Walking up to the Emirates Stadium from Holloway Road station last night felt an awful lot like a normal matchday. – the sound of the crowd in the distance echoed around the nearby streets as supporter’s smoke grenades filled the air with that awfully familiar smell.
What greeted me as I stepped up to the army was not an angry mob, not a drunk and disorderly crowd causing havoc, but thousands of passionate Arsenal fans, all present to make a stand against the men in charge of their club.
The proposal of the European Super League rocked the footballing world this week, as fans have turned up outside their club’s stadiums and training grounds to protest the processes taking place in high-up positions.
However, with the plans of the ESL quickly crumbling away, the attention of Arsenal fans shifted quickly to their American owner, Stan Kroenke.
Kroenke has been the majority shareholder of the North London side since 2011, having ties to the club since 2008. Since then, Arsenal fans have been treated to not much more than broken promises and disappointment in the board of directors.
With pictures and plans of the “#KroenkeOut” protest circulating around social media sites, there was a certain buzz within the fanbase leading up to the protest, knowing that this was a real opportunity to demonstrate just how strongly the fans felt about the cause.
I had expected to turn up to a couple of hundred people outside The Armoury, with a few signs and posters to drive home the point. But upon arrival, it was much bigger than I had anticipated.
Choruses of “Get out of our club” and “Kroenke out” were bellowed out by the Gunners supporters, with hundreds of signs and flags waved proudly outside their home.
The energy on the night was palpable – supporters climbed up on top of the club shop to conduct and rally the crowd – not like any other scenes that I have ever witnessed at the Emirates before.
Having the chance to speak to a number of Arsenal fans gave me a real insight into how the Gunners’ faithful were feeling on the night:
“It’s electric, it’s honestly bigger than some of the matches I’ve been to, in terms of how incredible the crowd is today, it shows how much everybody cares about this place, this club” one young fan told me.
“It’s an incredible turnout and I think it’s a really powerful message we’re sending today.” He went on to say.
The sheer size of the protest eclipsed anything that the Gunners’ faithful have managed in the recent past, showing just how critical the fans now see it to be that their business oligarch owner should step aside.
“It’s busy, it’s a lot busier than I thought It would be, it’s loud. I think the Arsenal fans have really turned up today in good numbers to protest”. One fan, Jay said.
For Arsenal fans, it’s not a case of who’s got the biggest pockets, it’s wanting to have someone in charge who genuinely cares about the club, about football, about the institutions of British culture.
Through Kroenke and his holding company KSE, fans see no regard for any of this, there is no personal connection to the owner, and there has been very little effort from him to rectify this, earning him the nickname “Silent Stan”.
“Well either they invest or they go, I’ve seen some statistics, out al all the premier league clubs’ owners, he’s invested the least, if anything he’s taken money out of the club to invest into his American football teams”
Arsenal fans can be proud of the spectacle they put on last night - proving to me that the working class spirit of football will live on for as long as we can hold on to it.
It can be easy to get lost in the excitement of it all, football fans en masse once again, the cans of beer and the songs we haven’t sang in months, but it is so important not to lose sight of the message Arsenal fans have made clear as day – It is time to go for Stan Kroenke.