If you live outside of the UK are you really a true Arsenal fan?

@GoonerReverend reviews Arsenal fans far and near 

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There has been a lot of recent debate about what constitutes a ‘real’ Arsenal football fan & in some cases this has led to the discounting the army of supporters that live outside the UK. The notion of a tight geographical fanbase might have been the case 30-40 years ago when football support was still traditionally based on local communities and in part where you were born and who your Grandfather and Father supported but that all changed with the advent of globalised TV coverage and then subsequently the inception of the internet and social media.

This has been highlighted even more so in recent times with a number of incidents on social media involving former players, TV pundits, high profile fans and fan platforms questioning the passion, footballing knowledge & the right to support of the overseas fans. In one particular incident one leading member of a fan platform stated that you are not a real fan of the club unless you followed the team home & away every week. This of course is a ludicrous statement and was quite rightly shouted down by many fans both in the UK and overseas for being exactly what it was an ‘attention seeking’ comment.


In another case a sometime wannnabe media personality questioned an Indian Arsenal fan online stating you don’t go to games like me so you are not a real fan & as such have no right to comment. Then of course there was the ex-player going to town on the expat Brit now living in the States & calling into question his suitability to call himself a fan. Many of these fan comments are throw away lines used to taunt someone in the heat of debate or argument but unfortunately there are those in the minority who actually believe that they are superior or the only real fans because they attend games.


The truth is that all football fans cannot dictate where they are born and in many cases it is simply not possible to get from their home to the game every week because it is logistically & financially impossible. The over used argument from some UK based fans is that they pay two thousand pounds for a season ticket which entitles them to be recognised over and above any fan living outside of the UK. The fact is that a season ticket does not make you superior nor does it entitle you to act superior over any other fan and if anything it’s a privilege and should be enjoyed as such. No one forces you to pay for a season ticket you do it because you want to and because you can and also because AFC have afforded you the right to purchase one over a long list of names waiting for the same privilege.

The other well-worn cliché is that these foreign fans who may attend a game once or twice a year are nothing more than tourists and dilute the fan base and the atmosphere at the ground. On a recent trip back to London to watch a game an Asian friend of mine spent £1,300 and took 3 days away from work just to attend the Everton game. When I asked him if the trip was worth the money he said it was the most magical moment of his football supporting life & he will do it again in September. That is an awful lot of money to spend on one game of football as well as being away from work for 3 days but yet he said it was all worth it without question. On my recent business trip back to London I was in a pub listening to an Arsenal fan complaining to his mates about Asian fans taking pictures of themselves in the Emirates before kick-off then he proceeded to show a picture of them taking their picture on his mobile phone. When I pointed out to him that he was equally guilty of the same thing he was accusing them off he merely shrugged & said they are only tourists aren’t they. I am an expat Englishman from Fortis Green, Muswell Hill in North London. I grew up a Gooner thanks to my Grandad and Dad as was lucky enough to attend many games both home and away for many years as part of our family group. I was lucky enough to be born in the district in the UK to Arsenal loving parents and I was lucky enough to be able to attend games on a regular basis. Many fans I meet as I travel around the world have never seen Arsenal play live as distance and cost make it difficult for them to get to games in the UK yet they follow Arsenal week in week out. Some can only see Arsenal when they make one of their overseas tours which have become all the rage in recent years. In 2015 Arsenal played Everton at the Singapore National Stadium on their Asian tour and over 50,000 fans crammed in to watch their team play. The atmosphere was electric and the fans sang their hearts out for the entire evening & the place sounded like an English football ground. Many had waited years for this moment and when it finally arrived demand for tickets over the 2 days of games was frenetic with demand far outstripping supply.


In 2016 Arsenal travelled to Australia on another overseas tour and in the game my son attended there were over 70,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium to watch Arsenal take on Sydney FC. Again tickets were snapped up by the football loving public hungry to see their PL team in Action proving that Arsenal could sell out any stadium outside of the UK such is the following and appetite for the club by foreign fans… Football is such a global game these days and teams like Arsenal are global brands so these tours and games are essential for the clubs to stay in touch with their ever increasing global fan base.

