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Fan protests threaten to do more damage than good

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Football is a game that brings out a kind of raw passion in the calmest of individuals. On the weekend, we saw some fans of two established clubs Arsenal and Everton feel the need to bring along signs and chant for the removal of their respective managers Arsene Wenger and Roberto Martinez.

Fans are well and truly within their rights to speak out when they feel things are not going the way they would like at their club. However, in this day and age, there are a number of outlets available allowing the fans to have their say, without taking the anger to the match itself. There is also no place for the protests to get personal such as wishing death on an individual, or personally confronting the object of their anger as we have seen with both clubs over the past few weeks.

The problem with a public protest is that it is usually unplanned and also builds a toxic environment which manifests itself down from the stands and onto the pitch. This, in turn, neutralises the effect of a home ground advantage. The opposition - who should be copping the abuse from the stands - start to feel comfortable as they can pick up on the negative vibes. It also seems to strengthen the resolve of the key decision makers at the club, who want to stand by their man and show a sense of faith in them.

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The general consensus was that it was only a small fraction of the crowd that took part in the protests at the Arsenal and Everton matches. However, it was enough for both managers to notice and to their credit, they respected the fans right to do so. Wenger commented after the game that there was a 'strange atmosphere' at the Emirates Stadium during the Gunners' 1-0 win against Norwich.

If Wenger does end up leaving Arsenal in the near future, one can hope that he gets to bow out in the fashion he deserves.

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When organised correctly, protests can carry a great deal of weight. Take for instance the Liverpool fans walkout against Sunderland in early February. At the time, the Reds were 2-0 up and cruising to a comfortable home win.

Come the 77th minute, and thousands of fans walked out on mass protest about ticket prices for next season. Sunderland scored two goals after the walkout to claim a valuable point, but for the Liverpool fans, a much more important point was secured. A couple of days later and the Liverpool owners scrapped the price hike and publicly apologised for the distress caused.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-SUNDERLAND

Likewise, a great majority of the football community stood in unison with the fans of Blackpool on the weekend. The club is facing the grim reality of back-to-back relegations and for the fans, the blame is squarely at the door of the owners, the Oyston family and their constant mismanagement of the club.

There was a mass protest of around 3,000 fans before their game against Wigan, which they subsequently lost 4-0. The fans are fighting to save their club as they see no light at the end of the tunnel other than extinction and are turning to desperate measures to get their point across.

Luckily for Arsenal and Everton fans, they have no concerns on that front. Frustration is natural for any football fan, however perhaps it is for the best if fans channel that anger onto the opposition. Who knows? Maybe that way, the team you love will be able to claim more victories and everyone will be happy.

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Topics:
Thierry Henry
Everton
Football
Premier League
Arsene Wenger
Roberto Martinez
Arsenal

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