Letter: Unfair verdict on screen test

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The Independent Online
Sir: As the company that supplied and operated the giant video screens at Highbury and Bramall Lane in last Saturday's FA Cup quarter-finals we were intrigued by Nick Hornby's comments on the Highbury event (Independent, Sport, 8 March).

Mr Hornby's subjective report - a very personal view - on one hand appeared to welcome the concept of club supporters watching live coverage of their team's away games, in the atmosphere of the home ground - while on the other, he rubbishes the efforts of those providing the facility.

Had Mr Hornby researched his piece more fully, he would have discovered that this video screen, if not 'giant' in his terms, is certainly the largest and brightest mobile screen available in the world today.

These screens are no strangers to major outdoor events having performed to very satisfied audiences at hundreds of events around the world, including the London Monarchs American football fixtures, Wembley's 'Freddie Mercury Tribute' and the Winter Olympics, to name but a few.

With regard to the position of the screen at Highbury, if Mr Hornby had taken the trouble to ask us, we would have gladly explained that this was dictated by the physical constraints of the ground. As an Arsenal fan, I imagine that Mr Hornby would surely be among the first to protest at the prospect of 25 tons of hardware being driven across the Highbury turf.

We are sorry that your reporter was 'underwhelmed' by this so- called 'stay-at-home experiment'. However, we would point out that, in spite of Mr Hornby's misgivings (it was interesting to note the report's lack of comment from any other spectators at the ground), this far from experimental type of event is universally welcomed by fans who would otherwise be deprived of watching their team at important away fixtures.

I understand from Arsenal's vice-chairman, David Dein, that, since Saturday, the club has been inundated with telephone calls from appreciative fans, all very happy with the concept and enthusiastic for similar events in future.

The fact that - and I quote - 'the few thousand' (the actual gate was 4,512) 'gathered at the West Stand, made more racket than at just about any other home crowd at Highbury' - must surely speak volumes for the popularity and overwhelming success of this type of event with club supporters.


Managing Director, Screenco Ltd

Alton, Hampshire

8 March