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Emirates Stewards - A Drain On The Home Support!
Deffyduck (Arsenal) 3 years ago
Ok, so we have made it to the half-way point of the season and are sitting top of the league (albeit it by a single point) and, for the most part, have played some really exciting, attractive, attacking football.

All is well and good in the Arsenal camp - injuries are relatively manageable (got Theo and Podolski back just in time for the Christmas assault course), we signed a truly world-class player, didn't sell any of our key players, secured the long-term futures of our young British core.

What could there possibly be to complain about?

Well, it is the stadium itself, for me. I've been waiting for an opportune moment to raise this issue with my fellow Gooners and get your thoughts and feedback on a topic that has really rankled with me. I was angry on match day, and then it subsided when I got home but has been simmering away for a few weeks…

My particular issue is with the stadium staff – not the friendly men and women who serve beer and hot dogs, no, they are lovely people. The stewards, however, are of particular annoyance to me and those who sit near me on match day.

My most recent outing to the Emirates was back at the beginning of December, for the 2-0 victory over Hull City. Sidestepping the content of the match itself, I want to talk about the actions and attitudes of the stewards who were right next to me throughout the game.

My seat for that game was right next to the travelling Hull fans, and I mean immediately next to it. I had my friends sat to my left-hand side and on my immediate right was the barrier and walkway that parts the home and away fans – one set of concrete steps, barely wider than a single seat to separate us from them.

It is up and down this concrete walkway that 2-3 Emirates stewards patrolled. They were, as one would expect, tasked with ensuring that there was no aggression or violent behaviour between two sets of passionate fans. That is absolutely fine; nobody wants blood and fisticuffs when you’re taking your kid to watch the Arsenal.

HOWEVER……what the Emirates stewards are also evidently tasked with is ensuring that fans remain seated for the entire duration of the match. This was a task they actually seemed to relish. I know we Arsenal fans have a bad reputation when it comes to supporting our team at home, people say that the Emirates is a library, that you “can hear a pin drop” etc.

Well this is where I get very frustrated…. There was a good number of us in the corner that were cheering, clapping and singing for the Arsenal with real vigour and heart. Renditions of “stand up for the Arsenal” were bellowed out, followed by “stand up if you hate Tottenham”. What is a fan to do other than stand up, throw their arms out in the air and echo the call?

Believe it or not, the Arsenal fans are capable of making a thunderous noise when several thousand sing in unison. Our songs were ringing round the entire stadium, echoed by the fans at the other end. It was, for a brief moment, magical.

And then a villain appears…. Wearing a fluorescent orange jacket, the steward reaches our row and forces us to take our seats. The cry of “stand up for the Arsenal” seems ridiculous when you are forced into a seating position.
We take our seats, wait a minute or two then we hear the roar from about 10 seats over to my left “and it’s Arrrrrrrrrrsenallll!.... ” immediately supported by many more voices “…Aaaaaaaarrsenall FC! We’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen!
We jump back up and join the chorus, only to be approached by the same steward, with that disapproving look on his face…. ”take your seats please, everybody sit down now”.

With every shot on goal, every corner kick, every attacking passage of play that brings the Arsenal closer to the Hull FC goal, hundreds of us took to our feet to get a better look, anticipating the moment when we might score and go wild in celebration.

Each and every time we stand up, the steward arrives to make sure we are seated again. I am not exaggerating this at all - every single time we stood up we were admonishingly urged back to our seats. As I look around the stadium I can see this happening in every section. Each steward can monitor 10-15 rows and “return” the people on that row back to a seating position.

To remove any doubt or ambiguity, let me clarify that we were not perched atop the dizzying heights of the Emirates stadium, nor were we in danger of falling 30ft to the terrace below. We were in row 6. Yes, you did read that correctly, row 6…. For those of you not lucky enough to have visited the Emirates yet, let me explain that the steps are at a very very mild gradient. At 6 rows back from the pitch, we were probably not even 1 metre above ground level.

Quite why it was so imperative that people in the very front rows remain seated at all times is a mystery to me. What is even worse though, was the abysmal “joke” that the steward kept repeating, presumably in an attempt to lighten the mood among the restless Arsenal fans.

“i think we need some seatbelts along here” is the last thing I wanted to hear. It was not funny the first time, so why he chose to keep saying it was beyond me. Nobody appreciated it, even the Hull fans were visibly annoyed by this constant interference.

