The not-so-secret lives of football’s YouTubers: in conversation with F2 Freestylers, ArsenalFanTV and Spencer FC

From humble beginnings, Arsenal Fan TV has quickly become an internet sensation – and they’re far from alone either 

Empowering supporters (@ArsenalFanTV)

Spreading fans' views far and wide

By Chas Newkey-Burden

A finger-jabbing fan by the name of Chris Hudson gave Robbie an interview that somehow combined fury, weariness, utter chaos and razor-sharp clarity

“I thought it would be nice to hear from the people who invest all their time and money into going to games,” Arsenal Fan TV founder Robbie Lyle tells FFT. “I wanted to give the fans a voice.”

Together with his partner Tao, Robbie grabbed a video camera and a microphone and stood outside the Emirates Stadium as fans streamed out following a 2012 north London derby against Tottenham.

“We were unknown at that stage,” he explains, “but my thinking was: ‘There are 60,000 people here. By the law of averages, someone will want to talk about the game.’”

They initially enjoyed a cult following, before the opening day of the 2013/14 campaign proved to be a breakthrough. Arsenal fans had grown exasperated by the club’s lack of transfer activity over the summer, so when the Gunners lost their season opener 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, emotions were running pretty high. A finger-jabbing fan by the name of Chris Hudson gave Robbie an interview that somehow combined fury, weariness, utter chaos and razor-sharp clarity.

“Everything he said encompassed what everybody was feeling that day after the Villa defeat,” remembers Robbie. “He was just talking straight from the heart.” The video went viral and has now been watched over one million times on YouTube.

Having initially ignored the project which was filmed on its doorstep, the club has since invited Robbie to press launches and behind-the-scenes events. Even Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis, a regular target of some colourful outbursts on the channel, has admitted that he enjoys the videos.

“I spoke to him at a club event once,” Robbie recalls. “He said to me: ‘Look, I know I often get some criticism on your channel, but I think you guys do everything in a very professional and fair way – so just keep on doing what you’re doing.’”

Robbie has fulfilled his dream of giving the fans a voice, but he’s done so much more than that. He has made them stars.