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Untold Arsenal Media Watch – Arsenal under attack

Does the Sun Have an Editorial Bias Against Arsenal?: A Look at “Talking Points”

By: Anne

In recent comments on this blog, a great deal of discussion has centered on whether or not certain media outlets have a “bias” against Arsenal. As a result, I, along with some of my fellow commenters, have agreed to take a closer look at this issue. The following article represents my first attempt to do so, and is focused on the Sun’s coverage of Arsenal.

In general, a good way to begin determining whether any particular media outlet is being used to conduct a “propaganda campaign” against Arsenal is to look for the symptoms.  Specifically, if such a campaign is indeed occurring, one telltale sign will be the frequent repetition of certain “talking points,” which appear over and over again in articles on unrelated topics.

As summarized by Wikipedia, a “talking point in debate or discourse is a succinct statement designed to persuasively support one side taken on an issue.” As anyone who has a passing familiarity with politics will be aware, the use of these “talking points” is an essential strategic component of any political or marketing campaign.  The strategy is deployed as follows:

A person seeking to influence public opinion will “strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discourse in order to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause.

When used politically in this way, the typical purpose of a talking point is to propagandize, specifically using the technique of argumentum ad nauseam, i.e. continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact.”

Keeping the above definition in mind, let’s turn our attention to the media coverage of Arsenal. Is it possible that certain media outlets could be using this same “argumentum ad nauseam” tactic to influence public opinion about Arsenal?  Specifically, as it relates to my analysis, is there any evidence that some unknown party might be using the Sun to conduct a “talking points” campaign that attacks Arsenal?

Well, the short and easy answer to that question is : “YES, they most certainly are.” Fortunately for us, this type of tactic is something that’s fairly easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for.  Also, in this particular case, it’s made even easier by the low quality of the Sun’s journalism. In fact, their reporting about Arsenal is so repetitive that it’s difficult to NOT notice that their coverage sounds like a broken record, and just repeats the same points over and over again.

So, without further adieu, here’s a short (and very paraphrased) list of the “talking points” that the Sun is currently using when reporting about Arsenal:

1)      Cesc wants to leave

2)      Nasri wants to leave

3)      Arsenal needs to win titles (with emphasis on 6-year trophy drought)

4)      Arsenal needs to splash big cash in the transfer market and sign big-name players

5)      Arsenal is in trouble

6)      Arsene Wenger is in trouble

7)      Arsenal’s fans are angry with them

Even without further effort on my part, all of you should already be familiar with every “point” on that list. However, what may be less clear is the REASON that these things are repeated so often. Well, it would appear that someone is, in fact, using the Sun (and other media outlets), to conduct the “technique of argumentum ad nauseam,” involving the “continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact,” that I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Below, I’ll provide you with several case studies that further highlight how this is occurring.

CASE STUDY ONE: Arsenal’s “Wantaway Captain” Cesc Fabregas and his “agonizing” desire to return to Barcelona.

In this case study, I’ll focus on the repetition of the same words and phrases throughout different articles. If you note my emphasis on certain words, you’ll see how certain words and phrases (i.e. “talking points”) are being repeated over and over again.  The following are excerpts taken from different Sun articles that appeared in the last couple of weeks:

Arsenal’s “WANTAWAY SKIPPER is DESPERATE not to leave [for Asia on Sunday]. Cesc  is “AGONIZING over whether he should take a firm stance and refuse to go on tour in order to force through a sale.”

Fab’s  AGONIZING WAIT to seal a switch back to his boyhood club is set to continue with neither giant willing to budge. “ “Arsenal’s WANTAWAY SKIPPER was at their training ground yesterday for a series of tests.”

This “war of nerves means Fabregas faces a NAIL-BITING WAIT to find out if his dream to play senior football for his hometown club finally comes true.”

The Gunners face a NAIL-BITING WAIT to see if their skipper turns up for the first day of pre-season training a week today.

Cesc Fabregas  is DESPERATE to seal his £37million switch to Barcelona before Arsenal return to pre-season training on Tuesday. “

The Gunners are WAITING ANXIOUSLY to see if Barcelona up their £31million bid for Fabregas.”

As you can see from the above, the Sun is actually repeating virtually the same “points” over and over again. Also worth noting is the fact that all of the above articles (with the exception of the last one, which was unattributed) were written by a single reporter, Antony Kastrinakis. Additional research would be needed to determine the full implications of that fact. However, further examples of this same practice abound, if anyone wishes to follow up with their own research.

CASE STUDY TWO: Arsene Wenger “splashing out” in Europe.

In this case study, I’ll demonstrate the way in which the Sun will forcibly insert “talking points” into articles to which they have no relevance. In the following article, which appeared as a “news” report, the only basis for the article is a photograph of Arsene Wenger on holiday, in which he’s sliding down a water slide. However, from that one photograph, the Sun somehow managed to extrapolate the following report (note my emphasis on the “talking points” taken from the list above):

Is Arsene Wenger splashing out in Europe?

Photo caption: “SLIPPERY SLOPE Arsene Wenger”

Some DISGRUNTLED ARSENAL FANS have thought it for a while – boss ARSENE WENGER IS ON THE SLIDE.

The long-serving manager, ATTACKED BY CRITICS FOR NOT SPLASHING OUT ON BIG NAME STARS, zoomed down an inflatable chute off a yacht in the Mediterranean.
Photo Caption: “Hand bawl … ARSENE WENGER RECALLS LIFTING A TROPHY

An onlooker said: “Arsene seemed to be having fun. He can’t think THE CLUB IS ON A SLIPPY SLOPE.”

Arsenal, who have gone SIX YEARS WITHOUT A TROPHY, have YET TO DIP INTO THE TRANSFER MARKET. But defender Gael Clichy has left for rivals Man City – while STAR MIDFIELDERS CESC FABREGAS AND SAMIR NASRI ARE BOTH REPORTED TO WANT TO SAIL INTO THE SUNSET.”

So, in the above article, the only actual “news” to report was that Arsene Wenger slid down a water slide. However, in a somewhat illogical manner, the Sun stretched the story to include EVERY SINGLE ONE of the talking points mentioned in my list above. (Note: this article was written by Rhodri Phillips).

CASE STUDY THREE: Editorial by Ian Wright

This particular article is interesting, simply because virtually EVERY single sentence hits on one or more of the talking points that I listed. In fact, the entire article reads as if Wright could well have drafted it from a “talking points memo” listing the exact same points (which is certainly possible). (On a slightly unrelated note, this article is also noteworthy for being one of the most audacious anti-Arsenal hatchet jobs that I’ve seen in newsprint). However, moving on to the case study… What I’m going to do here is break down Wright’s entire article, and divide it into the appropriate category of “talking point”:

1)  Arsenal’s fans are angry with them

“On Tuesday I was stopped… by an Arsenal fan, who asked me…’What the hell is going on with our club?’ … it sums up the mood of the supporters as this summer lurches from frustration to despair.”

“I get accused of having a go at Arsenal. But I’m only putting in bold black and white the problems that the real fans are deeply concerned about.”

“Real fans don’t give a hoot about debts. They pay a lot of money to come through the gates and they don’t want to see their heroes passing them on the way out.”
“Make the rest of English football sit up and take notice for once – not just Arsenal fans who can see the lights going out on their club.”

2) Nasri wants to leave

“Now it looks like Samir Nasri is set to join [Clichy at Man City].”3) Cesc wants to leave

“With Cesc Fabregas looking a goner to Barcelona…it’s very, very sad to see.”Cesc “has been loyal to [Arsenal] and played his best but now he can see what’s going on and looks set to go. “

4) Arsenal need to win titles (with emphasis on 6-year trophy drought)

“Clichy feels Arsenal is not good enough for him anymore [because] he can see that Man City is going to be challenging for top trophies next season.”

“Fingers crossed doesn’t work anymore. It hasn’t worked for six years since the Gunners last won a trophy.”

“Man Utd have…been in three Champions League finals in the last few years and have won Premier League trophies”5) Arsenal need to splash big cash in the transfer market and sign big-name players

ManU, Man City, Liverpool, and Chelsea are making it “clear they mean business [by] being bullish in the transfer market, and “Arsenal are being left behind.”

“Serious teams need established world-class players.”

“Arsenal should be courting the star players before they move to other big clubs. But they’re nowhere to be seen.”

Cesc is leaving because he “has clearly recognised the fact that Arsenal will not be competing with their rivals in the transfer market.”

“What I’d like to see are some bullish signings.”

Arsenal should sign Essien, Kompany, and Joe Hart.6) Arsenal is in trouble

“Since when did Arsenal become Manchester City’s feeder club?”

“How on earth will Arsene Wenger attract any top players to Arsenal?”

“It’s come to something when a player like Clichy feels Arsenal is not good enough for him anymore.”

Man City “won’t have to go through Champions League qualification, unlike Arsenal”

“Arsenal are being left behind. And the trouble is, when all the top-class players have gone, it becomes extremely difficult to lure other top players to your club.”

“The whole transfer thing is like a house of cards. Once one big name wants out, the rest see it and it all comes tumbling down.”

If ManU “went on the market, it would be sold within a week. Would that happen with Arsenal? I’m not so sure.”

“Right now, I can’t see Arsenal challenging for the Premier League title next season, which is seriously depressing in July!”

7) Arsene Wenger is in trouble

“Wenger has put his faith in picking up little gems from abroad, little-known players who he can nurture and develop. All very well. But he has filled the dressing room with players who ‘owe’ him. It’s a nice cosy arrangement.”

Wenger has “been asking too much of the young players he’s brought through.”

“What’s Wenger doing?…Downing, Jones, Henderson. Even Young. They might not be the sort of players Wenger likes but at least those other clubs are having a go.”

“I’d love to see Wenger being given the same sort of transfer pot [as Mourinho]…But I have my suspicions that he would still dither about, take too long to make up his mind and then plump for someone in France or Spain hardly any of us have ever heard of.”

“Wenger is still the right man for the job but…I do feel that sometimes he needs a good shaking.”

So, there you have it. If you follow the above link and look at the actual article, you’ll see that there isn’t a SINGLE sentence (aside from a few transitional ones) that does not fall into one or more of the above “talking point” categories.  Is that likely to happen by accident?

In addition to the case studies above, the following articles provide some additional examples of  other ways that the Sun has made use of these same talking points:

Paul Scholes has told SAMIR NASRI to join Manchester United.  Scholes said: ‘Arsenal play the best football to watch at times. But WHAT IS THE POINT IF YOU ARE NOT WINNING ANYTHING?’”

(Note: this article is by Antony Kastrinakis again)

SAMIR NASRI claims a LACK OF SUCCESS could force him out of Arsenal. “

(Note: this article is unattributed)

Walcott is desperate to see both FABREGAS and NASRI stay as well as BIG NAMES COME IN to help end a BAREN SPELL for the club that has left FANS FROTHING AT THE MOUTH .  He declared: ‘I don’t know what is going to happen with CESC. He WANTS TO WIN things and it’s difficult for him. ‘”

“If Wenger does not BRING IN BIG NAMES, Van Persie might reject a new deal. ..Van Persie will be reluctant to commit his long-term future unless there are signs of real progress. That means TOP-DRAWER ARRIVALS.”

“Following Arsenal’s end-of-campaign COLLAPSE IN FORM, FRUSTRATED FOLLOWERS screamed at both the board and WENGER demanding MAJOR SUMMER SIGNINGS be made.”
(Note: this article is by Antony Kastrinakis AGAIN).

So, anyway, the above concludes my analysis of the Sun’s “talking points” campaign targeting Arsenal.  If anyone feels that I have not provided sufficient evidence that such a campaign exists, the amount of additional evidence that can be found in the pages of the Sun is ample, to say the least.

Although many of the articles I cited are actually attributable to a single reporter (Antony Kastrinakis), I believe that there is still sufficient variation in the authorship to display an editorial bent as well. Remember, every single one of these articles has to go past an editor’s desk before it is published. In fact, it’s possible that Kastrinakis is just the reporter covering this particular beat, and that the talking points are being inserted by the editor after the fact. More research will be needed to get to the bottom of this issue.

Also, before I conclude, I would like to highlight one additional issue that arises with regard to the Sun’s coverage of Arsenal. Specifically, the paper also appears to have a tendency to throw cheap insults at Arsenal players without apparent provocation. For example, the following article was based on nothing more than a picture of Bendtner asleep on a sofa:

ARSENAL fans have always known Nicklas Bendtner was a dozy so and so… and finally here’s the proof. The Danish striker, 23, is usually caught napping in the box but needed  40 winks at training yesterday – on the Gunners’ first day back after the summer break.” (note: this article is unattributed).

Similarly, the following one-sentence report, accompanied by a picture of Denilson, appears to have had no factual basis whatsoever, and to have just been thrown in for spite (as far as I can tell):

SPANISH giants Villarreal are ready to end Brazilian midfielder Denilson’s  misery at Arsenal.”

Photo Caption: “MISERY … Arsenal flop Denilson”

(note: this article is unattributed).

Again, if you wish to find additional evidence that this trend exists, you need look no further than the pages of the Sun.

282 comments to Untold Arsenal Media Watch – Arsenal under attack

  • Dave Highbury

    It’s obvious, by applying the same analysis you have, that the Sun is not the only paper, and that it is not only newspapers. You know already that it also includes refs. Cannot wait to whoop som ass next season – not just other teams at football but the sitting ducks that are the press.
    Untold Arsenal is the diffinative Arsenal write – up along with Arsenal.com. The rest is TOSH

  • Matt Trower

    Dear Ann,
    I am so impressed with your article. I hope you don’t mind but I have forwarded it to Talk Sport, The Mirror, The Sun and Times. It is ridiculous how these organisations have made our club the topic of so much negative rubbish. All the ‘new’ fans are definitely believing what thet are reading and hearing. They have lost sight of what a magnificent club they ‘support’. We can’t compete with Man City and Chelsea nor Man United, Real Madrid or Barca. We are still close to them though without a fraction of the finances they have. Our facilities are the envy of Chelsea and Liverpool to name but a few. Our new fans have been spoilt I’m afraid, football is in a worrying state.
    Kind Regards
    Matt Trower

  • joni.bravo124

    Well said ! it is obvious to see there is a hate campaign by most British papers against arsenal (Sun with their Kastrinakis, mirror with their Cross, Daily mail just to mention a few)however that never really gets mentioned a lot

  • Julius

    Interesting article! Thanks for bringing this up, I have been thinking about thus for many years and it has come to a point when I thought enough is enough and I was thinking of writing a similar article! I mean, Sun, Mirror, Daily mail and the Times all of them are anti-Arsenal especially Arsene Wenger who has changed the face of English football!

    Now guys quote me! If the media don’t start supporting Arsene’s wenger’s policy of narturing talent and teaching them how to play beautiful football, England will struggle on the international scene for many years to come….

  • sahil

    Well done Anne

    The Rupert media is well and truly out with their knives looking to tear apart arsenal.Like i have said in my previous comments the Rupert media(ex sun) is more negative towards arsenal as compared to the non rupert media (ex guardian),surely this is not a co incidence.

    The closing of NOTW is delightful news for me.Hope the phone hacking allegations are investigated impartially and stringent action is taken against the rupert media(although i dont have much optimism that it will happen).

  • jayj

    has anyone listened to Talk Sports Adrian Durham??? Talk about anti arsenal with a vengence.

  • Kentetsu

    Good that I never read the Sun, although I think other parties are just as guilty. There is basically no positive article about Arsenal to find these days. Even an imminent signing of Gervinho – he’s even referred to in the squad list for the Asia trip – will be highlighted as another unknown from the French competition, even though he scored 18 goals last season to help Lille win the title.
    Speaking of the Asia trip, among the absentees are Fabregas and Eboue (already mentioned by Wenger in his latest interview, but also Fabianski, Almunia and Bendtner. Make of that what you will, or actually the media will do that for you. I will especially be interested in seeing Miyaichi play for Arsenal.

  • bob

    Anne,
    Kudos on this further breakthrough article! Many of the examples in your previous major analysis of last summer’s Cesc/Barca Tampering also let back to or were cross-sourced with Murdoch’s THE SUN. (I wonder if any of those were by Antony Kastrinakis or Rhodri Phillips.) It opens many important lines and levels of analysis and understanding. For one, THE SUN is the force-multiplier, the media megaphone, for ANY message it chooses. How so? It has the most circulation of any newspaper in the Anglosphere. Indeed, with the shutdown of Murdoch’s News of the World after tomorrow, Sunday, The Sun then goes to 7 days (one for each of your talking points!) and becomes The Sun on Sunday. NOTW has had the biggest circulation of any Sunday newspaper in the Anglosphere and The Sun is absorbing it. The Sun is quoted by other papers; even when those other papers completely invent an anti-Arsenal story, and it works (has plausibility) because it is synonymous with being anti-Arsenal. And, for a small but indicative sample, yesterday’s Goonernews compilation of web and blog-based stories listed 3 stories that, to attract the online reader’s attention, used the exact same anti-Arsenal headline headlines that were carried by The Sun. Further research could look into whether the same stories – and your talking points – are being repeated by any/all other News International (Murdoch) media properties. For example, is there a reciprocal story-feeder relationship among Fox Soccer presenters’ commentary and news, BSkyB (39% Murdoch/News International) and The Sun, let alone other affiliated outlets, online, newspaper and TV affiliates. All this to say that the massive distribution and repetition the same few talking points will go a long way to shaping what fans – of Arsenal and across the football world – believe about Arsenal. I’d welcome any further thoughts you’d have on the potential impact of this both on Arsenal fans and on potential signings.

  • Same old tabloids, always printing material (sports related or not) with minimal referencing or relevance at time of print. I have seen examples of stories/interviews dug up from years gone by, and re-hashed each time they need to fill up space.

    With the Sun particularly there used to be a massive bias against Liverpool, and it seems to have shifted on to us. Another example where I feel this is important is in the match reports themselves. Obviously not every fan gets to watch every match in its entirety. If Man United scrape a 1-0 win quote “class shines through” “Got the job done” “another three points in the bag” “insert fergie arselick here”.
    Arsenal win 2-1 and its “Flailing defence dampens win” ,”Arsenal struggle to break down defence” Defensive catastrophe” ad infinitum….

    Statistics from around 5 years ago show that the Sun (probably the trashiest and most uninformed paper) had a 40% market share of newspapers, and that is a tragic reflection on how people in the UK gain their information and opinions of the world. These papers should have a warning on them much the same as cigarette packets stating ” Reading this kills brain cells, defies rational thinking”, or simply “uninformed shite”

    I tend not to bother reading them but when I do catch a glimpse I just feel hatred and anger at these people who write condescending articles as if they are addressing and 8 year old child. I like football for football, and hate the celebrity culture, sensationalism and speculation that comes with it.
    All Done : D

  • mick

    jayj….
    Regarding Talksport it is not just Adrian Durham, though he is the worst, sneering, abusive, insulting and downright rude. I have complained several times but the response is always the same. ‘We feel our reporting on Arsenal and Wenger is both fair and balanced’ Micky Quinn, Mark Saggers, Brazil, Irani and Darren Gough are all almost as bad. Arsenal bashing is so prevalent on talksport that it must be a calculated policy.

  • bob

    For decades, in US journalism, the NY Times and the Washington Post were known as the industry-wide opinion leaders. They set the news agenda by the stories they picked and many of the other newspapers and TV newscasts took their lead from those two newspapers. It strikes me as at least POSSIBLE, that The Sun plays this same outsized, disproportionate role – as the opinion leader – in much of UK/EPL football coverage (, and a similarly important role beyond newspapers). At minimum, if you are a media entity with limited resources and The Sun has written such and such (e.g., Arsene Sucks), then you are on safe ground to repeat its talking points and not bother with the expense of any investigative reporting of your own. Again, I’d argue that it would be a mistake to isolate The Sun from the rest of New International’s media network. As part of a wide-cast international network, The Sun never sets on the English Football Empire.

  • bob

    Geezer,
    I ask because I wasn’t then following the EPL: When, as you say, The Sun was always having a go at trashing Liverpool, who was then the main competition against Liverpool? This matters. (Was it ManUre?)

  • bob

    p.s. Geezer, and what years are you talking about?

  • bhanu

    excellent post mate …….. amazing depth 🙂 thanx

  • Bradys right foot

    Any rudimentary content analysis of the print media or air time coverage on outlets like Talksport over the last two to three years would confirm that Arsenal are commented on in negative terms more than any other EPL club infact I’d be pretty confident that Arsenal are infact commented on more than any other club.

    Arsenal are a huge club and obviously this will be reflected in the volume of coverage we receive. However other factors such as circulation sales and the most rudimentary of benchmarks for talk radio the amount of phone volume generated when Arsenal are mentioned will ensure this continues. This nonsense fills the void that the club in part allow by a stoic silence in relation to its PR and the thirst of fans for news.

    However the negativity and abuse that the team and manager have suffered is generated from two sources firstly a media and football establishment which hate Arsenal, its manager, how we play and what weve done in financing our own stadium and not having a sugar daddy. The second source of this is coming from Arsenal fans who’s negativity and frustration of not winning a trophy and is being nutured by the Anti Wenger media.

    Arsenal are far too accomodating to the media infact as is the Manager. If I was a communication director at Arsenal there would be a complete change of direction. I’ll give two examples in recent years where the media have been disgraceful in the treatmentof our manager. A few days after the Moyes Cesc spat Mark Saggers who would be close to Moyes and after eulogising about the Everton boss basically called Wenger a liar on air. Wenger had stated the Cesc couldn’t have said anything to the ref as Wenger was with the ref in the tunnel which is 100% true, Cesc had actually said it to the fourth official. When the obvious media mistake was outed a week or so after the story it was never talked about again simply dropped, Moyes had simply been inaccurate in what he said but sopoor was the journalism in question what should have took any cub reporter 5 seconds to sort out took the entire British sports media a week.

    Jeff Shreeves an absolute cunt of a man, who as the years go bye seems more likely to give Ferguson a blow job in the tunnel rather than a difficult question treats our manager with contempt. I also remember an interview he did with Benetiz which was a disgrace. After a Villa game two years ago, he delibrately misquoted Wenger who had been complimentary and accurate about Villa to O Neil. He stated that Wenger had called Villa a long ball team and a on eway managerial spat ensued. This wretched little coward really should have beenput into his place by the club. Anyway my mainpoint in this is that Arsenal have made themselves easy targets.

