Arsenal America was formed in August 2001 by several Arsenal fans who realized that there wasn't a supporters club in the United States. The club was granted official status in 2005 and since then has grown leaps-and-bounds, with new branches popping up all across the United States.
USA.Arsenal.com's Kevin Mooney caught up with Josh Templeton, the new president of Arsenal America. In part two of a three part interview, Josh explains why being a member of Arsenal America is more than just being a fan of the Club.
USA.Arsenal.com: What are some of the other benefits to being a member of Arsenal America?
Josh Templeton: Some of the things you get are access to tickets and access to road trips. You also get an Arsenal newsletter, which is new for this season. On a monthly basis we have a newsletter that talks about all things Arsenal relative to the United States – activities and events.
The other great thing is when you become an Arsenal America member, you get your membership card, that also entitles you to a 20% discount anytime we do any trips over to London. So if you go to the Emirates, and you do a purchase a non-match day – that is important to note – you can 20% off purchase with that membership card.
There are really a lot of dynamic benefits to becoming a member of Arsenal America, but most importantly, when you join Arsenal America you get the opportunity to help grow Arsenal in the United States.
**And between now and August 31st, 2010, if anyone joins Arsenal America as an official member, they will be entered into a random draw for a 2009/2010 Arsenal home kit signed by every player on the team including Wenger, along with a certificate of authenticity from Arsenal.**
USA.Arsenal.com: It sounds like new branches are popping up all the time - where are the most recent additions?
Josh Templeton: The most recent additions are Rhode Island, we’re about to add an Orange County branch, we’re also looking to add a San Antonio branch. There’s also a branch that is getting ready to open up in Utah. There are a number of different supporters groups popping up all over the country.
One of the most common emails we get is ‘we have a number of Arsenal supporters – how do we get identified as an official supporters group of Arsenal America?’
USA.Arsenal.com: And how does someone start a new branch or get official status?
Josh Templeton: The way you start a branch of Arsenal America is very simple. In order to be recognized as an actual branch you need to have some place that is a public venue for viewing matches. You definitely want to have a place that will actually play the matches. In some instances, for the central U.S. and west coast, it’s not realistic for them to play some of the early matches, but as long as they have a place where they can at least invite people to come out to on a regular basis that is willing to play the matches live or recorded at a set designated time.
Some of the other things we always recommend, is first of all they have to notify Arsenal, so we ask them to email us at info@Arsenalamerica.com Once they send us the information, we work with them on establishing a branch. We actually have a PDF document that maps out a number of different activities that they can do to really help drive membership. We also work closely with USA.Arsenal.com. Anytime we have a new branch, we communicate that.
We typically encourage the use of Facebook. Any social media sites are a great way to communicate out to members. We’ve even had success with craigslist where we’ll post an ad for the different regions and craigslist sites. We can actually put the word out and say ‘hey, we’ve got an Arsenal group and we’re looking for people to come out and watch matches with us, here’s where we watch them.’
So there are a number of tools you can use to help drive membership, but in terms of getting a branch started, it’s actually pretty straightforward. By starting a branch, they do agree to the rules and guidelines we’ve outlined as Arsenal America. As long as they stay within the guidelines that we’ve outlined and they open themselves up to any Arsenal supporters, we welcome them.
USA.Arsenal.com: Is there much interaction between the branches?
Josh Templeton: Yes and no, in certain parts of the country where distance is not a prohibitor yes. For instance, Baltimore is a good example because we have three supporters groups that are really close to us that we actually do participate with. We have a DC supporters group that a number of Charm City Gooners are members of or involved with and do go down from time to time to see matches. We are also very involved with the New York City Gooners, the official New York Arsenal Supporters group, so we do work with Kurtis Powers and his group and have actually done a few road trips up to New York and even played in a few tournaments.
We’ve done a number of things on the east coast, and I know that Mark Barbeau has done stuff with some other supporters groups, and they actually cross-pollinate. They work with some of the other competitive supporters groups. They actually had a football tournament not that long ago for the Save the Children’s relief efforts in Haiti, and they’ve also raised some money for Hurricane Katrina, and Charm City did the same.
We do a lot of work with other groups. This year in Charm City we are going to be doing a football tournament. The supporters groups are going to be playing against the local Chelsea supporters group and also with the Liverpool supporters group. We’re going to be doing a charity event with them and the proceeds will go to this season’s Arsenal Charity of the Season.
So we do work with some of the supporters groups, but for some it is just because of distance that it precludes them from getting involved.
To learn more about membership with Arsenal America, you can visit their website at www.arsenalamerica.com or click the FanZoneUSA button at the top of this page.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 4 Aug 2010