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Marcella and Ian Campaign

By Ian Shacklock
April 15 2008

When you hear reports of an Arsenal game being watched by up to a billion people across the planet, it brings it home to you that Arsenal is an internationally recognised brand and its players are more identifiable than most heads of state. So it can be easy to forget that there is indeed another Arsenal on the planet.

 The other Arsenal is not a football club, but a densely populated village right in the heart of North London.


At the epicentre of this village is the Arsenal tube station, right next to the Emirates stadium, and the surrounding streets are littered with shops and small businesses that proudly carry the Arsenal name. In this vibrant village, people eat breath and sleep Arsenal, seven days a week, and if anyone in this area was allergic to Arsenal then they would have left it 93 years ago.


There is only one thing missing from this village that would complete the picture, and it is an indoor football facility, similar to the JVC Centre at the old stadium. A community sports centre appeared in the original agreed plans for the new stadium and the budding footballers are hugely disappointed that it hasn't materialised yet.

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However, there could be light at the end of the tunnel. Arsenal FC has acquired some land next to the new stadium and there is now a golden opportunity to build the replacement for the popular JVC centre. This is why some residents of Highbury have launched a campaign to persuade Arsenal and the local council that a sports centre is a win-win solution.


From an Arsenal supporter's point of view, this is a very positive campaign, because it is a campaign for something worthwhile in the name of Arsenal. Some people suspect that this is an anti-Arsenal movement, but this is incorrect because we are lobbying to see more of Arsenal not less. We are also trying to keep kids off the streets and to tackle obesity. This is not against Arsenal, but against a decision that was made jointly by Arsenal and Islington council. But now that conditions have changed, this is a good time to rethink the plans and to put in place something that will go down well with football lovers of all generations.


The first stage of this campaign has revolved around a petition, urging Arsenal and the Council to provide a replacement sports centre. In two months we have collected 2,000 signatures within Islington, so nobody can suggest that this has been a low profile matter.


We will continue to collect signatures until 13th May and by then we will have raised enough awareness to press on with the next stage of the campaign. This will look at the more positive aspects, such as building up popular support (as opposed to protest votes) and maybe looking at opportunities for sponsorship where necessary. After all, Arsenal will not be interested in taking part in this type of project if they are not convinced that there is a demand for it.


If you are an Arsenal fan living outside London then you might be wondering why any of this is relevant to you. You are unlikely to be interested in any local council issues, but you are just as likely as an Islington resident to want to play football in the name of Arsenal, at Arsenal. There is no reason why an indoor football facility should be exclusive to Islington residents, and if you want to offer support to this campaign your comments will not be disqualified just because you live outside the area.

(If you want further information or if you want to offer messages of support then please contact

The original campaign bulletin can be located here

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Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
15/04/2008 13:50

Philly the kid (IP Logged)
15/04/2008 14:29
Just contacted Ian to seee if there's an online petition, or any other way we can show support. I'll let you all know what he says when i get a reply.

Padre Pio (IP Logged)
15/04/2008 16:32
My Nephew used it several times, especially in holiday times, the name was changed to 02 centre. Kids often ended up buying Arsenal gear in shop next door.. Also it was first time he saw the new stadium on the way to the O2.

It was the first time many kids met the youth training staff.

It is a great shame it is not there any more.

Philly the kid (IP Logged)
16/04/2008 12:48
Hi Phil.

Please pass this information on...

You can offer me a lot of support by simply acting as a coordinator between myself and the Arsenal Times. I will gladly accept e-mails from different people, but it simplifies things if there's a single point of contact.

I'm afraid that there is no online petition available, so the best way of offering support is to post messages on your forum. By all means send me private e-mails (e.g. for the odd question), but I'd rather see anecdotes and fond memories on the message board. I'd also be pleased to hear from people who travelled a long way to use the JVC or O2 centre.

The reason for not having an online petition is that it carries less importance than a manually collected petition on this occasion. It has taken a lot of effort to collect the signatures and it really shows how much passion exists in Islington. The petition is about holding a community together and there can't be a better way of demonstrating this than walking around talking to each other and filling in the forms amongst the neighbourhood. It has really brought us all together face-to-face, and this wouldn't have happened with an online petition.