    Now stories like Nasri and Cesc going are news and will create debate and journalists willfight tooth and nail for insight and exclusives and fair play to them. However the running anti Arsenal or to be more accurate anti wenger editorial narrative is lazy and makes for lazy journalists. I’m willing to bet that no journalist covering Arsenal could give you our net transfer spend since we moved to the emirates, we haven’t spent anything while our competitors have spent huge sums. £ for £ we are over achieving massively.

    Furthermore the media narrative is now that Wenger inherited the best back four in the World and knownothing about buying defenders. He improved Adams and Co and then purchased the invincibles defence again an inconvienant truth.

    What can we doe to mitigate a hostile press simple ram it down their fucking throats and win something. I look forward to that day.

  • bob

    Brady’s Right Foot,
    Do you recall what show/media outfit did Moyes slander Arsene on two seasons ago (right?)? Also what media outfit does Jeff Shreeves work for? Cheers.

  • Notoverthehill

    Anne very good research but the latest item is:
    Cesc: “No pienso lugar más con el Arsenal”.

    This has been lifted apparently on the 7th July 2011 from The Sun. The Spanish Press are now full of the Cesc Fabregas non-appearance for the Asian tour, as evidence of a “work to rule” to enforce the transfer.

    The Sun is a newspaper appropriate for Public Toilets, especially in far off rural places where sanitary facilities are basic, very basic.

    I leave it to you, Anne to follow this to the illogical source?

  • Cape Gooner

    Anne, I think you will find The Independent and The Guardian are following a nearly identical route. I have stopped reading their football sections and get all my Arsenal news from blogs.

  • bob

    Brady’s Left Foot,
    The volume of anti-Arsenal stories requires a war-room to combat and would consume anyone but a full-time PR person’s time, assailed on all fronts. I also hate this gang-banging but it strikes me that this feeding frenzy would only intensify with every morsel and photo op they could squeeze and result in even more stories on stories. I agree with your point that one reason they hate us is our not having the sugar daddy. To me, this means targeting a self-sustainable model because it is the threat of a good example that could stand outside their Billionaire’s Takeover Model. Also, I think it has something to do this year with our being in the lead in advocating and expecting and benefiting from the fair financing limits/rules, which I do not think really sit well with at least some of the biggest club owners whose customary strength and experience is to have it their way, having the money and power to run roughshod over any attempted restraint. This, plus the fact that being anti-Arsenal has become – through repetition of the talking points – a proven media cash cow. But to me, at least, this is still just scratching the surface.

  • Anne

    @Dave Highbury:

    Glad you enjoyed the article, and glad that you (like some others above) immediately recognized that it’s not just the Sun that is engaging this behavior. While we’re on the subject of talking points, I’d like to take a closer look at some of these AAA blogs as well. For example:

    http://justarsenal.com/

    Is it me, or are do a lot of their articles seem focused on hitting these very same talking points that I listed above?

  • bob

    Anne,

    Your Talking Point 1 is today being “proven” by the “Cesc not on Asia tour” variation.

    Your Talking Points 4, 5 and 6 are being exemplified by the negativity that will now greet any Arsenal buy in France: as Kenentsu points out about a likely Gervinho signing. That signing can only “prove” that he can’t splash in a “real” market for a big player; and so, that Arsene is in trouble; and that Arsenal is in trouble. No genuine analysis of Gervinho’s upside and downside.

  • Anne

    @Julius:

    You SHOULD write an article about this! There’s loads more research to be done. 🙂 If you were to write an article, what angle would you be interested in focusing on?

  • Anne

    @Sahil:

    I think you’re correct that the Rupert media does seem to be worse towards Arsenal than many others, but as far as this talking points campaign is concerned, I think that there are others involved as well. Do you agree?

  • bob

    Anne,
    They’re mostly awful. I’ve written to JustArsenal and called them Un-Just Arsenal for their chronic negativity. They call in a writer supposedly named “Adam Kemp” (AK) who does their hatchet job. I’ve asked that they dump him, but to no avail naturally.

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    I don’t live in England, so I don’t ever listen to talk sports (I probably wouldn’t anyway 🙂 ). But based on the things I’ve seen on their website, they’re actually another media outlet that I think would be worth analyzing to see to just what extent they’re repeating talking points.

  • jayj

    Talk sport yesterday Adrian Durham was going on about how this fair play rule is a joke that if a Billionaire has the money he/she should spend it how they please and Arsenal are so stupid not spending money.

    I’ve also noticed like a previous blogger The Independent and The Guardian are talking as much shit A.Durham.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    The reason that my article about the Cesc transfer rumors tended to focus so much on the Sun was because there was just such a large volume of material that I had to narrow it down somehow. I knew that the Sun was a paper that would at least be picking up and repeating most of what was reported elsewhere, so I figured that it would give me a good representative sample of the coverage.

    However, when it came to fabricating interviews and such, the Mirror was just as bad as the Sun. However, the worst offender by far was the Daily Star. Remember, they’re the only ones that Barcelona publicly named as having been threatened with legal action (although I don’t think they were the only ones). What do you know about the Star in terms of ownership and everything?

  • Anne

    @Kentetsu:

    I think it’s great that you never read the Sun. It’s a shame that so many do 🙂 I guess the worst thing for me about doing this research is that I’m going to have to be reading them so much. I’m probably driving up their website hits by percentage levels 🙂

  • Mike

    I have always thought that the media were against Arsenal. I think it is because of the overwhelming foreign character of the team.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    You raise an interesting point, which I think should be looked into further. Basically, when you’re witnessing a talking points campaign in the media, it’s usually occurring for some combination of two reasons.

    The first is that someone, somewhere is deliberately introducing talking points into the media for purposes of propaganda. The second reason is just plain old lazy journalism. The person originating the campaign knows that, if they can get the talking points into enough media outlets, others will start picking them up and repeating them just because their reporters want to throw something together quickly without doing any real work.

    Where the Sun is concerned, the quality of their journalism is generally terrible. If you look at my quotes from them above, and in my previous articles, you’ll notice that there are a lot of misspelled words, which were misspelled in the original articles (not by me 🙂 ).

    These types of errors, and the poor quality of their journalism in general, makes me feel confident in saying that lazy journalism rules the day at the Sun. To what extent do you think that their campaign is malicious, and to what extent lazy? I’m really not sure.

  • Anne

    @Geezer:

    It’s good to get these things off your chest 🙂

  • jayj

    @Anne
    Actually I dont read the sun or any other news paper my daily fix for rubbish comes from Talk Sport which you could guarantee are repeating the same rubbish. It gets better with all the white van men phoning in expressing concern for their beloved club. Its worrying the amount of effort these morons put in but never question the integrity or agenda of these media buffoons.

    Micky Quinn and Mark Saggers (M.Saggers claims to be an arsenal fan) may have topped even A.Durham especially concerning Wengers youth policy and how Liverpool are a success story waiting to happen but they never see LFC have spent way more money and failed to reach the minimum 4th place in the last two seasons.

  • jayj

    Another great outlet for crap is Ian Wrights editorial, always the growing unrest/troubles within AFC board,players and Arsene Wenger.

    Ever notice he always states Wenger is the right man but…..

  • jayj

    Daily Mail covers the same contagious vile as well.

  • Anne

    @Bradys right foot:

    I’ve also wondered why Arsenal (and Barcelona as well) have done so little to counter the press mischief that has caused so much damage to their images. Both clubs seem more content to just let the storm blow around them, and trust people to make up their own minds about it.

    However, I think that part of the problem is that it wouldn’t do any good. Because these same press outlets that are attacking and slandering them aren’t going to be willing to print anything that they put out to counter it.

    For example, when all of those news stories came out last summer claiming that Cesc had “publicly stated that he wanted to leave Arsenal for Barcelona before the World Cup,” Cesc came out two days later and made a formal public statement denying that he had ever said it. But did you hear about it? No. And that’s because the only news outlet in the entire world that carried the story was Madrid-based tabloid AS. (But before you give them too much credit, they only published it to have a laugh at the Barcelona tabloids who were carrying the other story).

    Also, how many times has Wenger come out and stated unequivocally this summer that Cesc is NOT leaving for Barcelona. And yet, what good has it done? I don’t know if you saw my previous article on the Cesc transfer saga, but in part 2, I did some fairly in depth coverage of similar efforts by Barcelona to counter stories in the English press, which had no impact whatsoever because the English press didn’t report on them. See here:

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/12742

    Personally, I think that what I’ve mentioned above is one of the main reasons that Arsenal doesn’t exhaust itself trying to counter the press. They have other things that they need to devote their time and attention to.

  • Anne

    @Notoverthehill:

    I’m sorry, but could you clarify what you mean by this?:

    “I leave it to you, Anne to follow this to the illogical source?

    I don’t quite follow what you’re asking me.

  • Gunz

    This Antony Kastrinakis geezer has definitely got ‘form’ for being AAA and fabricating rubbish.

    Check out this from the archives
    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/958

    InWengerWeTrust-TrueGooner

  • sahil

    @Anne:
    I agree that the talking points seem to be the same for all media outlets.But the rupert media is the most negative towards arsenal.I think the media needs a club in turmoil.With liverpool seeming to get out of their worst period the media has jumped on to arsenal.
    They need to create sensationalism and they have chosen arsenal as their target.While this is what media does everywhere to get more ratings the rupert media have clearly jumped the gun.
    If we look at guardian some of their writers are nasty towards arsenal and some are not.But every outlet of the rupert media every writer employed by them keep on bashing arsenal endlessly. They never report anything positive about arsenal,surely there is something behind this.Do you agree that there could be some motive behind this campaign of the rupert media?

  • bob

    jayj,
    I followed the Guardian during the season, and it’s writers and game day live bloggers add up to a mixed message on Arsenal: I’d say about 3 negatives to 1 positive. I’ve read several articles there which praise our brand of football with enthusiasm. But most of the football writers are more pro-Manure than anti-Arsenal, which several are. However, there are articles there that are 80% positive and the other 20% of the article is debatable but not outrageously unfair. Also, as it used to be The Manchester Guardian, I’d guess (only a guess) that its some of the senior writers that are worshipful (and they are) toward Fergie than they are slanted (and they are) against Arsene.

  • Anne

    @Cape Gooner:

    I think you’re right about the Guardian and Independent. I just took a quick look at the Guardian archives, and here are some examples from a recent article:

    ManU “are encouraged by the sense that Nasri wants to move to Old Trafford, both because of the finances on offer and the frustrations that he feels about Arsenal’s failure to win a trophy since he joined the club from Marseille in 2008.”

    “With Fábregas keen to finally make the move back from Arsenal to Barcelona, Wenger is conscious that if he were to lose his captain and Nasri, following this week’s transfer of Gaël Clichy to City, this would send a negative signal to his rivals.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jul/07/samir-nasri-arsenal-transfer-fee?INTCMP=SRCH

    Same talking points, just presented in a slightly more sophisticated way.

  • Anne

    @Cape Gooner:

    Here’s another Guardian article with more of the same:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jul/08/arsenal-cesc-fabregas-samir-nasri-arsene-wenger?INTCMP=SRCH

    However, the interesting thing about the one above is that it’s attributed to “Press Association,” which I guess is a news wire service?

    In general, I don’t think it’s difficult for most Arsenal fans to see that the club is treated negatively in the press. However, the reason I focused on talking points in this article is to show that this negativity is linked to a deliberate propaganda campaign that is TARGETING Arsenal.

    Coverage in the press can go from positive to negative and back again for no particular reason, but when you see the frequent repetition of talking points in the manner that we’re seeing with regard to Arsenal, there is someone, somewhere who is behind it. I just wanted to re-emphasize that.

  • bob

    Sahil:
    I completely agree with your comparison of the Guardian and the Murdoch papers. I also think that the sloppiness of the Sun is partly because they are hell-bent to churn it out (churnalism, some one mentioned yesterday) before the others and not only scoop them (be first) but also set the party line with their talking points with each passing news cycle.

    Sahil, Anne:
    As for motive, I have some definite thoughts about the Murdoch animus which need further refinement. But I think some of it comes down to Arsenal championing and benefiting the fairness in spending rules and Murdoch opposing them, both ideologically and economically. These rules restrain wealth and power and help the self-sustaining model (SSM) while presenting an obstacle – if fairly enforced – to the financial dopers, the Billionaire Takeover Model (BTM). It is a business principle at hand; not merely a football stylistic matter. What do you think?

  • jayj

    Well the media never goes after the real story and never will in the case of Chelsea,Manu,Man shitty,Liverpool & Spurs.

    They will never cover anything regarding Chelsea’s failure to break even and becoming self sustaining as was claimed they would two seasons ago and how they fail to attract big crowds or even grow as fan base.

    Man U to spend money with the amount of debt the glazers have placed upon them, and how the glazers could face financial ruin with collapsing business in the US. Nearly 900,000 million in the red.

    Man shitty glory days are to come but supporters will demand big names but how will they ever turn around the Arabs money.

    LFC all positive with King Kenny no signs of desperation signing A.Carrol, no mention of failure and no trophies in the last 5 yrs. Cant finance a stadium but could pack 100,000 seatter.

    Spurs – Harry Houdini does it again but he ain’t no tax dodger and he will finish above Arsenal. Where do spurs get the funding from and they should of been given the olympic stadium.

  • bob

    The targeting of Arsenal at this time is all important. Why especially now – that is, there seems to be an uptick that is more than business as usual going on. In my view, four of the intersecting factors that have intensified the usual anti-Arsenal drumbeat are: (1) it’s the transfer window; (2)this is the last time that big spending is Ok, IF and only IF the fair-spending limits are going to kick into effect next season (not this season, right?), and my guess, as stated, is that Murdoch is set against any spending cap, in principle and as a businessman; (3) to undermine the viability of the self-sustaining model as an alternative and competitor to the billionaire’s takeover model; (4) to weaken/take out Arsenal as a possible viable challenger to the expected/desired Rednose Coronation (the Rednose 20th), a huge party in the making — this by turning off players from coming here and/or inducing players to leave rather than be affiliated with a “failing” brand/franchise; (5) doing all the above continues the profiteering from the time-tested Arsenal/Arsene is weird and disintegrating stories. The 7 talking points serve all of these self-reinforcing goals. Murdoch media is not alone, of course. But it is, in my view, the leading edge of a set of convergent interests among different business groups. This, for now, would be my working hypothesis.

  • Rich_Fryer

    When talking about anti-Arsenal bias, I always remember a line of comment during the Arsenal-Man U match at the end of last season that was being covered by Talk Sport. The line was “The last thing Arsenal want to do now is win.” My kids couldn’t believe it, and my son is a Man U fan. No justification, just blatant AA vitriol.

  • bob

    p.s. in sum: Arsenal and its values constitute the threat of a good example, and such threats are unwanted at best.

  • bob

    Rich_Fryer: That’s THE classic comment!

  • Anne

    @bob:

    In response to your comment about Just Arsenal, I suppose that what I was getting at is whether they’re even real Arsenal fans? I’ve noticed that more than one of these AAA blogs seem to exist for no other reason than repeating these talking points over and over again. And if that’s the case, could they have actually been set up for the purpose of disseminating propaganda, as part of a media saturation strategy?

    In my entire life, I’ve never seen sports fans behave in the way that some of these “Arsenal fans” do. I’m talking about both AAA blogs, and the behavior of some commenters as well. While sports fans will often criticize their teams when they feel that criticism is due, these kinds of relentless campaigns by supposed “Arsenal fans” targeting what they claim is their own club are something else entirely.

    Honestly, I’ve never in my life seen anything like it. These people claim to be Arsenal fans, but looking at what they’re writing, it’s obvious that they HATE Arsenal. Is there something in the water in North London that causes ONLY Arsenal fans to behave this way? Or is it possible that there could be some more sinister forces at work here?

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I don’t really know what to say. Most things have already been mentioned in the comments above and all I can do is follow that discussion. So I guess I’ll just say good job until I can think of more 🙂

    @bob
    You frighten me. I have been scared to death of ‘why now?’. I do believe like you that it is all sort of coming to a head. They sense that we are there for the kill, and maybe they sensed that we are also just about at a stage where we can be succesful again. So the vitriol increased since last year. The last season ref shite (as you put it) may have actually been to totally undermine us once and for all. I say this because the ref nonsense did not stop once we had dropped out of the title race. The Villa game, which was just as bad as Newcastle just not done as badly, (Though we were at fault massively too) and one or two other games made me feel at the time that they want us to drop out of the top 4 so we can’t claim consistency either. It is that reason that I am absolutely terrified of the playoff round. If someone wants us out of Europe bad enough, they will have it. They can give us a tough draw, and then have ref insurance so to speak that the result follows their desire. The media, and Murdoch are just one aspect of the problem. They are by no means the sole movers in this regard. In my opinion…

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    Interesting comments about Talk Sport. It’s what I would have expected based on their website. Bob, do you happen to know who owns them? 🙂

  • RedGooner

    Im amazed Sky doesnt get a big mention they seem to be just as bad as talk sport, the sun, the mirror,the daily mail.

    The problem is changing their position/stance on AFC would be near impossible.

    Whats your thoughts on why it is happening ?

    Is it sky more interested in selling its league to the world and leading the way with only praise for the big spenders and negative comments for those wont dont conform.

    Is it the fact we for years were accused of not having enough english players.

    Is it wenger was one of the first foreign managersand they didnt like he wasnt english and his ideas on changing the game.

  • bob

    Anne,
    My comments above were meant to address your point that: “someone/somewhere is behind it” So the question is “who benefits” I think another part of the answer is that the FA, or some part of it has its vested interest in both ManUre staying the flagship enterprise no matter what, and especially this year, and that there are political and business ties to explore that MAY exist between FA officials – it’s a private corporation (right?) – and other clubs, managers. Any analysis has to become more specific, a who’s who, to gain further traction and understanding, I would suspect.

  • Raj

    Finally, some fans who can see through the lies of talk sport.
    They talk about a sustainable Modal but then change their colours when it comes to Arsenal.
    Although I would like to see the club make a special shares issues for the regular fans of Arsenal, such as options to buy shares in the club for buying the increase priced season ticket. The Option would be at a fixed price with options to buy within the next 5 years.
    Secondly the club could issues additional shares so as to enable the russian tycoon to get more % of shares of Arsenal at the same time pay of the loans for the building of the Emerates Ground.
    The current debate on talk sport is clubs finding loop holes in flouting the club sustainability modal. What they fails to see is this would make sure that when these rich owners decided to finish with the club the club was not destroyed because of the bills its been lumbered with. Examples include, stadium naming rights, special priced tickets, for special seating. eg 20 million £ for Chelsea Season ticket for one Abromowich.
    But I see these valid ways of staying sustainable, as compared with owners putting money into the club using loans against the club assets, but the money does not belong to the club but the owners. Manchester United need to keep in the top 4 in a big way or else! a Leeds?

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    I haven’t actually read Wright’s columns other than the one that I used as an example above. Honestly, after reading that one, I started to look at more of them to see if there was a pattern. But the first one I pulled up (arguing that Jose Mourinho should be brought to Arsenal), made me so angry that I just stopped 🙂 Incidentally, I hate Jose Mourinho and think that UEFA should ban him from football entirely.

    But anyway, I don’t think I should into an off-topic rant on my own comments thread, so I’d better just stop talking right now. 🙂

  • jayj

    @Anne

    Well when the Andy Grey/Richards Keys fiasco happened sky sacked them and they were hired by Talks Sport, funny but the just happen to be the same group and part Ruperts big cloud.

  • bob

    Red Gooner,
    Sky (BSkyB, right?) is 39% Murdoch owned (The Sun I think is 100% owned). The current scuttlebutt in all the other media yesterday and today is that they let go of NOTW (closing this Sunday) in order to appear to qualify as “proper owners” of BSkyB – which the government must rule on – because they have put in a takeover bid for the other 61% to try and become 100% owners. This has been put on hold because of the uproar of NOTW. Did you know that? RG, Aren’t the Sky storylines you refer to much like the Sun storylines in Anne’s analysis?

  • Anne

    @Mike:

    I disagree that the reason the media is against Arsenal is because of the foreigner aspect. I think that a lot of people have the impression that that’s part of the motive because a lot of these news reports have an undercurrent of Xenophobia about them. However, considering that I view this as a deliberate talking points campaign, which is intended to propagandize and turn people against Arsenal, I believe that the anti-foreign angle is strategic.

    It’s something that you see all the time in politics. Politicians, when they write their own talking points, will often attempt to trigger feelings of xenophobia or national pride, with the idea being that this will cause people to support them for emotional reasons (ie, not based on reasoned analysis about the merits of their platform). I believe that we’re seeing some of the same tactic where Arsenal is concerned.

  • bob

    Anne,
    No, I don’t know who owns/officiates at Talk Sport. Perhaps someone could pass that on?

  • bob

    jayj,
    Are you saying that Sports Talk is part of Ruppie’s web?

  • jayj

    @Bob
    UTV Radio owns talk sport

    I’ve pasted wiki:-
    UTV Radio is a UK media company, and owner of several radio stations in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It is a growing branch of UTV Media. The Wireless Group had its British origins in the company Talk Radio, named after the national AM station around which it was formed, which was later purchased by TalkCo, a consortium whose members included MVI, News International, Radio Investments and LMC Radio headed by chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun newspaper. It bought the Wireless Group in 1998 for £15.5m.

  • Anne

    @Gunz:

    LOL. Thank you SO much for that link. That was from back before I was reading this blog, and if I had ever seen it before, I probably would have quoted it on some things 🙂

    Apparently, this Antony Kastrinakis is a serial offender…I’m going to see what I can turn up on him.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    With reference to Sun and anti Arsenal brigade…

    Rememebr Sun belongs to Murdoch who controls the Star Tv in Asia which has the rights to telecast EPL in these places. I believe Fox Sports has the right in places like Australia and North America too.

    It most probably is a ploy to weaken a team like Arsenal which is a direct competitor for the championship.

    I have seen the Star Group i.e the Rupert Murdoch’s channel openly favor Manchester United many times and this continues even in the print media.

  • bjtgooner

    Anne – a very well researched and timely article. I fully agree with your comments. As others have pointed out the anti Arsenal bias in newspaper commentary is widespread, not just confined to the Sun and further we are subjected to sickening tv/radio rejoicing when a real or virtual reality departure from Arsenal can be reported. I have come to particularly dislike the way the Daily Mail report Arsenal – now it is not purchased!

    The reporting of our transfer or non transfer news this summer has been very biased, but this is just a continuation of the way large sections of the media reported our results over the last season.

    Does the biased reporting have any distant connection with biased refereeing?

