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Proud to be a Gooner: New editor lays out plans for famous fanzine

Fanzine for Arsenal supporters has laid out its plans for surviving the pressure on print publications after appointing its first new editor in 20 years.

24 July, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette [Tim Snell]

THE Gooner, the best known fanzine for Arsenal supporters, has laid out its plans for surviving the pressure on print publications after appointing its first new editor in 20 years.

The magazine, mostly sold outside the Emirates Stadium on matchdays, has spent the past couple of seasons considering crowdfunding drives to keep it going.

It has also attempted to build up its subscriber base to weather the financial challenge and the general switch in reader behaviour to online.

On his appointment as the new editor, sports journalist and author Layth Yousif said he wanted to change the way people regarded Arsenal fans, warning that “inarticulate and groteseque personalities” who had attached themselves to the club had “for too long been allowed to set the tone.”

He named no names in his opening salvo – an introductory column to readers – but fan coverage in recent years has become a crowded field. Before the coronavirus lockdown, fans armed with cameras were commonplace outside the Emirates Stadium on matchdays and could be seen recording video pieces for social media.

Arsenal Fan TV, known for its cast of fruity talking heads, led the market by winning commercial sponsorship for its uploads, but has split the fanbase on how the often brash content reflected on the club and its supporters.

Layth Yousif is the first new editor of The Gooner in 20 years

Mr Yousif said he had “ink in his veins” and was looking forward to producing the print publication, but he said he wanted to change things on the website. He said that he was alarmed by the decline of quality journalism, citing the cuts ordered by big publishing groups running many of the local newspapers in the UK, who he said were “more concerned with the bottom line”.

“I want to reposition The Gooner Fanzine’s online presence to be a one-stop shop where Arsenal supporters can get their fix from knowledgable writers and experts who care about the club,” he said.

“For too long, telling someone you’re an Arsenal ‘fan’ brought an immediate response relating to internet caricatures, horrendously distorted from what was once an egalitarian concept.” Mr Yousif is replacing Kev Whitcher, who was The Gooner’s second editor after founder Mike Francis. It was first published in 1987 and was seen in the football world as one of the pioneers in the fanzine world.

Mr Yousif said: “We believe we can share the voice of the silent majority, those supporters who value the club’s values. Who also value modesty and self-deprecation over the ‘look at me culture’ where your allotted 15 minutes of fame, sadly for some, lasts a lot longer, despite, it seems, possessing no discernable talent.”

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