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When Arsenal are playing in the mid-week European competition many fans around the world have to set their alarm clocks to get up at a ridiculous hour on a work day to watch the game. Social media and more specifically twitter has given us the ability to communicate directly with each other at stupid o clock and very often laugh at each other circumstance online. In my mind this is absolute support from the many fans who live in the far flung corners of the world where the Arsenal and its stars are idolised. They don’t have to get out of bed to watch the game before getting ready for a full day’s work but they do because of their love and absolute commitment to their team.



The days of Arsenal being a local North London club solely supported by local North London fans is well and truly over. Those days ended with my Grandfather & Fathers era. Many of the fans calling out overseas fans as tourists and not real Arsenal fans are not from North London either so it’s all a bit hypocritical as well as being completely unnecessary. Arsenal have over 12 million fans on the social media platform twitter and the majority of them live outside the UK. If you are one of the fans lucky enough to be able to attend Arsenal games regularly then you should count yourself lucky that you are able to attend in person because you were fortunate enough to be born in the UK. In my 20 years of traveling the world for business I have met Arsenal fans from all walks of life from all corners of the globe and I have found them to be as passionate, loyal and knowledgeable as any Arsenal fan in the UK and to brand them as no-knowledge tourists who don’t understand the game is insulting, inaccurate and ignorant. Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has a capacity of just over 60,000 & and getting a seat at a game is only available to the very few… Just because one person lives in Manila in the Philippines it doesn’t make them any less of an Arsenal Fan than the person living in Islington or Haringey.


Overseas Arsenal fans deserve admiration and respect because they literally have to go that extra mile to support the team many of us take for granted.

Hear endeth the first lesson 

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97 comments on “If you live outside of the UK are you really a true Arsenal fan?

  1. Excellent Phil – good read and from the heart

    Liked by 4 people

  2. What a morning – an orgy of quality writing, one piece from Phil and one piece from Shotta within two hours of each another – a man of my age is not equipped for all that literary action. Shotts will be up on Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written article…the truth is that whatever about the club currently being in the doldrums as the final days of the Arsene reign come to an inevitable end , tickets for most home games are very difficult to obtain for overseas fans and the club don’t really cater adequately for that demand…

    From Derek in Liam Brady territory

    Up the Gunners

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Good Morning,

    I liked the Post and its calmly intelligent appraisal of what makes a ‘good’ or ‘superior’ Arsenal fan, colloquially known as a Gooner.

    My disappointment is that it should have been necessary because of some nonsense over who makes an elite fan based solely on a geographical baize.

    As it happens, I am a ‘foreign’ born fan, who has also lived in the UK for a substantial period of time, and, for all intents and purposes, I have supported the Gunners since childhood.

    What to make of this rather artificial schism – at least in the minds of some – and can only imagine this has arisen from the physical attendance at games as opposed to switching on a TV to watch with a bevy or two.

    Let’s get straight to it. My late father having worked in the UK chose Arsenal to support, and eventually managed to get two season tickets, which he cherished for many years, and which I eventually ‘inherited’ and kept until my work took me away from the UK at about the same time as we moved from Highbury to the Emirates.

    I carried on watching Arsenal on the media available, when possible, from various parts of the world, and since my return to the UK I have been trying to get season tickets again, without luck. I watch all Arsenal games on Sky/BT — and occasionally manage to get to home games.

    What does that make me? Inferior to both the wholly ‘home grown’ fan, and to the exclusively overseas fan? No doubt someone will tell me.

    I can say there is a distinct difference to physically going to games or watching on TV – and mostly that is down to the excitement of getting up in the morning buzzing about getting down to London with my mates; mingling with all the other fans streaming towards the stadium; stopping off for a beverage or two; popping in to pick up a newer scarf, and then to clamber up the steps to find our way to the seats. Bliss.

    Watching on TV the intensity is exactly the same, the outcome equally important, the ecstasy of a win, or the disappointment of a loss equally hurtful.
    But the return home via the pub, having a laugh about Spuds fans, and to generally carouse with thousands of other fans making their way home after a win, or to mope and commiserate with them if things did not go well – that is missing.