  • Anne

    Ok, STOP THE PRESSES EVERYONE!!! I believe that this Antony Kastrinakis is going to have to merit an entire article all of his own…My God, this guy is a jerk! I highly recommend that all you review the things I quoted above from this guy, take a look at the link that Gunz provided above, and then do a google search on “Antony Kastrinakis.” In fact, here’s a direct link to one:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=1259&bih=626&q=%22Antony+Kastrinakis%22+&rlz=1R2GWYE_enUS328&oq=%22Antony+Kastrinakis%22+&aq=f&aqi=&aql=undefined&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=1498l4290l0l3l3l0l2l0l0l125l125l0.1l1

    If, after you do all these things, you have anything you feel you’d like to say to Mr. Kastrinakis, here’s his email address at the Sun:

    a.kastrinakis@the-sun.co.uk

    I sincerely hope that some of you choose to register your comments. I also just found some general statistics on this tw*t:

    10 topics mentioned most by Antony Kastrinakis:

    arsenal barca barcelona champions league chelsea gunners liverpool manchester united united wenger

    Antony Kastrinakis has written:

    More about ‘arsenal’ than anything else
    A lot about ‘arsenal’ in the last month

    Most blogged-about:

    Barca in bitter feud with Arsenal (5 blog posts)

    And here’s something REALLY interesting. I believe this journalisted .com website will prove highly useful in future:

    Journalists who write similar articles:

    Mike Perez (The Independent)
    Ashley Gray (MailOnline)
    David McDonnell (The Mirror)
    Pete Jenson (various publications)
    Mark Ogden (the Telegraph)

    From the FAQ:

    “How does Journalisted work out what journalists write similar stuff?

    The algorithm follows the same lines as the one used to determine similar articles and goes roughly like this:

    Take a number of the journalists most recent articles
    Identify the significant terms within those articles
    Search for other articles containing those terms
    Rank the journalists who wrote those articles according to the closeness and quantity of the matches

    That’s an intresting distribution accross various media outlets…

  • Anne

    Dammit, I just posted some stuff about Antony Kastrinakis that I’m really anxious for all of you to see, but I accidentally included 2 links and I’m awaiting moderation. If it’s not up in two minutes I’m posting it again 🙂

  • bob

    Anne,
    So, if/when we get Gervinho, the expectable line will likely be “oh, another of ‘his’ French acquisitions,” n’est ce pas?

  • jayj

    The ESPN panel dont know the names but the middle aged Blonde Guy defo got it in for Arsenal.

    The usual kids and lack of money crap.

  • bob

    jayj,
    If you see blondie on ESPN, try to catch his name, ok?

  • Anne

    @Sahill:

    I do agree that there could possibly be a motive related to Murdoch media in particular, but figuring that out will require more research. However, when you implied that the Guardian was maybe not quite as bad, that reminded me of a little problem I had with them a while back…

    Specifically, I’m talking about their role in covering up what happened with Dowd in the Arsenal-Newcastle match. Their match report included no mention of the referee whatsoever, and generated some 900 comments from readers. But when I was looking at the comments section I noticed something interesting…

    The majority of the comments seemed to be from people accusing Arsenal fans of “whenging” and the like, and the ones that argued the other side were generally poorly written and idiotic, which actually reinforced the “whenging” arguments from the other side.

    However, interspersed between these comments were numerous blank comments boxes, with a note that the comment had been removed by the Guardian. I recall being under the distinct impression at the time that the Guardian had removed every single comment that told the truth about what happened in the match, or made a well-argued point about it…

  • jayj

    @bob

    Cant remember if it is uk based station or the one in asia (i travel around) but this guy sits amongst Steve McMahon and some Indian fella.

  • Anne

    Ok, guys. This same comment might come up again later once it gets moderated. If anyone moderating reads this, please just delete the previous one.

    STOP THE PRESSES EVERYONE!!! I just did a little research on this Antony Kastrinakis, and I think I might have to a separate article just about him…My God, this guy is a jerk!

    I highly recommend that all you review the things I quoted from him in my article, then take a look at the link that Gunz provided above, and then do a google search on “Antony Kastrinakis.” In fact, here’s a direct link to mine:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=1259&bih=626&q=%22Antony+Kastrinakis%22+&rlz=1R2GWYE_enUS328&oq=%22Antony+Kastrinakis%22+&aq=f&aqi=&aql=undefined&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=1498l4290l0l3l3l0l2l0l0l125l125l0.1l1

    If, after you do all these things, you have anything you feel you’d like to say to Mr. Kastrinakis, here’s his email address at the Sun:

    a.kastrinakis @ the-sun.co.uk

    (note: I added spaces before and after the “@” so that this wouldn’t be a 2nd link, so if you copy and paste this, make sure to remove them)

    I sincerely hope that some of you choose to register your comments. 🙂 I also just found some general statistics on this tw*t:

    10 topics mentioned most by Antony Kastrinakis:

    arsenal barca barcelona champions league chelsea gunners liverpool manchester united united wenger

    Antony Kastrinakis has written:

    More about ‘arsenal’ than anything else
    A lot about ‘arsenal’ in the last month

    Most blogged-about:

    Barca in bitter feud with Arsenal (5 blog posts)

    And here’s something REALLY interesting. I believe this journalisted .com website will prove highly useful in future:

    Journalists who write similar articles:

    Mike Perez (The Independent)
    Ashley Gray (MailOnline)
    David McDonnell (The Mirror)
    Pete Jenson (various publications)
    Mark Ogden (the Telegraph)

    From the FAQ:

    “How does Journalisted work out what journalists write similar stuff?

    The algorithm follows the same lines as the one used to determine similar articles and goes roughly like this:

    Take a number of the journalists most recent articles
    Identify the significant terms within those articles
    Search for other articles containing those terms
    Rank the journalists who wrote those articles according to the closeness and quantity of the matches

    That’s an intresting distribution accross various media outlets…

  • bob

    Anne, Sahil,
    Guardian is very departmentalized and complex. For example, its national news department is head and shoulders the lead investigator and lead newspaper in uncovering and sparking the current eruption in the UK against Ruppie’s papers for hacking over 4000+ people. Its football group has two writers and one live game blogger who have openly shown their appreciation of how Arsenal plays; however, it also has roughly 5-6 anti-Arsenal and heavily pro-ManUre writers, and MU is definitely the football section’s predominant rooting interest. I will work on identifying the anti-Arsenal writers, but don’t want to equate or tar them with the Sun’s brush. There is a difference, even if far from a big enough difference.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    I don’t know much about the financial fairplay rules and Arsenal’s role in supporting them, so I guess I don’t have my own opinion on the issue. However, if what you say is the case, I think that’s definitely something that could cause the Rupert network to be ticked off at Arsenal. This might be something that explains part of the negative coverage, although I don’t think it explains all of it.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Your working hypothesis is interesting. I don’t have a working hypothesis yet, but I’ll get back to you when I do 🙂 And I’ll definitely be taking your ideas into account.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Thanks. 🙂 Btw, who is it that Arsenal could get drawn against in that CL qualifier again?

  • Anne

    @RedGooner:

    You’re right. Sky deserves a mention as well. I guess I just overlooked them 🙂

    As for the motive for all this stuff, that’s the big open question right now. I’m hoping to figure it out with further research, but as of now, I’m not sure. There are a lot of people who have posted theories here and on other threads, and I think that they are all generally good. However, if you’ll see my response to Mike, above, I actually do NOT believe that anti-foreigner bias is a part of it. At least, not in the larger scheme of things.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Great article Anne, and sorry for those who had to wait to see their comment come online. I was away and didn’t realize how many people (and many new people) came along and gave their comment.
    For those who didn’t appear: please stay on the subject next time and it can and will be published

  • Shard

    @Anne

    The probable list includes Dinamo Kiev, Udinese, Panathanaikos, Twente and Standard Liege. For a more detailed list

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/champions-league-what-if-we-finish-fourth-

  • Shard

    Anne

    Also, I took your suggestion and googled antony kastrinakis and found an article in arseblog dating back to 2006, stating kastrinakis fabricated that Henry was booed by the crowd at the emirates in his match report. (Arseblog calls him a Liverpool supporting hack)

    here is the link
    http://www.oleole.com/blogs/arseblog/posts/where-the-henry-was-booed-story-came-from

  • Anne

    @Prasanna Veeraraghavan:

    Fox Soccer Channel in the US clearly demonstrates a similar pro-ManU and anti-Arsenal bias. First of all, they seem to look for any excuse to show a different match whenever and Arsenal match is occurring. I’ve had to watch a lot of Arsenal matches on the Spanish channels. Also, during the summer, they’re showing re-runs of old matches, and it’s just a parade of ManU matches over and over again. The only replays of Arsenal matches that they’ve shown have been Arsenal losses 🙂

  • Shard

    @jayj

    Whi is this blond guy sitting with Steve Mcmahon and Shebby Singh? I can’t remember any blond guy that appears with them. Hmmm.. I’m curious now

  • bob

    Shard,
    I know what you mean – I do think there’s been something climactic brewing here (and I don’t mean global warming!, gads). I do think you’re right to put a particular focus on the CL Qualifying Round; and yes, that there’s more than the media at work if only to make it stick on the pitch. Let’s see who the Ref is for the CL/qr matches. But also, given their importance, the longer it takes us to bring signings on board (and perhaps media negativity plays a part in slowing down signings), and IF we have key players leave at the very end of the window, then – to say the obvious – the less time there is to field a trained squad with chemistry, no? No doubt, elimination from the qualifiers would be hellish. You make a key point.

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    I don’t think that the media bias is “distantly” related to the referee bias. I think that the two are directly related, and are both part of an ongoing campaign to destabilize Arsenal. The next question to be asked is what the specific motive is for WHY someone would want to destabilize Arsenal.

  • bob

    Shard,
    I think your focus on the dangers of our upcoming CL qualifier is spot on. Will we have enough time to really be ready for it? For what it’s worth, I’d add it as another factor (6) in the working hypothesis I tossed out there earlier. Wow! Very tangible and specific at that!: as you indicate, who’ll be our opponent? who’ll be the ref?

  • Anne

    @bob:

    What do you think of what I mentioned in my comment to Sahill about the Guardian’s role in the Newcastle cover-up?

    Oh, and in case you can’t tell, I’m a little bit behind in the conversation. I’ll catch up 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    “Liverpool supporting hack” or not, I’m not sure that explains why he’s apparently been on a relentless anti-Arsenal rampage going all the way back to 2006…what a complete a**hole. The only reason I posted his email address above was because I couldn’t find a phone number, but I’m going to try to find one, and if I do, I’ll be sure to make it as widely available as possible 🙂

  • bob

    Anne,
    Great stuff on Fox Soccer Channel programming content in the US. It pushes the ManUre brand and blocks Arsenal from increasing its following in the States.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I pray that we are still a big enough attraction for UEFA so that they nix any notion of Arsenal being unfairly dumped out of the Champions League (though they might give us the Europa League crown if they felt generous after that…Just kidding) I have been very worried about this since the day the Villa match happened. At that point I felt that they were trying to take Europe away from us. (oh how they’d laugh. Arsenal a continental team, which can’t play in the continent anymore.hahaha)

    It really really scares me when I think about it. That is another reason for wanting signings to come in early, but I feel the delays, such as they are, would be pretty much unavoidable. yes nothing a few million quid extra won’t solve, but do we have that extra. besides. having all the class and quality in your team will not be enough if the referee does play foul. We have seen it before, and also… The Champions League qualifiers, get much less coverage globally. It wasn’t on tv here till 2 years ago I think, and only then selected matches. So it might also be less of a big stage so to speak, for the robbery (if there were to be one) to occur. And then the media will only claim that it is poetic justice for Eduardo’s ‘dive’ that Arsenal now got knocked out. Something they deserved those years ago. again hahaha they would go.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    Oh absolutely. I don;t think any sort of football allegiance can explain his relentless anti-Arsenal agenda.. And though Liverpudlians might hate us for Anfield 89, a Liverpool supporter will always hate ManU more. I don’t think we’ll find the same nonsense against ManU though, will we?

  • Anne

    @bob and Shard:

    Personally, I’m expecting that Arsenal will get through the CL qualifier. I don’t want to jinx them by being overly optimistic or anything, and it’s always possible that they could just have a bad day, but I personally think that Arsenal is too good to get taken out by a ref fix against any of the teams that they’re likely to be playing. I think it would be risky to try to do that, because it might require the ref to take too active of a role. It’s much easier to do it against someone like Barcelona.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I’d think we would too. But still it worries me that we would be robbed again, and perhaps this time fatally so. As I said, imagine the uproar, and the snide comments from the media. They will ensure that Wenger’s position becomes untenable (though I still struggle to visualise the board sacking Arsene after all he’s done) In any case, the entire season and perhaps beyond will be undermined. As you say, it will have to be very blatant. And yet they got away with it in Newcastle. So why not against Udinese. A much better side. (The only saving grace is.. It’ll need to be 2 bad days, or 1 horrible day and a no more than decent day to knock us out)

  • Anne

    @bob:

    I think you’re right that FSC is TRYING to block Arsenal from gaining a following in the US, but I’m not sure they’re succeeding. 🙂 The problem is that they still have to show Arsenal a lot of the time, and most people here are coming in as neutrals. Arsenal’s football is, by far, both better and more entertaining than anything else the EPL has to offer, and people aren’t going to fail to notice that.

    Despite the best efforts of FSC, you and I are both here 🙂 And as far as I know, there’s only one other person within 5 miles of my house who really follows football, and he’s an Arsenal fan as well. In fact, the only real impact that FSC’s efforts have had on my neighborhood is that they’ve forced both of us to subscribe to Arsenal TV, thus generating a small profit for Arsenal 🙂

  • bob

    Anne,
    On the Guardian coverup of the Newcastle disgrace, I agree with you. I think that there’s a politics within the football department (a large one there, btw) which is overall is decidedly pro-ManUre – it is a site of Fergie Worship – and cab be disgustingly pro-ManUre and downright nasty about Arsenal. I don’t doubt your finding there for a second. I’d really like one of us (if you have that link, or would just post it sometime soonish) to follow up and see who was doing their live football blog that day as well as the writers of the post-match and any follow-up articles. It could well be a mini-study on its own. That said, and in no way to take it back, the Guardian also has a couple of writers who, like I say, have openly praised Arsenal’s style and empathized with Arsene where other papers have trashed him. It’s mixed, but yes, I’ve seen viciously anti-Arsenal pieces there. In other departments, the paper has had breath-taking integrity, going places where others will not tread. I only wish it extended to the football section; but, without further evidence, I think it has deep roots in its origins as the Manchester Guardian. Lastly, it’s really good to look at how the talking points can vary; and where they are the same, what possible connections, if any, that Guardian writers might have had with colleagues at the Sun when these papers couldn’t otherwise agree on the laws of gravity.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    My statistics suggest that you won’t find anything similar with regard to ManU 🙂

    “Antony Kastrinakis has written:

    More about ‘arsenal’ than anything else
    A lot about ‘arsenal’ in the last month”

    Oh, and in my comment about the CL qualifier above, I overlooked the fact that there will be a smaller audience. That is worrisome.

  • Shard

    In regards to certain writers being sympathetic to Arsenal, or at least not bashing Arsenal at all times, I would like to put forward the name Patrick Barclay who i believe writes for the Times (A Murdoch paper)

    I want to stress.. and very clearly say, that I am not sure.. REPEAT.. NOT SURE whether Barclay actually does write pro- Arsenal or not write any Anti- Arsenal stuff. The Times is a subscription required stuff and I’m not paying Murdoch anything more than I have to. But I seem to remember that in the aftermath of the Ramsey leg break, Patrick Barclay dismissed all talk of Arsenal being ‘soft’, called out Shawcross’s ‘tackle’ for what it was, and went on to say that Arsenal actually have the most mental strength of ANY club in the league.

    After all that, I hope it actually was Patrick Barclay who said that 🙂

  • bjtgooner

    @ Anne:

    I agree with your response to my question, however, one further question would have to be asked – who has the clout to influence both media and referees in a campaign to destabilise Arsenal? There can’t be too many candidates.

  • Notoverthehill

    @ Anne
    My though was that “I do not think I will play again for Arsenal”, is perhaps another “hoax” by The Sun.

    You can have the “pleasure” distaste to check! Lol!

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Here’s a link to the Guardian’s Arsenal-Newcastle match report and the comments section:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/feb/05/newcastle-united-arsenal-premier-league?commentpage=1#start-of-comments

    It’s interesting, but I think they might actually have subsequently edited the article to mention that the 2nd penalty was a bad call. I could be wrong, but I remember very distinctly being absolutely furious the first time I read this because they hadn’t mentioned the ref’s performance at all. I don’t know…

    And looking at the comments thread again, I can see that they did allow some responses from non-idiots about the referee performance to be posted. However, just looking at the comments in their totality, I have a very difficult time believing that this is a true reflection of their readers’ opinions following the match. In fact, I don’t believe it. I still think that this has been modified somehow to cover up what happened. And I actually now suspect that the comments they deleted were the ones that mentioned match-fixing.

    And in relation to your comment about finding connections between different talking points, I don’t know if you saw this part of my post above about Kastrinakis:

    “And here’s something REALLY interesting. I believe this journalisted .com website will prove highly useful in future:

    Journalists who write similar articles:

    Mike Perez (The Independent)
    Ashley Gray (MailOnline)
    David McDonnell (The Mirror)
    Pete Jenson (various publications)
    Mark Ogden (the Telegraph)

    From the FAQ:

    “How does Journalisted work out what journalists write similar stuff?

    The algorithm follows the same lines as the one used to determine similar articles and goes roughly like this:

    Take a number of the journalists most recent articles
    Identify the significant terms within those articles
    Search for other articles containing those terms
    Rank the journalists who wrote those articles according to the closeness and quantity of the matches

    That’s an intresting distribution accross various media outlets…”

    I’m going to be taking a closer look at this website in the future.

  • Shard

    @bjtgooner

    A good question, but I have a problem with it. I don’t think it’s one person or one organisation acting as a brain for this whole operation. I think it is more of a hydra headed creature with various different vested interests at play. they may often overlap, they may often cooperate, and they may even fight for the spoils, but it isn’t one single entity that we are battling in my opinion. That is what makes it so hard, and I often ask myself, At what point do you stop saying the system is corrupt, and start saying that this is the system?

  • bob

    Anne,
    If Ruppie’s Fox SC has been de facto blocking (or minimizing) Arsenal’s broadcast exposure in the US, but promoting MU (“the face of the league”), it shows their de facto business alliance at work; and surely with the FA, which – if I remember from a few months back – decides/handles the allocation of TV revenues to EPL teams. I think(?) Wrenny knows something about these details. Perhaps anyone would weigh in on the FA’s (contractual) role in deciding which team(s) appear on foreign TV and how those TV revenues are allocated to those who appear most and those who appear least, or not at all. Perhaps Arsenal would be getting more revenue as well as exposure if there were more appearances. Again, I can only raise possibilities and perhaps readers have further information on this.

  • Shard

    @bob

    I can;t be sure about this, but apparently in the Uk the matches chosen for TV are decided later? What does that mean really? I thought the rights were sold collectively? Maybe someone could help with this.

    In India the matches are all shown on tv, though not all can be shown live obviously. Is this the same thing as what happens in the UK? Does showing the matches live have direct financial benefits for the clubs involved? Oh, the one provision I remember for tv broadcast here was, that any re-arranged/rescheduled matches could not be shown live. I remember missing an Arsenal match in this way 2 seasons ago. But last year I think the Chelsea ManU match which was rescheduled, was shown. So I am unsure about this too..

    LOL.. Guess I don;t have anything to contribute really.. I’ll just join you in asking the question about how TV scheduling is done, and whether there are any direct financial benefits from it.

  • Anne – this article is a different gravy, top draw Untold content – well done!

  • bob

    Thanks, Anne. It’s been so fast and furious and exciting that I overlooked this amazing reference tool. I’ll search out some Guardian writers from that day. I also must see what the Sun did at the crime scene. A true gift. Cheers!

  • Shard

    On a lighter and totally unrelated note (Sorry Anne), I’d just indulge myself and post a link to a great goal scored in training by Ajax’s assistant manager, and my favourite player of all time, Dennis Bergkamp (all hail)

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/%E2%80%AAdennis-bergkamp-scores-wonder-goal-ajax-training%E2%80%AC%E2%80%8F-12680643/

  • Laundyender

    Anne it is fantastic research, well done but, what it brought to my mind was a poster in my Squat in Earls Court in the 70s.
    “Just because you are paranoid, does not mean they are not out to get you”
    Is it us, or is it them? The reaty is papers exist not to deliver facts, but to sell copy, and attract advertising revenue. Sadly we have become an easy target, are we creating the story, or is the story creating us? In truth it is probably a bit of both, both entities feeding off each other. We have a perceived soft centre, so it is highlighted, and the centre gets softer as a result.
    I do not believe the Press have an agenda other than creating headlines and selling copy, it is up to us to write our own agenda, and sadly we have not been as constructive in that department as we could have been in recent seasons.
    This site has much going for it; the constructive participation of contributors is unparalleled in sports blogs anywhere, long may that be the case, but, let’s keep a steady head and allow the press to sink themselves and wallow in their own cesspit, we are above that, on our own path, not paranoid, but realistic! The press are what they are, exposed as being no more than sewer rats by their own deeds, desperate to secure sales in a rapidly declining market. Let’s rejoice at their self-imposed downfall and continue to use the resources at our disposal to expose them and others for what they are.

  • bjtgooner

    @ Shard.

    I agree that a number of vested interests are at work trying to undermine the Arsenal. However, the sheer scale of the campaign suggests a single mind or co-operative group from within the hydra giving overall direction. It is likely that whoever is benefitting most will be calling the shots. But, the questions of WHY and WHO still need to be answered – for now we can only speculate

  • bob

    Laundyender,
    You’re definitely eloquent – and I wish the world were as tidy as you present it. However I find that you sidestep/miss/don’t/won’t see that there are patterns and underlying structures and active interests all of which cannot simply be explained away as you’d have it — basically, competitive newshounds hustling for a story in a sinking newspaper world. TV is linked, not just newspapers, and TV such as Sky is massively profitable (which is why Murdoch media is willing to amputate NOTW to try and save their takeover bid for Sky). You do argue it well, but there’s more than surfaces that meet the eye, and the mass media info-scape runs deeper than a bunch of pathetic reporters hustling their hearts out over the same storyline.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Anne, I really enjoyed this article and I look forward to more.

