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Mr Usmanov claims we could have had success much sooner. But is that right?

By Tony Attwood

I wrote yesterday about how I feel that the management of Arsenal through the period of building and moving into the Emirates has been a masterpiece – a work of genius.  A masterpiece that other clubs, such as Liverpool and Tottenham want to emulate. A masterpiece that they think they are certain to achieve.

We shall see if their unbridled optimism is justified in the coming months and years – although it does seem as if we have been waiting in each case rather a long time for the promised action to start.

Arsenal started its journey in 1997, after Islington Council refused permission for the club to expand Highbury – just as the local council tried to stop us moving to Highbury in 1913.  

Ashburton Grove was bought in 2000 and work was completed in 2006.  It cost £390 million.  Six years from buying the site to the opening, including long delays caused by the need to circumvent the results of the banking crisis.    The lesson is simple: with big projects shit happens.

In November 2007 Tony Winterbottom, who had worked on development of the Ems started the ball rolling for Tottenham and the design of the new ground was revealed in December 2008. A completion date was announced in October 2009, when Mr Levy gave August 2012 as the moment when the 56000 seat stadium would be ready.  At the Tottenham AGM in April 2014 a new date was announced as August 2017.

Liverpool’s new Stanley Park stadium was announced in 2003 and due to open in 2006 and although some work was done the plan was finally abandoned in 2012. Nine years with no result.  In June this year Liverpool announced a new plan to rebuild Anfield in time for the start of the 2016/17 season taking it up to 58,800 with construction starting in 2015.  A one year construction project – fairly nifty by current standards.

My point here is that this sort of work not only takes time and is subject to many unforeseen circumstances.   So when I read the latest Tottenham and Liverpool dates, I still say, “maybe”.

And when I read that Mr Usmanov feels that Arsenal could have built the Ems and started winning trophies at once, if only he had been allowed to put money in, my response is also “maybe.”

Maybe because hindsight is always 100% but in all projects – be they building new stadia or building new teams, things can go wrong.   Just as I was trying to show in my earlier article about how great teams and great clubs can fade away.  How Leeds, our rivals in 1971 could slip into the third division and now be in a position where they insist their players bring in their own sandwiches for lunch.  How if a solid club with a new stadium, such as Southampton, could fall apart, so can any club.  It takes genius even to hold a monstrosity like a modern football club together.   We need a word beyond genius to turn the club into a thriving success.

Mr Usmanov was very positive, and indeed very generous, in his analysis of the future saying, “I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football. In my opinion, in line with the existing rules, the club has the correct decision-making process in place, including their selection policy, especially now, when they have the means to buy the best players.”

But – and this is a big “but” – it was only in 2012 that Mr Usmanov expressed his serious concerns about the direction of the club; just two years back, warning that the “minimum target” of top four was in danger of slipping away.  Even though he knew the new money would be in place by 2013 allowing the purchase of Ozil, and onwards thereafter.

Mr Usmanov noted that the process of getting the stadium had put the club in debt, and said, “There is another way of doing it: when shareholders buy all of the assets and contribute them to the club. As a result, these debt-free assets may generate income for the club. It is always up to the shareholders to choose which model to adopt.

So quite simply Mr Usmanov says if the shareholders had paid to build the new ground we would have got to today’s position sooner.  Quite possibly yes, quite possibly no, because such huge projects are tricky and who knows what happens as we motor along football’s crazy highway.

If our current owner were to change his mind, pass on, be taken very ill, suffer a financial collapse of the rest of his business empire, or anything else, who knows what might happen to him and his interest in Arsenal?  But whatever happens to him, nothing happens to Arsenal except his shares are available in the market.  If something happens to an owner who is deeply financially involved in the club, then anything can result.

For a while it seemed as if the AAA were turning to Mr Usmanov as a saviour – seeing his investment as a way out of Arsenal’s continuing employment of Arsene Wenger.  But Mr Usmanov describes Wenger as “a genius” – and has always done so.  I think it was when the AAA got wind of this opinion they backed away from Mr Usmanov as their saviour.

But as for the rest of us, those who invested in FanShare, for example, the fact is that neither Mr Usmanov nor Mr Kronke, wants to help with our own personal involvement in the club, and that says something to me.  Mr Usmanov, with his 30% shareholding could easily have stepped in a month or so ago when it was announced that FanShare was in trouble.  That would have shown him in a new light.

