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 one of a three part interview, Josh spoke about the group and how he got involved.

USA.Arsenal.com: Who are you are and how did you become an Arsenal supporter?

Josh Templeton: My name is Josh Templeton, and I am the president of Arsenal America. I have been an Arsenal supporter actively since 2005. I actually started following Arsenal years ago when I was younger. I used to subscribe to a catalogue years ago called Eurosport. At the time, it was one of the few ways for Americans to get visual images of football in the U.S.

I started following Ian Wright back at that time and took a fancy to him, I bought his cleats and kind of took it from there. When the USA finally started showing matches mid-2000, and then became more prominent in 2006 after the World Cup, and it was on pretty regularly I was finally able to start following Arsenal again in real time. It’s really blossomed and flourished from there.

USA.Arsenal.com: How did you first get involved with Arsenal America?

Josh Templeton: I got involved with Arsenal America two years ago. I got involved through a friend of mine, Mike Kavanagh, who was looking for some new leadership to step into some different roles that were available. So I stepped in originally as the Vice President of Arsenal America and I ended up taking up a number of different projects ranging from our ticket process to our road trip programs, which had long since become defunct. I really started putting an emphasis in growing Arsenal America in the USA.

At the same time I also took over the responsibility of the also-defunct Charm City branch in Baltimore. So I kind of took on two projects all at once, unbeknownst to me, and as we progressed I took on a number of different responsibilities along with our outgoing president David Kilpatrick and also with Mark Barbeau, our secretary.

USA.Arsenal.com: So what exactly is Arsenal America and what does it do?

Josh Templeton: Arsenal America is the official Arsenal supporters group for the United States. We provide a number of different things.

We provide a conduit for supporters in North America to have a direct relationship with the actual Club. Because we have official supporter status, it does give us access to a number of different things. Number one is it gives us access to match tickets for home games. So any supporter in North America that joins Arsenal America as a paid member for the 2010/11 season has the ability to request tickets for home matches. The nice part is, because we are dealing directly with the Club, the costs are greatly reduced – you are actually paying the face value of the tickets, plus there’s a ticket exchange fee that they charge us and we also charge a PayPal fee for currency conversion since we have to pay for everything in pounds. But beyond that it’s a relatively easy way to see matches.

Since 2006 – the opening of Emirates Stadium – every single Arsenal Premier League match has been sold out. You cannot go up to the box office and buy tickets. It’s very difficult to get tickets to see matches at the Emirates. So what this does, is it provides members who are traveling abroad a great opportunity to see their beloved Gunners in person, and they can do it in an environment that is done directly through the Club.

USA.Arsenal.com: How many active members are currently in Arsenal America?

Josh Templeton: As is stands today, we have well over 3,000 active members of Arsenal America in our range of different membership levels. We have well over 20 different branches that fall under the umbrella of Arsenal America, in cities from Baltimore to New York, from Boston to Minneapolis, to Austin, to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and everywhere in between. So there are groups all over the U.S. under the Arsenal America umbrella. Some of the smaller groups have three to five supporters that frequent a pub or meet up for matches to some of our larger groups that have north of 150 to 500 different members.

As we start this year’s membership drive we have already had 200 members renew their relationship with us. And that’s just in the first week of our membership drive.

Our membership drive runs throughout the season, although we stop it near the end of the season – typically in May. But we do take members throughout the year. So on average we see anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 members join on a regular basis. It’s really exciting, we have seen tremendous growth in the past few years, and that is in no small part to USA.Arsenal.com going up. It’s helped provide visibility for our supporters.

» Part 1: Arsenal America's Background
» Part 2: Membership Benefits
» Part 3: Arsenal America 'Road Trips'

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 2014 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 3 Aug 2010