    As an FT reader, I used to buy the red top papers for the footie pages. But at the begining of 2010 I’d just about had enough of the repetitive rubbish written about Arsenal. The Sun/News of the World do have an agenda to make the club look desparate, foolish and weak. Last year I decided to start reading blogs instead.

    I think the journalists that come to Arsene Wenger’s press conference’s and continually ask stupid questions, should have their privilages revolked. Journalist’s that significantly distort and ignore Arsene Wenger’s perfectly reasonable answer’s to question’s shouldn’t be invited back. Cut them out of the loop, reduce futher their credibility and frustrate them so that they get the message.

    Reward good behaviour, as in journalists that do a half decent job get to sit up front in press conferences, have their questions answered fully etc. Up until now they have been given too much respect. Even if it is a requirement to speak to the media, there are subtle ways to exert power.

  • Donnyfan1

    Well done Anne. You have documented what we all feel. I am not suggesting you do it– but ManU are not treated the same way. Media arse-lick round Old Trafford. The best example of that was recently with Scholes article. It occured to everyone else so it must have occured to them that if ManU played more like Arsenal and less like a bunch of headless chickens– they might have given Barca a game. Never mind winning– it is a game we are talking about– what ManU (and Scholes) did in the final was pathetic and cringy. And there was no 12th man ref to give a hand. But if they suggested it to Saint Paul ( has he repented now he has stopped fouling) they never printed it. They let him get away with tripe. All aboard the ManU Hypemobile. It’s pukey!

  • Kamande

    Here is another article appearing on the daily mail. It’s heading is about Arsenal hijacking Liverpool bid for Stewart Downing, but the content is entirely based on the talking points you stated. This media bias and speculation, especially about Arsenal has gone overboard. I strongly believe their intention is to infuriate Arsenal fans and to make them see as if the club is in a crisis or that Wenger and the board have failed.

  • Kamande

    Here is another article appearing on the daily mail. It’s heading is about Arsenal hijacking Liverpool bid for Stewart Downing, but the content is entirely based on the talking points you stated. This media bias and speculation, especially about Arsenal has gone overboard. I strongly believe their intention is to infuriate Arsenal fans and to make them see as if the club is in a crisis or that Wenger and the board have failed. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2013030/Stewart-Downing-hijack-Arsenal-set-beat-Liverpool-Aston-Villa-stars-signature.html

  • bob

    Anne,
    I haven’t gone further, but on the Guardian’s Newcastle coverage, I want to add some complexities to that mini-analysis, for what it’s worth at the moment:

    That the article that’s there now does, as you indicate, say that there was no second penalty, although it does cover up the relentless brutality that Barton and Newcastle were otherwise allowed to get away with. So to me, it’s a whitewash (smoothed out with its good writing style) with one moment of understated honesty about Dowd’s missing the call. That is, the way that Paul Wilson writes it is weird: Paul Wilson doesn’t write that Dowd missed the call; rather he puts it in a strange stylish voice: “If Wenger could not see what the second penalty was awarded for he was not the only one. Neither Koscielny nor Tomas Rosicky appeared to do anything wrong, but Barton gratefully accepted his second invitation to score from the spot.”

    I went through the first 10 minutes of comments and found 7 out of the first 64 which slated Dowd for his bad refereeing. There’s a number of them later that do have a go at Dowd, but far fewer than those that mock Arsenal, and yes, quite a few were removed

    Also, for laughs or not, and I don’t know how to evaluate this, but some crazy? French-language site was so dubious about the match that it announced an Interpol Inquest as it’s headline: http://www.footanglais365.com/premier-league/article_495916_Newcastle-Arsenal-Interpol-enquete.shtml&sl=fr&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    You just had to ask me that, didn’t you? 🙂 To respond, I’m going to have to give you my own theory of the motive for all this…I know I said I didn’t have one, but the truth is that I do, and I haven’t wanted to say it because it sounds far-fetched and crazy. To me especially. 🙂 I keep hoping to come up with something else, but I haven’t yet, so I’ll just throw it out there.

    Because the truth is, the question you just asked me is the one that’s really keeping me awake at night over all this. Btw, this is going to be a long response, so you might want to stop reading now if you’re not VERY interested in this topic 🙂

    Anyway, here are the current facts as I see them. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I feel completely confident in my conclusions about the media campaign that’s targeting Arsenal, and also about the match fixing scheme that, among other things, is also targeting Arsenal. I’m also completely confident that it would be virtually impossible to have these two things occurring simultaneously, but for different reasons.

    However, along with that conclusion comes a big problem; namely, who the hell would have the POWER to do something like that, on a scale of this magnitude, and over this length of time? And like you, I’ve been forced to conclude that there “can’t be too many candidates.” In fact, based on everything I’ve seen in my life up to this point, I can actually think of only ONE potential candidate.

    And that would be intelligence agencies. Seriously. Up to this point, I’ve been COMPLETELY unable to think of a way that something of this magnitude could be pulled off without at least some cooperation from them. Because I’ve seen stuff like this before, but only in relation to major government cover-ups. And definitely not in sports 🙂

    For obvious reasons, this conclusion creates a lot of other problematic questions. The main one being, why the hell would intelligence agencies be involved in a campaign to destablise a football club? What could possibly be going on in the EPL that would justify something like that?

    I’m still hoping that I’ll come up with another possible candidate who could do this :). But to be honest, I’ve been struggling with this issue ever since I saw the media cover-up following the Newcastle match. Mainly because the cover-up was coordinated so QUICKLY on an international level. Seeing that really unsettled me, to be honest, because of what it suggested about who would have to be behind it.

    And although I’ve been working very hard to convince myself that I’m wrong about this, so far I’ve been unable to do it. So, that’s the problem I’m struggling with right now. However, I have in fact been able to come up with one theory of motive that would explain all of this. And at risk of having you all think I’m insane, I guess I’ll throw it out there 🙂 I do want to make it clear that this is all purely hypothetical and speculative.

    So, here goes. For awhile now, things have seemed to me to be not quite right in the EPL, PARTICULARLY where finances are concerned. This whole thing about increasingly high levels of debt, combined with increasingly high transfer fees, and particularly the unusually rapid inflation of player transfer fees, to me, has all the hallmarks of money laundering, or some other form of financial organized crime.

    When organized crime is generating very large profits that need to be laundered, one common way that it’s done is to invest the money into the stock market, which pumps up the price of certain stocks for no readily explainable reason. And to me, the way these player transfer fees are rapidly rising is strongly reminiscent of a sudden rise in a stock price, which suggests an influx of money from somewhere.

    But the problem is, from where? None of the clubs in the EPL have any money. They’re all in debt. So, where exactly is all of this money coming from? It has to come from somewhere, and I’ve honestly been wondering for a while now about the possibility that some EPL clubs were being used to launger illicit funds from organized crime.

    What kind of organized crime, you ask? Well, I’d say that the proceeds of a large-scale match-fixing scheme might be one possibility…:) And in addition to all that, we’ve actually just had the owner of Birmingham get ARRESTED on money laundering charges. And as part of that investigation, the Hong Kong stock market suspended all trading in shares of Birmingham’s parent company. So, very interesting…

    And while my questions about money laundering are still somewhat speculative, there’s still all the evidence of match-fixing that’s been covered on Untold. Even with just the match fixing, you’re still looking at heavy involvement of organized crime within the EPL. And with one criminal scheme comes others.

    So, here’s the thing. If illegal money from organized crime is, in fact, being laundered through the EPL, then that necessarily means that funding for intelligence agencies is being moved through it as well. There are only so many global networks for moving large sums of money around “off the books,” and it’s very well documented that intelligence agencies partner with organized crime to do this (google “BCCI” if you want to look into that further).

    Oh, and incidentally, laundering money for both intelligence agencies and organized crime is something that Barclay’s is reportedly not unfamiliar with as well. So having their name attached to the EPL doesn’t exactly give me peace of mind about this. But anyway, on to the implications…

    Basically, if there is some kind of large-scale money laundering operation being run through the EPL, the fact that Arsenal isn’t conducting itself financially in the same way as the other EPL clubs would necessarily be throwing a wrench into things in one way or another. If nothing else, it would certainly be preferable to have Arsenal on board, with all the resources it could provide.

    And THAT, to me, is something that would explain this type of attack on Arsenal, and make it worth all the time and effort that’s being put into it. And it’s something that would also explain the possible involvement of intelligence agencies, if anyone ever needs to call on them for help.

    I can certainly see the other EPL clubs as having a financial motive to do this based solely on what the success of Arsenal’s model would mean financially for them. However, I just don’t see them as having the power to do it without outside help from other interested parties. And when I say “other interested parties,” I’m talking about people in high places.

    So, sorry about the length of this. And I’m well aware that this theory probably sounds kind of crazy. It certainly does to me, which is why I’m working so hard to come up with other explanations 🙂 But so far, it’s the only thing I’ve been able to think of that really fits what we’re seeing.

  • Check your email Anne – that’s all very romantic but I feel that there is no accountable conspiracy, it’s more of a mosaic of greed.

    The world of football is a microcosm of global politicking… power is more about money than knowledge these days.

  • bjtgooner

    @ Anne:

    Wow! What an answer!

    I was thinking in terms of betting syndicates allied to persons unknown in the FA, persons unknown in media and persons unknown in the beneficiary club. The identities of some of the persons unknown could be the subject of speculation. What I couldn’t figure out was how this would be successfully put together and how a vast quantity of money could be made without attracting undue attention. However, you have answered that point.

    If you are correct and if intelligence agencies are involved, then it additionally points to a high level of political involvement and corruption – nothing really to be surprised about!

    Thanks for a great answer, I don’t think I will sleep easily tonight!

  • RedGooner

    Anne, If you are liking the re-runs of Arsenal loosing on FoxSoccer you probably like myself cant wait to see WarrenBarton back smuggly pointing our poor performances in the live games during pre match, post match and half time analysis.

    Ive always had a different theory on the press and cheating and that is Sky wanting to sell the premier league this season and who ever else wanted to sell the EPL overseas wanted the story of Fergie beating Liverpools record in the EPL to show the leagues as exciting as ever.

    I even thought they were the ones either putting pressure somehow on Refs or Bribing them.

    The only problem is I cant come up with a link between ManUtd and Sky and the success of the EPL who benefits and why ManUtd.

  • Anne

    @Dogface:

    What do you think a conspiracy is, if not a “mosaic of greed?” 🙂 The reality of a conspiracy is that it’s nothing more than a business venture. You have the same types of negotiations, compromises, etc., which eventually lead to some sort of “joint venture” to do something or other. The only difference is whether you break the law in the process.

    So, is there a conspiracy? Well, where match fixing is concerned, most certainly yes, because it’s illegal. Ditto for money laundering. But where media manipulation is concerned, it’s not a conspiracy because it’s not illegal. Personally, I try to avoid ever using the term “conspiracy,” because the way I see it, it’s just another way of describing the ways that different people sometimes work together to get things done 🙂

    But anyway, I hope I made it clear in the above post that I wasn’t trying to present that theory as something that I’m convinced is actually happening. It’s just the only thing I’ve thought of so far that could tie it all together. Otherwise, glad that you enjoyed the article, and I’ll go back and check my email. Probably tomorrow since it’s midnight here.

    Oh, and I’ll try to get to that 2nd match early next week. Cheers 🙂

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    Glad that you were actually able to get through the whole post. It was kind of long 🙂 I may be right or wrong about the involvement of intelligence agencies. However, if they are involved, it’s actually something that’s a lot more mundane than you would think.

    The fact is that intelligence agencies partner with organized crime all the time. They do it both to supplement their own budgets, and to arrange for the laundering of funds through clandestine networks. It’s almost a fact of life these days that, wherever you have a reasonably large organized crime venture, you can also expect some intelligence agents to be hanging around as well.

    I guess some people might call “conspiracy” on that, but it’s something that’s so well documented that I personally view it as fact. Do your own research if you disagree 🙂

    But anyway, all intelligence agencies have a media network in place that can be called into operation at any time for purposes of propaganda and information control. And if they’re partnering in an organized crime venture, they’ll use their media network to provide cover for the operation.

    In this case, we have both match fixing (an organized crime operation), and a propaganda campaign (which you’d expect to see if intelligence was involved as well). And to me, the patterns of distribution of these talking points are consistent with the way that they would be distributed through an intelligence information network. So, some sort of “joint venture” would fit with the facts in this case. Although that doesn’t mean that it’s definitely occurring.

    But if it is, that doesn’t mean that government officials are involved as well or anything. The intelligence agencies operate completely outside the control of the other bureaucracies. The only implication that it would have with regard to the rest of government would be that they’re not allowed to take any enforcement action to shut it down. Which would also fit the facts here.

  • Anne

    @RedGooner:

    No, please, don’t mention Warren Barton. The only thing I’m enjoying about the off-season is that I’m getting to take a break from being annoyed by him 🙂

  • Anne

    @Laundryender:

    Thank you for your compliments about my research. However, I think that we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about whether there is a “method to the madness,” so to speak, in all this media coverage. I’m a much more analytical than paranoid person, and I never come to any conclusion about anything that’s not based on evidence as I view it.

    And based on what I’ve seen here, taking into account my background in politics, this looks like a deliberate talking points campaign. However, as you may be able to see if you’ve looked at some of my comments above, I actually do believe that there’s a lot of what you described going on as well. It’s not all planned and deliberate. However, I do believe that certain aspects of it are. Otherwise, thanks for taking time to register your response 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Wow…that goal was f**king amazing. I can see why you like the guy. 🙂 And you don’t have to apologize for going off topic on one of my comments threads. I’m too much of a serial offender to complain about it 🙂

  • Anne

    @Gooner Gal:

    Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I agree that it seems like Arsenal could be doing a little bit more to keep this kind of thing in check. However, for whatever reason, it seems like they choose not to. I can only assume that they have their reasons for it.

  • Anne

    @Donnyfan1:

    I basically agree with everything you just said. However, just on a minor note, I do have to take exception to your statement that ManU didn’t get any help from the ref in that CL final. Because the fact is that they got a LOT of help.

    The one goal that they scored in the match was actually offside (Giggs looked about a foot off to me but the linesman missed it), and Valencia should have been sent off about 3 times over for his repeated rugby tackles on Barca players. In fact, it looked like all ManU did in the 2nd half was try to beat the Barca players up, and they didn’t get punished for it all. If you want evidence of that, just take a look at the stud marks on Messi’s forearms.

    Sorry, just had to say that. Otherwise, appreciate your comment 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob:

    You apparently went further through that comments section than I did. However, what you’re describing about the number of comments about the ref increasing as you got farther along is actually consistent with a practice that I’ve heard about before. Basically, if a paper is trying to make it’s comments sections reflect a certain editorial position, sometimes they’ll actually go through and bump certain comment that support their position up to the front, giving the impression that all the commenters agreed with them. Maybe the guardian did something like that here?

    And as for that article about the interpol thing, I’m surprised you haven’t seen it before 🙂 I was actually really happy when that came out. Supposedly, the whole thing was actually bogus, but I was hoping that it might still have encouraged some people to take a closer look at the match. On the other hand, I would be surprised if there WEREN’T suspicious betting patterns at some point during that match 🙂

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    @ Jayi:

    I don’t know if its replied and pointed out before or not. But the Indian fella is really not an Indan fella but a Malaysian soccer professional by name Shebby Singh.

    Frankly these guys are the biggest Manchester United supporters you can find in the Asian continet if not the far east.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Wow , Anne ,a great article and many interesting contributions from the rest of the gang. And phew !Felt I’ ve just completed the marathon reading that.
    @ Shard – thanks for the DB goal link -brings back fond memories.
    @Kamande – Thanks for that link -another crap article to distort
    the actual goings on .And an erronous one at that as Arsenal have toured Malaysia before – in 1975 & 1999 and I believe they played an Asian all star team in the mid sixties (1967 I think).
    @ Gooner Gal – I fully agree with you that recalcitant journos be rendered persona non grata and may I also suggest that the Arsenal press team make video recordings of all interviews and if any ‘errors ‘ are made in reports , these be sent to them with ‘kind & gentle ‘ reminders that if not corrected or rectified , lawyers will be contacting them !With all the tripe being written ,this could be a steady source of income for the club!
    And finally Anne , your suspicions may not be too far off -I for one feel that such a cozy relationship exists between the crimeworld and covert govt.agencies.We probably may not get to the bottom of this ,but, ” Tis time to fear when Tyrants seem to kiss “.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Prasanna & @ Jayi – The two gentlemen ( and I use the term very loosely), are indeed Shebby “at the end of the day” Singh, a fomer Malaysian player and rabid Spuds fan and Steve ‘rUUbish” Mc Mahon
    whose last claim to fame ,was being the manager of Swindon and Blackpool ,who were both relegated.
    Of late Paul Parker has joined them .But who IS that mysterious
    Blonde guy ?

  • @Anne – Ahh… the difference is that in one case ‘they are all out to get us’ and in the other we are shat on by default – also, I used the term “accountable conspiracy” (emphasis on the accountable) – so I’m not saying ruling out a conspiracy or collection of conspiracies, in fact – as you say – it’s more a case of a series of conflicts of interests that make the gestalt environment of hostility that we face.

    Although saying that I do believe we are a thorn in the side of the more shady influences in the game….

  • Shard

    Someone above asked what the link with ManU and Sky is. It is at best tenuous. Murdoch, apparently is a ManU fan. That means nothing of course (Usmanov apparently is a ManU fan too) Sky had shares in ManU, as they did/do? in other clubs. But as far as I know, ManU was the club that Sky tried to purchase outright. (Does anybody know when this was?) Of course this could just be a business decision to buy the biggest brand in English football. But when you consider that Sky essentially have a brand that uses/makes the ManU brand, it becomes interesting. ManU was actually the first club that registered itself with me in India. That was the name most heard, and they have the most fans here. ManU is what I call the face of the EPL, something which Sky has a huge stake in obviously.

    Still, in itself that link doesn’t mean anything. But there are many visible signs that Sky operate in a way that favours ManU. They do not show replays of things which show that ManU cheated, or got the benefit of referees. Ronaldo scored a very suspiciously offside goal against Derby to win 1-0 a few years ago, right towards the end of the season. What replay does Sky show? From behind the goal. It has gotten to a point where I can very accurately predict whether there was a foul/handball/offside or not simply based on the fact whether a replay is shown or not. As someone has also mentioned, ManU winning 1-0 is called doing the necessary, the hallmark of champions, While ARsenal doing the same thing is a struggle to break down the defense, all passing but no comparable end result etc etc. So the link perhaps needs to be established better, or it is just as innocuous as the allegiance of the shareholders. BUt Sky has an agenda, and it is clear to anyone who wishes to see it.

  • Shard

    Also, to the chaps talking about ESPN Asia.. I don’t think Shebby Singh is actually anti-Arsenal. Sure he’s self professed Spurs fan, and was actually called out on that by a Spurs fan because he was present at some ManU fan club function or something, so you might expect that he will be always anti Arsenal. But I see him making a lot of pro-Arsenal statements as well.. And consider that he works in an environment where Steve McMahon is the chief football expert, and where it is easier and less risky to trot out the same old cliches about only pretty passing, soft centre, no trophies etc. As a TV Pundit, you have to say SOMETHING, and that is the easiest path to follow since everyone is doing it. So he does it, but at the same time I don’t think he spouts too much nonsense specifically against Arsenal. That’s just my opinion of course..

    But who was that blond guy? I can’t think of any, except the Liverpool guy, Jason Mcateer maybe?? And what was the name of that fat guy Paul Something.. Friend of Sam Allardyce?

  • Anne

    @Matt Trower:

    Thank you for your kind comments, and I certainly don’t mind that you forwarded this article on. Don’t know how much good it will do, but it’s good that you made the effort 🙂 However, I do take exception to your claim that Arsenal is unable to compete with Barcelona.

    In fact, Arsenal outclassed Barcelona at the Emirates last season, and was certainly not outclassed by Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League second leg (although the referee unfortunately influenced the result).

    So, you shouldn’t sell Arsenal short on that score. And I’m a Barcelona fan, by the way. But I really do love Arsenal, and I feel like I would be selling Barcelona short as well if I wasn’t willing to give credit where credit is due. 🙂

  • Anne

    @Dogface:

    “the gestalt environment of hostility that we face”

    I might have to go and dig out one of my old psychology text books to figure out what you mean by that 🙂

  • jayj

    @shard

    Sorry my mistake the blonde guys sits alongside Shaka Hislop. I’m pretty sure he has american accent.

  • jayj

    @Shard

    Janusz Michallik – the anti arsenal fella on espn. Check him out.

  • jayj

    If you check ESPN’s press pass extra – you’ll never hear a good thing about arsenal but Janusz is always the more negative continuing the French players cliche and lack of english spine.

  • Dark Prince

    To be honest, yes the media will take a swipe at Arsenal. But lets be honest,they’ll tak a swipe at anyone who doesn’t win….even Chelsea or Liverpool are not spared.

    But yea, Arsenal wil be targeted more because our decisions are not knee jerk reactions, unlike other big team which will take swift and hasty decisions. So we’ve kinda become a soft target for all media in general.

    Also, you cant expect them not to tak advantage of the problems or lack of success at Arsenal. Its an obvious choice for story.

    Also, media want spicy stories to sell, so ‘Arsenal are doomed’ might be more of interest than ‘Arsenal are self sustaining’….

    I kno it may not be morally right, but hey, dont expect the world to be nice to u…they’ll sell their mother’s organs for money, so talkin shit about Arsenal is no big deal….

  • menace

    @ Anne – you should be made a dame and get a Nobel prize for diagnostic excellence.

    I have no doubt there are huge players at work in the denegration of Arsenal but I sincerely believe that Wenger and his methods will transcend all. Aspects that need to be addressed with officials should be recorded to ensure proof should recourse to law be necessary.

    I believe there are aspects of the ‘phone tapping’ that have impacted football and been used against Arsenal. This will come out in the wash.

