What Has Wenger Ever Done For Us? (The AST Survey)
And Why Can’t John Cross Be More Like Darren Lewis?
So the latest Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) Survey is out. And John Cross has done a write-up on it in the Mirror. Why is it that when John Cross writes in the Mirror it’s so often focused on Arsenal’s internal problems? But when Darren Lewis posts in the Mirror it is so often about how Spurs may win the league next year (as he just posted yet again even when talking about the need to sell Luka modric.) Maybe it’s because of who they talk to at their respective club’s supporters groups. John Cross talks to Tim Payton of the AST. Enough said?
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER, YOU BASTARDS (No Riff Raff!)
Why should YOU care about the AST? Well, because the AST pretend to represent us. The Media act like they speak for us. They get to meet with the CEO of Arsenal FC to express OUR concerns and opinions. According to the AST:
The survey is the major independent review of Arsenal fans undertaken. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has welcomed the survey and circulated it for review within Arsenal and to the club’s Board members.
It represents an authoritative portrait of the views of Arsenal supporters in summer 2011.
No it Effing doesn’t!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I will grant you that the new AST survey is better than last year’s though it still has problems but I think last year’s 2011 survey shows up most clearly the problems with the whole concept. I happened to read last year’s survey at the worst possible time ie during our early season slump. At the time it REALLY pissed me off. My favorite survey questions from 2011 were:
And here is the 1st page from the 2011 AST Survey Results:
And yet, here is one of the stated aims of the AST:
“Representing Arsenal fans to the media, football authorities and Government.”
In, other words, they see themselves as having a grandiose role speaking for (all) Arsenal fans. In the next week or so they meet with the Chief executive of my club to express the fans opinions!
If the AST had been successful in having it’s recommendations to the Arsenal Board be implemented last year, then right now:
- Arsene Wenger would be sacked
- Alisher Usmanov would be on the board (Kroenke’s adversary)
- David Dein would be on the board (another Kroenke adversary)
Our beloved manager gone and a recipe for Civil War on the Board of The Arsenal Football club. No thanks, AST!
These recommendations would be implemented as if YOU had asked for them. I know I didn’t ask for them.
Bert and Ernie
John Cross and Tim Payton – an unholy Cabal. Oh, they may look harmless enough, but don’t be fooled.
Here are a couple of tweets from Bert and Ernie this week relating to Cross’s article on the latest AST survey.
Although the survey hasn’t been filled in yet, that didn’t stop John expressing the frustrations of many fans about many aspects of our club and its transfer policy. In the same week, Darren Lewis, for the same paper, waxes lyrical about how Spurs can win the title next year!
According to John, the AST represents a large number of fans. Actually, 382 individuals more like, according to the number who replied to their survey. I could match that in an afternoon on Twitter.
Here is an exclusive undercover extract into the workings of a recent AST meeting I infiltrated:
Tim Payton: “OK. So here is the plan…We’re getting in through the underground heating system here, up through into the main audience chamber here, and Wenger’s wife’s bedroom is here. Having grabbed his wife, we inform Wenger that she’s in our custody, and forthwith issue our demands.
– Any questions?
– What exactly are the demands?
– We’re giving Wenger two days to dismantle the entire apparatus of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, UEFA and FIFA’s worldwide bodies and if he doesn’t agree immediately, we execute his wife.
– Cut her head off?
– Cut all her bits off. Send them back on the hour, every hour. Show them we’re not to be trifled with.
– And of course, we point out that they bear full responsibility when we chop her up, and that we shall not submit to blackmail.
– No blackmail!
– They’ve bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us supporters! From our fathers and from our fathers’ fathers who were supporters.
– And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
– And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.
– All right, don’t labour the point.
– And what has Wenger ever given us in return?
– Well, he did win us Premier League titles
– Premier League titles
– O yeah, granted, he did win us those
– Yeah, and FA Cup titles
– Granted, the FA Cups
– Exciting football.
– Yeah, Tim. Remember what we used to play like.
– Alright, I’ll grant you Premier League, FA Cup titles and exciting football are 3 things Wenger has given us.
– And world-wide recognition of the club for class, dignity and style, Tim.
