Eric Hobsbawm, Arsene Wenger & nationalism in football

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2020 by kmflett

Eric Hobsbawm, Arsene Wenger and nationalism in football

I’ve looked at the question of whether the late marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm was an Arsenal fan previously.

He lived in the right area of North London for it and it is known that he was a football fan.

He occasionally mentioned Arsenal (and Spurs) in his writings, for example (Labour in the Great City, New Left Review 1/166, 1987)

On one occasion at a literary festival he specifically referred to a point made by the former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, which is circumstantial evidence and no more that he was a Gooner.

The reference is in the Times (6th October 2007)

“This is a type of internal contradiction. There was a nice interview with Arsene Wenger [the manager of Arsenal] the other day which sketches it out very well. He said: ‘I’m not interested in national teams but I know we have got to have them because that’s what keeps the money coming in’.”

Interestingly answering a question from the MP whose Constituency covers the Emirates in the Observer on 11th October, Wenger made a very similar point again.

Whether or not Hobsbawm was an Arsenal fan perhaps Wenger is a Hobsbawmite?

Jeremy Corbyn

MP for Islington North

I always felt that your philosophy as a manager reflected the ethos of the local community. How did you stay true to those principles when it came to be so difficult in football?

Overall, we know today that a football fan loves their national team. They love the big club and they support the club where they were born, their local club. Arsenal has the advantage of being a big club and a local club, but you have to continue to cultivate that local spirit. The luck we had when we built the [Emirates] stadium is that we could stay with our fanbase.

But for most clubs, the local support is shrinking, especially if you go down to lower divisions. So out of 92 clubs today, we have 20 Premier League clubs, and out of the other 72, 65 are losing money, because the local support is shrinking.

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