    News International and News Corp. are liable for all of this evil and their money has been laundered with governmental appointment soap suds. The proprietor has to be punished and not the people who earn a living by publishing of newspapers.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Stevie E

    @anne
    Yet again, your article kicks ass on untold! This makes the untold media project more viable than ever. Whilst im not especially looking forward to having to read this garbage every day, at least I know what to look for. In fact, out of morbid curiosity, I thought I’d have a quick look at what the Sun has to offer this morning, and low and behold, in an “interview” with Theo, they managed to get in cesc, nasri, 6 years, Wenger failing and need to spend. They also threw in our lack of height for good measure which was supposed to be the main body of the piece.
    Thanks to you, i actually found reading that shite mildly amusing, something which I never thought would happen.
    As you can tell, im no writer. For the untold media project, how would you feel about reports being submitted to you/bob (im on evening standard & metro duty) for analysis and publishing? Cheers

  • bob

    Ah, Dark Prince,
    You have climbed this mountain and, on your return, reply as if you just scaled a molehill. After ALL the above, you reach a conclusive moment and advise: (1) yes, the media will take “a swipe” at Arsenal, and (2) “don’t expect the world to be nice to u” I’m overwhelmed by these life lessons, and will take it all to heart. However, all kidding aside, you are spot on when you note “they’ll sell their mother’s organs for money;” but less than convincing when you conclude, by comparison with that, that “talkin shit about Arsenal is no big deal….” It’s far more than no big deal and perhaps you’d consider rising to the occasion by applying your analytic prowess to some actual media analysis. I realize that doing so is more than this underwhelming conclusion. How about rehiring your devil’s advocate and tasking him with the effort to take apart one of these anti-Arsenal big media “swipes” – you know, the way you do articles on UA! – and make a contribution to this minor thread. C’mon mate, it would be an interesting exercise for you: your same logical skill set, different target. And you’d actually be helping the team that you’ve said you care about. You may be a Dark Prince mephisto, but I’m a fisher of men. So please regather your energies and come out and play — with the media. It’s just so unlike you to otherwise damn all the above with such faint praise.

  • Mandy dodd

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/News-Arsenal-boss-Arsene-Wenger-must-win-trophies-or-face-demise-as-Samir-Nasri-and-Cesc-Fabregas-edge-towards-exit-article763417.html

    The mirror is at it as well, no sources, nothing to back it up. No mention of Liverpool who have gone a similar duration without a trophy.
    As for previous posts about taking Europe away, I completely agree, I have suspected this for a long time.
    Many would love to see England friendly Liverpool or more unlikely, spurs kick us out of Europe.
    Is it the club, vested interests or wenger?

  • bob

    Stevie E, all,
    On media-watch (or Untold Media), I think any reader could simply select his/her media outlet (or outlets) to cover, TV, radio, print or online – and then agree to do a decent analysis/write up and post it here on UA – if Tony is in accord – on a given day of the week. For example, post it by every Monday morning. Surely Anne has way more than proved the concept works; and the volume of reader comments has way more than proved there’s interest, and how much readers collectively have to offer and say. We’re all media-saturated and all that’s needed is notice it and type what you see.

    In my view, for now, let’s hear back from Tony/Walter: on whether a weekly UM Day (Untold Media Day), once a week, would work for UA?; how/whether it might work here logistically (– e.g., just pick a day to post, each with his/her own specific “report”, or some other idea). People’s reports could tie-in to Walter’s Ref Reports: by noting how any key calls and/or non-calls were either covered or covered-up by the newspaper or TV or radio program that you cover. After which some coverage patterns could be noticed and readers could weigh in and dispute, correct, add as we all usually do for any UA comment. I think this will give voice to a lot of readers.

    Again, to date we have you looking at Evening Standard and Metro, me on The Guardian, Anne (which, tbd?), Shard (which, tbd?), and several others who are considering it. It’s not restrictive. So if someone wants to chime in on someone else’s chosen newspaper in any given week, no problems – it always takes more than one set of eyes to see what’s there. Even having a go at one juicy story per week is great. Reports could be sure to reference Walter’s weekly Ref reviews. And as ever, the more on board, the merrier! So do consider pitching in, even a little, even on a semi-regular basis.

  • bob

    jayj,
    nice observation about Janusz Michallik being the regular, knee-jerk, Upholder of English Spine! Perhaps he’s angling for Knighthood. The English Spine mantra is constantly sprinkled throughout reader blog comments and people like Janusz help to normalize and “validate” that all-purpose solution to the otherwise “French contagion” that Arsenal typifies. This despite Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs. Repeat it enough – and English Spine is, as you well know – and it’s EQUATED with Arsenal. That is: Arsenal equals NO English Spine. It’s tribal. It works because it’s already been ingrained, under the rational radar. Now, I agree with Anne that anti-foreigner xenophobia is not a prime cause of the anti-Arsenal assault. It is, however, as Janusz typifies, always tossed in (as to echo Anne, politicians will do) to channel that ocean of tribal feelings (ingrained since our childhoods) against the chosen target. Janusz Michallik’s media beat is to keep stirring up that swill at Arsenal. jajy, cheers for pointing him out. Now, back to naming that blonde guy!

  • jayj

    @bob
    Janusz Michallik is that blonde guy it must be me I always remember Janusz Michallik as being blonde dont know why but hey. Another source for crap is the BBC, contributions by the ex-liverpool simpletons.

  • bob

    Shard,
    Who is Steve MacMahon? Where’s he been (player? team? media-wise?) to have been appointed/hired as top-dog in football matters on that and other related shows on that network?

  • bob

    Shard,
    Any relation (dare I ask!) to Vince MacMahon, the wrestling magnate who runs WWE? (Perhaps in spirit.)

  • bob

    jayj,
    and what’s been Janusz’s background to have landed the role as anti-Arsenal hitman on the show? (Did he beat out Joey Barton in the competition?)

  • jayj

    Jamie Redknapp sings from the same hymn sheet as the rest however when liverpool/spurs come into the equation he just cant control his emotions.

    Graeme Souness actually comes across more of a thinks and states Arsenal have nothing to worry about, he never shy’s away and always states arsenal are model for the rest.

  • jayj

    @Bob
    youtube Janusz and see for yourself maybe a LFC @ heart (being gods club and all), in all probability thinks Arsenal stole LFC god given right in Europes top competition.

  • jayj

    Well Janusz Michallik does indeed support liverpool.

    googled the following:-
    Chat: Ask Janusz Michallik! – SportsNation – ESPN
    He loves liverpool but never picks them, I wonder why!

  • bob

    Shard,
    It was 1999 when Murdoch tried to use BSkyB to takeover ManUre. Today he holds a 39% share in BSkyB and has made an official bid to purchase the remaining 61% and achieve total ownership. This is now on hold because of the massive scandal swirling around his News of the World, which is closing today. I apologize if you know all this. Here’s why. As owner of Fox Soccer Channel, which as you rightly note is the big promoter of ManUre, please note that Murdoch/FSC do a lot to mostly erase/minimize Arsenal as a presence on US and probably, though I don’t have that knowledge right now, other international airwaves. All this to say that BSkyB is not an entity unto itself and, as it exists under the same ownership/control structure as FSC, there IS a relationship between BSkyB that is more than “tenuous,” which you state at the start of your posting. I think that your on a richer path when you note (as you warm to the task): “But when you consider that Sky essentially have a brand that uses/makes the ManU brand, it becomes interesting.” Indeed.

  • bob

    Dogface,
    it’s just that “conspiracy” has been given a bad name. why? because it IS business as usual. it literally just means “to breathe together” in Latin. So, I ask, who gives it the bad name, by constant repetition, so that anyone who actually notices that ‘A connects to B and that both A and B say blah-blah,’ has to first pause and apologize profusely (by saying, “not to be a conspiracy theorist, or anything” but…) to say, well, “I’ve noticed that A and B have a connection and that both A and B say blah-blah.” Conspiracy is common. It just means to agree on something behind closed doors. The word has been tainted so that closed doors stay closed doors. It is in the interest of those behind closed doors to tarnish the word. Once we drop the word “conspiracy” (which I don’t mind, as long as the concept is kept in play, so that we can understand the real world), then what is left? The answer: COINCIDENCE. And to that, I would call it Coincidence Theory. To my thinking, whether we call it “conspiracy” or “coincidence,” our labels and conclusions have to be based on evidence. And there are patterns that accumulated evidence points to, as you well know. So call “conspiracy” or not, it’s the patterned evidence and ferreting out the intention and identity of the pattern-makers that helps explain the social world.

  • bob

    Red Gooner,
    Are there any family ties between Warren Barton and Joey Barton to speak of?

  • Stevie E

    @bob
    As you know I’m more than happy to look deeper into the murk that is the freepaper in London. However, I do lack the ability to put my findings into words that engage and evoke debate as do Anne’s and your’s. If Tony want’s to run a weekly media review post, I feel it should be written by someone with a better grasp of the art form than I. The last thing I want is for a weeks worth of reading & logging the vitriol branded as news, to be overlooked because it fails to engage do to poor authorship. I’ll do the research but would rather the presentation be done by someone with a knack for doing it. I see it like writing a great song then murdering it by being a shite singer. Anne has yet to say yes or know, but her two postings so far on untold have created an unprecedented level of comment and debate. She clearly has the ability, does she have the time?

  • bob

    Shard,
    sorry for my typo: meant to say above: “there is a relationship between BSkyB and ManUre that is more than tenuous.”

  • Stevie E

    Jayj
    Untold Media could be right up your street. Nobody else on Untold gives newsflashes like you so you clearly have your eye on the tabloids. Would it be something you’d be interested in?

  • Stevie E

    I’ve just discovered that the Metro (online at least) take their “Fan’s View” from our old friend Le Grove… Oh dear. What I thought would be simply just reading a reiteration of whatever The Standard says has suddenly become a whole new bag of bollocks.

  • jayj

    @Stevie E
    Serious bro?
    I could look into it.

  • Stevie E

    jayj
    Yeah I’m serious! You’re one of the unique people who can manage to read the shit the press churn out on a daily basis and take it all in but, somehow, manage not be influenced by it all. I personally think you’d be the key person Untold Media could have on board because of the range of red tops you are able to ingest without they’re negativity poisoning your mind.

  • Stevie E

    Doh! for they’re please read their!
    Spellcheck dont be do grammer check as well…

  • jayj

    @Stevie
    OMG never thought about like that, but I’m seriously interested.

  • Stevie E

    Jayj
    Cool! Simply pick your fav bile spilling cesspit of arsenal hate (news reporting media) of your choice, and you’re away!!!

  • insideright

    Newspaper editors are obsessed with circulation and readership and these are falling like stones for the vast majority of titles.
    Since TV took over providing the main coverage of matches the emphasis has been put more and more on transfer gossip and other tittle tattle – most of which is put there by agents, managers and other interested parties.
    Arsenal have never played that game in as far as they have always put the emphasis on ‘growing their own’ rather than spending big in the market and therefore papers have had to, at very least, exaggerate stories about the Club or just make them up from scratch. If Arsenal was a poorly supported club it wouldn’t matter – but it isn’t and getting Arsenal fans to respond, even if it is negatively, is increasingly important for online versions of newspapers as it pushes up their ‘click-rate’ far more than if the story was about (say) Spurs who have far fewer fans.
    When a newspaper is owned by the fanatically anti-Europe Rupert Murdoch then having a French manager will only make things worse for you. Wenger is well known for having no favourites in the press and he rarely gives exclusive interviews. When he does it tends to be The Guardian/Observer that gets them. Which, of course, will upset the likes of the Sun all the more.
    The links between Murdoch and Manure are well known and documented above – and which organisation is it that SAF won’t talk to? Well it’s the BBC who, of course, are the Murdoch empire’s sworn enemy.

  • Stevie E

    insideright
    Can you expand on “fanatically anti-Europe Rupert Murdoch” please? Why would an Aussie be anti-Europe? Cheers

  • Shard

    @jayj

    Oh I think you mean ESPN in the USA then.. The soccernet site has some guy in the Press pass who I think is the one you mention. Over here in India we get coverage from ESPN and Star sports Asia(Star is a Murdoch company). Steve Mcmahon is the chief football resident expert. he dominates all discussions pretty much (though the afore mentioned Shebby Singh- a Malaysian ex international- does SOMETIMES disagree. Oh shebby is also more ready to call out the regular ref shite we see, so perhaps that is why I don’t think of him as anti-Arsenal)

    bob.. Steve Mcmahon was voted 42nd in the list of greatest Liverpool players by their fans (though he also played for Everton later in his career after Souness kicked him out) He was playing in the same team as Alan Hansen (of BBC Match of the Day infamy) which conceded the injury time goal to give Arsenal a 2-0 victory and thus the title on goal difference on that glorious day May 26th 1989, at Anfield. All those Liverpool players have NEVER gotten over that. Anyone from that team making any appearance on TV always has something bitter to say about Arsenal. So McMahon’s agenda probably stems from that.

  • bob

    Stevie E, jayj,
    so great, go for it!
    and, Stevie, maybe there’s a new connection to ferret between who are the Metro players/backers and the two Boyz at Le Grove. Well worth the candle (given le darkness thereabouts). Cheers, mates.

  • bob

    Stevie E,
    One piece of the story is that Murdoch (a so-called major “Euro-skeptic”) backed keeping the Pound Sterling versus going the way of the Euro, which, in turn, French banks/big biz obviously supported.

  • jayj

    Consider it done.

    Any new hatred links will be posted.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Intelligence services?
    I find fear far more likely. If the Barca model is the future we’re ten years ahead of the rest of the league, we’re filthy rich yet frugal, we must be stopped at all costs otherwise the EPL as we know it will be wrecked.

  • bob

    Stevie,
    Is LeGrove the only provider of Metro’s online football coverage? is their column the only Metro football column? Please check the subway print version on your commute for the same. There you go, our man in the Underground!

  • bob

    Shard,
    cheers for the skinny on MacMahon. it’s impressive how deep such bitterness would go. I also wonder if such anti-A bitterness wasn’t a plus in the job interview! Maybe there’ll be more layers to peel away thereabouts…

  • Stevie E

    Bob
    Nice. I’ll have a nose in amongst the dirty sheets, I’m sure I’ll smell sh*t 😉
    Euro-skeptic, fair enough but to be honest, there is no chance that the UK will go Euro. If he’s on that bandwagon then it’s a pure vote winner. Nobody in the UK wants to lose the £ so to say “I’m anti-Euro” is like a fish saying “I like water”…
    There must be more to RM’s Arsenal hate?!?

  • jayj

    I do commend the anti arsenal brigade, all establishments up/down the country any given fan has a theory why we self destruct and always comes down to the same cliche, English spine and all……

    Even the LFC fans know more about us than we know about ourselves. Growing up around LFC/mancs (the only two teams an asian supports), the LFC fans are by far the most deluded hypocrites. They all have this god given sense of injustice that Arsenal has committed against them forever proclaiming season after season us gunners will never finish above them and add media into that mix the white van man mentality shown is quite inexcusable.

  • bob

    Anne, Insideright,
    Insideright just offered this which I find interesting in the present context: “Wenger is well known for having no favourites in the press and he rarely gives exclusive interviews. When he does it tends to be The Guardian/Observer that gets them.” So the press pisses off Arsene; he won’t give exclusives, so they’re pissed off at him, and SOME in the editors club have further reasons to trash him/Arsenal. A vicious circle. As for the Guardian/Observer getting what interviews he’s given, would you Insideright find a link to one? I’d like to see when it was and how it was handled in the Guardian’s pages.

  • Laundryender

    composed intelligent and his command of English puts many English managers to shame

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/arsenal/article6796014.ece

  • jayj

    Well has anyone read Martin Samuel’s piece why Arsenal can no longer attract a genuine superstar.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-2010877/Arsenal-longer-attract-genuine-superstar-Martin-Samuel.html

  • bob

    Laundyender,
    cheers for the great link! Arsene is interviewed by Matthew Syed, 2009’s sports journo of the year, in The Times, now Murdoch’s top-of-the-line UK paper. Syed, the sports journo, has Arsene talk for the record (presumably) about his politics. And Arsene says something important at the very start:

    MS: It is interesting that we should be talking about politics, what are your politics, what do you believe?

    AW: Politically, I am for efficiency. Economically first. Until the 1980s the world was divided into two, people were either communist or capitalist. The communist model does not work economically, we all realised that, but the capitalist model in the modern world also looks to be unsustainable. You cannot ignore individual interests, but I believe the world evolves slowly. The last 30 years have brought a minimum amount of money for everybody in the west, the next step, politically, would be a maximum amount of money earned by everybody.”

    If, indeed, these remarks indicate Arsene’s politics, then he would hardly be the court favorite of the Billionaire’s Club. And, his remarks are totally consistent with the SSM (Self-Sustaining Model) as an alternative to the BTM (Billionaires Takeover Model). It also would make him, as I mentioned in yesterday’s postings, someone who is ideologically distasteful to a highly-motivated ideologue like Ruppie and surely to other club members. I’m not trying to paint Arsene as Robin Hood (though he might be in his heart of hearts?), but those generous words are not exactly heart-warming stuff to top money-lords of world football. I’ll read further into the interview, but it’s a remarkable beginning and attests to Arsene’s honesty.

  • bob

    jayj,
    cheers for your fantastic link to Martin Samuel (named Sports Jorno of the Year 2010) of the Daily Mail: who pulls together all of Anne’s 7 talking points to declare this moment as a full-blown Crisis at Arsenal; and to describe Arsenal as undergoing a Dismemberment that is too late to reverse. This is the most sophisticated article to this date in its scope and its allegations.

  • bob

    Insideright, please note that Laundyender has given a link to a major interview by Arsene in 2009 to The Times. Would you still say that any interviews that he grants are to the Guardian/Observer? Can you offer up a link, just for content-sake? many thanks.

  • @bob – thanks, I know what ‘conspiracy’ means :). But the point I’m trying to make is that there are many small and possibly one or two larger conspiracies (for want as a better word, as you say to label something as such can distract from the point).

    We should, and have, been looking into this and it is tempting to try to come up with an all encompassing theory of why this is so – I am not certain that this exists, the power structure is fluid and there are many different agents that act upon a teams sucess and failure.

    I’ll take a meandering stroll through a few of these now, but these are certainly not all; So, for instance, I feel that there is a distinct ‘pecking order’ in terms of the EPL and the brand is controlled to some extent for the global marketplace so that certain teams will finish in or around certain positions and there will be ‘to the wire’ battles for relegation, Europe and Champions league spots. Does this mean that if Arsenal need a helping hand we will get it? I’m not sure but I do recall a recent season where we didn’t target the title and went for the CL – but still, without trying too hard we ending up in pretty much the same place.

    So, without digressing too much, the brand value of the EPL can then be said to be one of the actors in this puzzle…. although the value of the brand also depends unpon the percieved credibility of the brand as a legitimate competition – especially if the real value of the brand is its sale to the asian territories to feed the massive underground black market gambling organisations.

    So, from that, we can also say that the market makers in Asia are also an actor – but once again percieved credibility on the brand is paramount, as is the gurantee of a good return for the bookie… the same can be said of the european gambling corps (although these are steadily going global and targeting asia as a primary business objective).

    Note: Here we can see a number of these gambling entities buying directly into the teams – Bet365, SOBET, etc… and this skews the picture even more as these entities will use their direct influence in a team (or their access to the facilities and/or the officials) to short sell their competitiors – this can be done by fixing odds to create a market and then being dynamic in controling that market to their advantage.

    Then, if we take the next logial step, we have the punters, the mug money (espesh asia) in which they will lump their hard earned on the result they reckon will win (Asian betting is not straightforward so this could be number of goals or ‘ball’ or taking either side of the handicap – full ball, half ball, quater ball)… you can’t ‘conspire’ with these guys – they are there to be fleeced.

    Now these guys are like you and me and perhaps they are the most important peice of this puzzle; for their money (for all of the reasons above) can and does have a direct effect on the outcome of a given football match… even more so now that in-play markets are gaining popularity.

    And this brings us back to this artice – I have just scratched the surface here and could go on all night, all these actors interact and generate feedback loops; from this perspective – the gambling industry has reduced the beautiful game to a marketplace where inside information, dis-information and influence rules.

    And we wonder why the newspapers lie to us eh?!

    😉

  • Stevie E

    In 2003 a Russian billionaire took control of a club in London. 2 Years later the anti arsenal attack begins. A russian billionaire own the most expensive work of art on the planet. A Russian billionaire owned the richest club on the planet. A Russian billionaire owns the evening standard…

  • bob

    Dogface,
    Sorry to be/seem condescending on the word ‘conspiracy’ – I meant to reach through you to newcomers to these exchanges. Yours is really eye-popping stuff and potentially a major contribution to greater understanding of the global context within which seemingly local/national sport is functioning. Hopefully, at some stage, more specific links to the media outlets become visible. I think that attempts at grand theorizing as well as specific findings can complement each other and bring what’s possible to light. Cheers.

  • bob

    It’s speculation of course, but I think that the senior football writer Dan King in his knives-out column in yesterday’s last issue of News of the World finally gives away the reason why The Sun ran the Arsene-on-the-yacht-holiday photo on Friday that’s we’ve recently been discussing on UA. He writes: “Phil Jones was snaffled away by Sir Alex Ferguson while the great man was supposed to be holidaying in the South of France.” So, there you have it: Like Nero, Arsene Fiddles While Rome Burns (i.e., the fanbase freaks out).

  • bob

    In contrast to the two sophisticated crash-and-burn pieces linked to above, a Guardian junior writer gives an interesting, if post-Cesc analysis of positive opportunities within the present moment:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/jul/10/cesc-fabregas-departure-arsenal The first two use Anne’s talking points to heighten the madness; the latter is actually hopeful. See what you make of them.

  • Dark Prince

    Bob- regarding your earlier reply to my post,

    Let me clarify, the media absolutely dont care what comes out from their mouth. They can reach to any lengths to sell a story. So it wont matter if its Arsenal or any other team. Its really no big deal for them.

    Next, regarding ur suggestion for me to target the media articles as i do with UA, let me again clarify that i dont respect such media articles and hence i dont even go out there to express my views, bcoz eventually it would mean i’m giving them what they want.

    Let me give you another example. In this article and the comments itself, there are so many links provided that whenever anyone clicks on any of those links, he/she is, in a way, supporting the article by extending its popularity.

    You fail to realise that the media wants exactly this. I think its possible that Arsenal has probabaly more online fans than anyone else. And the Media will try to target them by putting out shit articles about Arsenal bcoz they know that whether or not an Arsenal fan approves of it or not, the article will be clicked upon which in turn raises in popularity and gives them more advertising revenues. And this will go on. So basically, they’re jus playin you.

    I, on the other hand, see to it that i dont even click on articles that are speculative or debasing our club. Bcoz if i read such articles, its most probable that i might end up feeling disappointed or angry over something which may not be even true and on the other hand, by clicking it, i’ll be encouragin the media people to write such articles more. Hope you get me.