– All-time great players like Henry, Vieira, Pires, Fabregas, van Persie…..
– A Champions League final to be proud of.
– And 15 unbroken years of Champions League qualification
– Yeah, Tim, only 2 other teams in Europe have achieved that
– Yeah, Wednesday night Football. That’s something we’d really miss, Tim.
– And, keeping us in the top 4 while financing a new stadium
– Alright, alright, apart from Premier League titles, FA Cup titles, exciting football, world-wide recognition of the club for class, dignity and style, all-time great players like Henry, Vieira, Pires, Fabregas, van Persie, a Champions League final, 15 unbroken years of Champions League qualification, and keeping us in the top 4 while financing a new stadium…What has Wenger ever done for us?
– The Emirates, Tim
– The Emirates?! Piss off!
The Brief of The AST
If the AST want to advocate for lower ticket prices, cheaper beer and burgers, and comfier seats. Go for it. Beyond that, I would recommend a large degree of humility on their areas of pronouncement.
The AST is a Tiny, Tiny Group
Let’s do some maths here. Hundreds of thousands of fans attend the Emirates each year. Millions wish they could. There are supporters’ clubs worldwide. A 2005 report by Granada Ventures, which at the time owned a 9.9% stake in the club, estimated Arsenal’s global fan-base at 27 million, the third largest in the world.
Frequently, the majority opinion of the AST represents the views of 162 fans, approx. They represent less than 00.25% of the fans who will attend on match-day, tops. Worldwide they represent 00.0000% of the fans when rounded to 4 places of decimals. And they are not a representative, blind sample in that they selected themselves ie they joined the AST so by definition they are not like you or me. They share an agenda.
So, John Cross, henceforth, any time you interview Tim Payton/The AST, start by pointing out that they represent a tiny group of supporters, who can only speak for themselves. Then have at it.
And Tim, feel free to correct John when he implies you speak for more than a couple of hundred supporters.
Still, John has done much better here than his performance during “Bin-bag Gate”. There, he magnified the opinion and resources of a group made up of 1 guy, a twitter account and a black bin-bag.
My personal opinion is that the vast majority of fans worldwide are and always have been supportive of Wenger.
Some of the survey questions the AST ask themselves are fine. They relate to ticket prices and fan concerns and their feeling of connection to the club. Proper concerns. Every good club needs some good supporters group, so knock yourselves out. Keep up the good work.
The AST believe they are knowledgeable enough to judge whether it is a good idea to put a Russian Oligarch on the board. You think he’s Mother Teresa rather than Vladimir Putin? Somehow, Russian Oligarch does not resonate with “Plays well with others.” Sure, sign us all up for a civil war and more discord in the Arsenal family. Instead, how about we focus Arsenal’s energies on the football field rather than the board room. And yet the AST in their wisdom voted by a large majority that Usmanov should be on the board. Why? Well, he did say he wanted to give Arsenal free money to buy players. Populist promises without follow through. Very Putinesque indeed
Here are a couple more gems from the John Cross Mirror Article:
“For the first time ever, Arsene Wenger’s position is being questioned by one of the most influential Arsenal supporters’ groups.”
– No, John, they did the same last year.
“…and, just like last year, I bet most Arsenal fans would like to conduct the AST survey on September 1.”
– No, John, most fans ie 99.99999% don’t get a say at the AST, we’re not members.
I like John Cross. I recognize that he’s a good guy who likes Arsenal and likes Arsene Wenger. But he’s fallen in with the wrong crowd. Please, John, strive to be more like Darren Lewis. There are a huge number of fans who are optimistic about our club and in particular our chances for next year.
And, I know I speak for many hundreds of thousands of supporters when I say that! So quote ME on that, John.
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson has heard of the AST’s prowess in all things
football, and decides to take advantage of their expertise to help complete
his squad selection:
Roy Hodgson: Members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust! England is your
AST Members: [Laughter]
Roy Hodgson: To pwove our fwiendship it is customary at this time to watify a player fwom outside the squad.
AST Members: [Laughter]
Roy Hodgson: Whom would you have me watify?
Man: Watify Woger!