    Either way the experience of the fan is exactly the same.

    One last thing that is different, not that it changes the views expressed above, is that in the magnificent stadium, you get a panoramic view that not even the best TV pictures can give you, and it makes thing feel different, vibrant, and your roars of approval at a goal score, a near miss, or disagreement with refereeing decisions, is enveloped in the stunning roar of thousands of others. You are as one.

    The other difference is that ‘offsides’, ‘fouls’ etc are not as obvious as when sitting at home, or in a pub, watching, as you cannot get the repeated TV replays of close up TV analysis.

    There is something extra special about actually going to a game for the all-round experience, but I am happy to go home and watch a TV replay, and when I have been abroad – getting a TV programme that is showing the Arsenal games is like winning the lottery — but does either experience make me feel superior in anyway to those watching on TV? No, of course not, the thought does not even arise! That is just stupid flim flam.

    Gooners all over the world love the Arsenal – winning or losing – and that is the key to being a supporter !!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. As one of the o/seas fans, thanks for that Phil. I probably saw more games at Highbury (and Newcastle, Newport, Preston etc) than most of today’s fans but health problems mean i’ll never see The Grove…but going to my grave dressed in my gooner gear will be no hardship.
    Now can somebody tell me what was this game I watched early this morning…
    I’m seriously time warped.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You don’t know how much supporters arsenal have in Ethiopia. For example I read your article when I tried to read about my lovely club arsenal scarifying my lunch time by taking away some minutes.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. “Foreign” eh ? I’ve always known you were a wrong’un Henry

    Liked by 1 person

  8. They are messing with your head Ian – it is probably the Russians

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Since the start of Positvely Arsenal we have had 1,467 views from readers in Ethiopia Abdu. There is an army of you in Addis.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Anyone who says they are Arsenal fans,are just that – However there is a marked difference between Arsenal fans and Arsenal Supporters .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. anicoll

    Whaaaaat? You guys can identify where we view and post from?! I thought that was for the likes of Google and Mi6.

    There is much I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Emirates and Arsenal have announced a five-year extension to their long-running shirt partnership. This will see Emirates branding feature on the shirts and training kit of all of our teams until the end of the 2023/2024 season.

    It is the largest sponsorship deal ever signed by the club and will see the shirt partnership with Emirates, which started in 2006, run to at least 18 years.

    Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: “Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport. This mutual commitment is testimony to the strength and depth of our unique relationship. Emirates are again demonstrating their great belief in our approach and ambition and their significantly increased investment will help us continue to compete for trophies and bring more success to the club and our fans around the world.

    “Emirates is a great partner for Arsenal – a world-class brand with a truly global reach. The airline plays a significant role in our ambitions to extend our influence and following around the world. The new deal, extending our shirt partnership until 2024, underlines how much both organisations value and benefit from the relationship.”

    As part of the extended deal, we will fly on Emirates’ award-winning planes on pre-season tours. Emirates will retain marketing rights to develop campaigns and initiatives around the world. Our home will continue to be known as Emirates Stadium up to 2028, as part of the extension agreed in 2012.

    Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said: “Arsenal’s strong appeal and influence around the globe, combined with their ambitions as a club, make them an ideal partner for Emirates, with values that reflect ours as a brand. As a long-standing supporter of football, we are passionate about the game and are a proud partner to the team.

    “As a business, we are hugely committed to supporting sports all over the world and our relationship with Arsenal is no different. Our partnership with Arsenal Football Club is a great combination of two truly global brands and we’re very pleased to have extended this relationship for five more years – connecting fans from around the world with one of the greatest teams in the world.”

    Emirates first signed its sponsorship agreement with the club in 2004, providing the airline with naming rights to the stadium until 2021 and a shirt sponsorship that began in the 2006/2007 season.