    So my simple advice to you and other arsenal fans is to stop clicking such on such articles. In that way u’ll stop indirectly supportin them, and maybe one day the media will feel that such articles will be of no profit for them and they might eventually stop writing them.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Dark Prince
    Well said. If they can’t keep a lid on the despicable practice of hacking the voicemail of dead children and soldiers’ families, what likelihood they can keep a lid on an Anti-Arsenal conspiracy?
    Just envisage this nightmare scenario. Team A, the ‘team of the league’, hoover up as much talent as they can through expensive acquisition. Team B fields a team comprised mostly of academy graduates. Team A get humbled in the league by Team B repeatedly for several years.
    Sounds familiar?

  • bob

    Dark Prince,
    Please further back up your argument for non-participation in the media criticism that’s been underway hereabouts:
    (1) do you have any quantitative evidence that Arsenal fans clicks constitute a major revenue stream for the anti-Arsenal section of the media?
    (2) do you have any quantitative evidence for how much money per click such media make?
    I’m sure it’s out there, so perhaps you would go the extra mile to back up your principled rationale. I do respect non-participation, by the way, and its principled proponents in history. But making the case with evidence would help people like me (and others who provide links to foster further thought and actual media analysis) to better weigh and consider your argument. Otherwise, you serve up high-principle in an evidence-free manner.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Bob
    I don’t think there’s a way to qualify whether clicks to Arsenal articles are from fans or others but generally any ‘Arsenal’ article rises to the top of the most read lists very rapidly on the newspaper sites I visit.
    Never forget, Arsenal is interesting, Arsenal doesn’t buy English internationals, Arsenal now makes English internationals, Arsenal makes the papers and the pundits look like idiots (for 75% of the season) until other factors come into play, Arsenal take the game to Barcelona AND WIN or the referee interferes.

  • Dark Prince

    bob- you have asked me questions which obviously cannot be backed by proper evidence bcoz no one really knows how many Arsenal fans are there in the world and neither can anyone know exactly how much does a website earn from single clicks. But its quite obvious there are millions of Arsenal fans around the world and its also true that websites earn by the number of clicks.

    But still i’ll put up an arguement. I hope you know that the major epl fans in the world normally are from ManU, Chelsea and Arsenal. Arsenal have the most number of followers in Twitter, if i’m not wrong. We’ve the 2nd most number of fans in Facebook after ManU among the EPL teams. Also this site itself had once mentioned a long time ago that ur club has more number of blogs than any other team. Let me assure you, there are more non-british Arsenal fans around the world than British Arsenal fans. But media like Daily, Guardian, etc etc, cant reach out to all these millions through newspapers. Infact these millions of global fans have no other source of Arsenal info than websites. Thats why media have dedicated websites to their names so that they can publish hundreds to articles as soon as possible to fans who hav no other source of news. And nothin in this world is done for free, so their main target would be to get advertising revenues from their sites. And advertising revenues depend on the number of clicks. So whenever you click on one of their tabloid stories, you not only get frustrated by the lack of evidence they have when they accuse our club, but you also in a way contribute to their advertising revenue. Thats what you call a lose-lose situation for the common Arsenal fan. And yes, its quite obvious that an Arsenal fan will first click on an Arsenal story. So the major readers of such anti-arsenal news would be arsenal fans themselves.

    On the other hand, the media are smart. They take advantage of the lack of expressiveness from our Arsenal board/manager to the millions of the fans and come out with news which they assume will be an interest to any eager Arsenal fan. They know that speculation is not illegal, so they will speculate on things which can sell. And the fans get sucked into such news and help such sites further.

    Jus think, you and many Untold readers have themselves contributed to advertising revenue of every anti-arsenal tabloid link in this article, in this site, till now, by clicking on it. And in this way, you’ll be encouraging the author of that link to further write more articles on such anti-arsenal topics.

    Its a bitter truth which many fans dont even know about. Thats why i say again, stop clicking on such sites and stop promoting them by pasting their links on this site.

  • Dark Prince

    *our club

  • Shard

    Dark Prince actually makes a valid point. In fact, 2 valid points. The first that the media actually gain by our outrage and the links that we put up as an exhibition of the sheer crassness of the media do provide them with revenue. This is a tricky question..pretty much the same issue with the world media highlighting negative things or talking about say, terrorist propaganda..Do they actually help spread the negative message in an attempt to either just report it, or educate against it?

    I would say yes. But.. And there has to be a but when I agree with Dark Prince doesn’t there?? 🙂 (no offense) I think Untold’s media watch is now an important step to take. Mainly because we have kept quiet, and fine we can isolate ourselves and take a distance from the stupid media reports. But it has reached a point that in the absence of an alternative narrative, many ‘talking points’ have become established fact, in the mind of Arsenal supporters too. This also has a knock on effect on the team itself. So I feel we do need to raise a voice and try and expose the media circus for what it is.

    The second valid point that DP makes is actually about our club making it easy to be targeted. That is a very very difficult puzzle to solve, but I think the club should perhaps consider changing it’s no comment policy. This in fact would have been my question to Gazidis if I were present at the AST meet. How does the club intend to tackle the disproportionate level of bad press that it gets? Is there anything the club can do to combat the stream of negativity from the media? Or is it better of just focusing on other things?

  • Stevie E

    @Dark Prince & Shard
    DP raises an interesting point there, what has tweeked my interest is the difference between online and print reporting. In the Evening Standard, there is a reporter called Dan Jones who writes a weekly column about whatever has been news that week. For the past couple of weeks, he has been making snide comments about Arsenal (usually Cesc or Arsene) but they are in little additions to the main piece. I was researching this yesterday and these small pieces are nowhere to be found online… Why is this? I have no idea, what are your thoughts?

  • bjtgooner

    @ Shard.

    I agree that we need to combat some of the anti arsenal sites and make an appropriate response so that arsenal supporters can at least see a sensible point of view.

    I can understand DP’s point that we don’t want to have too many hits on the anti arsenal sites, but it must be better to combat the opposition rather than let them have a free run.

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    Glad you liked it and make sure you continue keeping an eye out for those talking points 🙂 Sure, I would be happy to take a look at your stuff and help edit it if you want me to (although, from your comments, I think you actually have a pretty good writing style). Just let me know when you have something ready to go and I’ll find a way to get you my email address.

  • Anne

    @menace:

    Wow, thanks 🙂 I think you might be a little but over-complimentary there, but if you want to submit my name to the Nobel Prize commitee I have no objection to that 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob and Shard:

    Just to clarify, when you mention Steve MacMahon, I think you’re actually talking about Steve McManaman? Former Liverpool (primarily), but also Real Madrid.

    Oh, and bob, in your relation to your comments about Sky and FSC, I thought I’d point out that Sky Sports News is the program that’s currently airing on FSC. They show it twice a day 🙂

  • Anne

    @bob and Dogface:

    One of my favorite quotes in the world is the following:

    “Don’t worry about whether or not there’s a conspiracy. If you’re not in one, start one.”

    -C. Austin Fitts

    So, that’s what we’re working on here, right? 🙂

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    “I’ve just discovered that the Metro (online at least) take their “Fan’s View” from our old friend Le Grove”

    Could you elaborate on that? It makes me very curious, considering some the opinions I’ve previously expressed about the motives behind some AAA blogs…

  • Anne

    @bob:

    Murdoch backed keeping the pound sterling over the Euro? Wow, who would have thought I would discover something that I agree with him on? 🙂

  • Dark Prince

    @Woolwich Peripatetic- let me put it in this way, Media and People in general love to see/read a hero fall. Everyone knows we’re followin a path which is quite righteous. We’re the supposed good guys. And thats why people would love to see us fall again and again. Thats why the doom of a hero will sell more in general media.

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    Fear is most likely a big part of the motive as well. In reality, conspiracy or no, you’re still talking about a confluence of many different motives. In any large conspiracy, 99% of the people who are involved just do it because they’re getting paid by someone. Others might choose to become involved due to a personal grudge, their own business and/or finanacial interests, fear, prejudice, or whatever.

    I guess what I was saying about intelligence agencies really relates to one aspect of this issue that I think is being overlooked by most people; namely, if you do have match-fixing in the EPL, what you’re really talking about is a large organized crime presence. And the significance of that should not be overlooked.

    When organized crime is involved, it opens the doors to involvement by any number of nameless, faceless people who tend to operate in the shadows. Depending on which syndicate (or syndicates) that you’re dealing with, they have various networks and connections that operate all over the world, including in media. And they also have significant relationships with intelligence agencies, so their involvement is not as unlikely as you might immediately think (although not saying that they would be running the whole show or anything. They’re most definitely not).

    I guess the point is that, where, as here, you have a lot of different, seemingly unrelated factors coming together in a way that just doesn’t quite seem to make sense, that’s when you want to take a serious look at the possible role of some of these covert, underground networks. Oftentimes, it’s something that will supply the missing piece of the jigsaw.

  • Dark Prince

    @Stevie E- what are my thoughts?? My thoughts are that you should stop readin such articles and stop clickin on his articles. Let them talk as much as they want, bcoz we cant stop them. But we can ignore them.

  • Anne

    @Dogface:

    Reading your above post, I think that you and I are probably more in agreement on all this than may readily be apparent. When I mentioned intelligence agencies in my post above, I was not attempting to come up with a “theory of everything,” but rather to focus on one particular “conspiracy” (for lack of a better word) that would explain why Arsenal is seemeingly being targeted, both in the match fixing scheme and in the media. And I think that the role of a couple key players is being overlooked in most debate about this.

    As I mentioned in my response to WP above, I believe that the organized crime influence is one of these things (which you also hinted at in your post). Another would be the interests of high finance (which often has a more than cozy relationship with the aforementioned organized crime).

    One of the consequences of the huge amounts of debt that most EPL clubs carry is that they’re essentially slaves to their creditors. For example, if any of these clubs are involved in match fixing, there’s a good chance that it’s not even their own decision to participate. Basically, these clubs are forced to do whatever their creditors tell them to, or else they’ll be thrown into administration.

    Witness what happened to Liverpool last year. They were forced into a change of ownership, which was essentially the decision of their creditors. I for one would really like to know the backstory of what Liverpool did wrong that caused them to take that action. I don’t know the full details, but I know that the former owners were claiming in court that they were the victims of a “conspiracy.” I for one don’t doubt it.

    Where Arsenal is concerned, the fact that they refuse to conduct themselves financially in this same manner is stepping on the toes of the people who wish to have this manner of control over the EPL and its clubs, and also whatever schemes they’re attempting to run through the EPL.

    So, who are these creditors? Who exactly owns a stake (through debt) in these other EPL clubs? What are their motives, and who are they connected to? Because when you move into the realms of high finance, you suddenly find yourself connected to very powerful people indeed. And it is these types of people (along with their various other “connections”) who would have the power to deliberately target Arsenal through both media manipulation and match fixing (although not saying that there aren’t other forces at play as well).

    And I think that these kinds of issues should be seriously looked at and considered. And I also think that the possibility of money laundering in the EPL is something that should be looked at as well.

  • Anne

    @Stevie E:

    Interesting points about the Russian billionaire. I think we might be thinking along the same lines 🙂

  • Anne

    @DP, bob, and WP:

    I agree with DP and WP about the fact that at least some portion of the anti-Arsenal press is driven by purely financial motives, and aimed at driving up hits. If you got to these various websites and look at the “most read” “most commented” lists, you’ll see that articles criticizing Arsenal usually tend to be in the top. So, the significance of that shouldn’t be overlooked.

    However, at this point, I feel that so many Arsenal fans are still taking all of this negative press to heart that it’s still worth it to go and try to analyze this stuff and break it down in a way that’s accessible to the public. But whether you want to participate in that is your own decision. I think that trying to drive down the hits these people get is also a laudible goal.

    However, I don’t believe that generating hits is the sole motive.

  • jayj

    Wouldn’t it be right to highlight/name&shame those responsible for spreading crap against arsenal.

    I wouldn’t give a 2nd thought nominating Ian Wright, Alan Hansen and the rest of the MOTD morons. The list should include papers editorials by so called journalists, radio fools from talk sport and even website dweebs.

    I’m pretty sure all of us can contribute this would help any new comer steer clear of anti arsenal tubes.

  • bjtgooner

    @Anne:

    We have considered the anti Arsenal media and press at length but we have spent less time on some of the anti Arsenal blog sites, although you did mention “Just Arsenal” and “Le Grove” earlier. Sites like these proport to support Arsenal but their articles and comments are invariably destructive. Do we know what makes them tick and also do we know if they have a relationship with the anti Arsenal media?

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I’ve said it before, but we need to stop thinking alike 🙂 I just posted a very similar response to DP on his comments about driving up hits on Anti-Arsenal websites.

    As for your second point, Arsene Wenger said something recently that is relevant to that:

    Here is what Wenger said, according to ESPN: “I expect Samir Nasri to stay,”

    “There is always speculation, but he is committed to the club right now.”

    ”Will he be at the club next season? I say yes. The second part (of the question) – will he sign a new contract? I hope yes, but I am not the only one to decide.”

    When asked about Fabregas, he replied: “Cesc loves the club and hopefully we will manage. We know that the story for Barcelona goes on for years now and we have to close that and continue with the season. I never speak on matters that happen behind closed doors. I have given the media enough headlines and I don’t want to add any more.”

    So, it sounds like what Wenger believes on the subject is that it’s better to just not give the media any headlines. Because we’ve seen time and time again, when he does give statements to the press, they don’t report it accurately and fairly. They just twist it to fit their own agenday. You raise a good point too, but I guess I can see both sides.

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    “Wouldn’t it be right to highlight/name&shame those responsible for spreading crap against arsenal.”

    Seconded! In fact, I’m already thinking of doing a follow-up piece taking a closer look at the life and times of Antony Kastrinakis 🙂

  • Anne

    @bjt gooner:

    I’ve made that same point about some of the AAA blogs, and I personally suspect them. For example, just today, Wenger came out and said unequivocally (again) that Cesc and Nasri are staying. SO, Just Arsenal reported that Wenger said that, because I suppose they were forced to. But look at the spin they put on it:

    “So it sounds like Wenger is going to let Nasri run his contract down if he doesn’t sign the new contract, and also that Fabregas is not happy about not being allowed to leave.

    Will he be as committed to the club, considering he only played soradically last season, and not to mention that he didn’t turn up for Arsenal’s last game of the season. Was that really because he was seriously injured or because his heart is somewhere else?

    It’s great that they are staying, but will they play to the best of their ability?”

    What is UP with these people? To me, this reads much more as if they have an agenda than if they’re trying to be intellectually honest. I think that this is something that would definitely be worth looking into further. Interested in doing it? 🙂

  • jayj

    @Anne

    Now that would be interesting can you include Ian Wright please?
    He was our legend but now I’m not so sure.

  • bjtgooner

    @Anne:

    Yes, I will try to keep an eye on some of these guys. Some of these sites do seem to have a strange agenda and if there is a widespread anti Arsenal conspiracy the behaviour of these guys is such that they would seem to be part of it.

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    I only have so much time 🙂 Kastrinakis is my top priority for the moment (mainly because looking into him in relation to this article REALLY ticked me off and I’m out for revenge 🙂 ) But I’ll try to take a look at Wright as well if I get the chance. He really presents a whole other host of issues as a former Arsenal player. If you feel like looking into him, I’ll be happy to help you edit any research you come up with 🙂

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    I’ll be trying to keep an eye on them as well. Let me know if you find anything interesting about them. I’ll be around here 🙂

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I’m going to bed early today (have to get my body clock right again), and I’ll be off to play basketball early morning :), so don’t have time to respond to everything here, but it was Steve Mcmahon that we were talking about. Not McManaman, who went back to ManCity after Real Madrid too if I remember correctly. Anyway, cheers, and yes, I support the initiative to actually identify the writers of such pieces by name. If we have such a database of their articles and their tone, I think we can discredit them more effectively. Anyway, goodnight all.

    Here’s the link to Mcmahon signalling to his troops that their is just 1 minute to go. (Watch from around the 4 minute mark)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrFR8Usz_JQ

  • jayj

    @Anne

    Will do – I cant understand his fall from grace.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Ok, I guess I got confused about that because Steve McManaman is an ESPN commentator in the US. So, on one continent we have MacMahon, a former Liverpool player, and on another McManaman, also a former Liverpool player…Conspiracy?! I think so 🙂

  • Anne

    @Jayj:

    Thanks for the link.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Is it correct that in my country today they told that also the Sun and the Sunday Times have done phone tapping? Hope they did and close them down also. 🙂

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    Shutting down the Sun? I can only dream 🙂

  • bob

    Sorry, but after digesting the hymns to DP’s a click is a terrible thing to use recommendation, I’d offer a few more thoughts on the topic. It is logical, but not possible to parse generating money from generating influence over the hearts and minds of football fans. It’s not either one or the other for each and every media outlet. Right now, in these overheated times, there are zillions of clicks anyway, as anyone online is aware. So, whereas I would agree that a click on AAA LeGrove and Unjust Arsenal is a click to far (though we don’t know how much money), to actuall take the moral high ground and equate this with don’t click to The Sun, Mirror, Guardian, Metro, Evening Standard, pick your poison, is to basically decide not to engage them and not to weigh in in the public arena. To abdicate that struggle and take a decision turn up one’s nose at the silly season until it passes leaves the field wide open to the very ghouls who have and continue to bend minds against Arsene/Arsenal. By weighing in there are counter-ideas and arguments in the fight for hearts and minds, now, during this damaging silly season; pluse, we sharpen our analytic tools, expand our understanding, and achieving a foundation in media watching for the coming season. There is a time not to click, perhaps (though I am yet to be convinced with evidence that these clicks are significant revenue sources, because DP says so, in principle); but THIS is not the time to sit it out, whatever the high-toned hymn to floating above the fray. Non-participation is and has been honorable in context; this is not that context and it will not dent either the business model of the miscreant-media nor can silence be noticed in an online medium.

  • bob

    p.s. and I stand by the perception that DP has not yet, in the present moment, weighed in on any specific media critique of any anti-Arsenal media outlet. He’s hardly alone, but with analytic skills that are considerable, I think that spinning reasons not to are far outweighed by the opportunity to do so. And, not do so, given those analytic skill, is also a choice with consequences, not something neutral, let alone morally commendable.

  • bob

    jayj,
    There you go, good link: so now there’s Rob Smythe of the Guardian to adorn the list of Arsenal-haters. The Guardian has disgusting writers like this and some who are more fair and sometimes appreciative in print. They are not in the Sun’s class, but clearly have writers who are keen on doing damage in the nasty tabloid style of this online Guardian blogger.

  • bob

    jayj,
    An opposite example of how Guardian can be fair to Arsenal is their coverage of Arsene’s major attack on ManShitty’s new deal as a disgusting way for Sheikh Mansour (and fellow billionaire owners) to get around the spirit and letter of the intended UEFA fair play rules. It’s a really important statement by Arsene and its reported at length and decently: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jul/12/arsenal-manchester-city-premier-league

  • Anne

    @bob:

    So, what are you working on on the whole media watch front? I’m doing a follow-up report about Antony Karistrakis and it’s turning up some interesting stuff…

  • Anne

    @bob

    I meant Antony Kastrinakis… Either way, he’s obviously Greek 🙂

  • Dark Prince

    Bob- that was really deep!! 🙂

    But let me put it this way, do you kno why Arsene or Arsenal itself dont respond to such tabloids??
    Its bcoz they kno that giving attention to such things will only encourage them more.

    So i’d rather support Wenger on this stance that sometimes it better to stay off such tabloids and concentrate on the pitch. Though its also preferrable to be resolute when coming out to speak on a topic, and be very clear in what you say. Bcoz vague statements only will create more confusion and in turn create more unrest by whic people wil seek info from other sources.

  • Anne

    @Dark Prince:

    I think that causing people to “seek info from other sources” is one of the main goals of this campaign. It would be one thing if nobody was taking any of these reports seriously, but the fact is that they are. MANY people are. And there are a lot of Arsenal fans who find these reports very hurtful.

    So, the best way to drive down hits on these websites is to help people realize that they shouldn’t be taken seriously. And I think that we would most certainly be “supporting Wenger” if we attempted to do that.

  • Perry Grove

    Why would anyone read the Sun?

  • bob

    Perry Grove,
    Why do you ask? As every question is a statement, I’d love to read your juicy analysis of this not insignificant question you raise.

  • bob

    Anne,
    Been watching the NOTW thing unfold and whatever surfaces: Like this from the Guardian: “News International has announced that Tom Crone, the News of the World’s long-standing legal manager, is leaving. As [Guardian writers] Dan Sabbagh and Jane Martinson report, the departure comes a week after Crone’s boss, James Murdoch, implied that the lawyer and the former editor of News of the World, Colin Myler, may have misled him about the reasons for making a £700,000 payment to football chief Gordon Taylor in 2008.” I found this in Wikipedia. That Taylor was the highest paid union official in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Taylor_(footballer) I don’t know anything about him, but found it worth someone hereabout’s pondering.

  • bob

    Dark Prince,
    you have now gone from DP to light hamlet in my book: say what? Arsenal’s voicing opposition to the tabloidz would only encourage them more? More than now? More than what? Oh, plllllllleeeeeeezzzzzze… surely you jest.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I think I’ve already mentioned what I think about that on another thread…I guess that the only thing positive that I have to say about it is that at least it didn’t make me cry as hard as the shirt prank last summer…so, every cloud has a silver lining, right…? (and by the way, I’m not kidding when I said that it made me cry.)

    But I would like to find a full transcript or whatever of Arsene’s response to the comments, if you know where I could find that.

    Otherwise, sorry. Just like last summer, I find myself in a position where I, once again, feel that I have to apologize for something that Barca has done. This is happening more and more in recent years where Arsenal is concerned, and I honestly think that it might feel like more of a slap in the face for me than it does for you, after everything I’ve done to stick my neck out and defend them.

    Anyway, I might be in a better state of mind over this in a couple of days. But for now, sorry…

  • Anne

    @bob:

    I’ll be interested to see what you come up with.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    Firstly, I didn’t put that link up so as to get an apology, or to gloat over you and say that you were wrong about Barca. I already know how you feel about the whole Cesc saga, and although I feel you do downplay the club’s part in it all, we do have common ground as to the whole thing.

    The reason I put that up there is because when I read it, I went over to the Barca site and couldn’t find the interview. So I guess I was relying on your investigative skills to see that it was genuine.

    Anyway, there is no need to cry or feel bad over it in terms of your efforts and assertions over the last few months. They weren’t totally wrong in any case, and it has made a lot of people learn to look beyond the quotes in newspapers (me included). So cheer up.. Xavi needs a kick in the teeth though 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    When I first saw the comments I had the same problem as well. The Barca website is terrible to navigate and doesn’t have a search feature. It wasn’t until Gooner Gal provided the link on that other thread that I saw that Xavi did, in fact, say these things. I was REALLY upset about it. And my apology for it wasn’t something I thought you were asking for. It’s just a reflection of what I was feeling at the time.