AST Members: Yeah! Watify Woger! Watify Woger! [Laughter]
Roy Hodgson: Vewy well, I shall watify Woger!
AST Members: Yeah!
Gary Neville: Sir, uh, we don’t have a Roger, sir.
Roy Hodgson: What?
Gary Neville: Uh, we don’t have anyone of that name, sir.
Roy Hodgson: Ah. We have no Woger!
Man: But what about Woderick, then?
AST Members: Yeah! Watify Woderick! Watify Woderick!
Roy Hodgson: Gary Neville, why do they…titter so?
Gary Neville: Just some, ehm…Arsenal joke, sir.
Roy Hodgson: Are they…wagging me?
Gary Neville: Oh, no, sir!
Roy Hodgson: Vewy well, I shall watify Woderick!
AST Members: [Laughter]
Gary Neville: Sir, we don’t have a Roderick either.
Roy Hodgson: No Woger, no Woderick?
Gary Neville: Sorry, sir.
Roy Hodgson: Who is this Woderick to whom you refer?
Man: He is a stwiker!
AST Members: [Laughter]
Man II: And a winger!
AST Members: [Laughter]
Woman: And a goalie!
AST Members: No, no!
Roy Hodgson: He sounds a notorious player.
Gary Neville: We haven’t got him, sir.
Roy Hodgson: All wight! I will give you one more chance! This time I want to hear no Wuben, no Weginalds, no Wudolf The Wed-nosed Weindeers or we shall watify no one!
Anton Ferdinand: Ratify Rio!
Man in AST Members: Oh, yeah, that’s a good one!
Another man in AST Members: Yeah.
AST Members: Watify Wio! Watify Wio! [Laughter]
Roy Hodgson: Vewy well! That’s it!
Gary Neville: Sir, we…we have got a Rio, sir.
Roy Hodgson: What?
Gary Neville: Ehm…you just dropped him from the squad, sir!
Roy Hodgson: Eh…ehm…wait! Wait! We do have a Wio. Well, go away and get him, straight away!
Gary Neville: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Roy Hodgson: Vewy well. I shall watify Wio!
Brilliant blog mate. You exactly summed up the things which I have been arguing for a while on twitter. Totally agree with all the points you make, especially the one about Usmanov. Would never want that Russian scum on our board, he can keep his money to himself, we will EARN our success not BUY it like City or Chelsea!! Up the Arsenal!
Very amusing blog, but makes all kinds of generalisations that don’t stand up to any examination when you start looking at numbers. You should also note that many AST members argue passionately that Usmanov should be invited on to the Arsenal Board, while many others argue equally passionately that he shouldn’t. Very very few argue that he should take over completely, because one of the key principles of the AST is that Arsenal is too important to be owned by a single person. Also the AST did not recommend that Arsene be sacked, never has and never will.
The reason that the Mirror and other papers treat Arsenal and Spurs differently is partly down to individuals of course, but mainly down to the expectations that people have of the different clubs. Arsenal have finished in the top 4 for 14 or 15 years; it is not news if Arsenal challenge for the title, that’s why people don’t write about it. If Spurs challenge for the title, that’s a novelty. That’s why there’s great excitement among the media if it looks as if it might happen. It’s big news if Arsenal aren’t above Spurs at any time of the season, never mind in May, and that’s why papers write about these things. You have to be very naive or a conspiracy theorist (and there are plenty of those in the ranks of Arsenal supporters, as we know) to believe anything else.
I could go on but I’ve got work to do. However: AST membership continues to rise, because more people are concerned about who owns Arsenal and what they’re going to do with it. If you’re not concerned, why not? Just because Tim Payton makes a noise in the media doesn’t mean the AST is fundamentally wrong.
1) Reg. AST’s position on Usmanov: Your point about some people is AST opposing Usmanov’s invitation to the board – why isn’t this mentioned when Tim speaks for the AST? He constantly says that AST would like to see Usmanov on the board & not otherwise (even though you claim many are against him).
2) Reg the press: There is a general feeling that the press is quick to pick up any negative news about Arsenal. Take the Bin Bag protest farce and the recent RVP charade in the media. I am also uncomfortable with the fact that AST spokesperson is the first to highlight such reports through his twitter account/interviews.
