Arsenal FC’s Systematic Chaos
“We knew that we were expecting many guests, but we thought we had it under control.” That’s how Arsenal Football Club’s spokesman explained the events at “Emirates Stadium” in North London on Thursday evening.
Chaos caused by the simultaneous arrival of thousands of FC Köln fans. Chaos caused by the Premier-League-Club, who desperately tried to enforce their terrible ticket policy.
Looking at the pictures of thousands of fans waiting in front of the stadium entrances may remind some BVB-Fans of their own visit of the Arsenal FC. The UEFA blessed us with three Champions-League-Games at the AFC between 2011 and 2014 - and it seems like the organizers in North London haven’t learned out of any of them.
Let’s take a look at the initial position of Cologne’s guest performance:
For the first time in 20 years Arsenal does not play in the Champions League, and the ticket demand for home games in the “Cup of Losers” is pretty low. And then there is the 1. FC Köln in their first mandatory international match in 25 years. London dedicated 2900 tickets to the FC, who had demands for 20,000 or them.
Back in 2011 we were in a similar situation when we were allowed to visit London in our first Champions-League-Season since 2002. The host finally dedicated more room to guests after thousands of Dortmund citizens became Arsenal members or got tickets through others members. In the end over 8,000 Dortmund Fans visited the “Emirates”.
Still, chaos ensued, because the AFC didn’t prepare for the announced march of BVB-Fans, that swept thousands of people to the entrances at the same time. The fact that ticket owners from Dortmund weren’t allowed to enter the neutral blocks was another reason.
Six years passed and two more games at the Arsenal FC followed. Tickets for those games generated less interest, but the problems in front of the stadium remained.
This September, after 25 years, the 1. FC Köln had a shot at his first game in the European Cup. Up to 20,000 visitors from Cologne stormed the city and got their ticket through similar means as we did back in 2011. Fans marched through the city to the stadium and social networks were flooded with videos of euphoric FC-Fans. The excitement didn’t end until they reached the stadium.
FC Koln fans have completely taken over here pic.twitter.com/880yCwoZN2
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) 14. September 2017
What we know is that 30-50 fans tried to break through the entrance at the guest block. If they had tickets for the neutral area or no tickets at all is unknown, but Arsenal tried to lock thousands of people out of the blocks around the guest area. The entrances were quickly closed and the game delayed by one hour. The club stated it was out of “security reasons” and that it was caused by the attempted break-in is mere media speculation. During this time the UEFA, the clubs and the Security were probably busy trying to figure out how to handle the fans in front of the stadium. In the end the AFC allowed almost every fan to enter the stadium, even the mentioned neutral blocks. There simply were too many of them.
During the second halftime London’s police stroke a balance of the attempted break-in, which was already reported on by Sky and Co. Four fans from Cologne were arrested, because they didn’t listen to the police. Four! And there were 10,000 FC-Fans present at the chaotic entrance situation.
Before and after the masses caused a football atmosphere that London hadn’t seen in a long time. It was described as “The best atmosphere Arsenal has seen since their move to the Emirates” by a british reporter on Twitter. There have been no words on fights between the FC and Arsenal Fans around the guest blocks, but pictures of celebrating fans scoured the internet.
Arsenal and FC Köln fans exchanging songs in the HOME END. Great atmospherepic.twitter.com/74kiXLbHyv
— Brian (@shotb83) 14. September 2017
The saddest part: This atmosphere could have been achieved without the problematic admittance. The stadium wasn’t even close to being sold out and a larger amount of tickets for FC-Fans wouldn’t have been a problem, but Arsenal refused. Still, the Club knew about the march and the large amount of FC-Fans waiting outside. They simply were not prepared. At least not well enough, as the they’ve said themselves.
“We knew that we were expecting many guests, but we thought we had it under control.” Well, you were wrong, Arsenal Football Club!
But radio, TV and press aren’t blaming the AFC, but the 1. FC Köln and their fans, because they were in a situation that was entirely the host’s fault. The host’s arrangements caused the possibility of an attempted break-in in the first place. And it wasn’t the first time.
But it seems like the organizers in North London aren’t interested in improvement anyway. They manage to get away with it, because the people who end up being blamed are almost always the guests. That’s a scandal. The only true scandal of the evening..
Credits for the translation: Christian Lübke from TheEngLife