    Based on my VERY limited knowledge of Catalan, I think that there might be some translation problems with the way their website phrased the comments. Sometimes, when you translate into English, you can have some words that translate literally, but still have a different connotation in English.

    The classic example of this would be some of the comments you were so angry about following the CL league, where the Barca players were saying that they were “superior” to Arsenal. What was happening there was that they were translating the word “superiores,” which of course is most easily translated as “superior.” However, in Spanish, it’s more like saying “I thought we were the better side on the night.” So it has a slightly different connotation. And I think that there MAY be some of that at work here as well.

    The reason that you probably feel I’ve dowplayed the club’s role in all this has less to do with the fact that I’m a fan of Barca (although I’m sure that influences me some 🙂 ), and more to do with the fact that I think like a lawyer 🙂 To me, the “facts” in any situation are the ones that I have verified based on evidence.

    Hence, I’ve been more than willing to criticize Barcelona management for using Cesc as a pawn in the election, because I know that they did. Where the player “tapping up” comments are concerned, the reason that I haven’t been willing to accuse the club of having a role in that is because, until now, I couldn’t find any of those comments that I could trace back to them. There are very few that I’ve been able to even trace back to the player quoted, and when I’ve done that, they tend to come across as fairly innocuous.

    Also, when you do have an interview in something like Sport or Mundo Deportivo, you have to remember that these people are the lead guard on the Spanish end of the fabrication front. They have a specific editorial line on this, and they definitely edit and “tweak” player interviews to fit that line. So, I just haven’t been able to find enough of this stuff that was trustworthy to attribute responsibility to anyone other than the media outlets involved.

    However, seeing this on Barca’s official website finally changes that. And believe me, it’s a piece of evidence that I was hoping would never turn up. 🙂 Not because I want to hide anything about the club’s role in all this, but because it’s something that I didn’t want to see myself. It actually makes the whole situation more complicated. Because now that I can see that Barca is willing to fan the flames on this issue to some extent, I have to figure out to what extent they’re responsible.

    And in light of the problems that I mentioned above with the reporting, it’s going to be difficult to tell exactly how large or small that role was. I don’t know. The other question this raises is whether there really IS something the the claims that Cesc wants to return to Barca. Because this is the first verifiable evidence of that that I’ve seen as well. I don’t know…I’m still thinking about this.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    About that Champions League interview with Xavi. I saw the whole thing in Spanish. I wasn’t saying he used the word superior, I was saying he felt they were superior. Our victory is a victory for football (aligned with some other comments) gave me that impression. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer humility in public statements, especially when you don’t have to prove anything. They won, that should be it. But both after victory over Arsenal, and in the final, they exhibited this…crassness..and all their public pronouncements seem to carry that tone. Some of it is I’m sure simply a cultural difference. But all of it cannot be, and should not be in any case.

    You ACTUALLY thought Cesc does not want to go to Barcelona? I always thought he did, but that he was happy at Arsenal if it didn’t happen, and that he wouldn’t force the move through. His public statements, through their ambiguity have made it quite clear that he does want to go. The story in the press seems to be that Guardiola told him they would buy him, but the board remains reluctant to spend that much on an ex academy graduate. I don’t know if it’s true but that is the story apparently. I think Barcelona (the board at least) don’t want him, but they have definitely used the press and their players as well to unsettle him, perhaps to lower the price for when they do actually want him.

    Anne, it has reached a point where I have to start considering rooting for Real in Spain, despite Mourinho being there. Barca have, through their success, and by their resultant behaviour reached a stage, where they are actually becoming worse for football than Mourinho might be. Sorry, but that came from the heart without me thinking about it, and I guess that is how I feel.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I don’t think that Xavi deserves a kick in the teeth 🙂 Although, in this case, I’ll admit that I’m EXTREMELY biased because Xavi is my favorite player. My dog is named Xavi. If Xavi asked me to, I would leave my husband and run away with him 🙂

    But here are some quotes from him in the Guardian where he spoke about Arsenal and the Cesc situation more fully. Until now, I wasn’t willing to fully trust these quotes. However, seeing the above, I think that they’re probably genuine (although not saying they haven’t been tweaked a bit). There are some things here that I know you won’t like, but he also says a lot of complimentary things about Arsenal as well:

    “Q: Next week you play Arsenal again in the Champions League last 16. Are they different? A kind of Barcelona-lite?

    A: Arsenal are a great team. When I watch Arsenal, I see Barça. I see Cesc carry the game, Nasri, Arshavin. The difference between them and us is we have more players who think before they play, quicker. Education is the key. Players have had 10 or 12 years here…

    Q: Arsenal-Barcelona always provokes questions about Cesc Fábregas’s future.

    A: If I’d ever gone to another club, I’d have been thinking about Barcelona – the link is strong. The same is happening to him. But now there’s a problem: now he’s expensive. But I think that a footballer ends up playing where he wants. He has to end up here.

    Q: That’s not what Arsenal fans want to hear and some have accused Barcelona players, you included, of stirring trouble. Last summer there were so many remarks supposedly coming out of Barcelona …

    A: Really? I hardly spoke then. I imagine they wouldn’t have liked that. [Xavi pauses, adding quietly, almost shamefacedly] You know, often footballers don’t think. We’re selfish, we don’t realise. I also say it because I’m thinking of Cesc. He wants to come here. Barcelona has always been his dream. But of course he’s Arsenal’s captain, the standard bearer, a leader. This situation is a putada [bummer] for him. He’s at a club that plays his style with Wenger who has treated him well, taught him, raised him. Cesc respects him. If he’d been at, say, Blackburn it might have been easier to leave. Look, the truth is: I want him to come here. Of course. Barcelona have a very clear style and not many footballers fit. It’s not easy. But Cesc fits it perfectly.

    Q: Would he replace you, though?

    A: I don’t see new players as a threat; I don’t say “this is my patch”. I’m more: “bring them here, let them play”. The more talent in the middle, the better. Four or five years ago [people said] me and Iniesta couldn’t play together. We can’t play together? Look how that one turned out.

    Q: Last year, you beat Arsenal comfortably …

    Yes, but this year they’re much better. I think it’s a disadvantage for us that we played last year. They had [too] much respect for us. It was as if they let us have the ball; we always had it, home and away. The game in London could have been a 4-0 we dominated so much – but it finished 2-2. This year will be different.

    Q: What was your reaction to the draw?

    I was happy. I like the fact that we’ll see a great game. Arsenal aren’t the kind of team that come to try to putear you [piss you off, break up the game, destroy the match]. If it was Chelsea, you might think Madre mía, they’re going to leave the initiative to you, wait deep, close up, play on the break with Drogba and Malouda. But, no, I think Arsenal will want the ball. There will be more of a game. As a fan I’d definitely pay for a ticket to see this game. Manchester United or Chelsea would play in a more speculative way. They would leave us the ball. Arsenal won’t.”

    Anyway, my take is that, if this is Xavi’s honest opinion, then he has a right to it. I don’t know if he’s necessarily trying to be malicious to Arsenal, but I’ll give you that it’s a little inconsiderate. Overall, Xavi’s comments to the press tend to be unusually intelligent and insighful for a football player, and also considerate. That’s why he’s my favorite player (aside from the fact that he’s brilliant on the pitch, of course). To me, his comments about Arsenal are one bad thing that’s outweighed by many good things. If you see it differently, that’s your right.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    It’s not just football players that are inconsiderate or selfish. Football fans are too. If Xavi and other players said bad things about ManU or Spurs, I’m sure Arsenal fans would have taken a liking to them and gloated over the other clubs and said oh your players want to leave etc..

    I disagree with the honest opinion bit. He’s entitled to it of course. But he’s not entitled to voice it. I’m sorry, he’s not. However undemocratic it appears there is a certain responsibility you have when you are in the public eye as well. I’m sure he has opinions on what goes on at the training ground, disagreements between players etc. We don’t hear him come out with those do we? So he can have his opinion, but he should not be coming out with it. THAT is what is suggestive of arrogance. That we can do or say whatever I please, and it is all cool because I am thinking of Cesc and his welfare as well.. Please.. If you weren’t a barca and Xavi fan, you would react the same way as me.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    The reason I haven’t been willing to say for sure that Cesc wants to go to Barca is that, just like the “tapping up,” I haven’t been able to find trustworthy “evidence” to verify it. That’s just how I think about these things. Maybe I haven’t said it clearly enough, but I’ve always assumed that there was some truth somewhere in all of these things.

    However, it’s just that the reporting on it is so out of hand that it’s impossible to distinguish the truth from among the (many) lies. So, as for your comments about Barca deliberately attempting to “unsettle” Cesc, I’m not willing to say that at this point. I can see other possible motives, and I think that a lot of it may have to do with courting there own public. And I don’t know if Pep has said anything to Cesc either.

    Also, it’s important to remember that Barcelona feels like Arsenal “tap up” their own youth players, which may be part of the reason that they’re not exactly considerate about this. And I have to say that they do have something of a legitimate greivance there. Are you familiar with those issues at all?

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    “Barca have, through their success, and by their resultant behaviour reached a stage, where they are actually becoming worse for football than Mourinho might be.”

    I think that your personal anger as an Arsenal fan may be influencing your opinion on this. Which is understandable. I’m an Arsenal fan as well, so it makes me angry too, although maybe not to the same extent as you. But it also makes me angry on a different level as well, because, as a Barcelona fan, it reflects on me. It makes me embarassed and ashamed, and honestly just straight out hurts my feelings. I honestly do feel like, after everything I’ve done to support them, they’re slapping me and the rest of their fans in the face with this type of comment.

    However, I don’t hate them for it. And the main reason for that is that, while they occasionally do things like this that make me ashamed of them, there’s not a week that goes by when they don’t do something else that makes me proud of them. To an Arsenal fan, the way that Barcelona treats Arsenal is everything. And that’s as it should be. But to Barca fans, it’s one negative aspect of a larger whole that’s outweighed by many good things.

    It’s all about perspective, but from where you’re standing, I would feel the same way as you do. That’s why I don’t ever get angry at you or anyone else on here for saying these types of things.

    Oh, and I actually typed this out before I saw your comment above about “Please.. If you weren’t a barca and Xavi fan, you would react the same way as me.” Yes, I would. Apparently we’re reading each other’s minds again 🙂

  • Shard

    @Anne

    Yes. But that is an issue to take up with the Spanish authorities as regards the employment laws there. It’s like Arsenal complaining that Barca take away all the talent in South America even though Arsenal have them scouted before but they don’t get work permits. That is just the advantages or disadvantages of being based in a certain country and living under their laws.

    In fact being in Spain, Barca probably have more of an advantage. they have their entire Barca B team playing competitive football in the lower leagues and this contributes hugely to their success. Arsenal have to send individual players out on loans to various different teams in order for them to get some first team experience. Also, Barca tried to sign two of Arsenal’s youth players 2 years ago, only for them to turn Barca down. (Afobe and Aneke) so it is not that Barca don’t do it as well. they get players in from all over the world and moan about the ones that get away.

    I’m aware that you could call me out by saying I think like this because I am an Arsenal fan, but I don’t think that is affecting my judgment here. I really don’t think barca have a legitimate case here. Against Arsenal that is. The laws are not fair, but as I said they probably have it better on balance. So if their annoyance about Arsenal ‘tapping up’ their players is some sort of justification in their minds about it then they are being even more arrogant.

    In regards to the Cesc story. Yes, there have been MANY lies told about that. No question. And while you are right to think of a lack of evidence showing that Barca intended to do that, there is also something of a pattern here. I think it makes sense that that was at least part of their motive. Playing to the gallery of course is another one as well. Push come to shove Anne, would you say Barca (Board downwards) behave appropriately towards Arsenal? Also, more importantly, when exactly did you start following Barca? Do you think that they live up to their word and their image?

  • Shard

    @Anne

    About the Mourinho comment. It is absolutely certain that me being an Arsenal fan is behind that statement. As I said, I didn’t think about it and it just came out, so it must be how I FEEL.. I don’t know whether I think that, and I don’t know if I ever could root for a Mourinho team. I do know, for a FACT, that I want Barca’s winning streak to come to an end, and hopefully coincide with a stage that Arsenal are winning trophies. I’d like to see how Barca behave then, and indeed how we do. If Wenger is in charge, I feel confident we will not behave the way Barca have done.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    Also, appreciate your comment at 9.40.. I think you are being fair about this, and what you said about Barca being more than this to you is very simple, and very sensible. Of course it’s true, and that’s what makes us fans anyway. We accept some of the bad stuff along with everything else. though there should/must be a tipping point somewhere when you (as in anyone) says that this cannot be what represents me.. I’m sure it is nowhere near that point for you and Barca and that wasn’t the reason i typed that out..

    Oh and it’s nice to know I can read your mind 🙂

  • Shard

    Oh and I haven’t been willing to clearly define my thoughts, even to myself, on Cesc for the same reason as you. Also, because I think he’ll stay and I want to be able to cheer him on wholeheartedly and not think about the transfer stuff 🙂 If he goes, I think he would have let himself down as well, but we;ll cross that bridge when we come to it..

    Oh and I didn’t come up with Shard. A friend of mine did, and it just stuck. Not that anyone calls me that really, just that it became my pseudonym. It is I think a variant of Slash (the GNR guitarist) and an inspiration from some cartoon character called Rex Shard, which was a play on my initials. Not much of a story really and no greater significance, but it’s just been around so long that it fits and I think of it as my ‘name’. It’s as good as any other I suppose.

  • Shard

    I just realised both paragraphs began with ‘Oh and I’, which is quit funny 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Where the Barca youth players are concerned, I want to say first and foremost that I personally don’t have a problem at all with the way that Arsenal signs Barca youth players. Arsenal is a business, and they have to get the best players they can for the lowest amount of money. They’re not in a position to pay more just to be nice. However, I think that, when we’re looking at the question of Barca’s MOTIVE for all this, it’s something that’s worth being examined.

    I disagree with the media reports claiming Barca and Arsenal are in a “bitter feud.” However, it’s a fact that, where there is conflict between Barca and Arsenal, this is at the heart of it. For example, do you remember the media reports around the time of the CL 1st leg claiming that, while Barca was at the Emirates, Arsenal and Barcelona management had a public shouting match over the Toral transfer?

    Well, I initially wrote those reports off as so much media rubbish. However, it turns out that it actually happened. When Rosell made his infamous “immoral” comment about the Toral transfer, that’s what he was actually referring to. Here’s a little more context for Rosell’s comment. He was responding to a question about what was said during the earlier argument at the Emirates:

    “”Rosell did not hide his displeasure [re Toral], and explained that during the meal prior to the game against Arsenal the previous week, he spoke about the Toral situation with the English directors. He said ‘I explained to the directors of Arsenal that we knew that they were after [Toral] and we told them that we didn’t like it. It’s what any president would have said. For us, it’s very important to maintain this group of boys who grew up together, and that they don’t go to those clubs with the money to sign them just before they turn 16. We told them that it was something a little bit immoral. Their response was to whistle a little bit. It’s clear that we won’t be doing anything economic to make him stay.’

    The representative of Toral is Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, and [Rosell] was asked what role he had played in the case. He said ‘Pere Guardiola represents three players, two of whom were wanted by Chelsea and Arsenal, and he avoided them going. That happens very often. In the case of Toral, he decided to leave, without forgetting that he also went because his mother is English.’”

    The one thing that jumps out to me about these comments is the following:

    Specifically, why exactly would Barca management have to hunt down Arsenal management at the Emirates in order to TELL them that they were aware that Arsenal was trying to sign Toral? If not because Arsenal was conducting the transfer negotiations behind Barcelona’s back? As I understand it, it’s actually Arsenal’s standard practice to do that when signing Barca youth players (and other English clubs too).

    And while I’m aware that it’s legal for Arsenal to do so, isn’t approaching a player and attempting to negotiate a contracy behind a club’s back the very definition of “tapping up?” In this case, legally it’s not, but it’s the same in principle, isn’t it?

    Also, note the part where Rosell talked about clubs signing players “just before they turn 16.” Basically, what he’s referring to there is that English clubs, Arsenal included, will decide which player they want to sign at a much earlier time, but wait to actually sign the player until just before their 16th birthday (when Barca would be able to legally offer them a contract).

    So, they’ll time the signing to make sure that Barca continues training the player, and expending their own resources on him, for as long as possible before they take him away, thus making the time and money that Barca expended in the interim a complete waste for Barca.

    And as I said above, I personally don’t think that Arsenal is doing anything wrong here. It’s just a question of different interests and priorities. However, if you’re honest with yourself, can you not see why Barca would feel a little bit ticked off by it? Wouldn’t you? And it’s magnified by the fact that, not just Arsenal, but all the English clubs, regularly turn up and start hounding all the Barcelona youth players as soon as they turn 15.

    It’s become a real problem for Barca, and they’re having to devote a lot of time and effort to finding ways to deal with these English clubs, and to keep their players without being able to pay them. And just because of Arsenal’s style of play, they tend to be the most frequent suitors.

    So, when you examine the question of Barca’s conduct towards Arsenal, you need to consider these issues to examine it from their perspective. I’m not saying that any of this actually justifies some of Barca’s worst conduct towards Arsenal. You know that I don’t think so. But I do understand, from Barca’s perspective, why they might feel that they have something of a legitimate greivance against Arsenal. And that’s important on the question of motive.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I do understand in terms of the motive. But as I said, I don’t think they have a case here, and it is more for show. Also I think you are reading too much into clubs waiting till just before the 16th birthday. I don’t think it is because Barca should continue training them. I’m not sure about this, but isn’t 17 the age that Barca can sign players on contracts? because I think it is 16 for English clubs and not 15.. Worth looking at I think..

    Plus, It also needs to be pointed out that I think Barca do ‘pay’ the youth players if they really want to keep them. There are different ways of doing it and Rosell saying we will not be doing anything economic to make him stay says as much.

    Whether Arsenal contact Barca before about their interest I don’t know. perhaps not, since it is after all also a trade secret as to which player are we actually interested in. So it would make sense not to tip off a rival over it. Perhaps not the most courteous thing, but i don’t see what the alternative is. If there were a way that it could be done more courteously, perhaps Arsenal would work towards it.Also, Barca must know when Arsenal and other club scouts come to watch games though, so it’s not as if they have no idea.

    Why Rosell would ‘hunt down’ Gazidis or any Arsenal official is more about him having a constituency to play a part for, rather than any actual annoyance would be my guess. Arsenal could very well create a show of some events and cause a scene too, but we don’t even respond. (Something I hope changes, and not just in regards to Barcelona of course)

    Lastly, I’m not sure I believe Rosell straight out either, because he obviously has a ‘motive’ to lie about it as well.

    So I agree we aren’t whiter than white, because I believe no succesful business can be and we must be doing our share of the dirty work. But we do follow all rules, and I don’t think we have ever conducted a media campaign to get a player, youth or otherwise.

    I still don’t get the point of this though. We both agree that nothing is really ‘clean’. I don’t know if you agree though, that Arsenal are better behaved than Barcelona when it comes to transfers and how they are carried out.

    Mainly, Barcelona do exactly the same thing with perhaps the difference being that Barca cannot ‘pay’ a player for one year that Arsenal can. Still, if they want to I think they can pay in other ways, or they can promise to pay a certain amount the following year, and if they live up to those promises, the ones who supposedly leave for money would stay.

  • Shard

    If there were to be some way that rules that apply in Spain could be exchanged with the ones in operation in England, I’d be more than happy to accept that 🙂 Spain has a more favourable tax structure, easier access to South American players, complete reserve teams playing an entire season in the lower leagues, and no restriction on the distance a player must be living from the club, within their own country. All in all, Barca have much the better deal I think, and they can be annoyed all they want, but they do the same to other clubs when they get in youth talent to La Masia.

    In the case of Arsenal, I think they would prefer to get them in earlier than wait for the 16th birthday and let Barcelona train the player. Though that age of getting players in was part of a strategy I feel- a temporary one. But it was by no means just Barcelona and their academy training. Djourou, Song, Denilson, Senderos, Clichy were all brought in when they were around that age. It was most likely to fill the gap between the likes of Wilshere and Frimpong coming through, and the first team retiring/moving on.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Thanks for all the information in that response. The details of how all this legal stuff works is something that I definitely look into more before I can be confident that everything I’m saying is correct. I guess the reason I’m bringing this up now has more to do with my own quest for answers than anything else.

    Now that I’ve actually seen some of these “tapping up” type comments that can be directly linked to Barca, I want to know why they’re doing it. And while I can see how these efforts could be related to “tapping up,” or attempting to “unsettle” Cesc to make it easier to sign him, I have one problem with that. Mainly that I’ve never been under the impression that Barca was actually trying to sign Cesc.

    The media reports about the “offers” that Barca supposedly made this summer aren’t remotely credible to me, and I’m not convinced that any offer has actually been made. Ditto for the supposed “2nd offer” from last summer. As far as I can confirm, the only offer that Barca definitely made was the one just before the elections, which they knew was far too low to be accepted. I always assumed that Laports just did it for political reasons.

    But Barca spent something like 60 million euros on transfers last summer, and they spent it on Villa and Mashcerano. If they wanted to make a serious offer for Cesc, they could have just taken what they spent on Mascherano and tacked it onto what they offered for Cesc, making it somewhere around 50 million. But instead, they chose to sign a different midfielder. So, it’s not that Barca didn’t have the money, it’s that they chose to spend it somewhere else. (although I suppose that they technically didn’t have the money 🙂 )

    I know that the idea is that Barcelona supposedly is trying to destabilize Cesc and make him cheaper. But I just have difficulty in buying that as a tactic, because I don’t understand how Barca could POSSIBLY believe that Arsenal would cave to something like that.

    Also, I don’t recall ever seeing Barcelona use a similar tactic in any other transfer. On the whole, like Arsenal, they tend to conduct their transfer business behind closed doors. As far as I’ve seen. Their only signings so far this summer have been Kiko Femenia from Hercules and Cristian Lobato from Hospitalet (left and right wingers for Barca B), and there was nothing in the papers ahead of time.

    But anyway, I guess the point is that, based on the ACTIONS that they’ve taken, Barca doesn’t seem to be very serious in trying to sign Cesc. Not to me, at least. So, why the hell would they be “tapping” him up, then? This is all a mystery to me at this point.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    “Push come to shove Anne, would you say Barca (Board downwards) behave appropriately towards Arsenal?”

