|Total views||826.7 million|
Updated: 20 June 2020
AFTV (formerly known as ArsenalFanTV) is a football fan YouTube channel and website directed at Arsenal supporters. Based in England, the channel started in 2012. Their channel includes fan interviews, previews and reviews of Arsenal players. They have interviewed past and current players including Olivier Giroud, Ian Wright and Thierry Henry.
The channel was created on YouTube in October 2012, and was founded by former BBC reggae radio host Robbie Lyle. Lyle had worked as a surveyor before quitting his job to work on ArsenalFanTV full-time. He created the channel with his cameraman 'Tao' who had also quit his job to pursue a career on YouTube.
Their first fan interviews were after Arsenal's 5–2 win against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur. When asked by Vice on why he created the channel Lyle said "we've all had enough of the so-called pundits, most of whom aren't even at the games. So I started my own channel to hear from the real fans, with real opinions. That was my aim with the site". ArsenalFanTV pioneered the concept of supporters led TV or "Fan TV" which has led to other club supporters creating similar channels on YouTube.
Since its creation, the channel has continued to provide viewers with fan interviews and content about Arsenal on social media. But its rise in the YouTube community occurred as a result of many viral videos it has posted from fan interviews. The channel has posted interviews of many angry rants from Arsenal supporters directed at the club's ownership. Many of these fan interviews include Chris Hudson's rant after the loss to Aston Villa in 2013 and Troopz in 2017 following Arsenal's 5–1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The rise of the channel has been helped by viral videos it has posted from fan interviews, with fans venting their frustration at the club following defeats. Much of the anger from supporters on the channel was directed towards former manager Arsène Wenger, who many believed should have resigned following his long tenure at the London-based club, especially during the 2016–17 season where there was a divide among Arsenal fans, with a minority being 'Wenger In' and a majority being 'Wenger Out' There has also been criticism towards major shareholder Stan Kroenke who many Arsenal fans believe he should sell his shares to the next major shareholder Alisher Usmanov, following claims of his lack of desire towards the club, and comments made by Kroenke himself stating that he "didn't buy Arsenal stakes to win trophies". This was referenced on BT Sport by the former England international Rio Ferdinand when he mentioned the frustration of Arsenal supporters with Wenger on ArsenalFanTV in 2016.
On 20 April 2018, Channel 4 premiered a new late-night football show called The Real Football Fan Show hosted by Lyle and featuring many AFTV regulars. In March 2020, Lyle was also the subject of an ITV documentary Robbie Lyle: Football Fans Under Their Skin in which he discusses racism within football and the experiences of black football supporters.
Although the channel interviews a variety of Arsenal supporters after every game, there are a few supporters who are regularly interviewed by Robbie Lyle and are well known by many of the channel's viewers.
- "Ty" (Taiwo Ogunlabi): Seen as very optimistic and is well known for his support of Arsène Wenger. Ty constantly defended Wenger during his tenure as manager despite facing growing opposition from supporters.
- "DT" (Liam Goodenough): A vocal critic of Wenger, DT is also known for his angry rants whenever Arsenal lose and has been responsible for putting many 'Wenger Out' banners at Arsenal matches. He has his own channel with over 203,000 subscribers.
- Kelechi Anyikude: Originally from Nigeria, Kelechi is well known for singing at the start of his interviews.
- Lee Judges: A lifelong Arsenal supporter, Lee has given several passionate rants about the demise of Arsenal under Wenger.
- Claude Callegari: An outspoken critic of Arsène Wenger. He is famous for his saying "it's time to go" with regard to Arsène Wenger. In July 2020, he was removed as a contributor after making a racist remark about Tottenham Hotspur F.C. player Heung-Min Son during a live stream.
- “Troopz”: Another vocal critic of Wenger, Troopz is known for his use of multicultural London English words such as 'blud' and 'fam'. In September 2020, he left AFTV to join Barstool Sports.
The channel has received many criticisms. Lawrence Tallis, the creative director of Big Balls Films (which launched Copa90), questioned whether many viewers were watching the channel for analysis of Arsenal or for the entertainment. Similarly, former Manchester United player and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville criticised Arsenal fans who appeared on the channel for being too harsh on Wenger. "I was watching Arsenal fans slating and slanging into him, and I thought, 'he doesn't deserve that'". ArsenalFanTV later extended an invitation for Neville to discuss his comments on the channel, which he accepted. After Arsenal's 2–2 draw against Manchester City in April 2017, many Arsenal supporters attempted to attack Robbie as well as other regulars such as Claude. There had been tensions between pro-Wenger and anti-Wenger supporters in the stadium which led to fights during the game between Arsenal fans. One man shouted "ArsenalFanTV won't be happening today", indicating that although it was unclear why the attacks happen, many fans were unhappy with the content the channel had been producing. In a video days later, Lyle addressed the issue and stated that he spoke to the fans who tried to attack and they had apologised.[unreliable source?]
That same month, AFTV came under criticism for a video they posted in association with The Sun newspaper. The video, which featured Lyle, DT and Ty, received backlash from many football fans, especially Liverpool supporters, who have boycotted The Sun due to its controversial reporting of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster which killed 96 Liverpool fans, which included allegations of Liverpool fans urinating on police officers and pickpocketing dying supporters. Liverpool had recently banned the newspaper from attending press conferences and Everton followed, following an article posted about Ross Barkley, which they had compared him to a gorilla which was considered offensive due to his grandfather's Nigerian heritage. In response to the criticism, Lyle appeared on the Ball Street YouTube channel and apologised to the people of Liverpool for offence that was taken, and has promised to not work with the tabloid in the future, and the video has since been deleted from the channel.
Following Arsenal's 2–0 defeat to Tottenham in April 2017, Lyle was escorted out of White Hart Lane with police protection after being abused by many Tottenham fans, and was unable to film ArsenalFanTV after that match. In a video afterwards, Lyle stated that much of the abuse he received was racist and was not something he experienced for years. Tottenham Hotspur condemned any racial abuse and was working with the Metropolitan Police on the issue.
In February 2018, at a scheduled talk at Oxford Union, Arsenal defender Héctor Bellerín criticised the channel stating that it's wrong for people to consider themselves to be fans while having their success built off of the team's failures, as well as claiming that some fans were 'hustling' in order to make money from the channel. This prompted Lyle to respond in defense retorting that ArsenalFan TV exists not as a way to profit off of failure but as a platform for any and all fans of the club to freely voice their opinions, support or even frustrations towards their club without feeling that their opinion is less important.[unreliable source?]
In August 2018, ArsenalFanTV were forced to change their name to AFTV following discussions with Arsenal regarding the channel breaching Arsenal's copyright by using the term "Arsenal" without authorisation which had a negative effect on the club. Some media outlets claimed Arsenal had issued a cease and desist letter against ArsenalFanTV, however they confirmed this was not true.
In July 2020, contributor Claude Callegari made a racial slur about South Korean Tottenham Hotspur F.C. player Heung-Min Son during a live stream, referring to him as a DVD. This has been considered a racial slur since at least 2005, referencing the large number of Asian people who sell DVDs around the East London area. After making an video on the platform alongside Lyle, where the issue was discussed but no apology given. Channel sponsor Harry's issued a statement that they would no longer be working with AFTV. Following this, AFTV announced that Callegari would be removed from the channel "indefinitely". During the same live steam, contributor Troopz made a comment “Harry Kane is white so he must be right”. No action has been taken against Troopz.
In August 2020, AFTV were criticised during a live stream watching the 2020 FA Cup Final, after some fans celebrated when Chelsea F.C. player Christian Pulisic was injured and had to be taken off.
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