Much is made of how Arsenal always “do things the right way”. From the way they welcome and cater to teams visiting the Emirates, to the way they tend to keep any and all transfer discussions out of the public eye, the board and the front office have always been models of decorum and have been examples for the rest of the league on many fronts.
Which is what made Sir Chips Keswick’s early exit from the Crystal Palace match on Monday so shocking.
I mean, don’t get me wrong - it ultimately doesn’t matter. Maybe he had a train to catch. Maybe he needed to get his cat to the vet. Maybe he was really hungry and Tasty Jerk was about to close. There could have been a million different reasons he’d leave early.
But, given how Arsenal are doing right now, and how the club’s fortunes are being received by the fans, it’s easy to read Keswick’s early departure as a “sod it, I can’t stand this any more” sort of gesture. Particularly given, again, that Arsenal as an organization aren’t known for doing things like this.
Is this a sign that the board is getting fed up? Hard to tell from this isolated, context-free incident. But it made other clubs sit up and take notice:
football etiquette is for the chairman or senior representatives of a visiting club not only to stay until the end but then shake hands with the host, win, lose or draw.
One Football League chairman said: ‘It was astonishing to see him just up and leave. It’s just not done. Arsenal, known for their high standards, should be very embarrassed at such a lack of basic courtesy.’
Is the frustration we’re all feeling is also being felt at board level? As above, I can’t say for sure. It’s not great that the board is breaching accepted etiquette, though, that much I do know.