Meanwhile relationships between Mr Usmanov and Mr Kronke seem to have improved, which can only be good for the club.  The club has reportedly supported some of Mr Usmanov’s charitable work by inviting Russian orphans to meet Mr Wenger and the team.  Mr Usmanov is reported to be welcomed in the directors’ lounge even though he isn’t one (although quite honestly having been to a meeting in the directors’ lounge myself, I’m not sure it is such a great thing to have).

So where does that leave us?   Quite possibly using Mr Usmanov’s money would have got us to where we are quicker, and maybe it would have worked ok, maybe not, no one can ever know.  The fact is Arsenal didn’t and we are where we are.

Mr Usmanov had a chance to show us he is very different from Mr Kronke by opening up discussions with AST over the failure of FanShare but he, like Mr Kronke stayed silent, and that is a shame in both cases.  For them, financially, it is a trifle.  But the symbolism of FanShare speaks volumes.

What we do have however is a stable ownership with no battles going on, and no one looking to sell – and that is something that is very very worth  having.

And above all, we got the stadium, and got those ten years of top four finishes – the ultimate work of genius.  And it is worth remembering this.  Liverpool and Tottenham speak as if building the stadium is the be all and end all of the project.  But experience shows it isn’t.   Building the stadium is just part one.  After that anything can happen.  A lot depends on the finance.  And the genius of the manager.

If the owner owns the shares, he can sell them and the club goes on.  If the owner is also the benefactor who paid for the stadium, then that puts another level of risk on the agenda.

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47 comments to Mr Usmanov claims we could have had success much sooner. But is that right?

  • SouthernGunner

    There’s a good documentary on Youtube titled Building the Emirates Stadium, which goes into some detail of the challenges & accomplishments the project brought.

    For anyone whose not seen it, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-t-5JCIkzg

  • WalterBroeckx

    I haven’t said many good things about Usmanov since his involvement at Arsenal started. I still don’t really trust him completely to be honest.
    But what I always found rather funny was how the AAA saw him as a kind of person who would kick Wenger out as a first thing on his to do list. But over the years I really cannot remember Usmanov ever saying something bad about Wenger. I might have missed it of course. But I always have seen him making supporting statements about Wenger.
    Not about the board but certainly he saw the genius of Wenger.

    Even if Usmanov had taken over from Kroenke he never would have got rid of Wenger.
    And finally with even main stream media like BT Sport saying what a work of genius has happened at Arsenal, with the Arsenal board of course knowing this all this time, with Usmanov repeating once again what a genius Wenger is… the AAA must feel rather alone in their Wenger out shouting. And stupid.

  • LB

    There is no mystery in this. There are only two ways Usmanov’s money could have changed the picture, and neither would have been acceptable to me or the Arsenal board, or beneficial to the club. One way would have been to introduce money from him, and cook the books like Man City and Chelsea did, to reflect the investment as equity when it was actually a grant (always with unacceptable conditions). The other, which he seems to have been advocating, was for him to build the stadium and rent it to the club. Can you imagine a more horrific circumstance? The man knows he lost the battle, he looks stupid after the nonsense he has been spewing out over the years, and has no chance of owning the club. The best thing is for all of us to look away and count our lucky stars.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also like the fact that it seems that Usmanov and Kroenke have been smoking something together: the pipe of peace. And I am happy with that. It is important as you state Tony for the club and for our future. No stupid things that other clubs do. Silent Stan and Silent Alisher may have disagreed on the road that had to be taken but the final destination seemed to be the same. So I don’t expect much more open letters from him either from now on.

    Long live Arsenal and all who want to move our club forward!

  • Notoverthehill

    “Arsenal Fanshare has to date received certain financial contributions in accordance with the terms of a services agreement with Arsenal Overseas Limited. (“AOL”) This agreement with AOL will expire in August 2014 and AOL has confirmed that it will not be renewed.”

    Tony, the fact is that the majority owner has continued the contract, and not sought to abrogate the agreement.

    Payton, is a member of the committee that manages Arsenal Fanshare, at arm’s length. His continuous sniping at the Arsenal Board of Directors and Mr Wenger, cannot be ignored.

    The AST said that Mr Wenger should not be awarded a new contract.

