News, Culture & Society

FAN VIEW: Arsenal Fan TV has become a circus that the club can’t shake away

For a while now the Emirates has been simmering with fury but that frustration has reached boiling point and that is largely down to the irritating presence of Arsenal Fan TV that just won’t go away.

As Arsenal get ready for a fourth season without Champions League football – and are looking likely to miss out on Europe altogether following a disastrous season – the so-called ‘fan channel’ are ready to pounce… something that all us supporters of the club have witnessed far too much before.

Tempers have slowly built up in North London as Arsenal continue to fall further into mediocrity – but it isn’t just on the pitch where the club are grabbing the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Arsenal Fan TV has gained over 1.18million subscribers on Youtube since it was created

Claude Callegari (right) was axed by the channel for calling Son Heung-min 'DVD' on Sunday

Claude Callegari (right) was axed by the channel for calling Son Heung-min ‘DVD’ on Sunday

The channel has gained a huge following for its extreme and over the top views after matches

The channel has gained a huge following for its extreme and over the top views after matches

The Gunners for quite some time have been the subject of mockery from rival fans and the channel, now known as AFTV, are largely to blame for that.

The channel’s immense negativity, over the top and hugely immature reactions have left many fans fuming with how our club has been portrayed.

And on Sunday, the channel stole the headlines once again after Claude Callegari was axed after calling Son Heung-min ‘DVD’ during Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Tottenham. Callegari has denied that the term was a racial slur, but his explanation will convince few people that it wasn’t.

For far too long, the regular guests – including ‘Troopz’, ‘DT’ and Claude – have been allowed to say what they want without any real consequences, and it has set a terrible precedent for the club – and their opinions certainly don’t speak for the rest of us Arsenal fans. 

Claude has since issued an apology to Tottenham and Son in an emotional video on social media.

Claude said: ‘Good morning everyone. Well, not good for me. I want to make an apology unfortunately – what happened here a few days ago with the game against Spurs. 

‘The timing was all wrong when I made the comment and it has caused a lot of offence. I want to apologise to Spurs fans and Son for that, for the offence it has caused.

‘What can I do? It has caused a lot of offence and I want to apologise, I admire Son as a player. It wasn’t meant in that way but as it has caused a lot of offence, and it has, I’m going to apologise to you, the Spurs fans and especially Son and his family at how it has come out and there is not more that I can say than that.

‘Me and Robbie (Lyle) have come to an agreement that I’ve come off the channel, and I have to accept that. And I will punish myself as well, don’t worry about that.

‘I don’t want to say anymore. I don’t know what to say more than that, it wasn’t meant in that way. All I can do is apologise. I am sorry if it has caused any pain.’

Despite the grovelling apology, surely for a channel that started out with innocent intentions, Claude’s remark is the last straw for Arsenal Fan TV. 

The channel – described as ‘For the fans, by the fans’ – was innocently set up by Robbie Lyle to allow fellow Arsenal supporters to voice their opinions. 

Many Arsenal supporters argue that the Youtube channel feed off the club's failures

Many Arsenal supporters argue that the Youtube channel feed off the club’s failures

There is no problem in that. In an era where fans are slowly fading further and further into the background, it’s important to allow supporters to speak up as they are the heart and soul of any football club.

But over time and as the channel grew in popularity, it has quickly become a poison for the club. On YouTube, the channel has amassed 1.18million subscribers – numbers Robbie and his team never would have dreamed of.

That should be a viewed as a success but instead it’s the exact opposite and frankly enough is enough. For a channel that was set up with the purpose of giving fans a platform, it has gone to the extreme and is becoming unbearable for the majority of Arsenal supporters – while rivals continue to lap it up.

After every heartbreak on the pitch, and there have been many over recent years, the pain becomes even more insufferable because of a small section of Arsenal ‘fans’. 

Usually after a defeat or dropped points, it’s back to the drawing board for the club while the fans try to forget about what they have just witnessed. But come 4:45pm on a Saturday or whenever it might be, there are a certain number of supporters who just won’t let up.

When you walk out of the Emirates or at an away ground across England, whether that be with a smile on your face or down in the dumps, hundreds – sometimes thousands – of fans gather in the same spot waiting for the cameras to roll. AFTV regulars are being painted like celebrities.

But it’s the defeats where the clicks and the money roll in. Over time, AFTV has become a place for fans to vent their frustration with the performances. But while displays haven’t been good enough at the Emirates recently, there is no need for the relentless negativity that they put out… which subsequently has just added to the bad blood around the club.

