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That would never happen at Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

Earlier this season I read that when one combines his football club salary, with his promotional earnings and his non-football income, Messi earns around £576,000 a week – which is just a little under £30m a year, and quite a bit more than I earn.

At the same time there is the fact that even with all that talent, and having poached Cesc from us, Barca couldn’t actually win the league.

I was pondering this point when I noted that yesterday play had to be briefly during Blackburn’s defeat to Wigan when a chicken has thrown on to the pitch – a variant on the recent Spanish approach which involves throwing tennis balls on the pitch.

Then there is the fact that after years of Arsenal being threatened with a mass exodus of players because we don’t win things, we are now being told that players who we maybe don’t want are coming back from loan.  We are in fact going to have too many players next season.  Now it seems it is the Tottenham players who are saying that they are leaving if the club doesn’t enter the Champs League.

Bale has been in the limelight for this for a while, and now Assou-Ekotto says that unless he personally approves of the size of the Tinies transfer budget he will leave.

According to one paper the comments will  “spark further fears of a summer exodus of key players” at Tottenham, which makes a change.

Personally I don’t believe 99% of all this stuff.  Of course players leave – largely because they want money, their agents want money, and they think they will be indispensable in the team they are going on.   But I did like Assou-Ekotto’s supposed reported comments on Arry:

“When I met my chairman last January, he told me that if a club bigger than Tottenham came for me, the club would not necessarily be against a departure. With my chairman, there was a gentlemen’s agreement. As he is a man of his word, I hope it will make things easier if a great club comes in.”

Luka Modric also earlier claimed that he had a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Levy when he signed an extension to his contract. Modric said he had had an “open chat with Levy that if a bigger club came in with a concrete offer we would consider it and agree the best solution for all concerned”.
So maybe Tottenham face a summer of the “Gentleman’s Agreement”.
Which is exactly what they don’t seem to have at Blackburn.  Having carelessly got themselves relegated they have had a supposed letter from the deputy CEO to the owner last December, published.
It starts

“Madam,

“I have been your senior officer at the club for 6 months now and I feel that I must now write to you to ask you to make some significant changes to save the club, perhaps from relegation but also perhaps from administration….

It loses its way a bit when the first point of the ten point plan is a requirement that the writer is promoted to CEO.  He also asks for investment of £10m (or four months of Messi’s earnings), which seems modest.

But still, tucked away within this letter is this rather telling piece…

“You may also be aware that HMRC (tax authorities) have been chasing Portsmouth Football Club for a debt they owe. HMRC have made a technical mistake in law and therefore cannot claim the money they are owed. They will make sure of course that the next football club that falls out of line, won’t be so lucky. We need to make sure that this club is not Blackburn Rovers.”

Which is rather interesting given the propensity for clubs to go bust.

The rest of the demands are the usual stuff – no press releases without the top people at the club knowing about them, owners to come to matches, top club execs to be able to visit the owners in India every couple of months, the right of the executive team to hire and fire…  And the point of it all is that these things which you would consider to be normal good practice is any firm are not happening.  The chicken lady has bought her club… and then seemingly lost interest.
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But if that all looks like doom and gloom, consider Rangers.  A year ago it looked a right sorry mess but somehow many of us (including me) imagined that it would be resolved in the normal sort of way.  A fudge, a fiddle, a shedload of cash suddenly turning up, a possible addition of money launderers looking for a new location to move their ill-gotten gains around and off we go again – until next time.
.
And up until a few days ago it still looked like that.  But then suddenly the preferred bidder, American Bill Miller, withdrew his offer to buy the club having done his due diligence.   He blamed the administrators and the supporters, and walked away.
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The administrators still say they can find a buyer, but there are also still three unknowns hanging over Rangers:
  • What league will they play in next season?
  • Will there be any points deductions?
  • Will they be allowed to buy in any players?
We already know Rangers will not be in Europe next season and will lose many of their best players as that is part of the deal that allowed the administrators to keep the club going.  The players accepted a pay cut, in return for low cost transfers out this summer.  The future is far from secure (which makes the chants of some Rangers’ fans against the American bidders to seem particularly interesting).
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And to take in just one other club that has had an interesting season, consider Liverpool.  I suppose those Arsenal fans who complain that everything is awful because we have not won a trophy for seven years will find Liverpool’s season rather fine, as they have won a trophy, but I am not sure either their transfer policy or their league record gives that much hope for the future.
.
And yet they have the fans’ manager of choice sitting in the hot seat.  The hated past owners have gone, the unliked previous manager has gone, and the even more unliked one before that has gone, and they have their trophy.  But I am not sure that if I were a season ticket holder at Anfield rather than the Ems I would have enjoyed six home wins this season.
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I suppose it is these things that define my thinking on football this year.  A takeover by outsiders (Rangers, Blackburn), the manager that the fans want (Liverpool), spending loads and loads of money on players (Liverpool again), loads and loads of transfer dealings but with players now saying they want to leave (Tottenham) – these are all techniques that have been advocated for Arsenal.
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The journey from winning a famous old trophy, to the lower leagues, is painful but can be relatively short, as Portsmouth have found out.   I put this to a friend who does advocate that new money should be pumped into Arsenal very quickly and that a change of ownership was the key to everything.  I suggested that sometimes, as at Rangers, money is not quite what it seems, and not quite where it seems, and that new owners, like new managers, don’t always deliver.
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“Oh,” he said, “you’re just in a doom and gloom mood.  That would never happen at Arsenal.”
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PS: I finished this article and showed it to my mate, and he made an interesting reply.  “You missed out Villa,” he said.  “Four home wins all season, 36 goals in 36 games, lowest points total in the Premier League ever, poor form endlessly blamed on injuries and youth, seven wins all season.   And this from a club that under Martin O’Neill, Villa finished sixth for three seasons in a row.”
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25 comments to That would never happen at Arsenal

