I'd like to start off this morning with some very important news to bring you about Arsenal Mania, a site that is close approaching a decade of service to Arsenal fans.
On 12 April 2000, Arsenal Mania was started as an online forum where Arsenal fans from all over the world had a channel to read, discuss and debate their passion for the greatest club in the world.
The forum (or the bulletin board as it was called back then!), had only a handful of members, most of whom still play an important role in the site today. It quickly expanded to include Arsenal news, player profiles and match statistics, and Arsenal Mania now attracts over a quarter of a million unique visitors each month. We are also fast approaching 40,000 registered users for the forum, and about to surpass 9,000 followers on our Twitter account.
Arsenal Mania (or "AM" as some of us lovingly call it), has also been featured in print media such as FourFourTwo magazine, the Guardian, Evening Standard, the Times, the London Paper and the Daily Mail, and Mania's writers have also contributed season previews and reviews to popular sports channels such as ESPN Soccernet.
Outside of Mania's online world, there is a small, but growing, group of people who attend matches together, before at Highbury and now at the Emirates. Pre and post-match drinks, are of course, a given, and Mania has also helped various Arsenal-related charities in getting their message and requests heard by the Arsenal community.
Owning a site this size takes a considerable amount of time and resources. I am awake at 5 AM every morning and then after work (and dinner) to publish the latest stories for the day, or fix some bugs even! I also try to provide match updates as frequently as possible through Twitter. Everything you see on the site (except the software for the forum), has been lovingly hand-coded line-by-line, such was the insistence by myself that everything be tailor-made for one of the leading Arsenal fansites on the great big Internet.
I also have Mania's outstanding team of writers and moderators to thank for their help and dedication in keeping things running – believe me, the site would be a lot more chaotic if it weren't for them. Infinite thanks goes out to Jonathan Nieuwland, Duncan Heffer, David Dix and Natalie, who were all there at the start in 2000. More recently, new faces have also come onboard to help (and apologies if I've missed anyone out), namely Sue-Hyung Shin, Paul Williams, Joel Che, Mark Brus, Asser Ghozlan, Asa Joséph, Wenger14, AnthonyG, Trevor Hunter, Canuck, Asterix, Eu-Jinn Teh and James Craddock. Thanks also goes out to Chris Mahon for an awesome logo and design.
So what does this all mean? Well, for the last five months, I have been in discussions with a company called Play LA, who own a network of sports-related websites in the UK, the US and Canada. Play LA put forth the idea of Mania joining their network of sites, and in return, take onboard the costs of keeping the site running.
It was important to me that my website had the resources available to help take itself to the next level, and being a part of a much larger network makes that objective very much possible. What was also important for me when considering the proposal from Play LA was that the people who help out on the site on a daily basis would also be financially-compensated for their time and efforts.
Thus, after three months of negotiating and discussions, I am pleased to announce that on 24 February 2010, Arsenal Mania officially joined the Play LA network, keeping onboard its existing team of writers and moderators, who now all have jobs in keeping Arsenal Mania updated! It is an important step forward for the website and we now have access to the necessary resources to develop some important key enhancements to the site, something that I previously didn't have the time to do.
Arsenal Mania will continue to be the same, if not grow even more, as part of Play LA. The URL will be the same, the site content will get even better, the forum will continue to grow and improve, and if anything, we'll be adding some more features in the coming months, so look out for these!
It is a very exciting time indeed to be running one of the largest Arsenal fan sites on the Internet, and I'd like to thank all of you who have regularly visited the site over the past 10 years, for without you there wouldn't be an Arsenal Mania.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy the site.
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