To create an iconic Villa supporter-owned 20x20 metre giant surfer flag for the FA Cup Final The aftermath...
“Football must work together to put fans first,” declared the Football Association’s new CEO Martin Glenn when he began his job. His words though are already proving to be empty posturing.
After our experiences this week, fans have clearly again been put second, so it’s time for footballer supporters to show the first easy step for the FA to fulfil Martin Glenn’s words is to use basic common sense when addressing football supporter issues.
WEMBLEY FLAG BAN
After getting consent from their club to take a supporter-funded giant surfer flag to Wembley, over 200 Aston Villa fans raised £3000 to produce a surfer flag that met Wembley’s health and safety and size regulations.
The surfer though has since been banned by Wembley simply because it contains the name of the opposition, despite the name only being used because Villa happen to be playing them in the final and it’s a necessary part of the design.
The flag is a direct appropriation of the infamous Sex Pistols album and reads ‘Never mind the Arsenal here’s the Aston Villa’.
While there’s a slight edge of humour there, it’s not disrespectful in the slightest to Arsenal fans, as the intention behind the flag was to announce to the world with some bravado that Villa are back!
'Football fans have now become nothing more than the controlled atmosphere decoration to help sell the TV product.'
We had asked the FA for the rules and a risk assessment of this flag going to Wembley, but no such evidence was ever presented to us.
“It isn't offensive, isn't discriminatory nor is it inflammatory,” says the Football Supporter Federation. “This banner should be allowed into Wembley.”
While a handful of Wembley and club marketing staff and even some fans might not get the reference to the internationally iconic album cover, their lack of cultural awareness is not our problem, as there will be millions of people watching worldwide who will get it and as a result, enjoy our football art.
PREVIOUS POOR FLAG FORM
We are a victim of the kind of small-mindedness by Wembley that in 2011 made them think it was a good idea to charge Bradford City fans £2000 to surf their giant surfer flag that paid tribute to the 56 victims of the Bradford fire in 1986.
"Shame": FA tried to charge Bradford City fans £2,000 to display fire disaster tribute flag at Wembley
With football increasingly becoming a multi-billion pound soulless entertainment industry, football fans have now become nothing more than the controlled atmosphere decoration to help sell the TV product internationally.
At the FA Cup final, we were given a free flag from Wembley and a free scarf from the club to make the game look good for the TV viewers. We have to pay up to £120 each to fulfil our roles as puppets.
DON'T ACCEPT ITPlease sign this petition to say no to this over cautious and controlling approach to fans that is effects all supporters from every club in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you liked the design of our flag or not, you're welcome to your opinion, but the point is supporters are being censored for no good reason.
So please sign this petition to encourage the use of common sense by the FA.#GodSavetheFlag
PS - We were constantly told by a handful of football industry people what Arsenal fans would think of the flag. But did they actually consult any Arsenal fans? No.We did...
ARSENAL SUPPORTER GROUPS STATEMENT
The Arsenal Supporters' Trust, Black Scarf Movement, REDaction and The Gooner Fanzine, would all like to show support with Aston Villa fans over an issue they are having with their club and the FA. Villa fans have raised money to design and produce a crowd surfer banner for the FA Cup Final next Saturday. The banner design details have been provided to our groups - it is a humourous design, which name checks The Arsenal - and it appears it is the fact that our name is included on it which is causing the FA some concern.
We are flattered that the Villa fans consider us worthy of being included on their banner and see absolutely no reason why Arsenal fans should consider it anything other than what it is, a well designed idea with no intention to cause any offence or incite bad feeling between the fans.
In fact, we find it quite concerning that the FA should have such a poor opinion of Arsenal fans, feeling that a banner of this type would cause any kind of unrest or ill feeling from us towards our opponents. It would appear to be another example of the sanitisation of our game by the authorities; trying to remove any aspect of friendly rivalry between the clubs competing in their flagship game.
It seems a shame that the FA are spending so much time trying to stop Villa fans from bringing a banner - surely time and resource that could be better used looking at why the competing clubs are only allocated 51k tickets in a stadium holding 90k 'fans'. Or maybe investigating why so many tickets are being sold on the black market for upwards of £800, most of which have come from their purported 'Football Family'. Perhaps this is a matter of greater concern.
In the true spirit of football, we urge the FA to see sense and look forward to the Villa fans unveiling their banner at the final.
The Football Supporters Federation also lent there support to the flag. Their views were summarised in this article on their website - Never mind the Arsenal - FA unmoved on flag
Support in the media was immense...
Fox Sports - Aston Villa petition to get banned flag in Wembley (Video)
Daily Mirror - Aston Villa fans banned from taking giant flag to Wembley for bizarre reason 91% of readers say it should be allowed
Daily Telegraph - Aston Villa FA Cup final flag banned for including the word "Arsenal"Daily Mail - Aston Villa fans banned from bringing £3,000 flag into Wembley for FA Cup final as it features the name of opponents Arsenal
Evening Standard - 'Arsenal' the offending word as FA ban Aston Villa flag from Wembley FA Cup final
Birmingham Mail - Aston Villa v Arsenal: Villa supporters' giant FA Cup final flag BANNED from Wembley
The Sport Bible - The FA Ban Aston Villa Flag For Most Ridiculous Reason
The Independent - FA ban Aston Villa flag for the FA Cup final because it contains a reference to Arsenal