“When is it gonna end, Robbie?”
“Maupay you’re a cheat and I hope Brighton get relegated.”
These are just a handful of iconic moments that have emerged as a result of the emergence of the fan channel era. Without a doubt, these off-the-cuff and reactionary post-match reviews have been the source of laughter amongst surrounding football fans. But is this new wave of fandom and punditry causing more harm than good?
In a recent debate hosted by Talksport, Arsenal legend Ray Parlour boldly claimed that Robbie Lyle (owner of AFTV YouTube channel) prefers when Arsenal lose as AFTV gets more views. The logic behind this statement is that rival fans enjoy watching an AFTV meltdown postgame following a loss. The statistics do not support this statement. In Arsenal’s recent FA cup victory, AFTV received a staggering 1.3 million, whereas in Arsenal’s iconic last-minute loss to Brighton, in which member Ty uttered those famous words into existence (“Maupay you’re a cheat and I hope Brighton get relegated”) received a mere 633,000 in comparison. These baseless claims from Ray Parlour have a hint of irony, as he is an employee of Talksport, a radio show that feeds off reactionary phone-in sessions in which supporters express their anguish and immediate frustration postgame.
The arrival of fan channels has most certainly given a more prominent voice for football fans. This has further been supported by the constant development of social media and other technological platforms. The United Stand, a YouTube channel owned by Mark Goldbridge, has recently surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark. In short, this is one hell of an achievement, especially considering that the channel is barely 6 years old. The influence of this channel on the views of Manchester United fans worldwide is visible from the recent protests against the Manchester United ownership. Fans forced their way into Old Trafford and caused chaos, and even managed to get their game Vs Liverpool postponed due to their effort in getting their message across. These views have been amplified by The United Stand, in which their displeasure is expressed, as they believe that the Glazer family (Manchester United owners) are not fully committed to the expansion of the club, and treat the club more as a profitable business than a football club.
However, it is not all sunny on the part of fan channels. Claims of abuse directed at the players of each respected club are not entirely false. This was perhaps most prominent in the case of Granit Xhaka. The majority of you reading this article must be aware of the instance in which Granit Xhaka received boos from fans in the Emirates during a game vs Crystal Palace. The Arsenal midfielder responded to this by taking off his Arsenal top in an act of rebellion. Arsenal fans did not take kindly to this gesture, and AFTV, in principle, slated Granit Xhaka. Following these insults led by AFTV, Granit Xhaka’s social media pages were flooded with abuse to the point where he revealed that he had received death threats from certain “fans”. Of course, this is not exclusively just AFTV causing this inhumane behaviour. Multiple footballers have received racial and social media abuse. In response to this growing wave of abuse, certain Premier League football clubs and footballers have decided to boycott social media from 30th April-4th May.
In summary, fan channels are an interesting addition to the world of football. Without a doubt, they are having an increasing influence on the decision making of clubs – you only need to look as far as the 48-hour abolishment of the European Super League. Fan involvement within the sphere of football is broadening, and this is being abetted by the increase in interaction through social media. Of course, fan channels are far from perfect, and the persistent abuse of players signals this, but I truly believe they demonstrate an improvement in the perception of our beautiful game.
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