With performances on the pitch dropping, it has allowed AFTV to spout constant negativity

With performances on the pitch dropping, it has allowed AFTV to spout constant negativity

For years now, the same old guests have been able to criticise and fire shots at players and managers – including legendary boss Arsene Wenger – without taking any responsibility themselves as those who watch on in the background or via the internet ridiculously celebrate every word they say like its their hero speaking. 

For a channel that has over one million subscribers and is watched by football fans all over the world, it’s extremely hard for the club and the players not to become affected by what they spout.

And funnily enough, for a channel that was established to give fans a voice – it seems to be the exact same names who continue to aim shots at the club. It’s never-ending.

They have made scapegoats out of plenty of Arsenal players before – Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin just to name just two – while shouting abuse at their managers, including legendary boss Arsene Wenger.

And to prove just how far the channel’s influence spreads, Bellerin has previously called them out for their constant negativity and behaviour towards the club.

‘I don’t think there are players that actually go on the internet to watch Arsenal Fan TV,’ Bellerin previously said.

‘It does sometimes pop up in your timeline. I see it sometimes. I have friends who say, “oh, have you heard what that guy on ArsenalFanTV [said]?”

‘It’s so wrong for someone who claims to be a fan and their success is fed off a failure. How can that be a fan?’

And he isn’t the only player or ex-Arsenal star to have a go at the channel for suiting a particular agenda.

'DT' (right) is one of the regulars on the channel and has come in for huge criticism in the past

‘DT’ (right) is one of the regulars on the channel and has come in for huge criticism in the past

Ray Parlour, part of Arsenal’s Invincibles who won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the club – once claimed that the channel benefits and profits from the decline at the Emirates.

He told talkSPORT: ‘How can they call it Arsenal Fan TV? AFTV want Arsenal to lose as it is better for them. They should call it Arsenal Fail TV.’   

For a club legend to say that – Parlour is Arsenal’s record appearance maker in the Premier League with 333 to his name – surely that would be enough to make the channel think twice.

But no, time and time again, these so-called ‘fans’ fight back, whether that be with another Arsenal supporter or someone associated with the club. 

DT took issue with those Parlour comments and took to Twitter to argue: ‘You were not calling it that when you were on there, Ray. 

‘You might be a legend of the club but it does not mean you can go around talking rubbish about fans who go to every single game and saying they enjoy losing, it’s the radio show YOU work for that enjoy seeing Arsenal lose!’ 

If you really loved the club, would you been arguing with a club legend? I don’t think so. 

Arsenal even looked to distance themselves from the ever-growing Youtube channel and in 2018, the club asked them to remove all branding and copyrighted material – including the name ‘Arsenal’ – from future videos.

But if Arsenal thought that would deter them from their coverage on the club, they were certainly wrong. The cameras have kept rolling as the channel continues to pick up more viewers. 

However, as AFTV continue their relentless work, their rivals are growing bigger in their numbers.

Hector Bellerin has previously tore into the channel, claiming it feeds off the club's failures

Hector Bellerin has previously tore into the channel, claiming it feeds off the club’s failures

It all recently came to a head at the end of last year and into the New Year when the majority of Arsenal’s travelling supporters – most notably at Everton and Crystal Palace – chanted ‘Arsenal Fan TV… Get out of our club!’

And it really reached boiling point at Goodison Park on December 21 last year, with Mikel Arteta watching the game in the stands after being appointed manager.

With the majority of Arsenal fans excited to usher in a new era under Arteta following years of decline, perhaps it was a statement from the fans of trying to wash the negativity away.

Immediately after the final whistle following an unforgettable 0-0 draw, Arsenal Fan TV gathered outside the away turnstiles for their post-match opinions. But they were met by a sea of furious fans waiting for them, before the police had to get involved and separate the two parties.

Wherever Arsenal play, there seems to be a circus following them, and it is largely down to the impact of the fan channel.

If a defeat wasn’t enough to take, most Arsenal fans have to deal with over the top, sometimes aggressive and immature fall-out from DT, Troopz and Co. And this is all just music to the ears of rival fans, who are ready to pounce and mock us at every opportunity because of a small number of supporters in the limelight.

Who knows how much longer AFTV can or will go on for but the longer it does, they will just be met by more and more antipathy from their own supporters.

And it all comes back to the main point on the majority of Arsenal fan’s lips: how can you claim to be a supporter of the club when all you seem to do is damage its reputation with relentless negativity and extremism? 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk