Beyond the jokes, Arsenal's Gunnersaurus sacking shows club's disconnect from community 2 weeks ago

Beyond the jokes, Arsenal's Gunnersaurus sacking shows club's disconnect from community

The news follows the redundancies of 55 staff members in August

Fresh off the back of bizarre and barely believable weekend of football, we were greeted on Monday with news from Arsenal that could easily have been mistaken as satire.

Gunnersaurus, Arsenal's famous mascot and star of countless memes, had been laid off as part of the club's ongoing cost-cutting measures.

People made jokes, understandably tickled by the idea of a massive dinosaur being let go by a football club. But think about this news for more than a split second and the humour fades, replaced by the depressing ruthlessness of the decision, and what it truly means for Arsenal.

In August, Arsenal announced that 55 staff members had been made redundant in a bid to save money at a time when fans cannot access stadiums and, as such, matchday revenue has gone through the floor.

Football is a business, we all know this, but fans rightfully questioned how a roughly £2 million annual saving at the cost of more than 50 jobs - many of which belonged to people living in the local community - was worth it when the club are paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a week to players not even close to making it into Mikel Arteta's match day squad.

In some ways, the Gunnersaurus news is even harder to take than this. You won't be surprised to hear that the mascot is not a giant sentient dinosaur, but in fact a man. A man named Jerry Quy.

Quy, according to The Athletic who broke the news this morning, has played the role of Gunnersaurus since the mascot's inception in 1993.

A dedicated Gunners fans who attended his first game in the 1960s, he reportedly missed his own brother's wedding to attend a home match. He was employed on a part-time basis.

And while justification may be found for letting go of 55 staff members to cut costs, the decision to make a single part-time staff member, one who has devoted so much of his time to the club over such a long period of time, reeks more of ruthless cruelty than any sound financial decision making.

Football is a business, but more than that, football clubs are just that: clubs. They are a centre of the community, a hub to congregate around, a shared love.

It is this shared love which was used by Arsenal to advertise their new away kit, in a video that was widely shared on social media and which, by all accounts, did a good job at selling the shirt.

It is this dichotomy that will grate most with Arsenal fans and other supporters alike, because the Gunners - like so many other massive clubs today - want to commodify that shared community spirit, without staying true to its ideals.