Football fans tie themselves down to a rollercoaster ride when declaring their support, riding the highs, the lows, the joy and the despair.
A feeling of disgust should never be present but it is unfortunately something millions of fans will have in the pit of their stomach following the European Super League announcement.
Arsenal are among the 12 clubs to have signed up as founding members, joining Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United as the Premier League’s rebel clubs.
These football institutions have forgotten their roots, focusing on consumers rather than supporters, with profit being the be all and end all. We, as supporters, have been betrayed.
Like thousands of other fans, my memories of football, and Arsenal, are tied to particular events. The 2001 FA Cup final is one of my first memories of the sport, with Michael Owen’s goals leading a seven-year-old to tears – which would be present again five years later following the Champions League final defeat in Paris.
Tied into those lows are numerous highs – the 2004 unbeaten season, numerous FA Cup successes and finally bringing an end to a barren trophy run by defeating Hull City at Wembley in 2014.
For me though, Arsenal’s biggest impact on a personal level came during a dark period of depression in my late teens – a hard-fought battle which, as many will understand, leaves an impression that never leaves you.
During this period, Arsenal were my escape. For 90 minutes, my fears, anxieties and the dark cloud looming over my head were shoved aside. For the duration of a match, everything could be forgotten.
That has tied me to the club in a level that few other things can do. It provided me with breathing room, it allowed me to focus on something outside of the demons in my own mind and it was during this period that I found my love for writing about football.
It was a spark of a journey that would lead me to where I am now – writing about football, privileged to have met idols that I adored and sparked a career that I never dreamed would be possible. Never did I believe that could be stripped away from me.
The disgusting, grotesque idea of a European Super League has left the Arsenal now standing in front of me unrecognisable from the club I love, the one that pulled me from a dark spot and provided the catalyst towards my adult life.
I’ve dreamt of the day where I will have children and can enjoy supporting Arsenal with them. As a result, these money-making decisions have not only tarred some of my favourite memories but may have also stripped me of a part of my future.
As fans and as members of the media, we can, and should, protest against these decisions. Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to be listened to. After all, when was the last time Stan Kroenke showed any sort of indication that he cares about the thoughts of those in N17 and around the world.
This is, of course, an owner who took the club into private ownership in 2018 – taking shares of beloved fans away and bringing the end to shareholder meetings, one of the few occasions where supporters could directly ask those in charge what was going on.
Supporters, like myself and anyone reading this, are irrelevant to the multi-millionaire owners who have no distinct ties to the club beyond their chequebook – a sad reality of modern day football.
It’s worth mentioning that UEFA and FIFA are by no means perfect – you only have to look at the Europa League final in Baku, where Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not travel due to safety fears, and next year’s World Cup in Qatar to see evidence of that
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But they are at least football institutions, ones that have been around throughout the growth of the professional game, unlike the mega-rich owners that smell a payday.
The Arsenal Football Club that issued a confirmation of the intention to join the Super League on Sunday evening is not my club, it is simply a product of financial greed and, if the move to join the ESL goes ahead, will be something that I will boycott.
Football is too important for too many people to simply be shifted into a landscape reserved for a select few – which ironically includes three sides, including Arsenal, that didn’t qualify for the Champions League this year and two teams who couldn’t make it past the group stages of the competition.
Shame on you, Arsenal. Shame on you, Stan Kroenke. You have betrayed the supporters who should be the lifeblood of the club and you will never, ever be forgiven.