With anything online, it's not the numbers that matter, but the comments.

Another reason for not having an online petition is that it could have been hijacked by Man U or Spurs fans, and it would have become worthless. So let's keep it positive and focussed.



So there you go, no online petition as such (for all the right reasons). But i'll happily let him know when there's a few fond memories posted up here if anyone has any (like Padre), or if you want me to pass on e-mails, i'll do that too. Let's show some love for the idea, see if we can't all get to the same page and sing the same tune.

Padre Pio (IP Logged)
16/04/2008 21:29
Thanks Philly. As Ian says you dont just have to be local to support the idea. So emails of support welcome.

Simon68 (IP Logged)
17/04/2008 10:29
It's incredible that as much as any football club in England, Arsenal is a real community club, despite being the only club in the Football League not named after an area. The streets around Highbury, Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Holloway, Archway and up to Camden & Kentish Town are populated largely by Arsenal supporters who have passed the mantle down through the generations.

I worked on the High Road in Tottenham for 3 years in the late eighties/early nineties, about 250 yards from Spurs ground. There wasn't the slightest feeling that it was an area with a football club at its heart and I saw more Arsenal replica shirts on non-match days on the High Road than Tottenham ones.

Arsenal FC have done a brilliant job in keeping the club so close to the home we had for 93 years.

The success we have had on the pitch and the cost of a season ticket has meant that even with the increased capacity, unfortunately our next generation of Arsenal fans are given few opportunities to see the team except on television.

What better way of the Club giving something back, as well as making younger (and even some older) supporters feel part of the Club even if they aren't able to see them at The Emirates except maybe once in a blue moon?

The JVC Centre as it was known at Highbury provided a link between the Club and supporters and it is apparent that there is an even greater need for one at The Emirates as there are so few sports centres open to the general public these days.

With the housing developments Arsenal are involved in bringing thousands more people into the area, what better chance is there to provide a greatly needed and what would be a greatly appreciated sports centre open to all than this?

I'm sure that the land next to the stadium can be used for a building project that would generate more money than a Community Sports Centre, but what would have a more lasting effect on, and be of more benefit to, the local community as well as many people from far further afield, than something that provides the opportunities that a Community Sports Centre can?

Padre Pio (IP Logged)
17/04/2008 17:32
Here here, and they might even discover a future Charlie George.

Optimistic Gunner (IP Logged)
17/04/2008 17:42
Great post Simon.

I agree with what you said about Arsenal being a real community club as I used to live near Blackstock Road 8 years ago and the area around Highbury and Finsbury Park has a great Arsenal feeling and the atmosphere around that area on match days is fantastic.

I also agree that a new Community Sports Centre needs to be built.

I remember kids from my primary school used go to the JVC Centre for some football training as my primary shool had a link with AFC.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2008:04:17:17:46:43 by Optimistic Gunner.

NobleTrojan (IP Logged)
20/04/2008 09:20
I spent the first twenty years of my life in St Thomas Road. I always felt it was a privilege to live there. Arsenal has always led the way both on the field and off the field. I think it would be wonderful to have a community center associated with Arsenal to continue to lead the way off the field. Local people will be able to continue enjoying the privilege for many years to come.

20/04/2008 15:45
I don't live in the borough but i agree that Arsenal should replace the old JVC centre with a new facility beside the ground. Not only would it be an excellent resource for young people in the area but also good PR for the club.
Arsenal have always had a reputation for trying to do the right thing and a new sports centre would enhance this.

Philly the kid (IP Logged)
30/04/2008 11:19
Padre, any chance of making this thread a 'sticky' since it's such a good cause? One which we'll keep having to fight until they sort it!!

Padre Pio (IP Logged)
30/04/2008 22:36
I couldnt agree more. There is no mechanism for making an editorial sticky. I have raised it with Network but no reply.

the only thing would be to create a stand alone thread and copy stuff over. If you want to do that I will make it Sticky

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