By Tony Attwood
This article continues from the previous piece which contained points 1 to 12.
13. Stop running paid for press releases in newspapers.
I’ve covered this so much I’m sure you are bored, so at least I have relegated it to 13th on the list. Newspapers are increasingly poor and biased in their coverage, but accepting press releases and printing them as news is just about as low as it gets.
14. Stop the moral outrage against Fifa
For years and years the fight against Fifa has been carried on by a few independent journalists and a handful of blogs. Now the predicted arrests have come everyone is jumping on the bandwagon saying how awful Fifa is. If you thought they were that awful you should have left years ago.
Instead it would be nice for the FA, its chair, its board, members of the Royal Family who were involved in bidding for the world cup, the sponsors and others to say why they thought pumping money into Fifa and its fixed bidding process was ok.
Our moral outrage should be directed against those who supported Fifa by sending teams to their events, against those who spent footballing money on bids when it could have gone on grass root football, and on the sponsors.
15. Journalists should take a short course in contract law.
Of course I was fed up with RVP, Nasri, Clichy, Sagna and others before them decided to leave Arsenal. Of course it felt like a betrayal.
But of course they are entitled to do it. It is a fundamental of a democratic society, freedom to choose who one works for is central to our lives.
It is a two way thing – I might want to work for the FA in order to undermine them from within, but they don’t want to offer me a job, so no deal.
But players are not slaves any more. They became enslaved in 1893 with the advent of the “retain and transfer” system after the George Davie court case, and was partially undone by George Eastham on 18 November 1960 as he forced his move to Arsenal. The Bosman ruling opened up transfers across the EU when on 15 December 1995 the European Court ruled the transfer system was prohibited by Article 39(1) of the EC Treaty. The final bit came into play on 30 January 2008 when The Court of Arbitration in Sport laid down the Webster ruling that all players can leave their club after three years, irrespective of what the contract says.
It would be nice if this progression from slavery to liberty were recognised, and newspapers stopped screaming abuse at players who want to leave. Raheem Sterling might be a walking PR disaster, but he has the same rights to leave his job as you and I have.
16. A player is kicked to bits, the ref gives a foul, the player needs treatment, and the team that has suffered the foul, is then penalised by having their player removed from the pitch.
Where’s the logic in that?
17. Do something about grassroots.
The latest wheeze of the FA is to announce huge transformations of the grassroots of English football, and then having got the publicity, they say, “right there you are – everyone is in favour of it, now let’s have some funding”.
And when they got the funding for Sport England they spent in shoring up their own finances, denuded by the insane bid for the World Cup, and the crazy decision to build a new Wembley, rather than play matches at Old Trafford, the Emirates, Newcastle, and the Millennium Stadium.
Grassroots football is in trouble, and there is one cause: the Football Association.
18. Stop re-writing history; admit when you got it wrong.
The Telegraph’s refusal to recognise the Liverpool owner’s speech in which he admitted that his statement about there not being a release clause in Suarez’ contract was a lie, was bad enough. But having taken that “it didn’t happen” approach the paper is now endlessly caught in a trap in which it is seeking to explain events at Anfield without reference to that moment.
But everyone knew that when John Henry admitted he was lying about the £40m release clause, it would change the way players reacted at Liverpool, and would make Liverpool’s job in holding in to top players harder. Indeed quite a few of us thought the whole process of telling the lie, doing the “what are they smoking at Arsenal?” jibe and then admitting in a public conference that he had lied and that player contracts “are not worth the paper they are printed on” was not a good way to run an organisation.
So Liverpool’s position has been undermined and the agents of players know it.
Except that the Telegraph won’t go back and unwrite its previous error (in the way that the Times, for example, would do) so it is trying to go on and on reporting Liverpool as if there was no release clause and Henry is a straightforward businessman who doesn’t tell porkies.
While they are at it all journalists could take a few lessons in how the transfer and rumour market works, what a phantom transfer is and what a vapour transfer is. It would help clear out that 99% level of rubbish from the transfer rumours, and enable us to find the true stories to follow.
19. Let’s learn the lessons of how building a new ground affects a club.
Tottenham and Liverpool are doing upgrades to their ground. Tottenham’s total package will cost £400m, just a bit more than the Emirates, but the income they will have from selling off older unwanted property will be much reduced from the income Arsenal received and indeed are still receiving. Liverpool who are doing a step by step upgrade will spend less, but also have less income again from selling land on.
The funding, it has now become clear, in each case comes from the banks – as did Arsenal’s. Which means the privation Arsenal suffered during the post-Unbeaten years of Arsenal will be suffered by these clubs.
Except it will be worse because neither club can rely on Champions League money, which was a major source of funding by Arsenal, and in Tottenham’s case they will have a season of playing away from their own ground.
These factors are now given. We are argue a bit about the figures, but the general overall fact is that the clubs will find the money is tight, unless the owners stump up for the new ground. Neither ownership has shown itself ready to do that.
It will be a tough couple of years – but none of the commentators seem to acknowledge this.
This is the same as happened to Arsenal. We all knew the building period was going to be tough, but the media ignored it, allowing the aaa and the media to develop their “how many years since” campaign.
20. Arsene Wenger to invite the Untold team round for tea, to thank us for our support.
And on the Arsenal History Site today