  • Jim

    Well atleast we have signed MVila, but seems likeHazard is gone to City. http://arsenalblog247.wordpress.com/

  • elkieno

    Rangers famous quote from David Murray back in the 90’s was, for every £5 Celtic spend, we will spend £10!

    That Would Never Happen At Arsenal!

    God I love this site!

  • mjk

    Well this article gives something to think about

  • nicky

    Tony,
    Your post only goes to emphasise the importance of gaining entrance into the CL as opposed to winning internal silverware,
    as well as the value of a self-sustaining policy long followed by our Club.
    When the FFP rules are implemented (and strictly followed) a number of free-spending clubs are going to be hard hit, which will only confirm that our policy, often the butt of much crticism by many fans, has been the right one to pursue.

  • Mark afc

    Good piece. There has to be a balance between winning and financial security-and Arsenal haven’t been far away in past seasons. Winning a trophy(any trophy) would relieve this burden. I’m not so sure as the poster above that the incoming FFP will be severely administered.

  • ian

    One of the issues is that the media focus on silverware as the only measure of success. The fact is that football has moved on so much the pundits must be either blind or ignorant not to see it. Either that or they believe that the average football fan cannot understand what has happened and therefore chooses not to report on it.

    Its not the fault of Arsenal that Champions League football provides greater riches than the domestic competitions and has therefore becomes the clubs priority.

    Until the media understand that there will be no change to the “haven’t won anything for…” that continues.

    I was then planning to say that the opportunity to cheer some silverware and a day at Wembley would be nice, however the Wembley experience is not a good one. Over priced tickets, catering and merchandise are designed to completely rip off fans. Nice work the FA, thank you!

    I also recall the talk in the media during the final season at Highbury about how the Emirates move would financially ruin us, with no transfer budget we would have to sell our best players and would struggle for Champions League football.

    We are now held as being the financial model for footbal, yet criticised for lack of silverware when all around football is in chaos.

  • micro

    nice article and gives credence to Arsenal management and any prudent management for that matter mostly ignoring the fans. fans are not managers and cant manage a club. this is because most of the time they think with their hearts and if an opposing fan chides them about a trophy, they think thats all that is there. look at everton , any body would consider David a successful coach by any standards, but he doesnt have the trophies, he has stability that the club can count and build on for the future.some times it is hard to see where fans are coming from. may be one day you can give a glimpse on the number of players who have passed through Arsenal for the last 15yrs who are still playing compared to the other clubs and you will get the picture of how fast Wenger gets a team together.

  • @Tony thanks for all the news but a bit off the topic ,i hear that Barcelona is selling off some of its big players Fabregas inclusive!!True or false hearsay.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    I honestly cannot wait to see what position arsenal are in (league and resource wise) in five seasons time- I have no doubt it will vindicate arsene’s/ arsenals frugality in terms of spending and our self-sustaining model.