It is no secret that Arsenal fans are charged some of the highest ticket prices in the land – a fact that should be respected by the stadium staff by allowing us to stand up and cheer for our team. Pundits and match day commentators can make the case that it was poor-performances and a previous lack of transfer activity that were the chief culprits for our poor home support but that does not ring true.

I have been at the Emirates when there were toxic boos ringing round at half time and full time, however that was always mainly aimed at Wenger. When it comes to supporting the team during the game, the Arsenal crowd is behind the team. Before the Hull City game, I went to the Liverpool game (also 2-0, Ramsey scored a peach of a half-volley with the outside of his boot) and the crowd in that game was even better, loud and boisterous, we were in full-voice for the entire game. I actually woke up with a sore throat the next day.

In my view, the lack of audible support is largely due to the attitude of the stadium stewards who, it seems, are on a mission to suck the life and noise out of the supporters in the name of health and safety. I know that safety is paramount, and the last thing that anybody wants is a repeat of a tragedy such as Hillsborough, but having an all-seater stadium is killing the atmosphere on match day.

We need only to look at the Bundesliga and Dortmund’s yellow wall to see the effect that safe-standing has. Even through my TV it is possible to get an idea of the atmosphere there. Let us not play down the psychological impact that that level of noise and support can have for both the home and away team.

Anyway, this is my pent-up frustration vented – I thank those of you that had the patience to read it through to the end and would love to read your thoughts on the subject of safe standing and the match day staff.

Let us march on to the end of the season and hope that come match day 38, we are still top of the league.

Arsenal ‘til I die!
Jeroen (Barcelona) 3 years ago
Well, I've never been to the Emirates because it's so f*****g expensive, and the games I've been to that were of a high level (Borussia Dortmund, Barça, Atlético Madrid) were all great experiences where stewards were hardly noticeable, the way they should be. At Dortmund the atmosphere is incredibly loud (especially the 'Gelbe Wand' of course) and enthusiastic, but not hostile at all at the same time. At Atlético the atmosphere is fiery in the Atlético grandstand, but calm otherwise. The stadium is one of those old concrete ones though, and where we were seated (first row of the second floor, a 5 metre fall would await us if we leapt over the 1 metre high barrier at nose-length in front of us) it was actually dangerous if fanatical fans would start jumping up and down, but no stewards were present. Perhaps that's because Spain's broke, perhaps that's because the loudest fan there was I, cheering on Courtois whenever he touched the ball, haha. And at Barça in the Nou Camp the atmosphere is much the same as how I imagine the Emirates to be: loads of tourists and people just curious to watch the greatest team ever (no bias there, I swear) and many people are just calmly enjoying their lunch. LOTS of Catalan families too - for them it's like going to Church. Depending on where you're seated, it can vary between a crowd as calm as though they're at an opera or a crowd of fanatical Catalans whose happiness depends on the outcome of every Barça game. The men in fluorescent orange jackets weren't bothersome either, though I can imagine there are ten times as many of them when Real Madrid comes over and perhaps they're stricter then as well.

What you experienced is just a power-hungry loser who finally has been given some authority and exploits it because he'll have to go home to be yelled at by his bossy wife afterwards. Pity him, don't hate him
Deffyduck (Arsenal) 3 years ago
It seems that the guys in charge over in Spain are at least capable of applying some common sense in this situation then.

At 6 rows back from the pitch, there is absolutely nothing that we can fall on (apart from our own arses) to injure ourselves. Being so close to ground level, the floor is obviously concrete, so there is no elevated platform that is in danger of collapse at any point.

Both the home and away fans were behaving - there were obviously taunts and songs directed at each other but nothing remotely dangerous/violent/malicious. If they had just let us stand, the support would have been much louder and encouraged more people around us to join in singing.

I do not have a season ticket, so I am always sat in a different section every time I go to the games, but it seems to be a problem no matter where you sit. I was quite high up in the upper tier for the Liverpool game and I suppose I can see the safety concern when hundreds/thousands of people are standing rather than sitting in that scenario but at ground level I really do not see the issue.

I guess I need to go to some away games to see if this is health & safety gone mad across the country or just the Emirates management directive at work....

Gullyy (Arsenal) 2 years ago
I been to the Emirates row 11 actually, and not once did I get hassled by a stewards, but in all honesty it was during the 3-1 defeat to Aston villa so I didn't have much to stand about.

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