Things are not rosy at the Emirates. Falling to their bitter rivals on Sunday, Arsenal fans bade goodbye to St Totteringham’s Day celebrations, and also see the team’s top four aspirations rapidly evaporating. Anger and frustration are reaching fever pitch. Lack of results or quality performances are stoking the flames of protest as many rush to lay the blame at one man’s feet: Arsene Wenger.
As hashtag Wenger Out marches grow louder, it means one thing to to many in North London: big business.
“Quite frankly, I’ve never known a fanbase to have so much disposable income,” said Rodney Dankens, owner of Big Letter Projections. The New Barnet entrepeneur made a good penny last night renting out the equipment for the latest display of distemper by Gooners: projecting Wenger Out (no hashtag) onto Emirates stadium in the night.
“One would’ve thought, what with all the shirts these chaps buy, they’d be tapped out. But this is one group who don’t let money be an object, it seems.”
During the few months that hashtag Wenger Out has gained real traction, local economists have estimated the protests have generated £55 million for local economies or, roughly translated, the price of a slightly better player than Alexis Sanchez. Professional banner makers, pubs, areal advertisers, street vendors and even craft shops have noticed this uptick in profits.
“It’s been brilliant,” according to banner artist Jules McGravny, who has been the mastermind behind over 46 banners for the protest. “Sure, one can get a little bored doing the same words over and over, but it gives me a chance to modify the fonts to help highlight people’s issues. Some are on a high horse so I like to use Ariel but there’s a real Comic Sans to a lot of feelings I get from the protests.”
But, Jules doesn’t like to only play one side. “I also did the one with them dogs. Y’know, the South American guy has them. Cute dogs. Felt good to make one for the other side; palate cleansing, y’know?”
Nor is Wenger Out a local phenomena. As Arsenal are a global club, it’s only natural signs have begun popping up across the world. Jules even has had a few international orders. “America, Australia, a few Wenger In for a Paris group. At first, I thought it was novelty but, either way, I’ve never had such a good platform for my art.”
Across the pond, in the cold barren wasteland of Minnesota, Kathy (declined to give last name) has noticed a strange trend at her shop, Crafty Obsessions, located down the street from TCF Bank Stadium, home of Minnesota United of The MLS.
“I just can’t keep white poster paper or black sharpies in stock. They’re literally flying off the shelves.” A coincidence after the first Wenger Out sign popped up at an MNUFC game or the start of a US trend. “I really don’t know who that is,” Kathy responded.
However, the financial effects are not all from the Out side. The counter movement, hashtag Wenger In, has also seemed to generate business. Earlier in March, dueling plane banners flew over The Hawthorns. Birmingham pilot Francis Jeffers flew the pro-Wenger plan.
“Gotta love those traveling fans. They at least know to come and spend money local, not hire some London hot shot flyboy to make their point. I wudda done both had the Out boys asked.” But Jeffers isn’t letting one snub keep him from thinking bigger. “Banners are a nice gesture but I’ve been pitching smoke messages to both sides. Flight path is pretty easy with the banner but you know what kind of airspace you have to pay for Wenger Out [or In] in smoke clouds? These London gits surely are good for it too!”
When ask if he had opinion on the man himself, Jeffers said, “I dunno, seems like an alright guy. Won more than most managers, hasn’t he?”
It hasn’t been all good news. Charles Deforester, a self-professed master scarf crafter, recently opened up shop near the Emirates early on in the protests. Deforester was the main manufacturer behind the Green and Gold scarves that defined the anti-Glazer protests from Manchester United fans in 2010 and 2016. However, the trend hasn’t extended to Arsenal.
“Figured it was a ripe plum, yeah? All these London boys have been running around in red and white too long, though I could make a killing. Bunch of tossers, though; all want their shiny banners and bloody planes.” He’s tried over seven designs, including a green and blue one harking back to the 1982/83 away kit and a purple and black one resembling the infamous third kit of 2007/08. Both are emblazoned with bold gold letters “#WengerOut”. “Figured they’d go nuts over the hashtag, too. It’s what kids like, yeah? But if these things don’t sell, it’s back to Manchester for me and thousands down the drain.”
By far, though, the biggest benefactors of the Wenger protests have been the food industry. The mass gatherings, weather permitting, have been an absolute boon for those slinging beer and pies. C.M.O.T. Dibbler has been most supportive of these particular instances of public protest. “Have you any idea how many pies and sausages an angry mob can eat? I tell you, I can’t stock enough for this lot. Don’t even need to cut me own throat on the price, neither. Down right ravenous for change... and meat... ish. Anyway, I hope this protest never ends. I’m already making money and it’s April!”
Either way, be it a meat pie or banners that fly, hashtag Wenger Out protests have been excellent business. While fans rage back and forth over what should be the future of the beleaguered Arsenal manager, this group of merchants are all of one mind; they hope for a contract extension, especially, for their profit margins.
EDITOR’S NOTE: No, it’s not THAT Francis Jeffers. The individual quoted above is of no relation to the maligned Arsenal striker, who remains whereabouts unknown. We’re still looking.