There were no candlelight marches or any such hollow gestures that made little sense. The most evident and present factor was the raw outrage from Gooners from all over India over the sheer ignorance that the premier sports channel had meted out to the Arsenal fans of the Indian sub continent. The anger spilled out all over cyberspace, from Twitter to Facebook to blogs and online petitions.
The whole thing started on March 19th 2012. There were four games scheduled on March 22nd for the English Premier League (EPL): Manchester City vs Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City, Arsenal vs Everton and Liverpool vs Queensark Rangers. Out of these three, ESPN-Star decided that they would Live telecast only the Spurs vs Stoke and the Man City vs Chelsea game, while delayed live telecasting the other two. And this triggered the anger. The Indian Arsenal fans group Bangalore Gunners started it, with various other groups and fans taking it up. Apart from on the social networks, Indian Arsenal fans took up the issue on even online petition platforms, gathering signatures asking for people to sign a petition to force ESPN-Star to live telecast all Arsenal games live in the future. The petition has 660 signatures the time this post was published.
But how much of this outrage is warranted? All of it, I would say. There are two TV channels that broadcast EPL games in India, ESPN and Star Sports, which are part of the same group making it ESPN-Star Sports. Apparently the decision on which games are to be broadcast live are taken months in advance, long before the season starts. And therein lies the problem. What is the criteria used for deciding which games are to be telecast live? Obviously it depends on company policies and whims and fancies of the staff, advertising options, importance of the game and so on. If that is to taken into account, the games of the big five – Arsenal, Man U, Man C, Liverpool and Chelsea have to be given precedence. But Spurs and Stoke? How many Stoke and Spur fans are there in India? Definitely not more than the ones mentioned above, right? And so what prompted ESPN-Star to take this decision?
We don’t know. But the only thing that we know is that Arsenal fans, Gooners, or Gunners if you will, in India, have been deprived of watching Arsenal games. And Arsenal fans in India run into the hundreds of thousands, much more than insignificant teams like Spurs and Stoke put together. To put it in perspective, the Arsenal India Supporters fan page on Facebook itself has more than 10000 fans. And while all these fans were eagerly waiting for the live telecast of the match, came the networks’ total unwarranted and senseless decisions. That is what they were protesting about! To open the nertworks’ eyes to the large support and fan base that Arsenal has in India, and to make sure that they get what is rightfully theirs and only what they deserve!
Come On You Gooners!!
A big thank you to all the people who signed the petitions and all the sweet people on Twitter who helped to further the cause with their invaliable retweets and signatures!