    Copyright 2018 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/emirates-and-arsenal-sign-record-deal#86k8mvgqZIjK6kwG.99

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/emirates-and-arsenal-sign-record-deal#hv8fCl9l2lkcrWIY.99


  13. ha ha ha ha, Emirates extending the shirt deal is another slap in the mouth for some of the ITK’s, over the last couple of days, a few big account ITK’s were spouting shit about Emirates not being interested in new shirt deal with Arsenal and that next season would be their last. Now only two days later Arsenal and Emirates sign the biggest shirt deal in the clubs history (said to be £40M a season for 5 seasons).

    not sure if as suggested in the media, that AFC will also now be able to have different sponsors on the sleeves.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. the Arsenal stadium is sponsored by Emirates till 2028, meaning we are likely to at the very least see them renew the shirt sponsorship deal for the kit when this new deal runs out in 2024.


  15. In a previous life I was David Callan

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ed

    Wonder if that rules out the sleeve sponsorship that was being talked about this weekend. If so, guess it’s factored into price they paid.

    If not, other deal will provide some more cash.

    Then the actual kit deal coming up.

    Hopefully all give a real boost to finances and close gap on those deals of other clubs which came after and dwarfed ours. The obvious consolation was knowing our time would come around again in due course.

    Club have absolutely no choice other than to enthusiastically pursue extra commercial income, so good luck to them.

    Let’s hope CL situation hasn’t had too much of an impact.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Has anyone been on ACLF recently? Are there any of the old guard left?


  18. just a word on our sponsorship deals, as far as I know, we normally have clauses in the big sponsorship deals, Stadium, Kit sponsor, Kit maker, that the current sponsor has a match the offer clause, where they can if they want renew the deal if they match the best offer another company puts on the table.


  19. Rich that remains to be seen, maybe Emirates will be on the sleeves too, anyway its said that the sleeve sponsor would bring in maybe up to £10M a year at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Supporting from Nigeria

    well written article

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Thanks Punxsutawney Phil. (Apologies but Groundhog Day used to be the favourite soundbite of the moaners)

    As with many other barriers to fall, this argument is basically running on its last legs and they know it too. Occasionally somebody will mouth this off for gaining some attention, or offering themselves some solace in the face of a disappointing life. But this thing is done and dusted.

    For me, Arsenal were the club I chose. Not because we were the most successful or the most brash, (Liverpool and ManU) but because the club’s ethos was more resonant with me. Now I don’t know if that was more due to Arsene Wenger or Arsenal themselves, but the fact is that this was the club that played a replay for a cup game that we had won because it was won by a fully legal, but unsporting goal. I cannot imagine any other big club doing that (nor the authorities letting it happen now)

    We play football the right way (technical football, and fair football), we exhibit loyalty to players and treat them as people first and foremost. We have a long term manager who’s shown loyalty to us, and us to him. A manager who says he doesn’t judge on the basis of nationality, a manager who says it is about winning but never about winning at all costs, and we’ve paid our own way for the slow climb (and occasional stumble) up the footballing ladder. Wenger and Arsenal often talk about our club values (the whole meaning of a CLUB stems from this)

    For me, the most important trait of a fan is a respect for these values. I don’t say those who would say foreigners aren’t fans, aren’t Arsenal fans themselves. But they certainly aren’t getting the full value from their belonging to this club, and maybe that’s what they are actually upset about.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Callan and Lonely
    What a double act
    They don’t get the respect and deference they should.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Henry B

    You rank somewhere below me in the Arsenal fandom stakes since by virtue of your size, you need to take up two seats (vertically if not horizontally) and so are two season tickets (as opposed to my one) below the requirement to be a true, bleeding red and white corpuscles, Arsenal fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. shard you mention club ethos, well I’ve seen a claim on the kit sponsorship that Arsenal were offered more from a betting company and refused it out of hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. media reporting that the emirates deal is only second to Man Utds £47M a year deal, in the BPL, at around £40M, but I have seen claims that our deal is actually as much as £45M a year.


  26. Talking about Global appeal.


    Is there ever a benign reason for hiding ownership like that? With former Sky figure thrown in to boot.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. ed

    If true about the betting company, I am glad. We do have a betting partner (or used to) Ladbrokes I think? But there is a difference between the access given to a minor partner and a full on shirt sponsor, and in the message this sends out.

