No aerial support for ‘Wenger Out’ protests as bad weather grounds plane hired for Arsenal’s match at West Brom

James Benge
Evening Standard
Grounded | Bad weather prevents aerial protests: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Grounded | Bad weather prevents aerial protests: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal supporters campaigning against manager Arsene Wenger have been forced to cancel a planned aerial protest due to fears of bad weather over the Midlands on Saturday.

A plane was due to fly over the Hawthorns stadium trailing a banner “Wenger Out: No New Contract” during Arsenal’s match against West Brom on Saturday, but high winds and possible storms around Sandwell have seen the protest delayed.

Travelling supporters are still expected to display protest banners at Saturday’s match but will now focus on the match against Manchester City at the Emirates on April 2.

Plans are being made for the same plane to fly ahead of a visit to Stoke City in May as Wenger’s most vocal critics continue their campaign against the Arsenal manager.

As Standard Sport revealed on Monday a crowdfunding initiative is in place to fund activities to convince the Arsenal board to withdraw its offer of a new two-year contract for Wenger. It has already raised its £2,500 target, with the money to be spent on billboards, balloons and beach balls as well as the £750 cost of hiring the plane.

Around 300 supporters took part in marches against Wenger ahead of home games against Bayern Munich and Lincoln City earlier this month.

The fans have been widely chastised on social media for their claims that Wenger is “killing their club” but the staunchest members of the anti-Wenger movement have vowed to continue their activities until the 67-year-old leaves the club after over 20 years as its manager.

“If he said he was leaving we’d get behind him and let him go with some dignity,” the crowdfunding campaign founder Chris Butler said. “But he’s ruining that.

“We are long, long, long suffering. He still hasn’t apologised for the Bayern game. What is the point of being in Europe if we can’t compete? We’re an embarrassment.”

Wenger faced his heaviest criticism in the wake of a 5-1 Champions League round of 16 second leg defeat to Bayern Munich on March 7 but it did not prompt the board to withdraw the contract offer understood to have been made to the Arsenal manager.

However chairman Sir Chips Keswick did subsequently issue a statement in which he acknowledged the frustrations of certain fans, adding that a decision as to whether Wenger signs a new contract will be taken “mutually and communicated in the right time and in the right way”.

Wenger has made clear his preference to remain at the club next season but insisted he remains “lucid” enough to know when the time would be right for him to leave.

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