Foreign? Domestic? Just Support! – Arsenal

Posted: January 25, 2014 in Arsenal FC
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sense of Entitlement

So, I support Arsenal, have done since 1991. That ought to be enough yeah? Been to Highbury, am a club member, buy multiple shirts yearly, etc. So all should be right in the world and any other Arsenal supporter shouldn’t be able to pull out the, “but you’re not local” or “high ticket prices – money spent” card right? Wrong.

The truth is, like any other big club, the majority of the supporters are actually NOT local. That global recognition is what allows for the growth and prosperity of Arsenal. It seems though that there is a local element that feels itself superior in some ways. I get it to some extent. I just don’t see how one can take ownership over it and say you are a bigger fan based on proximity, in this supposed age of information when everything is available at the touch of your fingertips; one has access to anything – anywhere. Although I do respect all local supporters as I would be involved in all things Arsenal as they are able to be; I do lament the fact that SOME, not all, feel superior to us foreign fans. Worse yet, that some feel the need to voice that superiority on a fairly regular basis.

Attending Matches

Well there is nothing I can do to have Arsenal come play in Barcelona every weekend, although at the rate with which we’ve sold them players in the past it was almost reality, but I digress. It is a wonderful thing to live locally to the team. One can walk, taxi or take the metro to the match, meet friends before and after for a drink at the pub, etc. Does that make you a better supporter than me? Well no, but some sure do seem to think so. That scenario makes you luckier than most and you should revel in that rather than use it as a point to win a baseless argument.

Ticket Prices

There is little you or I can do to change that as much as we would all like and some are attempting to do. The extra pounds spent on tickets do not buy you more “supporter points” with the football Gods. If you want to bring up ticket prices in comparison to trophies won over the last eight years go ahead – that’s a very compelling argument to make to the club. But what you spend on tickets doesn’t make you a better supporter over someone not local, sadly that’s not the prevailing opinion of some.

My Story

I feel connected to the club on several levels just like the next supporter. We all have something that hit home with us to connect us to Arsenal. I will share my personal story with you as an example why sometimes foreign supporters will go to extremes to watch the club in action. It might make you think before “going off” on a foreign supporter next time.

Some of you have heard this story before. I started following Arsenal in 1991. That year I met a foreign exchange student at my school and we became friends, as time went on she became my girlfriend. She introduced me to Arsenal and I was hooked. Back in those days there was no internet as we know it now. Cable and satellite services were ok but in its infancy as far as pay-per-view. So what where my choices? There weren’t many let me tell you.

In 1991 the option was tape delay and wrap-up shows as the EPL as we know it now would come into effect the following year. Starting in 1992 (and the subsequent 9 years) I could watch all EPL matches in a given weekend for $69.99 (if memory serves correct) or a specific match for $49.99 (that would later turn to $39.99 for every match). In those years the exchange rate for dollars to pounds ranged from $1.40 to $1.90 (so let’s call it a medium of $1.65), so on a weekly basis I paid 30£ to watch the Arsenal play via these services. Let’s not even mention getting up at 5-6am for early matches on a Saturday or Sunday (later matches were 8-9am so a bit better). Add the cost of midweek cup matches that cost the same, plus shirts being shipped over, etc. Well, all that added up to a pretty penny in those days.

Tickets could be had for as little as 8£ in those days if you remember. Obviously as the years wore on the prices went up but some tickets could still be had under the 30£ I was paying weekly to watch on TV. Some supporters will only go to home matches so that reduces the amount spent – while I spent 30£ minimum on every match, home and away to watch Arsenal. HUGE difference wouldn’t you say? I did this for nearly 10 years. From 2000/01 prices became more economical with better coverage, but were still a rip-off. I don’t even want to get into what it cost to fly from US to UK, hotel, meals and all the rest to watch the team play. But even all the money spent I mention doesn’t make me any bigger of a supporter than the next person and I very rarely bring it up. So why do some feel the need to try to rub the amount spent, matches seen live, etc. in others faces as proof that they are better?

Relax, Reflect, Adjust and Support

My point of all this detail, the pricing breakdown and the rest is very simple. I direct the next few statements to the supporters that think themselves “superior”. The amount you spend, the numbers of matches you see live, the fact you are local, etc., none of this gives you any reason to belittle or call yourself a “better” supporter over any other person that follows the team. In fact the more you beat that drum, the dumber you look. This becomes even more evident when a supporter can bring out a similar story to mine. Trust me, there are hundreds if not thousands like it.

Supporting a team is a very peculiar thing. We love sports as a society; it can provide an escape – a connection to someone or some time. Sports can make a bad day better and a great day fantastic. It can work in reverse too! Anything that can affect you so much shouldn’t be taken so lightly as to try to measure it in dollars, euros or pounds. Supporting Arsenal has left an impression on my life. Coming to Europe to visit during those early years of my adulthood made up my mind that this (EU) is where I wanted to move. The impression this club has left on me is something I can’t forget, I live it every day. My story is but one of a thousand similar cases.

So I caution the “superior” supporters for whom this entry was written – before you make a comment about how you are a better supporter for any of the reasons discussed; remember there are those with far more complex stories than yours. Enjoy the luck of being local to the team you support, you don’t know how enviable of a position you are in and how others wish they had the same luxury.

Everything mentioned doesn’t make you any better and it certainly doesn’t make their love for the club any less. I would suggest all this frustration and energy be directed into supporting the team and cheering on the lads as opposed to putting others down or competing with them to see who has the biggest ticket drawer.

Up the Arsenal!

If you are a foreign supporter and have a crazy story on how you became and Arsenal supporter I’d love to hear it! I will be making a permanent page for them in the near future so stay tuned!

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