You're not welcome
Just before I went to work this afternoon I was disturbed to read via Arseblog's news site that Galatasaray appear to be coming to London this year for the Emirates Cup. There was an immediate negative reaction on Twitter and elsewhere to this. Having come home from work I find that it is still the main topic affecting Arsenal supporters online this evening. Suffice to say that Gooners are deeply unimpressed.
Back in 2000 there were thousands of us in Copenhagen for the UEFA Cup Final. Before the semi-final two Leeds supporters were stabbed to death in Istanbul. On arrival at Copenhagen airport we Gooners were met by the Turkish fans giving slit-throat gestures to us as we waited to be taken in to the city for the day. There had already been trouble, and a stabbing, the night before. On arrival in the main square it was obvious that there would be more trouble. Our group moved away to find an Arsenal-only pub for the day. What unfolded across the city were running battles. We were among the lucky ones to get aboard the very few coaches that came back to the city centre to take us to Parken Stadium that evening. Many other Gooners had to literally fight their way to the stadium. It was a gauntlet of hate. If you want a flavour of what it was like, both for us and the Leeds supporters, you can see the videos posted on Youtube (I won't link to them as some of them include pictures of the mortally wounded Leeds fans).
The following day the English press reverted to type and blamed their own. So called Arsenal fan Piers Morgan chose to use his national newspaper to name and shame a number of men for their "involvement" in the violence. These men were banned from Arsenal for life and lost their jobs. They were later shown to be completely innocent and were not involved in the violence. They are still banned from Arsenal. Piers Morgan is still hated, and rightly so. The fact is that the Turkish fans were intent on violence against the English that day. It was no surprise that it happened, and it was even less of a surprise that the English gave as good as they got when attacked.
Now here we are, thirteen years on, and Arsenal are about to invite Galatasaray to our home. Of course we could have drawn them in Europe at any time since 2000, but there's a hell of a difference between having to play them by dint of a random draw and actually laying out the red carpet in welcome. Sadly it just shows that those running the Club have no idea of the feelings of the supporters or the history of Arsenal. Ivan Gazidis and his cronies weren't around in those days. You can forget Peter Hill-Wood and Ken Friar being involved in this decision - they have about as much power at Arsenal these days as I do.
I can just imagine now the planning meeting for this. You will have had Gazidis and all his commercial muppets sat round a table wondering how the hell they are going to sell tickets when there is a chance the team won't have qualified for the European Cup next season. Who in their right mind would pay to watch such a team in pre-season, especially as there's no intention to spend anything on new players? They will have looked at the fact that they've already had Rangers and Celtic. They probably can't afford Barcelona. Then some bright spark will have thought out loud that there's quite a large Turkish population in North London. Who is the top Club in Turkey? None of these idiotic no marks will have any idea of the history between Arsenal and Galatasaray and that's why we're staring down the barrel of them arriving. Arsenal's commercial arm knows that the local Turks will sell out the stadium across the two days. Even if Arsenal supporters don't go it won't much matter, because the seats will be full.
I would never consider not going to a proper match because of disagreements over who the Manager is, or who owns Arsenal. But I'll be damned if I'm going to go to a pre-season friendly tournament that involves Galatasaray. It is shameful that it has even been considered. I bet the Met Police can't wait. Maybe Arsenal should invite Leeds and APOEL Nicosia so we can all watch a good tear-up before, during and after.And make no mistake, Leeds' main men will all be snapping up tickets when they go on general sale. Even if they can't get them they'll still turn up for the chance to lay out a few slaps. They could even get Piers Morgan to present the trophy.
I hope that, if this gets confirmed by Arsenal, there are genuine protests from the so-called supporters groups. I won't hold my breath, however, having read a Tweet from Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporters Trust tonight where he has responded to a question about this with "what's your concern?" I'd have thought the concern should be obvious to anyone who's been around long enough.