In 2007 one of the new initiatives the club introduced was a “singing section” located on level 7 in the corner between the Leazes End and the Milburn Stand.
It was a move welcomed by many people who were frustrated with the lack of atmosphere and the prolonged silences in the ground during the match.
Personally I think it was one of the best things that the current regime have given us since Mike Ashley took over which is why I, and many others, were angry when it was announced that the “singing section” was to be no more come the start of the season. A strange move given the popularity of Level 7 amongst the fans who frequented it aswell as the fans who were that the vocal rapscallions were tucked up in the corner out of the way.
The club cited two main reasons for the move. Firstly that they were required to extend the away section in order to fit in with F.A guidelines. Now I’m sorry but I don’t buy this one bit, Arsenal’s Stadium has a 60,000 capacity yet they only give 3000 seats to visiting supporters. Our away capacity was 3000 all last season but it has been increased to 4000 for this campaign, why do we have to give more seats to opposition fans when Arsenal don’t? I smell a rat.
Secondly they said due to unprecedented demand they would be increasing the family area by 1,500 seats, which if you saw the amount of empty seats there against Fulham, you would agree is baffling to say the least.
The reason they were moved, in my opinion, is simple really. They were giving Ashley too much abuse and he spat his dummy out.
In order to try and congregate together for the start of this season the majority asked to have their seat moved to Leazes Level 4 which had the lowest percentage of season ticket holders in the ground.
Despite the club announcing those that were being moved from the Leazes corner would have first priority on choosing where else to sit in the ground, they rejected those that tried to move to Level 4 because Level 4 is where they put groups of people, like stag and birthday groups for example.
Now I don’t know about you but I saw plenty of empty spaces in Level 4 for both the Arsenal and Fulham games, anyway, carrying on…
They then tried to relocate to the Strawberry Corner (South-East) and while a good few hundred managed to get tickets there, a lot of people simply chose not to renew or were dispersed around the ground.
That however is not the end of the issue. Come the Arsenal game there were lots of reports of friction between fellow fans in the South East Corner due to those that were relocated there wishing to stand throughout the game.
People that have had season tickets in that areas for years were unhappy with those that have moved from the Leazes Corner standing in front of them and obscuring their view, which I totally sympathise with.
The club have now issued a letter to those that were persistently standing throughout the game and warned them that if they continue to do so then they will face sanctions and ultimately the loss of their season ticket.
Now I’m not going to get in a debate on the pro’s and con’s of standing at modern football stadia, but what I will say is that the FA allow standing at matches that take place in League 1 or below. For some reason the FA believe that the worse the quality of football is, the safer it is to stand, which is absurd because thousands of fans stand without any issues in the Bundesliga.
This entire episode should never have happened and as a result Ashley has not only silenced the fans, he’s made them turn against each other. The simple solution would be to resurrect the singing area so people that wish to stand and sing all game can do so without spoiling the match day experience for others.
Ashley 1-0 The Fans