Arsenal Fan TV: watchdog and liberator

Arsenal Fan TV: watchdog and liberator

Arsenal Fan TV has become somewhat of an internet phenomenon over the last year. Since uploading a shaky, grainy video of a fan’s reaction to the 7-5 victory over Reading in 2012, Robbie Lyle has seen his channel get over 200 million views and over half a million subscribers. They have gone from being completely unknown to interviewing Gary Neville after he called them an ‘embarrassment’. The channel offers raw, uncensored fan opinion on all things Arsenal and many of their videos have gone viral and racked up over a million views.
Last year was a turbulent year for Arsenal. Wenger was on his final year of his contract and the team were struggling to maintain their top four record. Back to back defeats to Everton and Man City in December mirrored a familiar Arsenal trait to fall heavily off the pace early in the midway through the season. A heavy 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16 sparked an uproar among fans. Arsenal Fan TV captured the distaste of the fans and relayed the feeling through an online rebellion. Charismatic and popular figures DT, Troopz and Claude led the way for Arsenal Fans across the country to make a stand. Even Ian Wright voiced his opinion that the Wenger ship should sail peacefully to the shore once his contract was up. A mass protest was staged outside the Emirates at the Bayern 2nd leg and Robbie and his camera were there recording it all. For the record, Robbie always remained impartial and tried his best to play devil’s advocate to the passionate rants and the criticism. Nevertheless, a revolution marinated in the Islington air.
Arsenal fans disagreed with each other. Some fans waved Wenger out banners and ordered a plane to fly over their game with Stoke, while others hailed Wenger’s record and criticized those who tarnished his name. Ty and Claude continued to clash in interviews like ‘good fan,’ ‘bad fan’ and epitomized the divide in the fandom. Fans even clashed in the stadium and Arsenal Fan TV were palmed with a lot of the blame. Robbie and the crowd of interviewees were even mobbed by fans after the 2-2 draw with Man. City.
As a result of this divide, the channel came under heavy criticism. Gary Neville called them an embarrassment- something that the channel enterprisingly managed to morph into an interview with the man himself. Many Arsenal fans themselves also claim the channel is ‘poisonous’. They argue that they create an unhealthy atmosphere by amplifying criticism and had no business or status to be expressing the views they were. The irony. I beg to differ. If you ask me, Arsenal Fan TV are the perfect example of the very essence of journalism as a watchdog. As an independent media source, you cannot fault what Robbie has done. Journalism is about the people holding the elite to account and making sure that organizations have someone to answer to.
Robbie, as cliché as it sounds, has given the fans a voice. We all tune in to Match of the Day and lap up the gospel analysis of pundits- so why should we not appreciate the opinion of the fans who walk through the turnstiles week in, week out? If anything, I would argue the fans are more qualified than the pundits! As an Arsenal Fan myself, I am grateful for Arsenal Fan TV. I think it is a brilliant thing. We cannot suffer in silence. Nor should we have to dwell on a disappointing weekend during the week with the only option to moan to our friends at the pub or families at home. The publicity Arsenal Fan TV has attracted already goes to show that it’s material has substance. The accuracy of the perspective of a fan who travel to every game and sees what is going on first hand should not be underestimated. We need Arsenal Fan TV. We need the club to hear us and this channel has provided us with the loudest microphone.

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