    I would suggest that the members of the Arsenal Fanshare should sue the AST, for any shortfall in their share valuations?

  • Simon

    Pedants Point (and I stand to be corrected) but…

    The Banking Crisis happened in 2008 and the Emirates was completed in 2006. The delays in finishing the stadium were due to planning permission – the planning gain (social housing, waste recycling) requirement of Islington Borough and some problems with the compulsory purchase of various properties, I think some of these matters had to go to the Secratary of State.

    The Banking Crisis delayed the redevelopment of the old Arsenal Stadium as the property values and funding were all cast into doubt.

    Good article nonetheless. It is all indeed a fine achievement and all the better for being done through the clubs own resources not a sugar daddy!

    Who can say when Spurs and LFC will get their stadiums built and what the impact on their playing squads and league position will be; I seriously doubt they’ll do it as well as Arsenal!!!!

  • insideright

    What also worries me is that if Usmanov had been seen to have put money into the club in any way (even within the, now stated, rules of FFP) whether Arsenal would have been quite such a good example of how things should be done and whether, as a result, FFP would have got even as far as it has.
    By doing things the way they did Arsenal set the bar very high for others that follow. This is probably in the long term interests of football not least because it reduces the impact of what might be seen as ‘quantitative easing’ and acts as a brake on rampant inflation within the football industry.
    It’s certainly in the long term interests of Arsenal because it’s done much to delay the progress of others by demonstrating that clubs must be masters of their own destiny rather than beholden to their own (current) masters.
    Didn’t Coventry get thrown out of their ground because the owners of it wanted more rent?

  • azas

    Before u start bigging up the management arsenal still have the 2nd most amount of debt in the world in terms of football clubs. If u look at the top 20 most valuable clubs…..Arsenal have a debt of 29% compared to Value. That’s the most in the top 20

  • omgarsenal

    Azas……what is surprising about Arsenal having this debt? So what? What matters is what kind of debt and how it is managed. Both seem to be well under control or we wouldn’t and couldn’t spend nearly 62M quid (supposedly) on players and wages. So what IS your point? If it is to criticise Kroenke and the Board…..congratulations, join the honorary AAA parade whose combined IQ is Wenger’s shoe size! If it is to bring us all down to earth….we refuse to go into the gutter with the AAA.

  • Bob

    I think what usmanov is alluding to is the amount of money gained by the old shareholders due to their share values rocketing. The share price increased for many reasons but the new stadium and it’s increased income stream would have been a major factor in the share price increase.

    The old shareholders had a difficult choice. Either do a rights issue and raise several hundreds of million pounds whilst losing no value on the pre emirates share value or sit on the shares and sell out to someone else ( Kroenke ) at a high value and pocket the increased value of the shares.

    This money could have been used to pay off the stadium debt and would have accelerated the club to it’s current state of cash richness. However they chose to take the profits themselves and allow the supporters to pay off the debts for them.

    Wenger in all of this would not have been a limiting factor as the old board, Kroenke and Usmanov have shown public backing towards Wenger. The only real difference would have been the timescales before Wenger had money to spend again.

  • Jerry

    @omgarsenal, you’re giving too much credit, Wenger has some pretty big shoes.

  • JB

    After 2 incredible yellow cards (one red) in first half Zenit have beaten Limassol. So… Looks like CL playoff will be against a very difficult Athletic Bilbao of Spain. Of course there is a “draw” this Friday, but Arsenal always get the toughest team in UEFA draws (i wonder how) so it will be tough this year.

  • JB

    The red card was key as Limassol won the first leg. If Zenit were beaten then Athletic Bilbao would have been seeded and therefore would have avoided Arsenal. Oh well.

  • franck

    Arsenal incured the debts from building the emirates stadium,where did the other clubs incure their debts from…other than juventus,none of the top 20 clubs has embarked on any capital projects,building projecst.

  • “Even though he knew the new money would be in place by 2013 allowing the purchase of Ozil, and onwards thereafter.”
    ————————————–
    Still find it amusing how people try to pretend that a magic fairy suddenly appeared with the money to finance deals such as Ozil, when looking at Arsenal’s own accounts it is very clear that the funds had been there for some time but had not been utilized.

