Opinion

Fan-owned pages on YouTube are parading obscene, cartoon-like characters and packaging them as ‘real supporters’, and they need to be kicked off the internet.

Social media platforms are centred on instant, fleeting gratification. One of the biggest, Arsenal Fan TV (now known as AFTV media due to the club wanting nothing to do with them) is close to reaching 1 million subscribers.

That’s one million Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea fans that swarm to the comments sections to ridicule these ‘personalities’ when Arsenal lose.

They have made z-list ‘celebrities’ out of the average supporter and the formula couldn’t be simpler: the more outrageous the personality and rhetoric, the more successful they are.

In the internet world, numbers are everything, so AFTV cherry-pick their most controversial pawns and prod them with a stick. They wind up the fans at their most vulnerable – a heavy defeat – until they embark on another angry tirade, which draws in millions of viewers.

It’s easy money for these guys; all it takes is a camera, and microphone and they’re making pure profit from the advertisement revenue on their clickbait videos.

THEY HOUNDED OUT ARSENE WENGER

Certain fans on AFTV led the witch hunt to get Arsene Wenger sacked, with constant tirades, and even attacking the character of the man, which was then broadcasted to millions of people. Players have come out and said they watch it, so there’s no reason why Arsene or members of the board would’ve watched. Surely the upper echelons would’ve realised how damaging it is to the brand when these videos go viral. Some have already laid into Unai Emery – before his first season is even over.

Unfortunately, we have to live in a world where some of these people are going on to forge careers out of fan channel appearances. One loudmouthed buffoon who screams “BOOM” after every other word, landed roles in Storage Hunters UK and Celebrity Big Brother.

Granted the term ‘celebrity’ is used as loosely as his grip on reality.

IS IT REALLY FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

The fan channels argue that they’re giving the regular fan a voice, but at what cost? If all this supposed ‘voice’ does is open the fan contributors up to swathes of ridicule, it isn’t really benefitting anyone. The culture it has spawned is particularly demonising for regular fans too. Channels like AFTV give their supporters a bad name.

What they don’t realise is that ‘real’ fans may have something more worthwhile to add to the debate, other than screaming ‘BOOM’ at the top of their lungs.

CHANGE IN FOOTBALL MEDIA

The landscape of football content is changing, with newspapers’ revenues dropping faster than Mo Salah in the box. These ‘influencers’ who command armies of followers have more of a draw than some legitimate news outlets. But the way it’s packaged needs to be better.

There are endless opportunities for fans to express themselves in a more civilised, constructive fashion, and that is being done by podcasters/YouTubers who don’t need to attack people to succeed. To be fair to AFTV, there are instances where they sit down one-on-one with fans, away from the testosterone-fuelled environment of a football game, but these videos are far less successful. And it does feel like that is filler content until the next ‘I’D RATHER PLAY SOMEONE WITH ONE LEG THAN MUSTAFI’ rant releases.

But who is to blame – the business savvy fan channels that are tapping into our primitive desires to watch people making fools of themselves? Or is it just the human race – the reality TV junkies – that need their own heads checked?