Arsenal Fan TV: An embarrassment or a voice to be listened to?

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YouTube’s popularity has risen massively in recent years. You can now find such a wide range of genres on it, from educational videos about even the most obscure philosophy (I have dug deep into that tiny sub-genre) to “drunk guy singing and smoking in shower!” Perhaps one of the weirdest of these genres is football fan TV, with Arsenal Fan TV being the biggest of the bunch.

You may be in the unenlightened majority who do not know of Arsenal Fan TV, or indeed of any other football fan channel. In short, they offer post-match interviews to get fan reactions, respond throughout the week to news (especially during transfer windows) and have regular podcasts and shows to keep casual football fans and hooligans alike satisfied while there is no game going on.

Inside Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, where they can break apart the biggest clubs whilst still probably ending up losing to Swansea

I shall go no further before introducing host Robbie, a long-time Arsenal fan. There is also DT and Troopz, who are the two most regular contributors, plus dynamic duo Ty and Claude. To briefly explain how Arsenal football club is doing at the moment, they failed to qualify for the Champions League at the end of last year for the first time in many years and the one piece of silverware they have been winning recently is the FA Cup: a competition used mainly by Premier League sides to field youngsters.

The club is missing its days of great glory, such as a 2003-04 season that saw the Arsenal squad now dubbed “The Invincibles” win the league without losing any game in the season: a feat that has not been achieved before or since. The 2016-17 season last year was consumed by debate as to whether the club’s manager, Arsène Wenger, should leave or not. He is currently in his 21st year managing the club.

Anyone who has a derogatory view of football hooliganism may think themselves to be proved right when watching Arsenal Fan TV, as one of the most popular videos sees DT shout and swear continuously into Robbie’s microphone after Arsenal lost 5-1 away to Bayern Munich, while Robbie himself tries his very best to get some sense out of him. The iconic phrase “Wenger out” is uttered throughout.

The YouTube channel itself has come under fire, as some Arsenal Fans say that it may be too negative and others call it an embarrassment. Even Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has branded them with the same label, questioning why they do not have more respect for Arsene Wenger. Why should they be seen as anything but an embarrassment? Surely they create a poisonous atmosphere that leaves fans divided on the manager’s future? On the surface you will see various rants after every heavy loss, shouts of “Wenger out” when everything is bad, and even grumpy fans when they win. If you dig deeper, however, you will see the undeniable passion of the fans.

The badge of the football club that these fans all love; deep, deep down

A recent shareholder’s event for Arsenal was seen as a great PR embarrassment, even without Arsenal Fan TV present. The shareholders were clearly disgruntled, asking pertinent questions regarding the lack of diversity of the board and the lack of change of manager. But the Chairman Sir Chips Keswick and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke brushed them off without responding properly. This lack of communication has been covered by Arsenal Fan TV many times, as well as the disconnect between players and fans that has evolved in modern football: a clear problem that has perhaps come after so much money has gone into the industry.

The channel has only ever had one purpose and that is to represent the fans and how they are feeling, something done without fail every week as a wide range of people offer their opinion, including the opposition’s fans. This is what YouTube has allowed: little people can become famous with just their camera and an idea, and while Arsenal Fan TV keeps its independence and its popularity, Arsenal fans will still have a great voice worth listening to.

Even John Bercow, Speaker in the House of Commons, has been interviewed on Arsenal fan TV. Once you watch a few of these videos, you will either think, as I first did, that those interviewed are crazy. Or, as I have begun to do, you might start to empathise with them.

I first watched Arsenal Fan TV on my birthday last year, as I wanted to see the rage that came from losing 4-0 to Liverpool. Needless to say, it was all I had expected. I then looked up other famous Arsenal losses hoping to see more of the same. While I do derive joy from seeing the ladies and gentlemen interviewed seething with rage, I can only say that I empathise.

These fans are so very passionate about their club, they complain because they want the best for it. If you really want to laugh at them, go for it; but you could do a lot worse than take in what they have to say about how football is run.