    More to that, It will be very interesting to compare our clubs position to that of other clubs in the top 6, specifically chelsea, liverpool and spuds due to their income generation, youth reliance (or lack of it), FFP implications, their pursuit of building a new stadium (if they can/ and if they are allowed) and if they do how it will impact on their on field competitiveness.

  • Just a couple of little stories this morning.

    The Blackburn Chicken owners have sacked the guy who wrote the email I referred to.

    Toure of the Yaya type has said he would love to go back to Barca.

    Hey ho

  • And another one. Cardiff’s owners in Malaysia want the club to change from its traditional blue to red.

  • @Tony – LOL, let me guess… they want to scrap the number 4 shirt too? LMAO!!!

  • Jacobite Gunner

    In 5 years time, due to FFP there may be only one team in the future who can compete with man u resource wise and this will be arsenal. Outside that you may see man city, liverpool and chelsea.

  • UMOH EKWO

    Arsenal’s financial management needs commendation but there is one aspect which needs improvement. The club is over loaded with unproductive players. Doing away with many of them would complete the prudence of the club. Also, management of exiting players is another area to be examined. There is no doubt that some players are not playing and contributing to the success of the club leaving few players to play week in week out. This is why the club is always depleted by injuries. Correcting this will be a plus too. Arsenal will be sustained till the future. The idea of few people buying a club and subjecting them to their whims and caprices is not the best. Thank God Arsenal is not in such a class.

  • Gord

    There is an odd bit of Arsenal news making the newspapers. It seems some Arsenal fan has had his picture taken outside the Emirates wearing a Tottenham jersey, holding a sign for his girlfriend. I think 3 or 4 newspapers are carrying it on Google, but I suspect it is all over.

  • iniez

    Gord, funny what makes the headlines these days isn’t it?

  • iniez

    Webb has been chosen for the united game, Dean for city, and Dowd for the tots
    http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb/news/news/match-officials-appointments-may-13.html

  • iniez

    In fairness, though I’m not a referee, webb seemed to have an ok game with city v united. Could be interesting

  • iniez

    Forgot to mention, we got mike jones for our game

  • Matt Clarke

    Insightful article – thanks.

    I agree with the thrust of it – and what Jacobite Gunner says – that our present “under performance” should be read in the context of ensuring the club’s stability (and, as other articles show, refereeing bias).

    More and more clubs are facing financial disaster;

    The EPL’s biggest sponsor (?), BSkyB, is facing uncertainty (Levenson etc – and a fresh bidding process for TV rights due);

    And surely we will see a cut back on football-related consumer spending, which will hit club’s incomes?

    I agree that will never happen at Arsenal, but it must be slightly worrying, as all of the clubs are interdependant. If too many go down, then the whole league loses creditability and there may come a swith point where investment dries up.

    Glug.

  • Gord

    Some more unusual Arsenal news. It looks like Benayoun is turning into a bit of a real estate tycoon in Tel Aviv.

    http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000747602

    He just bought two apartments, and he bought one last year.

  • bob

    iniez,
    The Unholy Trinity is on its way to deliver Don Fungus to his moment of Ascension to Lord Football; and to deliver ‘Arry to CL heaven? Ah, the PGMOL has done its best. As long as we score one more that WBA we’ve done the Great Turnaround, our story that matters.
    Yeats poem The Second Coming comes to mind: as Don Fungus slithers his way to the Coronation. A hush descends…

  • Gord

    The Daily Star is making up a story, reporting that if Pep Guardiola won’t become Chelsea’s new manager, that ‘Arry is next in line. How the heck can ‘Arry bankrupt Chelsea?

    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/football/view/250819/Chelsea-set-to-move-in-for-Harry-Redknapp/

    A few “news” sites were reporting that Szczesny was doubtful for Sunday with a back problem. The preview at Arsenal.com throw cold water on that story.

    http://www.arsenal.com/match-menu/3409880/first-team/w.b.a.-v-arsenal?tab=preview

    I guess there was some weekend in the distant past when Szczesny had a sore back, and since the news people can’t read dates, they mixed up whatever date it was for this weekend.

  • Gord

    The FA is being consistent on racial abuse. Earlier in the year, Suarez got 8 games for racial abuse. The BBC is now reporting an Aldershot Town player (Hylton) has also received an 8 game ban. Fine is lower, but I suspect his income is lower than Suarez as well.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18040974

  • Arvind

    @Gord: I wonder if John Terry will receive the same 8 match ban. It’d be interesting to track.