . says:

    utter bollox.

  94. JUSTAGOON says:

    SO TRUE.
    Using the power of the masses to satisfy the opinions of the few. AST are arrogant and plainly wrong. The club is in great shape and their moaning is completely unjustified.

  95. pedantic george says:

    What a wonderful site and blog.

  96. double canister says:

    13-9-18 11:56am
    Using ‘Real fans’ is the last refuge of the wanker.

  97. double canister says:

    Clarification
    Post was excellent.
    Comments were superb.
    Glad to see so many people who understand what the club have really achieved over the last couple of years.
    Unlike the AST.

  98. team spirit says:

    glad a lot of people see through the delusion of fans that their pressure led to the purchase of Ozil. over the years AW has always preferred to purchase quality rather thna quantiy. yes some including Arshavin and Reyes and Hleb did not fulfill their potential, Eduardo got his leg broken, Diaby is still out injured but it is not at all a change in policy to buy quality that improves the team when they are available…That Super, super player!

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