3) Tim Payton is a shamless self promoter in my opinion. The AST should sack him immediately.
Phil, 1st thanks for the reply. I appreciate the spirit it is written in ie not “all defensive.” And if i may fawn a little, I love your blog and think you talk much sense. And I think all your points are well made here. However, from the survey, does it not state the following, (and does it not mean that the AST shared with Ivan G, Arsenal’s Executives and management and the media, and anyone who clicks through the website,):
“If Arsenal don’t win a trophy next season (which would be the seventh successive year without one) that the Board should reconsider its confidence in Wenger: Yes 42%, No 40%, 18% Don’t know.”
385 people get the elevated privilege of telling the executive management that more Arsenal fans than not want Wenger out if he doesn’t win some bling in 2011/12. And he didn’t win any bling. Fortunately, apparently, the Arsenal Board didn’t act on AST’s pronouncements.
Why are the AST even voting on it. The people who picked the question must have recognized there was at least a 50/50 chance that members would vote more yes than no. Some humility within the organization is required. The AST knows it is often confused for the voice of the fans by lazy journalism etc. and should be suitably modest in the subjects it pronounces on because of that.
Almost as harmful would be a civil war on the board. Fortunately, I’m sure Stan K has zero desire to sit across from Usmanov. But again, it shows a level of delusion that AST members feel sufficiently well briefed to think they can pronounce on the efficacy of having Usmanov in the boardroom dynamics. While David Dein is the go-to Panacea for all dissatisfactions relating to Silverware. The only defense can be, “Sure, we at the AST don’t know what we’re talking about on the big issues but that’s OK, because we are relying on the AFC execs to completely ignore us anyway.” Pythonesque.
I fully take you’re point on the media re AFC vs THFC. Perhaps I made a point to make a point. But whenever John Cross needs a disgruntled talking head to pronounce on what AFC could be doing much, much better, Mr. Reliable, Tim Payton, is just a phone call away. Just because the media line on Arsenal is typically, “Arsenal should be doing much, much better,” when they phone Tim, rather than providing material to support the piece, why isn’t he at pains to explain why in large part Arsenal/Arsene IS performing well. Many Twitter followers know the answer to that. They have seen Tim’s TL. Some of his “Best of’s” will include statements that Wenger performs “only at par”, and that Redknappp has out-performed him relative to resources. His focus on the deadwood, and the transfer window troubles. It’s a constant drip. drip, drip of how poorly the club/Wenger performs.
I mention in several places that I think the AST in principal is a worthy idea. Members’ groups are part of the lifeblood of any club, and there are times when they play a vital role, but they do seemed to develop that Pythonesque tendency towards proclamations of world domination.
I am also concerned that Tim P has a conflict of interest between his career aspirations (ie making a name for himself in Sports Communications) and being a measured voice of the AST. Negativity sells to the media in Arsenal’s case as you explained.
My aim with the piece, in large part, is to say that the AST needs to stay more narrowly focused and humble. They speak for only the “yes” portion of 385 people but are viewed by the Media as being representative of a large group of Arsenal fans.
Again, I understand that many,most, if not all, AST members are well meaning and do not set out to do the Devil’s work 😉 but they should be wary of organizational mind-think.
Based on the response to the posting, my concerns on Tim and the AST are widely held ie we resent when the AST allows itself to be represented as speaking for anyone other than a very small group of fans. And secondly, as the AST Communicator, Tim should not be spouting his many dissatisfactions continually if he doesn’t want to have the world at large thinking that the AST is as negative an organization as Tim’s TL. With his position comes a requirement for moderation, in my opinion. But self-promotion seems never to sleep.
Regarding concerns on arsenal ownership, I do have thoughts on the matter, but I wouldn’t currently class them as concerns. But that’s for another day and another Post.
Again, I appreciate the spirit in which you addressed your points, and I know that the intentions of the AST are honourable in principle.
I’d address you by name, but you don’t appear to have a proper one. I’m sure that’s an oversight you’ll rectify soon.
