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Arsenal pin hopes on Lacazette


Transfer Rater: Varane to Man United

Football Whispers

Transfer Rater: Nabil Fekir to Arsenal

Football Whispers
 By Tony Mabert

Arsenal fans who want Arsene Wenger out beware - 'Wexit' means 'Wexit'

Stevie Nicol reflects back on his coaching days after Alexis Sanchez's recent falling out with Arsene Wenger.

It's about "taking back control," reclaiming sovereignty from a European power structure many feel has outlived its usefulness and outstayed its welcome. No, this isn't Brexit... this is Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger.

Saturday's anti-Wenger demonstration ahead of the 5-0 FA Cup win over non-league Lincoln City -- the second to be staged outside the Emirates Stadium this week, which included a 'Wexit' banner -- was the latest manifestation of a hitherto marginalised group trying to get its voice heard against a ruling elite.

So, since some Gunners fans have made the comparison, how similar are Brexit and the "Wenger Out" protests?

Uncertainty in the future

The UK parliament may appear to have no idea of what the best way to prepare for life outside the EU is, but Arsenal fans are already well used to exiting Europe. For the last seven seasons, the Gunners have gone out of the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage.

But what would follow Wenger? Both the Brexit and "Wenger Out" camps could be said to have no plan, favouring a plunge into the unknown with no guarantee of success -- and by the time that can be assessed in any meaningful way, it is too late to turn back.

In addition, those who hope that ousting Wenger -- who has revolutionised Arsenal in his 21 years at the club, winning three Premier League titles and six FA Cups -- will help keep star players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil might consider that Scotland plans a second independence referendum. It could therefore split from a UK that is facing an uncertain post-EU future.

A voice at last

Former Education Secretary Michael Gove tapped into the feelings of those who believed their voices were ignored by the media in the buildup to the referendum when he said that "people in this country have had enough of experts."

Arsenal supporters, emboldened by the rise of Arsenal Fan TV, which gives a platform to the sort of plain-speaking and NSFW spleen-venting that would never be permitted by mainstream broadcasters, have taken their stand against Wenger to new levels for a club that is more usually associated with class than iconoclasm.

There are certainly no experts to be found there.

A sense of bitterness

The clash between the "Wenger Out" movement and those who oppose it has had much of the same bitterness as the adversarial impasse between Britons who would rather remain part of the EU and those who want to escape the clutches of Brussels.

But as unedifying as the "Wenger Out" brigade's chanting and the pro-Brexit movement continues to be, neither would have been as visceral or vitriolic if the respective sides had been engaged in the wider debate and information-sharing at an earlier stage.

Arsenal fans have taken to the streets to protest.


One of pillars of the Brexit campaign was the notion that the £350 million supposedly paid into the EU by Britain each week would instead be put into the National Health Service, while a central criticism of the EU was that it stifled the UK's ability to trade on the international free market as it saw fit.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fans are tired of paying some of the highest ticket prices in the world only to see the Gunners unable or unwilling to compete consistently with Europe's biggest clubs in the transfer market.

While the £350m NHS figure has been widely discredited, Arsenal fans are tired of being told there is a boatload of money in the Emirates warchest to be spent without seeing that actually happen.

The lesson is that those who hope for a renewed flexing of financial muscles in the post-Wenger era are not guaranteed to see it come to pass.

The silence from above

While those against Britain's EU membership point to unelected heads in Brussels from whom they never seem to hear, Arsenal fans calling for change note a scarcity of public pronouncements from majority owner Stan Kroenke, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and chairman Sir Chips Keswick.

Admittedly, the latter did issue a statement last week -- although his two-paragraph missive confirming that Arsenal were "fully aware of the attention currently focused on the club and understand the debate" will have done little to assuage growing dissatisfaction among supporters.

Tony Mabert is a senior editor for ESPN FC. Follow him @TonyMabertESPN


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