After watching this video I felt a response was required, as Matz made a number of comments about the Black Scarf Movement which are flat out untrue. So in the interests of fairness it's only right that we get to set the record straight.
When questioned on AISA's apparent reluctance to appear in the media and engage with supporters, Paul admitted that AISA recognised that their media work is lacking, but it was because AISA is a "voluntary organisation" and didn't get as much time to do anything on this front. What I would say is that the AST and BSM are also voluntary organisations, with no paid committee members - it's just that we put in the required effort in terms of marketing and communications.
He went on to add that AISA has 11,000 members and ran an annual survey (for the record which was left open for four months) which attracted 1,500 responses. At 7:23 Matz declares "We are the largest Arsenal supporters' organisation" which is incorrect. The BSM now has over 19,000 members and has around 40,000 followers across social media, compared to AISA's 600 or so followers. Also in contrast our summer survey this year received 11,543 responses.
At 7:43 Paul states "My view is that the BSM only came into existence because of the playing performance, not because of anything to do with ticket prices or anything else... and I can go into that if you want to. I know that they don't see that as their main objective now, but if Arsenal had been winning trophies at the Emirates Stadium, the BSM would have never come into existence".
A truly shocking lie. Anyone who's followed us since our inception at the end of 2009 will know that our focus is nothing to do with what happens on the pitch; we came about because a growing number of fans were feeling disillusioned with, disenfranchised from, and completely taken for granted by the club. That their loyalty was being ignored through high ticket prices, from the sterile stadium atmosphere, from a Board out of touch with fans, and so on.
I would assume that Paul is very much aware of the background to the BSM, but has tried to undermine it. Because another key reason why we were set up is that large numbers of fans back then felt they had no voice; that no existing supporters' group properly represented them. That there was no organisation willing to stand up and say it like it is. The comments we received were that the groups and forums back then simply went along with Arsenal's 'lip service'.
Matz then talks about price rises at Highbury and that fans didn't complain because we were winning trophies. Not entirely true as I can recall many conversations in the Clock End about prices going up, how bad it was and what price would force fans to walk away.
On 18:35 Matz goes on "Producing leaflets comparing us to Bayern Munich. Nice leaflet, but you know, we're in different leagues and different circumstances". I agree, it was a "nice leaflet" but to dismiss it in such a way, completely ignoring the context, is poor. Many will remember that particular handout, which we produced for the 2013 Arsenal AGM. Based on Top Trumps cards, it stated that Ivan Gazidis had (on more than one occasion) used Bayern Munich as a barometer, comparing us with them... so we ran a true comparison. What we also said was that if we really wanted to emulate the success of Bayern Munich, then change was needed at boardroom level - with true Arsenal men coming on board, including individuals who'd actually played for the club.
Overall as a marketing tool to raise awareness the handout was very successful. It achieved nationwide press coverage and was all over social media for the following few days. Feedback was extremely positive so for Matz to dismiss it and ignore the key messages is either sour grapes or complete ignorance.
Around the 22:40 mark, again Paul mentions price rises at Highbury and states "You didn't say a word, BSM didn't say a word, nobody said a word". Correct the BSM didn't say a word, because we didn't exist back then. What I do know is that AISA sure as hell didn't say a word, and it was this silence from a group apparently campaigning for fans that led to us coming together.
To give this article some overall context, we were originally invited to take part in this video together with representatives from other Arsenal supporters' groups. We were then informed that Paul Matz wanted to appear on the show as a sole supporters' group representative - because he didn't want it to turn into an argument with bitching back and forth. So he took this opportunity, unopposed, to have a fair few digs at the BSM. I feel that a leading figure of AISA doing such a thing is beyond poor. He may plead innocence and say that was his honest view, but I'm not buying it for a second. He knew damn well what he was doing.
Closing this up, I'd say that the BSM since forming at the end of 2009 has gone through a lot of effort (which those running the group have contributed in their spare time) to raise awareness of supporters' issues. Our marketing and communications have been designed to get people to sit up and take notice; sure some may not like our forthright style but to become the largest Arsenal supporters' group in such a short space of time suggests our message resonates with fans around the country. In fact we are recognised by the key supporters' associations in England and we're in discussions with groups at other clubs, who want to work with us on joint campaigns to tackle the greed which is taking over our game.
What are we about? A better deal for fans - because without the fans, football is nothing.
The BSM: up front for fans of The Arsenal.
Up The Gunners.