I don’t really have either the time or inclination to answer everything you’ve said in your reply to my comment, and I’m not going to get into a discussion of Tim Payton’s views, but a couple of things:
You seem to have a big problem with John Cross. If that’s the case, why don’t you take it up with him directly?
Regarding the Arsene Wenger question you’re quoting on the AST survey, so 42% said Arsenal should consider AW’s position if he didn’t win a trophy. That’s not even a majority, which is one reason why I state again that the AST has never said the manager should be sacked or anything similar. All it does is put forward to the club the views of members who respond to the survey. It’s not in itself recommending, advising, demanding or anything else that the club take action, it’s just giving them the results so they can see what the feelings of Arsenal fans who bother to vote on it are.
Do you not think that if the AST was saying ‘Sack the manager’ that perhaps that would have made a few headlines? Especially considering your belief that the AST has such big media influence.
Regarding the make up of the Board, ideally all shareholders, particularly the major ones, would work together. That’s the AST position, and it’s the ideal position. Whether that is going to happen is another matter, but either way I can assure you that the AST has a better grasp of Arsenal boardroom dynamics than pretty much anyone else outside the boardroom, including the media. You can believe that or not, as you like. It won’t change the facts.
Stan Kroenke owns more of Arsenal than anyone ever has before. If he sells out to Usmanov that’s the end of supporter involvement in Arsenal ownership, because he’ll have enough to compulsorily buy up every share and delist. OUR club will become a toy for a billionaire to play with.
Next week Arsenal’s CEO will answer questions put by fans. This event takes place annually because the AST started it. What other club’s fans get the CEO to sit down and answer their questions? Neither of the major shareholders like it, because it means answering to supporters.
Personally I’d have thought either of those last two paragraphs might make people think it’s worth the AST shouting about ownership issues.
You have declined to give your own view on ownership, but if you have a better idea than all the shareholders working together for the benefit of the club – the AST position – then I’m sure all fans would love to hear it.
As in your original post, I can’t really agree with your use of numbers, or representations of them. “Based on the response to the posting, my concerns on Tim and the AST are widely held” – widely held! Prior to this comment, there were 11 comments! One was mine and about 4 or 5 were yours! Tim Payton may or may not be a ‘shamless self promoter’ as one of the other comments has it, but you’re clearly not too far behind on that yourself.
Stick to the comedy. You’re better at it than numbers.
Phil, apologies for slow reply. I’ve been busy shamelessly promoting myself.
Your reply this time was a lot meaner than your first one. Perhaps a mean but knowledgeable person hacked your account.
Regarding the ad hominem comments you made…I’m a shameless self-promoter, you say? If you mean I blog and I’m on twitter, then I’m guilty but then so are we all. Plus you’ve been blogging longer, have been posting in the fanzine for 10 yrs and are a board member of the AST, an organization that uses the media. Not exactly a shrinking violet yourself. But, good on you.
Regarding the fact that my blog posts don’t get many comments in general, I agree. I’m small beer. However, that is not the only way to exchange opinions on an idea.
I had a really long response going point by point but it was longer than my original effing blog. Instead I will give the brief(er) reply:
You make a “distinction without a difference” in your rebuttal. You say the AST didn’t recommend?…But a plurality of AST members “concluded” AFC should get rid of Wenger if he didn’t win a trophy. He didn’t.
A majority believe Usmanov should be on the board before he gets to a 30% shareholding. Etc., etc.
These AST survey results were then presented to the CEO and some of the management team at AFC, and then the media and the planet via the website. I assume the AST wasn’t hoping they would be ignored but would be taken account of by the CEO. This year they are pre-advertised through the Daily Mirror. Not too sloppy at this self-promotion, the AST.
On to the substance:
I like the “idea” of the AST. I like some of the things I know it’s done. I think it is far more professional than the other fan orgs at our and other clubs. It’s a credit to you guys. Kudos. But…
Support the manager. No more votes of confidence.
Stay out of the politics as much as possible
Don’t get used by the media
Express clearly and often who you represent (and more importantly to the rest of us)
Who you don’t, especially when dealing in veiled votes of confidence stuff.
Or keep the survey internal for the AST.
