AFC should mean Arsenal FC not Anti Flag Club!

This blog is going to start with a moan – a big one. Arsenal’s flag ban. Those good people at REDaction have already taken up the cudgels on this issue. It’s time for the rest of us to do the same.
Since an incident when some Greek Cypriot fans complained about a Republic of North Cyprus flag at the Grove a while ago, there’s been a comprehensive national flag ban at the Grove. Aside from making the club look stupid (have a look at what the Blackburn Citizen had to say here:, the ban is oppressive and disproportionate. It was introduced by then Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman (since defenestrated). Keith was a man who had his strengths but liberal he wasn’t.
This is a classic example of a sledgehammer being employed to crack a nut. It treats us like children. It’s also deeply offensive to ban the national symbols of England and Great Britain, never mind the sixteen other nationalities aside from English and Welsh which make up our first team squad. And what about visiting Gooners from, say, the Norwegian Arsenal Supporters’ Club?
REDaction made a good start on challenging this. We now have the case above of Blackburn Rovers fans being banned from bringing a St George’s Cross flag into the ground. Cardiff City fans also had their Welsh and St David’s Cross flags confiscated from them on entering the ground for the recent FA Cup replay. Like we’re all going to kick off at the sight of the red dragon or the Cross of St David? Do me a favour.
Aside from making us look like complete plums and treating us like children, this is yet another example of the all too prevalent attitude of modern football administrators towards us, the paying fans, of “sit down and shut up whilst we empty out your wallets”. I’m sick of it.
We need to bombard the club with complaints on this issue. YOU can do something about it today. Write to chief executive officer Ivan Gazidis and stadium manager John Beattie at:
Arsenal FC
Highbury House
75 Drayton Park
N5 1BU
Once you’ve filled in the on-line form and clicked “submit” you need to click the line on the page that appears next saying the FAQs don’t cover your complaint.
Make sure you’re a) polite b) say the complaint is directed to Ivan Gazidis and John Beattie and c) that you’re complaining under the terms of Arsenal’s Customer Charter.
Letters by snail-mail are better than using the on-line form if you’ve got the time. We need to REALLY bombard the club on this issue. There’s a serious chance they’ll see sense if enough of us complain and persist with our objections.
Whilst we’re on the subject of moans, have you seen the price of Villarreal away tickets – £72! Are you sure? There is a clear UEFA regulation which requires visiting fans to be charged no more than home fans for similar seats. There’s no details of ticket prices for home fans on the Villarreal club site. This is being checked out. If you’ve got any accurate information on this, let me know at the email address below. I know that those good people at Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association (AISA) have had complaints about this already and that they’ve in turn been in touch with the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF).
If Villarreal is charging more to visitors than to home fans I’m sure AISA and the FSF will swing into action on our behalf. If Villarreal fans are being asked to pay that sort of money for a seat behind the goal it’s bloody outrageous, even taking into account the strong Euro at the moment. Even we don’t charge that for category A games at the Grove!
Those who looked at my Monday blog (23 March 2009) will have seen an illustration of what most informed sources say will be our new change colours for next season – a reprise of our 1982/3 green and navy number. I’m personally not too bothered about this. What do you think? I know many have strong opinions on the subject.
Lastly today, the commemoration of the Hillsborough disaster twenty years on. Sources at the FA head office in Soho Square have confirmed that a minute’s applause is indeed being planned for our FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley. Apparently the idea is from the Hillsborough Families Survivors’ Group and the FA has agreed to it after consulting Liverpool.
In a nutshell I think a) 96 Liverpool fans died at Hillsborough through a combination of bad management and neglect c) I’m pro the choice to sit or stand. It was the fences, bad design and bad management that killed the 96, not standing; and c) a minute’s applause is completely inappropriate. Surely you applaud the achievements of great players who’ve passed away, not those who had their lives extinguished in a preventable disaster? Still, what do I know?
Keep the faith!

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