“It doesn’t reflect real fans,” said Glodi Kweme, watching AFTV record after attending his first Arsenal game. “People use it to say something outlandish so they can get known.” Another fan, Jordan Louis, called it “clout-chasing.”
More troublingly, there is a belief within the club that what is good for Arsenal and what is good for AFTV are two very different things. “It is so wrong for someone who claims to be a fan and their success is fed off a failure,” defender Héctor Bellerín said at an event at the Oxford Union last year. “How can that be a fan?”
Bellerín acknowledged he has no problem with “people hustling, trying to make money their way,” but some within the club’s hierarchy disagree. To AFTV’s regulars, however, what they say on the channel is simply a response to what is happening to the team. “It reflects the club,” Troopz said. “When things were good last year, nobody talked about how we were praising the team.”
To the channel’s critics, though, including those inside Arsenal, it is the other way around. They contend the atmosphere at the Emirates is volatile and fractious, placing the manager under quick, intense pressure and — in Emery’s case — eventually precipitating his end, in part because of the performative outrage on YouTube. Nobody is quite sure which is the chicken, and which is the egg.
Time to Go
About 30 minutes after last Saturday’s match, there is barely space to move between the Bergkamp statue and an adjacent merchandising store when a cheer goes up and Lyle appears. It has been a bad day for Arsenal, a late Lacazette equalizer rescuing a solitary point at home. That should mean a good day for content.
Lyle is a good interviewer: He is patient, rarely interjects, and allows his subjects to range. He will publish 20 videos from this recording session, none of them more than five minutes long, but he does not rush anyone. They are here to talk. He gives the impression he is happy to listen.