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LONDON - Arsenal's season has been a disappointment on the pitch but at least it seems they can still count on the support of the Queen.

According to a newspaper report today the 81-year-old Queen, like her late mother, has been a keen follower of the Gunners for 50 years.

Players and officials of the north London club were invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace in February after the Queen had to pull out of opening their new Emirates Stadium in October because of a bad back.

The report in the Sun quotes Arsenal's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas as saying the Queen told him she was a fan.

"It seems the Queen follows football and she told us she was an Arsenal fan," Fabregas is quoted as saying. "She appeared to definitely know who I was and we exchanged a few special words."

An unnamed senior royal source also confirms in the article, which is accompanied by a mocked up photograph of the Queen wearing a red Arsenal shirt, that she supports the club.

"Her Majesty has been fond of Arsenal for over 50 years," the source said. "Her late mother was a self-confessed Gooner, due largely to her admiration of their former player Denis Compton."

Compton, who played for England at football and cricket, won the league with Arsenal in 1948 and the FA Cup in 1950.

Buckingham Palace would not confirm whether the Queen was an Arsenal fan.

"Private conversations she has are confidential and we cannot comment any further," a Palace spokesman said.

- REUTERS