  • omgarsenal

    Mystic………Wenger never said he didn’t have the money but that he would only go for a real improvement in players, which apparently happened in 2012. He did bring in players like Sagna,Per,Kos etc. and has turned them into first rate AFC starters but maybe he didn’t want to get on the buy success train at that time….preferring to build rather than go to excess.

  • John

    Tony I made a comment on this matter before (I’m glad you have finally brought it up) its not an opinion its a fact the club was saddled with debt and locked into horrible commerical deals due to the staduim move… we have come through it thankfully but the reality is the previous shareholders made a killing on their shareholders I’m not adverse to that per say but will comment that not many football sharholders make any money its more a labour of love.

    The bigger picture here is while a few made alot of cash selling to the Russian and Stan the club has suffered its a simply as that … we where neck and neck with Utd on the pitch they have push on winning and getting huge commerically deals from that success and the fact of being focused on making the most of these oppurnities (shirt deal twice the level anyone else it getting)… while we had to focus on penny pinching and selling our stars to balance the books.

    What done is done but thats the true of that matter any which way you look at it…. in hindsight the shareholders should have funded the project as it made their stock increase to huge levels and everyone would have won.

  • Dave C

    Yeah, John. Just disregard the financial doping that came into play shortly after. It wasn’t prevalent before the stadium project but severely hampered our ability to compete once it commenced.

  • Mick

    @John
    I have shares in Sainsbury’s but I have never been asked to put my hand in my pocket to finance the building of a new store.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think there is a lot of stuff we don’t know about…..possible inevitable understandable mistakes in financing, recession, property issues, maybe kronke issues, seeing off hostile takeover,an unforeseen twelve million pay off to keep the inland revenue quiet over players tax situations, and perhaps wenger thought he could do something amazing on minimal spending. We will probably never know, but can look to the future and that’s what matters

  • Mandy Dodd

    JB, just about anything major Arsenal do will have to be done the hard way. But we will qualify come hell or high water

  • bjtgooner

    I am not convinced having Usmanov anywhere near the club or friendly with any other shareholder is a good thing.

    The AAA seemed to be energized by his arrival as a shareholder and certainly initially he did not appear to distance himself from them.

    He did however propose paying dividends to shareholders a few years ago – a proposal rejected by Stan.

    Usmanov also made a very antagonistic press statement with coincidental timing just as van Pursey was betraying the club.

    Now when Arsenal have turned the financial corner he has shot his mouth off again – a further attempt to maneuver himself towards a position of influence?

    I am not convinced that Usmanov either as shareholder or owner or board member will be a beneficial influence for the club.

  • Gfromgirton

    Any thoughts on Howard Webb retiring and becoming a technical director at the pgmol? Not a good thing in my view but wasn’t an unexpected move.

  • Gfromgirton

    How was Howard’s over all ref review?

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Walter and bjtgooer,
    Why do you dislike the American Automobile Association so much?

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Incidentally, if fanshare is to go away for good, could a group of fans independently buy their Arsenal stocks?

  • bjtgooner

    @Ray

    I note I wrote AAA – sorry, should have been the Brickfield’s version AAAA! 🙂

  • Micheal Ram

    Usmanov is using his 30% position at the club to make a name for himself just like the AAA used him to make name for themselves. Bunch of miserable people on publicity stunt. The thing about Kroenke that endears me is that he never made the club own him anything. As Tony mentioned above, such situation ensures Arsenal FC does not falls into the hand of any individual or tyrant. There were many article where comparisons made between Stan, that lying b*****d from Liverpool and other club owners who also runs other sports club around the world. The lack of success and the same business by Stan have heavily criticized and made joke of. However, Stan was never the ‘young irresponsible brat with blank cheque book’. All the sports club he ran is self sustainable. The economic and financial conduct and responsibility is very important to ensure the world does not crubble in a century’s time. The current financial tyrants we see now does not see the future for the general world, only the self interest is in their agenda.

  • mk

    @Mystic
    That is a complete (and presumably deliberate?) misreading of Arsenal’s financials.

    Until the new sponsorship deals came in, to spend this money we had saved was to risk the future of Arsenal Football Club for a very slightly greater chance of winning a trophy during the time when Chelsea and Man City were in the middle of their excessive spending sprees.

