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Johnny Rotten compares modern grounds to tennis, backs standing

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Back in August Noel Gallagher backed standing at football, this month it’s Johnny Rotten. How come rock stars “get” it but the game’s administrators don’t? Thanks to German football magazine 11 Freunde for this extract, Rotten (AKA John Lydon) was in conversation with Andreas Bock:

Johnny Rotten, is it right that although you’re an Arsenal fan you’ve never set foot in the Emirates?

Why would I? These days, as a fan you’re not allowed to do anything anymore. You can’t smoke, you can’t drink, you can’t swear, you can’t even stand. It’s all crap.

Do you still watch any Arsenal games at all?

On TV, yes. I now live in Los Angeles and every Saturday morning I ring up my mate Rambo to ask what time kick-off is. Then the hunt begins for the right channel on satellite TV.

Wouldn’t Los Angeles Galaxy be an alternative for you?

Soccer? Bloody hell, no! It’s called football! You know what, I still even have an Arsenal season ticket, but I pass it on to my nephew. Whenever I’m in England, I go to small clubs like Torquay United or go to the pub and yell away with the other nutters. That’s football! The last time I was in a big stadium for a match was in 2011. That was the League Cup Final at Wembley against Birmingham. Because I was standing up, a steward told me to sit down at once. I said, “Look at the Birmingham fans, they’re all standing as well.” Then he went away.

It was that easy?

Well, not really. A few minutes later, he came back with a couple more stewards in tow. They threatened to throw me out if I didn’t sit down. I replied: “I’ve got haemorrhoids. If you’re not able to provide me with a cushion suitable for a haemorrhoid sufferer, I’ll unfortunately have to carry on standing.” Then I threatened them with my lawyer and finally they left me in peace.

For several years now in England people have been discussing the reintroduction of standing. You’d appear to support that?

You can’t watch football sitting down. Just look at the South Stand in Dortmund: they all stand, chant and make such a noise that the stand seems like the pharynx of some huge, roaring monster. It’s fantastic! If you sit down at football, you no longer feel part of what’s going on. Football then is like tennis. Or like a maths lesson at school. (Pause) It really pisses me off!

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to Linda Flores for the image used in this blog. Reproduced here under CC licence.

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