    As I’ve said already, there are definitely some occasions where I think that Barca has behaved inappropriately towards Arsenal. However, due to the media role, it’s virtually impossible for me to figure out exactly what they have done and haven’t done right now.

    “Also, more importantly, when exactly did you start following Barca?”

    I first got interested in them when I was living in Barcelona in the summer of 2000. I’ve followed them from a distance since then, but for financial reasons, I’ve only been able to watch them regularly for the last couple of seasons.

    “Do you think that they live up to their word and their image?”

    An interesting question 🙂 In order to answer that question, you have to understand that the politics of Barcelona are completely insane. Just as an example, imagine what Arsenal would be like if Arsenal’s fans were in a position to vote Arsene Wenger out of office 🙂 And that’s not even all of it. I don’t think there’s any other football club in the world that’s in the exact same circumstances as Barcelona.

    Is Barca “mes que un club?” Most definitely. But most people don’t realize that “mes que un club” primarily refers to Barca’s role in local politics and regional identity. In addition to being a football club, Barca is also viewed by the Catalan public as something of a mascot and a standard bearer for local identity and the Catalan separatist movement, and has been for decades. Particularly during the Franco era.

    Also, they have a very important political role. The line between Barca and government is very thin in Catalunya, and they’re as much of a political entity as they are a football club. For an example, just look at the activities of Joan Laporta since leaving the Barca presidency:

    “Following the end of his second term as president, Laporta formed the independence-seeking political party Democràcia Catalana (Catalan Democracy). In the summer of 2010, Laporta’s party merged with other extra-parliamentary pro-independence parties and grassroots movements into a political platform called Catalan Solidarity for Independence. laporta was elected its president.

    In the Catalan elections of 28th November 2010, the new party managed to achieve 4 seats in the 135-member Catalan Parliament, making it the sixth largest party out of seven.[9] Laporta was elected in the circumscription of Barcelona.”

    So, imagine SAF leaving ManU and being elected Prime Minister (scary thought). 🙂 When Barca says that they’re “mes que un club,” they mean it LITERALLY. This whole idea of “mes que un club” meaning that Barca is morally superior on some level is something that’s been attributed to them by outside sources. Not that they’re too interested in discouraging the idea…

    If you look at the “mes que un club” section of their website, it’s actually pretty funny. It mentions their political role, but also says something along the lines of how it’s something that means a lot of things to different people in the modern world. The way I read it is: “we’re not actually claiming that we’re better than everybody else, but if you want to believe that, we’re perfectly ok with it.” 🙂

    Overall, I think that what’s going on with Barca right now has a lot to do with the business realities of modern football. They want to operate more as a traditional business, and circumstances are such that they’re being forced to if they want to remain competitive. However, their local public doesn’t like that idea, and they still have all this pressure on their shoulders as the standard bearer for Catalunya.

    And their role as the standard bearer for Catalunya is no small matter to them, considering that the people who view them in that role have the power to throw them all out if they don’t like what they’re seeing. So, I think that Barca is really struggling to find a balance at this point, and as a result, is perhaps going a little bit TOO far in trying to sell their “moral” image at the moment. But the people that they’re trying to sell it to are the locals.

    I’ve long been of the opinion that nearly everything Barcelona does is intended for the local stage, rather than the national stage. It’s just that, given the realities of the global media, and particularly in light of their recent success, it all ends up on the national stage anyway. And most of it makes absolutely no sense to anyone outside of Catalunya, so it’s often misinterpreted.

    And that situation is getting even worse now because the global media, particularly in England, have realized that it’s something that they can take advantage of to spin Barcelona however they want. They’ve realized that Barca is absolutely terrible at media management, and also that they’re completely hamstrung by the fact that they need to keep their local voters happy above all else. Most clubs are much better at handling the media than Barca is, and that’s part of the reason Barca is having image problems right now.

    So, in addition to the local pressures that are already on Barca, now they’re having to figure out a way to deal with their global image, but in a way that doesn’t harm their local image…Anyway, you get the idea. Right now, I don’t think they’re doing a very good job in handling all this, but I think that they’ll get better at it.

    So, as for whether Barca is living up “to their word and their image?” I have no idea. 🙂 And the truth is that it’s something that isn’t very important to me. Where football clubs are concerned, I primarily judge them by their football. If I want to worry about politics, there are other life and death issues that I would rather devote my attention to. And that’s just a choice that I’ve made.

    Plus, the politics of Barca are so complicated that having any idea what’s going on over there is a monumental task. I can find out more about it for you if you want, but I would have to give up all my research and efforts to help Arsenal just to have time to do it. I’ll let you decide which one you’d rather I devote my attention to 🙂

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I’m actually a little relieved. I was typing the above last night when I was getting quite sleepy, and more and more annoyed about Barcelona when I thought about it, and felt that perhaps I was just getting unnecessarily argumentative. I’m relieved that at least you didn’t take offense at it.

    Also, I realised that it’s not that Barcelona can’t pay their youth players because I think they would be doing it, but that there is no guarantee that the player will stay. So I can understand the possible frustration. I also figured out what makes me dislike Barcelona’s behaviour in this regard. Yes, most likely it is meant for their locals, but I have said it before, that hypocrisy is the one thing that makes me lose my cool the most. They get youth players in from all over the world, but accuse Arsenal of wrong doing when they are at the receiving end. They say they want Cesc and won’t pay more for him because he is ours and wants to come home. I don’t see that same clamour for Fran merida who also joined Arsenal from the Barca academy (now is at Atletico Madrid). They want Cesc only because he is good, so say that. His DNA has nothing to do with why they want him. Barca proclaim themselves as the sole protectors of pure ‘football’, and behave horribly at times.

    It’s this habit of saying one thing and doing another as and when it suits them that makes me dislike them. It would be a lot less if they just said we will do whatever we want because we can. And yes, right now they can. Winning seems to excuse everything else in the times that we live in, but winning won’t last forever. As I said, I really want their trophies to dry up (pity Real is the only other option) and Arsenal to win at the same time, with or without Cesc, and even I might resort to rubbing it in a bit.

    Barca, despite me liking them from earlier, have managed to turn me away and I think that is a shame. I’ll never be able to see them only as a good footballing side anymore. The throat grabbing, the moaning to referees, the help they got from them, their two faced speak on Cesc and youth transfers, all of that, will always be part of them from now, and it makes me sad and pine for a return to simpler times when I could just watch football, played by two teams on the pitch with no or at least minimal shenanigans.

  • Antonios

    Ive known Anthony Kastrinakis since our teens.He is a Liverpool supporter who never got over 26th May 1989. He hates Arsenal with a pasion FACT. I can assure you this individual does not need encouragement to stick the boot into Arsenal. His poisonous attitiude to AFC is known to all who know / knew him for years and years. I am not the least bit suprised by this.

  • Notoverthehill

    Thank you Tony/Walter for keepinng this thread open.

    Thank you Anne/Shard for your in-depth articles on your research (?) of the Barça/Arsenal apparent imbroglio.

    Perhaps Anne has been a bit too hard on FC Barcelona when Laporta rescued them from the jaws of despair? Mighty Spain against the minnows of Catalunya?

  • bjtgooner

    @Anne:

    Noted today when travelling one or two (UK) newspaper headlines
    that the FBI might get involved in the NOTW investigation! I have no further details but if I come across any I will forward them.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    The way you feel is understandable. As I said above, Barcelona is in a very unique political position among football clubs, and as a result, they engage in some “unique” behavior as well. 🙂 Most of the time it’s harmless, but where Arsenal is concerned, it hasn’t been. And I’m aware of that.

    To understand Barca, you have to understand the region of Catalunya and the public sentiment there, because Barca is a mirror of that in a lot of ways. They take pride in it (hence the “mes que un club” title). However, part of that Catalan identity is a fierce sense of pride in their “separateness.” However, “separate” can also become “selfish,” depending on which side of the Catalan border you’re standing on.

    Ever since Arsenal signed Cesc, he’s been a major political issue for the PEOPLE of Barcelona. In general, they tend to view any Catalan football player as rightfully theirs. However, Cesc is a particularly sore issue because they feel that Arsenal didn’t pay enough for him, and also that Arsenal treated Barca disrespectfully in the negotiations.

    So, I’d say that the prevaling mood is somewhere along the lines of “Cesc is ours, and Arsenal snuck in like theives in the night and stole him from us.” 🙂 Is it even remotely fair? No. But that’s just Catalunya. But if that’s the way the people feel, then Barca better feel the same way. Or at least ACT like they do 🙂 Otherwise, the people will elect someone new who does.

    To me, this uniquely political aspect of Barca is the thing I like most about them (even though I don’t like their specific conduct towards Arsenal). I absolutely love Catalunya. The people, the culture, AND the politics. Hence, I love Barca. It couldn’t be any other way 🙂

    But if you can’t handle the politics, and the obnoxious behavior that they sometimes generate, then Barca is most definitely NOT the club for you. 🙂 It’s a personal choice, and I respect that.

  • bob

    Antonios,
    Do you know when toxic tony first was hired by The Sun? Did he work in newspapers before that?

  • Shard

    Arsenal is the only club for me thank you very much..

    I understand all that, well not understand but I figure all that is there. I know the compulsions that Barca -the club, face from Barca-the region.. That doesn’t make it right, and it also annoys me because I would like to be able to support them. But I can’t.

    And regional politics is fine, but when it becomes ‘selfish’ or insular I think is the word I used before, then for me, it is time to ditch them. I realise that that is highly controversial, and people tend to hold on to an external identity very strongly. It’s just not the way I feel and I do not like the offshoots of such thinking. Not just in Barcelona’s case, I mean generally. I guess in a sense Arsenal and Wenger’s openness to players from everywhere..the “I don’t look at passports” bit, is the opposite of Barca’s attitude of being local. Arsenal was considered a very English team (and club) some time back so it’s not that there weren’t, and aren’t, pressures to keep that Englishness, now backed up by the rules as well, not to mention the immunity that seems to come with the 3 lions shirt.

    In the end, there isn’t much to be done really, or much to be said. Barcelona will behave this way and they will continue to get away with it, until Cesc joins them, at which point they’ll find something else to come up with. (Cesc isn’t the first Arsenal player they have targetted in this fashion though the frenzy has been unprecedented, as is the spiel of Catalan boy coming home) As an Arsenal fan, I’ll just have to take it on the chin and move on and hope that my club reaches a position where we don’t have to even dissuade other clubs from acting this way. It’s not that far off actually, and I can wait, because Arsenal is enough for me. FC Barcelona can go **** themselves for all I care. They have lost a supporter/sympathiser in me. That of course will not matter a jot to them, since I am not Catalonian.

    I’m sorry Anne. i mean no disrespect to you, or your choice of club. Of course Barcelona is more than this to you and you acknowledge this as a negative, among many other positives. This isn’t ALL Barcelona is to me, but the negatives have outweighed the positives, and I cannot wish them well anymore. Which, as I said, makes me long for simpler times when I would instinctively support them, along with some other teams. Now it’s just Arsenal and everyone else is a f****** b******

  • Shard

    Oh and Anne.. Where does Espanyol fit into this whole Catalonian framework?

  • bjtgooner

    @ Anne:

    A link to a BBC update on NOTW.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14150820

    Hope this is helpful.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    LOL. I think you’ve once again displayed your tendency to completely trash my football club in a way that somehow increases my liking and respect for you 🙂

    Because even though your opinions are harsh and highly critical, they’re nonetheless completely fair and intellectually honest. In fact, I actually agree with all of the factual aspects of your assessment of Barca’s behavior (aside from the fact that I’m not so sure that Barca really wants to sign Cesc).

    It’s just that, in your case, these facts have inspired you to tell Barca to go f*** themselves, whereas, in my case, I take them with a sense of humor and move on. In a lot of ways, our reactions really aren’t all that different…both of us recognize that this is something that deserves nothing more than to just to be written off.

    I think the only difference is that, living in Barcelona, I just kind of got used to this stuff and learned to never take it seriously. And for that reason, it doesn’t make me as angry as you.

    But I think that I ultimately agree with you that telling Barca to go f*** themselves is probably the best way for Arsenal fans to respond to this stuff. Because it’s not entitled to your respect. And I would be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that every Arsenal fan on the planet has the right to express these exact same sentiments to Barcelona…

    So, Shard, in a very, VERY strange way, well said, and I’ll second that 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    If I’m remembering correctly, Espanyol was initially founded to be a pro-royalist and pro-Spanish alternative to the Catalan-separatist Barcelona. So, there was initially a major political rivalry between the two clubs along the lines of Barca-Real Madrid. However, Espanyol has diminished that stance in recent years, converted all of their marketing from Spanish into Catalan, etc.

    So, the rivalry is still there, but it’s died down to some extent. I’ve never actually met any Espanyol supporters, but my understanding is that they have a pretty good local fanbase. It’s just much smaller than Barcelona’s. A lot of Espanyol’s players came through la Masia, and the Catalan national team is made up of players from both Espanyol and Barca.

  • Anne

    @bjtgooner:

    Thanks for helping to keep me updated on the NOTW investigation.

  • Anne

    @Notoverthehill:

    Thank you for your compliments 🙂

  • Anne

    @Shard and everyone else:

    Ok, looking back at my above posts, I’m afraid that I’ve actually presented Barca and the Catalan people in an unfair light. What I’m trying to explain here is something that’s actually extremely difficult to explain, because the fact is that it has a lot to do with just cultural differences.

    Specifically, I want to CLEARLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY state that Barcelona and the people of Catalunya are NOT, on ANY level, bigots or xenophobes. The Catalan separatist movement is something that’s very difficult to understand unless you’ve lived there. And I really just don’t know how to convey it through writing alone…

    Overall, the people in Barcelona are some of the best and nicest people that I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. And while the politics are all completely insane on a lot of levels, the main thing I think that I’ve failed to convey is that there’s a real sense of HUMOR about it all.

    And that’s why there are so many smiley faces in my posts above. Yes, the politics are over the top, and the fact is that they’re deliberately over the top. And part of the reason for that is that it’s all kind of regarded as a joke…

    So, yes, the people of Barcelona generally tend to think that Arenal’s signing of Cesc was some kind of highway robbery, but there’s a little bit of a wink and a smile about it all as well. And I just don’t know how to fully explain that…I really don’t.

    But if you were ever to get into a debate with a local on the topic, they would be laughing and buying you more bottles of wine the whole time you were discussing it…Like I said, I REALLY just don’t know how to explain this…

    In a lot of ways, Barcelona as a city is just kind of this bizaare microcosm that’s like nowhere else in the world, and Barca as a football club is equally bizaare.

    However, in the world of modern football, there is one thing that is ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY clear to me. And that is that Barcelona is one of the good guys. There aren’t many good guys left, but Barcelona is one of the few remaining. And I believe that 100%, and I’ll defend them on that all the way to my grave.

    It’s just that they’re difficult to understand outside of the local context. But if you ever had the opportunity to view it all from the inside, I think that you would understand that there really is something that’s SO beautiful about them… And I’m talking about the whole picture. Both the good and the bad. Overall, it’s beautiful.

    But anyway, other than that, I just don’t know how to describe it. As Arsenal fans, I can fully understand why you would hold the alternative view. And I’ll never hold that against you because I feel that you’re justified. I guess that, just looking at my previous posts, I felt that I had sold Barca out a little bit so I had to at least TRY to clarify what I meant. Cheers…

  • Shard

    @Anne
    Regarding the people of Catalunya, I would be inclined to agree. I understand what you mean by it is not serious, at the same time it is. Such things aren’t really unique to Barcelona or Catalunya actually, so I think I get that, even though I admit I don’t really know (yet) about the Catalonian separatist movement. (European history is still something I’m slowly delving into, trouble is my country’s history is just so vast and complicated I just haven’t gotten around to it yet) You’re right when you say it is about taking distance from this whole thing and writing it off, because I didn’t actually tell Barca to f*** themselves. I said they can go f*** themselves for all I care. A difference of indifference if I can put it that way 🙂

    Regarding them being the good guys though.. I’m not so sure anymore. On the whole, I would agree with you. The club and its history, and even its culture, would in my book count as being among the good guys. That is why I instinctively supported them I guess. But power corrupts, and when the same rules don’t apply to you anymore then the moral compass is bound to get screwed up. I don’t expect you to agree but I honestly feel that they have reached/are reaching, a tipping point. Not for its fans, especially when they’re bringing home all those trophies, but in the world of modern football, they just might be crossing over to the bad side. (Both good and bad should come with qualifiers since they are not absolute in meaning)

    Partly, it is just how football is that is to blame I guess. As you could probably tell from my posts above, it wasn’t about Barcelona alone. There was a time when I could watch a match between ManU and Arsenal and ‘hate’ ManU in a very different way. Now it is pure revulsion that I feel and that has extended to many more clubs either because of what they stand for, or how they play, or how they behave off the field. Anything. Also, there was a time when each mistake of a player wasn’t scrutinised to the point that nothing exists except that and the player is s***, nor when every good performance was the sign of the next coming of the messiah. If this much pressure was put on the likes of Henry, Vieira, Pires when they first came to the club, we might actually have destroyed their Arsenal careers.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    I still think that they’re the good guys 🙂 If you follow them a little bit more closely, and more in depth aside from just what is published in relation to Arsenal, you’ll see that they’re actually showing a lot of humility about their recent success. They actually still speak frequently about their recent trophy drought. Particularly Xavi. I liked these comments from back in April:

    World Soccer: Congratulations on winning World Soccer’s Player of the Year award.

    Xavi: Thank you.

    Q: It’s been quite a year with the World Cup and the Spanish league title, plus the 5-0 win over Real Madrid. Is this recognition at last? A few years ago, few people talked about you as the best player in the world. There was even that infamous headline in one English newspaper when you were in the top five for the FIFA World Player award: “The best players in the world (and Xavi).”

    Xavi: It’s a pity. Not for me, but because of what it means. People have to focus a bit more on how things are done, not just on the final result. The result matters, of course, but people aren’t looking at how a player plays – whether that’s me or anyone else.

    They’re looking at who wins. It’s all about the result. I think that’s a pity because football is more than that. People have discovered me since Euro 2008, but I’ve been playing the same way for years.

    Q: But you have improved, right?

    Xavi: In self-confidence. By winning, you take a weight off your shoulders, you convince yourself that you’re doing things right. Before, it was a bit “aargh!” Now that we have won we have the tranquillity that allows us to enjoy our football, both with Spain and Barcelona. Winning has also served to make people re-evaluate our style, my style. It’s not just about recognition, it’s more than that. Honestly, I am very happy because, from an egotistical point of view, six years ago I was extinct as a player; footballers like me were in danger of dying out.

    Q: That’s the point isn’t it? This award is about more than just 2010, it is about you representing a type of game that, now at least, is seen as a winning approach. It is about three years in which you have won the European Championship, the European Cup,
    the World Cup…

    Xavi: A few years ago, we weren’t winning. When a team starts winning you notice it. When a tennis player wins you look at him and ask why he wins. You don’t look at him before that and ask what it is he has got [going for him]. The process only gets examined via the result. In football, sadly, no one looks at, for example, how is this [team/player] playing. No, they look at the results.

    I understand that but I have a different perspective. [A club] can lose but I will still like them. If they don’t win, so what? I might like the way they play.

  • Shard

    @Anne
    I’ve read that before.. Doesn’t change a thing now.. Barcelona can go…. You know.. 🙂 It’s cool. Maybe it is the partying that I just indulged in but I’m feeling a lot lighter about this whole thing. F*** Barca, F*** ManU, F*** Hangzhou even.. I just want to watch some good football and support my team through all the crap and nonsense it’s facing right now, and it is inevitable that we will win something again. And that will be just a validation of all we have achieved as a club, in the past decade alone.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Glad you had a fun evening.

  • Knysna Gunner

    Are you planning to do a similar article on the Daily Mail? Bob Cass, who is very close to sir rednose, in particular.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    What gives you the impression that that’s something worth saying? 🙂

    Looks like it was taken from here:

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/20110715/cruyff-razon-wenger-caso-cesc/1080940.shtml

    But it’s absolutely and completely out of context. And even given that, it’s not as if Sport has any more journalistic credibility than the Mirror. It’s all completely unattributed.

    I’ve been doing some research on Antony Kastrinakis in relation to my last article, and as a result, I’ve become even more cynical about this transfer saga crap than I even was before. And that’s saying something. If you’re interested in researching something that’s worth your time and effort (:) )email me at anne.thompson.79@gmail.com. I want to find out as much as I can about Usmanov….

  • Anne

    @Knysna Gunner

    Hopefully we’ll be addressing the Mail in our Untold Media campaign. Stay tuned, and if you have any interesting information on this Cass character, please contact me with it at anne.thompson.79(AT)gmail.com [replace (AT) with @ – Anne please remember that posting a correctly formatted email address in a high profile website is asking for more spam and phishing emails than you can possibly imagine]

  • Shard

    @ Anne

    Usmanov’s past is very difficult to find out accurately. But if Notoverthehill comes on here, it might be worth asking him. I’ve seen him give a few links about Usmanov on other sites, and I think he’s Russian, so he might have knowledge and access to more sources about him.

  • JohnS

    To Anne and Shard
    Thanks for the interesting thread re: Barcelona and Catalunya. Coming back to where Espanyol fit in, I believe it was founded by local Spanish (rather than Catalunyan) workers who had flocked to Barcelona at the turn of the 19th century. It was blue-collar but Royalist in origin hence its original name Real Deport. Espanol. The Espanol name was converted to the Catalunyan spelling Espanyol after the fall of Franco. So it was always a Spanish and Royalist alternative to the Catalunyan Barca. As such I guess it would always have been regarded by Barca fans as a bit of a poor mans Real Madrid – a bit like ManU fans used to regard City before they struck oil.
    Espanyol have a pretty decent 40,000 seater stadium a little way out of Barcelona now and probably more connected with the Barcelona hinterland rather than the City itself. Incidentally I looked all over Barcelona recently to buy an Espanyol shirt (as my meagre and insignificant protest to the Cesc saga.) but I could only find the ubiquitous blaugrana and no blue and white stripes anywhere.

  • Shard

    @John S

    Thank you for telling us about Espanyol (or should I say Espanol) and it’s history. Sad that you couldn’t find their shirt in the city anywhere..

  • Shard

    Xavi definitely needs a kick in his teeth now. Though I’m sure even that won’t make him shut up… Let’s see if you deny the arrogance now Anne.. Just acting in Cesc’s interest. Just the knight in shining armour I see.