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Real talk with Arsenal TV's Robbie Lyle


CHANNEL 4's The Real Football Fan Show features the people who really matter - the die-hard fans who part with their had-earned cash week in, week out to follow their believed teams through the highs and lows of the Premiership season.

Presented by Robbie Lyle, the man who unleashed the phenomenon of football fan tv with his creation of AFTV (Arsenal Fan TV), the show stays true to Robbie’s original conception and gives real fans the chance to have their say on national television.

The Voice’s Rodney Hinds caught up with Robbie to talk all things football...

Rodney Hinds: How pleased are you to be seen as an inspirational role model to thousands?

Robbie Lyle: When you are setting out on something you sometimes don’t know the effect you can have on people. I am really enjoying it. I’ve been to a couple of schools which is rewarding. Lots of people get in touch for advice about the media and how to set up your own business.

It was how I was raised, with a pass it on mentality. There’s not enough black businesses and there’s certainly not enough black people in the media. If I can inspire people to get into the industry, that’s brilliant.

RH: Where did the idea for AFTV come from?

RL: Obviously I am a big Arsenal fan and a season ticket holder. I used to get annoyed because you never really heard anything from fans, it was always either players or officials. I just wanted to set up a platform that would give ordinary folk their chance to have a say.

I had no experience with camera work or editing. I just went for it! It has been trial and error along the way because no one had done what we’ve done before. It was, and still is, a case of learning on the job.

It was, and still is, a case of learning on the job. It's been a fantastic journey but we are moving forward. Some didn’t expect us to last and definitely thought that when Arsene Wenger. But those people didn’t realise that even over the summer our videos were being viewed 200,000 daily with some 25 million views a month across all plat- forms.

RH: What’s the plan for the future?

RL: We want to take what we are doing up a notch and improve. The name change came because we want to have our own distinct brand.
We want to add to the team and inspire. We think what we do can be rolled out into other sports so we are aiming to consult too.

The TV show is produced by our own production company. In the future we are looking to produce other shows as well. I’ve got a book full of ideas and I want to execute some of those, so it’s exciting times and I want to keep progressing. I wake up every day and view it as another day to step things up!

RH: How have Arsenal Football Club received you?

RL: Maybe at first we weren’t their cup of tea. I think over the years they’ve come to re- spect what we do. I’d love them to put up some players for interview but we crack on with what we are doing. We allow fans to have their opinion and that’s what it’s all about. And sometimes the fans’ view can go against the club.

RH: Who were the Gunners’ that excited you back in the day?

RL: Ian Wright, below, was the player that really got me excited. There was the likes of David Rocastle and Paul Davis but I really had a connection with Wrighty when I was growing up. Then after that it was Thierry Henry. Not only were they brilliant on the pitch, they had a swagger about them as well. That’s why I love Pierre-Emerick Abameyang from the current crop.

RH: And a tip for those that hope to emulate your success?

RL: You can build your own following. And you can do it for free because it’s all available if you are prepared to put the time and work in.

You need to come up with something unique that people will enjoy, you can build it yourself. After a while people will take notice, as they did with us. When we started lots of people were holding their noses up.

I encourage everybody to embrace the technology that is out there.
Back in the day to shoot a live video would cost you thousands, now you can just press a button on your phone and you're live.

RH: With legendary manager Arsene Wenger no longer in charge, where do you see the club now?

RL: I do see some progress. I see what the manager’s (Unai Emery) trying to do. I think the club is on the up. However, I am disappointed that the owner (Stan Kroenke) of the club has not invested more money in players.

The structure needed changing and they have done that. I'm happy with him but he needs more funds in order to have a real good go at success. I just feel in the summer, and we made good signings with the money we had, it’s not enough to challenge for the Premier League.

The manager’s ambitious, as are the players, but for me the jury is still out in regards to Kroenke. He’s been there for a long time now and I’ve not seen any ambition. We’ve got to start operating like a big club when it comes to spending.

I’m not saying go mad and spend Man City type money but those that spend money win the big prizes – you can’t do it on a budget and the Leicester title win was a one-off. Even before that we need to get back into the Champions League.

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