    The difference in reported figures is probably down to bonuses around CL and title wins etc. There might even be some variance because we’re signing on early instead of waiting for the then current market rate and if this involves cash up front etc. Maybe the no. of shirts sold affects the value as well. Lots of possible variables.

    Whatever, the details aren’t likely to come out in full, and I’ve already seen someone having a moan because we didn’t sell the training kit sponsor right separately.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Shard, some reports that deal was renewed now, so that AFC can have a sponsor on the sleeve from next season, with something around £10M a season to be gained by that deal.

    The big thing about these new deals is not that it will really help our transfer funds, more that it gives us real scope to improve wages.
    wages can only increase by 7% year on year from the new TV money, but all other sponsorship increase money, can be put to wage increase

    Liked by 1 person

  29. and Shard, the details of the amounts will only come out in the wash, as in they will be revealed year on year, in the accounts.

    by the way the six month accounts are due for release end of this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Loneley “Mr, Callan, you hit Arthur?”
    Callan” Yes Loneley, and he died of it”
    Loneley “Cor blimey Mr.Callan”
    My favourite exchange of any TV program ……….. ever

    Liked by 1 person

  31. ACL Soccer@ACL_Soccer
    17h17 hours ago

    Kit supplier negotiations for 2019/20 seem to be between Adidas, Nike, Under Armour as well as Puma #afc #arsenal


  32. Arsenal U23’s are away to LCFC U23’s this evening, and a win would see the young Gooners go top of the table, a 3 goal win by LCFC would see them go top.

    the game is live on LCFC website. you have to register to view.


  33. it seems Arsenal will be wearing our home shirts in the CC final on Sunday, but with Red shorts, as city will be in full home kit, blue shirts and white shorts


  34. I had a look at the old site this morning George – I occasionally look in – a few of the the old self-harmers still propping up the bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Mr, Pedantic, I occasionally have a look at ACLF, having stopped going there regularly because I was fed up with the abuse, both of me, when I was trying to be positive and, more importantly, of AW, the club and the players, and although the main article continues to be of a high quality (sorry if I use AW’s favourite word) the subsequent banter has not changed.

    it is interesting to note how many bloggers I used to see there comment now regularly on this and other more user friendly blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Hiya, Shard, you rascal,

    Seats at Highbury were ‘cosy’ for people like me — but the Emirates are not so bad — but you are right — being tall, 20 stone, and ugly is something of a handicap, in many different ways. lol

    Did I understand you correctly that you now have a season ticket? Are you living permanently in the UK now? Next season we must try to meet up before a game, maybe with Terry, Ant ‘n Dec and Rasper?

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I really must learn to write better.

    No Henry, I did not mean I have a season ticket. I joked that to be considered a true fan, I need one, but you need two, making me a better fan than you. Yes, I am a poet and I know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Oiii Meerkat you plagiarist! (Secretly pleased smiley)

    Liked by 1 person

  39. The aspect of the fan debate that most distresses is the sense that it often seems to carry ultra-rightwing associations. But then I suppose it is good to celebrate diversity in all its forms so perhaps we need something to balance the liberal prawn-sandwich brigade.
    I would love to have enough disposable cash, not to mention disposable time, to go to matches. I suspect that like me many love the Arsenal passionately, but are simply unable to do anything more than follow from afar.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Was it in inverted commas? That’s me indicating to all that it’s lifted

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Indeed it was George, and I was only kidding.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. No. I only sneak around on Twitter. I don’t have an account, but I still get to see people’s timelines and trending news. It’s a good way to see some of the good and the bad of twitter without going down the rabbit hole.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. I’ve been called an arsehole before now, but never a rabbit hole.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Arsenal to wear red shorts in CC final on sunday


  45. Arsenal FC
    ‏Verified account @Arsenal
    3m3 minutes ago

    #AFCU23 are away at Leicester tonight – and will go top of the @PremierLeague 2 table with a win

    Here’s how they line up: Iliev, Osei-Tutu, Medley, Mavropanos, Bola, Smith Rowe, Dasilva, Dragomir, Fortune, Amaechi, John-Jules

    Subs: Keto, Daley-Campbell, Ballard, GIlmour, Eyoma


  46. if you want to watch the u23 game register free here



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