    The club and Wenger have even come out and admitted they were operating under financial constraints until the new sponsorship deals came through, so to make the implication that we always had the money and just didn’t feel like spending it (for some unexplained reason like maybe a ‘magic fairy’ telling them not to?) is utterly moronic.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A few friends have been sending this e-mail quite frequently of late and am sharing its message with you all.

    Think For A Moment…
    A doctor entered the hospital in hurry after being called in for an urgent surgery. He answered the call as soon as possible, changed his clothes and went directly to the surgery block. He found the boy’s father going and coming in the hall waiting for the doctor. Once seeing him, the dad yelled, “Why did you take all this time to come? Don’t you know that my son’s life is in danger? Don’t you have the sense of responsibility?”

    The doctor smiled and said, “I am sorry, I wasn’t in the hospital and I came the fastest I could after receiving the call…… And now, I wish you’d calm down so that I can do my work.”

    “Calm down?! What if your son was in this room right now, would you calm down? If your own son dies now what will you do??” said the father angrily

    The doctor smiled again and replied: “I will say what Job said in the Holy Book “From dust we came and to dust we return, blessed be the name of God”. Doctors cannot prolong lives. Go and intercede for your son, we will do our best by God’s grace.”

    “Giving advice when we’re not concerned is so easy,” murmured the father.

    The surgery took some hours after which the doctor went out happy.

    “Thank goodness! Your son is saved!” And without waiting for the father’s reply he carried on his way running. “If you have any question, ask the nurse!!”

    “Why is he so arrogant? He couldn’t wait some minutes so that I ask about my son’s state” commented the father when seeing the nurse minutes after the doctor left.

    The nurse answered, tears coming down her face: “His son died yesterday in a road accident, he was in the burial when we called him for your son’s surgery. And now that he saved your son’s life, he left running to finish his son’s burial.”

    Nobody is perfect , and nobody deserves to be perfect .
    Nobody has it easy , everybody has issues.
    You never know what people are going through .
    So pause before you start judging , criticizing or mocking others .
    Everybody is fighting their own unique war !

    NEVER JUDGE ANYONE BECAUSE we never know how their life is or as to what is happening or what they’re going through.

    Just think ABOUT this

  • AL

    mk 2:10am
    You beat me to it 🙂 an utterly moronic post….

  • AL

    Bjt
    I too am not comfortable with usmanov’s comments, and think they’re self-serving. Ok he’s not slating the manager, but I still think he’s playing to the AAA by saying we could have had success much sooner had he been allowed to put his money in.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Two young guys appear in court after being arrested for smoking dope.

    The judge says, “You seem like nice young men, and I’d like to give you a second chance instead of jail time.
    I want you to go out this weekend and try to convince others of the evils of drug use.

    I’ll see you back in court Monday.”

    On Monday, the judge asks the first guy, “How did you do over the weekend?”

    “Well, your honor, I persuaded 17 people to give up drugs forever.” “Seventeen people? That’s wonderful.

    How did you do it? ”

    “I used a diagram, your honor. I drew two circles like this: O o. then I told them that the big circle is your brain before drugs and the small circle is your brain after drugs.”

    “That’s admirable,” says the judge. Then he turns to the second guy.

    “And how did you do?”

    “Well, your honor, I persuaded 156 people to give up drugs forever.”

    “Wow!” says the judge. “156 people! How did you manage to do that?”

    “Well, I used a similar diagram,” the guy says. “I drew two circles like this: o O.
    Then I pointed to the little circle and said,

    ‘This is your asshole before prison………

  • WalterBroeckx

    oh shit Brickfields 🙂

  • nicky

    If Mr Usmanov was so desperate to put serious money into Arsenal FC, why didn’t he make a take-over offer for the Kroenke shares.
    His failure to do so was actually a blessing in disguise for our great Club. Otherwise we could have finished up being dictated to by the rouble.
    At least Kroenke’s dollars are being used with circumspection by our Board.

  • M18CTID

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong Gooners but I didn’t think it was as simple as Usmanov offering to buy Kroenke’s shares. I was under the impression that there was a pact of sorts amongst the Arsenal shareholders to ensure Usmanov didn’t become the majority shareholder?