The AST is a small group of (well intentioned) supporters. They ARE Gooners, afterall, God bless them! They do some good work. But the AST doesn’t rush around correcting the mistake that they don’t speak for the fans or for “a large group” of fans or that they are representative of the fans. In fact, they like to see this meme replicated. It’s on their website: “Representing Arsenal fans to the media, football authorities and Government.” The AST wants and enjoys a seat at the big table, in front of which is placed a microphone. Why not, it must be a rush, the wind blowing in your hair.
The rest of us fans ignore this except when you start publishing votes of confidence in our manager while wearing the cloak of the “voice of the fans.”
If the AST won’t make the point that they are a small group and that they are not representative of the wider fan base, then at least do the following:
1. Don’t get pissy when someone finally does make that point eg me.
2. No votes of confidence in the Manager – minority, plurality or majority.
I think it is because I hit on this sore point that you decided to attack me for being a shameless self-promoter ie tar me with the AST brush.
Up The Judean People’s Front!
Stay humble, San Diego!
PS: It will be a long Summer, so have no fear, I will post something on ownership and fandom etc.
PPS: I think the suggestion from whoever that the AST has a separate Twitter account doesn’t solve the Tim Payton negativity issue. Since Tim is the Spokesperson for the AST, he can’t simultaneously be doing the “this is my personal opinion” trick. Obama’s White House Press Secretary can’t give the Prez’s view in the morning and his own in the evening.
I have read once on twitter that people who are part of AST have tried to talk to Tim Payton to have separate accounts for his personal views & another account for the views of the AST. But he has refused to acknowledge it. What does that say about the AST as a whole? Can’t even force one of its own members to do the right thing & they preach about what Arsenal board should do?
The least non-AST Arsenal fans want from AST is to STOP presenting yourself as the representative of the the majority of Gooners worldwide, because frankly you are not. But then again, saying it is the view of 300 something Gooners won’t have the same effect, isn’t it?
Well said, mate.
Great blog mate,i love how you use humour to pass important messages. I have been following the A.S.T and John Cross for a while now and i cant help but think that there is a personal agenda Tim Payton fed him which he obviously bought into and they are both using the A.S.T. As a decoy to propagate and achieve this agenda of theirs.
Wow. And here I was, thinking my Yann M’Vila blog today was controversial!
While I agree with Phil that Arsenal’s ambitions are much higher than those of our poorer neighbors and hence we get judged by slightly higher standards, I am as frustated as you are with the constant negativity that surrounds Arsenal’s every move – and I am talking in the general Arsenal world, not just at AST.
Phil, this article does highlight the image that many global fans have of the AST. Unlike most season ticket holders, our connection to Arsenal doesn’t run in the family. Many of us have only fallen in love with Arsenal’s history as a consequence of the Wenger-era playing style, adherence to principles of self sufficiency in the rapidly-changing footballing landscape and let’s face it, the singular achievements of Arsene Wenger against some hefty odds.
With Tim Payton being spokesperson for the AST, the views he airs in the media and on Twitter are naturally attributed to AST as a whole. If the organisation’s views are as well-balanced as yours, isn’t it essential that this is communicated more actively to the millions of supporters based all around the world? Or does the AST not see themselves as representatives of the opinion of non-ST holders? Maybe a twitter account for AST where Arsenal’s achievements are equally celebrated might be a good start, I don’t know.
Well said, sir.
Lol another funny blog, keep up the good work!
Nice information about how small and insignficant these AST fellows are in terms of representation, as opposed to their massive publicity in the media. Cheers for that.
What has Arsene Wenger ever done for us ?
Was as funny as,
I’ve only recently come across your blog but feel compelled to comment. Touching on the present post, I feel you’ve captured my sentiments exactly. Like so many of your posts, this one manages to combine humor with thought provoking analysis. A nice dose of criticism is appropriately mixed in as well. Please continue the great work and I will continue to recommend you to all my fellow Gunners in middle America.
You’re a good man. And your comments are sincerely appreciated.
Hardly a cross section of fans now is it? 382 responses? Can do better methinks. If you had 10,000 members and 5,000 responses I’d take you seriously but unfortunately you seem to be just another bunch of middle-aged Gooners who want to tell everyone you know Ken Friar.
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