Thursday 27 October 2016

Gunners fans planning Wenger protest

Arsenal Wenger (PA)
Arsenal Wenger (PA)

Two of Arsenal's largest supporters' groups have announced plans to protest during Saturday's Premier League clash against Norwich.

The Black Scarf Movement and REDaction both released statements yesterday urging fans to hold up placards reading: "Time For Change. Arsenal is stale - fresh approach needed".

The two respective websites included an image of the banner for supporters to print off and hand out ahead of the match against struggling Norwich, with plans to then hold them aloft on 12 minutes, 78 minutes and at full-time.

The timings are in reference to the 12 years since Arsenal last won the Premier League title, having dropped off the pace this season after leading the table at the turn of the year and the protest comes with Norwich visiting in front of the television cameras for Saturday's 5:30pm kick-off.

There is also unrest at the lack of money being invested in the team by manager Arsene Wenger, despite the club having plenty of cash in reserve, while once again having the costliest season ticket is another reason for fans' ire.

"Basically speaking, Arsenal Football Club has gone stale," the Black Scarf Movement statement read.

"We are seeing the same failures year after year, and amid rumours that Arsene Wenger may be given a new three-year contract there really seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

"(Stan) Kroenke and the Board are seemingly content with Champions League cash, so outside of finishing 4th best in the league there is no pressure at all on the manager. This isn't good enough."

REDaction called for the club's supporters to be united in protest this weekend, with their own statement exclaiming: "It's pretty clear that things aren't right at Arsenal.

"We have an absentee owner who takes money from the club whilst not engaging with fans. We have a manager who won't use the resources available to him, to strengthen a squad which everybody can see needs investment. Throw in some of the highest ticket prices in world football. And, all of the Groundhog seasons, where it's clear that the fans' ambitions are not matched by those in charge.

"Fans are fighting each other over what exactly is wrong and who is to blame - but it's clear that we are in a rut, and that something needs to change."

It has been a difficult second-half to the season for the Gunners, who now risk slipping out of the top-four having fallen below Leicester, Tottenham and Manchester City since the beginning of the year.

FA Cup defeat at home to Watford and Champions League elimination at the round of 16 stage for the sixth consecutive campaign has not helped matters - with protests in previous weeks more aimed specifically at Wenger.

Last Thursday's home victory over West Brom was watched by a reduced crowd as fans stayed away from the Emirates Stadium, while some of those who did attend held up their own signs at full-time calling for Wenger to leave his post. That was followed by a banner unfurled during Sunday's goalless draw at Sunderland which declared: "Love the team, hate the regime. Stan & Wenger out."

Wenger, 66, said last week he would not leave this summer as he will at the very least honour his contract - which expires next year - and also declared before the West Brom game that "judgement from people is something we have to live with."

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