    With regards to his latest comments, if I was an Arsenal fan I’d probably view them with a certain degree of scepticism but I think he does have a point in that instead of borrowing the money from financial institutions and hence having to pay back tens of millions of pounds in interest charges, a more cost effective way would’ve been to borrow the money from benevolent shareholders in the form of “soft loans” meaning that the interest rates on the repayments would have been below market rate, perhaps even interest free if those lending the money were of a generous disposition. That way, Arsenal could’ve saved a large chunk of money in interest charges which not only could’ve meant the arrival of marquee signings sooner, but also might not have seen the exodus of quite as many key players through those leaner years – granted, Fabregas was always probably going to go back to Barca at some point but the likes of Nasri and van Persie maybe could’ve been persuaded to stay.

  • nicky

    @M18CTID,
    I’m afraid verbal agreements among Board members of all football clubs are worth about as much as professional footballers’ contracts. 😉

  • oldgroover

    M18CTID

    Isn’t the interest free loan route the one that Chelsea used to finance their huge transfer fees & pay deals? The ones that caused the dreadfully inflated deals we all now have to compete with? The ones that drove up the match day ticket prices that City fans & other complain about? In fact as far as I’m aware they still owe Abramovic the whole lot and he could claim it back at any time he fancied e.g. if (and when) he gets bored with his toy, thus rendering them completely broke. I pray for the day.

  • M18CTID

    oldgroover,

    The Abramovich/Chelsea situation isn’t really what I had in mind mate 😉 I was referring to funding the stadium construction through soft loans with an actual repayment programme.

    As much as you’d like to see it, I can’t see Red Rom dropping Chelsea in it anytime soon.

  • Pete

    My earlier comment didn’t make it through…

    In short, yes, we may have won more trophies with money from Usmanov since the stadium constuction. Would those trophies have been worth anything?

    No.

  • goonergerry

    Choose not to take sides in a struggle between 2 canny billionaires . Its not as if the Yanks are in it for any other reason than making a huge profit and self interest is it? Tell me Tony which part of Stan is feeling benevolent towards Arsenal fans ? The part that is not looking for a return on his investment?

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Silent Stan is a shrewd investor when it comes to Arsenal.
    The valuation of the club, and of his shares, is going up very nicely.

  • Rupert Cook

    Stan is a business man who is most likely involved with Arsenal to make money. I doubt he’s been a lifelong Arsenal fan. Usmanov’s reasons for involvement with Arsenal are exactly the same I imagine. Why would one be better than the other unless there’s some xenophobia at play here?

    As I’ve said numerous times Wenger said he could spend 40 million on one player if he wished to do so back in 2011 so we’ve hardly been poor. All the noises from the board have been positive when it comes to spending money certainly for the last four years or so. Ok we don’t know how much but that Wenger statement in 2011 gives us an idea.

    @Pete, why would trophies with Usmanov’s money been worthless? They would have raised the profile of the club and made thousands of fans happy. We would also not have to sell our best players and would almost certainly be a more attractive club to come to than Chelsea whom because of their huge trophy haul and CL win are the top London club at the present time. We’re catching up but I think most top players would choose Chelsea over us for four reasons, they frequently win trophies, have a better CL pedigree i.e. they won it, pay huge wages and have Mourinho as manager.

    Hopefully we’ll be surpassing their achievements in the near future.

  • M18CTID

    Now now Rupert, I think you know why Pete said what he did. A tiny minority of your fellow Arsenal fans would prefer to maintain their one-upmanship about doing things “the right way” (whatever that means) while berating us City fans (and Chelsea fans) for buying trophies and ruining football 😉

    Of course, as you say, if Arsenal had gone down the route of utilising Usmanov’s cash and won plenty of trophies to boot the reality is that 99.99% of Gooners would be blissfully happy and wouldn’t consider any of those successes as being “hollow” or “worthless”.

  • jayramfootball

    Tend to agree with Mr Usmanov here. From listening to him I genuinely believe he is an Arsenal fan and wants the best for the club. I think his comments on ‘could have down better earlier’ are tinged with some sadness that he could not be more involved, but at the same time I think he is right.

  • oldgroover

    Rupert & M18CTID

    99.99% of Gooners “would be blissfully happy”? You must think we’re a really shallow lot down here if that’s your opinion of us.
    Yes it’s true there are many who’d liked to have seen us go down that route and this has been a bone of contention between supporters groups for some time now, but good sense and ethics won the day.
    Ironically we’re still as hated as the oilers.
    “Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t”