Mediawatch: The new phenomenon of empty seats

Date published: Wednesday 2nd December 2015 1:17

Insight of the day
Thank you to ‘football expert and columnist’ Paul Merson on Sky Sports: “You don’t throw your bib at somebody if you like them.”


Picture this
The Daily Star
have a picture special: ‘The 20 midfielders Arsenal could target after Francis Coquelin’s injury.’

When your caption on the very first image (of the world’s best midfielder Paul Pogba) concedes that it ‘sounds like a very unlikely signing’, you know you are in early trouble.

From there we go to #3 and Sergio Busquets, who ‘could be up for a new challenge and adventure’.

He could.

Basically, if you have always wanted to see 20 pictures of midfielders, this ‘feature’ is for you.


Through the filter
The 18-year-old Arsenal player Gedion Zelalem might have his loan at Rangers extended. This much Mediawatch has heard, and has no reason not to believe.

Not quite sexy enough for the Metro, though. So smash the story through their filter and what do you get?

‘Insider confirms Arsenal are on the brink of finalising crucial transfer with iconic club,’ that’s what.

More leaps than an Olympic long jump final.


‘Now the FANS are resting from games and who can blame them?’ is the headline on Martin Samuel’s latest column in the Daily Mail, prompted by roughly 10,000 empty seats at the Emirates for Arsenal’s clash with Dinamo Zagreb eight days ago. Take your time, Martin.

‘The disenfranchised, it would appear, are striking back,’ writes Samuel, who seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that every football fan has previously attended every football match.

‘Arsene Wenger has always separated matches into categories of importance, now it would seem Arsenal’s fans are doing the same,’ he writes.

‘The result is no longer all that matters and any fan who can afford £4,000 for a season ticket can also afford to let it sit empty if he has a better offer one Tuesday night.’

Samuel is desperately trying to sell this as a new phenomenon but frankly, this is utter hogwash. Football fans have always picked football matches.

In August 2014 this story appeared on Sky Sports:

‘A Freedom of Information request has revealed that more than 170,000 people bought tickets but did not show up to Arsenal games at the Emirates Stadium last season.

‘The figures were obtained by the Arsenal blog “A is for Arsenal” from the Metropolitan Police.

‘Arsenal’s official attendance figures are based on tickets sold, instead of the number of people who turn up to the stadium.

‘On average, the actual attendance per game was 5,998 lower than the official attendance stated by club.

‘The lowest attendance for a game last season was against Fenerbahce with a crowd of 56,271, but according to the Metropolitan Police there were only 44,779 people at the game.’

Now the FANS are resting from games? No, now you have a column to write.


United we stand
By the time Martin Samuel’s piece had hit MailOnline, the headline had got a little more SEO-friendly – ‘Now Arsenal and Manchester United fans are resting from games…and who can blame them?’ – and rather a lot less accurate.

For all Samuel’s faults, he never once suggests that United fans are staying away from games, only that they ‘can barely hide their dissatisfaction’.

Clickey-click though.



General rule: If you don’t use the name of the ‘legend’ because nobody would click, he is not a ‘legend’.


Tracks of my tears
Last Friday we marvelled at The Sun’s use of ‘technical experts’ to basically explain how a counter-attack works (they win the ball back in the ‘WIN BALL BACK ZONE’). This week the ‘technical experts’ have been upgraded…

‘Eagle-eyed trackers at SunSport have zoomed in on Hazard and Costa in the last two games to give a route map of where they run during a match. You can see Hazard covers far more ground that Costa…’

Eagle-eyed trackers? Aren’t they appearing at the Fox and Goose on Friday night doing Thin Lizzy covers?

It’s a really bloody fancy way of saying they sent Opta an e-mail.


Slight difference of opinion
‘Most of the £265m generated yesterday by owner Sheikh Mansour selling 13 per cent of the Blues’ parent company, City Football Group, will go towards players’ – The Daily Mirror.

‘The deal hands City extra firepower in their bid to sign superstars such as Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba or Neymar – as well as potential boss Pep Guardiola’ – The Sun.

‘The £265m windfall will be reinvested into City’s China expansion rather than being used directly to strengthen the first-team squad’ – Daily Mail.



Jamie and the giant fee
Fresh from Neil Moxley claiming that Jamie Vardy could demand a £300,000-a-week contract comes former England international Trevor Steven in CITY AM saying that Vardy should be a target for Chelsea. Which makes sense if they can get him for £10m in January. After all, they need a short-term fix to their goalscoring problems.

Oh. Wait a minute.

‘Vardy won’t be easy to prise from Leicester, though. He has a contract until 2018, which means that his club can call the shots and demand £40m,’ says Steven.

And you think Chelsea should sodding pay it? For a 28-year-old striker who scored five Premier League goals last season?

Stop the bus; we’re feeling really very queasy now.


Take on me
Hull boss Steve Bruce on Monday before facing Manchester City: “We’ve got to have the belief we can mount a challenge against them and take them on. We’ve had a good cup run so let’s see if we can challenge one of the best teams in Europe.”

That’s bloody big talk from a man about to make seven changes.


Physically painful line of the day
‘Costa needs to wake up and smell the coffee or else he could end up a Chelsea has-bean’ – Andrew Dillon, The Sun.


Headline of the day
‘China in their hands’ – The Daily Telegraph on Manchester City’s big investment.


Worst headline of the day
‘Wilf gives ’em wad 4′ – The Sun. Awful on about seven fronts.


Recommended reading of the day
Paul Doyle on the joy of a free-kick specialist

Michael Yokhin on Caen’s unlikely rise

The latest instalment of In Bed With Maradona’s 100


Thanks to today’s Mediawatch spotter Tom Williams. If you spot anything that belongs on this page, mail us at, putting ‘Mediawatch’ in the subject field.

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