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October 2016
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Public money given to club; player in court; newspaper misleads readers, special anniversaries.

By Tony Attwood

This is a story of stories.  Several stories in fact.  Stories covering tax fraud, the lavish giving away of public money and the misleading of the public.  All in the name of money, or fraud, or maybe just carelessness.  Sometimes it is impossible to say.

Indeed I suspect, if you were to come to this article not knowing about football, you might be shocked that these totally separate stories all exist at the same time.  But this is football.  This is how it is.

And it is, because no one ever really puts all this together and says, hang on, if all this is happening in relation to one sport, isn’t there some fundamentally wrong?  But no, we don’t want to ask that question, so we keep everything separate in neat little bundles, under separate headlines.

The journey takes us from England to Spain, and back again, and there is no connection between the bits other than they are all to do with football.  And that is the worry really.  No one is connecting up the bits.  I really think they should.

The first story asks the question: how much should a football stadium cost, and who should pay?  The Emirates Stadium cost £400m, which is pretty much the estimated cost of Tottenham’s re-vamped ground.  On a larger scale there is the new West Ham Stadum which when handed over to the club in a year’s time will have cost more than £700m as revealed now the London Legacy Development Corporation has revealed that the cost of transformation into a stadium suitable for West Ham will be £272m.

The original plan was to convert the stadium into a 25,000-seat athletics facility after the Olympics.  But that was forgotten somewhere along the line so the deal now is that WHU will make a £15m contribution to the cost of the stadium plus £2.5m a year for a 99-year lease.  A good deal for WHU.

Given the major subsidy for the club, and the chance of crowds of 50,000 plus, they certainly ought to be able to develop a team that will challenge for honours.  Although if you look at Newcastle with its size, they too should be able to challenge.

But moving away from east London, Spain has long been talked up by the British media in terms of being a wonderful footballing country.  Which is interesting since crowd levels are dropping  – rather quickly.  Stadia, the latest figures have shown, are only 64% full in the top division, compared with over 90% in the Premier League.  Barcelona’s average attendance of home matches is just 72% of capacity.  Real Mad is 84% full on average.

I also wrote a while back about the feeling that many of the end of season matches are fixed, and that feeling has rumbled on this season.

The Spanish league is looking at this season’s final-day match between Real Betis and Sporting Gijón together with another in the second division that day, involving Girona and Lugo.

Part of the problem in Spain is that they have still failed to abide by the 2013 Court for Arbitration in Sport ruling that bonuses given to teams to win by third parties are illegal.  It happens and is defended by the Spanish Footballers Assn whose president Luis Rubiales among others.

Meanwhile away from “bonsues” the court case again Messi for non tax payment rumbles on.  Messi, as befits a very rich man, has appealed and appealed against having a hearing in the Spanish high court but his appeals have run out.

His argument was that he didn’t know what was happening with his money.  The court has said that is not an argument and so now Messi and his father are standing trial on defrauding the state of more than €4m which relates to Messi’s image rights in contracts with Adidas, Pepsi-Cola, Procter and Gamble, the Kuwait Food Company and others.

Messi and his father voluntarily paid a sum for back tax in August 2013 but the court argued that just paying back tax and interest once the hounds are on your trail can’t be acceptable, as otherwise no one will ever pay any tax until the court forms arrive.

Moving on, the Independent has had another pot shot at Arsene Wenger by starting to remove some of his achievements, whenever they write about him.  Twice now they claim that he has won only two league titles in England.  In an utterly bizarre piece this past week the paper said that

Wenger, who won the sixth FA Cup of his career last season and has also won two League titles with Arsenal, revealed the secret to his success.

This “revealtion” was taken from a sentence in an interview in which Mr Wenger jokingly said that his triumphs were down to luck.  What he actually said was that quite often in life where you end up is down to chance.  A different matter.  Just for the record,

  • FA Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
  • FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2013–14, 2014–15


By chance 22 June is my birthday.  No significance for Arsenal of course, but because of that link there are two anniversaries on 22 June that I like to highlight.

22 June 1893:  The first AGM of Woolwich Arsenal was held under the chairmanship of  Jack Humble; as the club’s first directors were elected ahead of entry into the Football League for the first time.

22 June 1925: Herbert Chapman took up the job of Secretary Manager of Arsenal FC.   It was a moment of supreme importance within the club, ranking alongside the move to professionalism in 1891, the application to join the League in 1893, the rescue of the club by Henry Norris in 1910 and the move to Highbury in 1913.

A rather good day to have a birthday, I feel.

The full index of nearly 5000 Arsenal anniversaries is published here

Today’s Untold Arsenal stories are listed here

31 comments to Public money given to club; player in court; newspaper misleads readers, special anniversaries.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Happy Birthday Tony!

  • Gord

    Happy Birthday!

  • colario

    Arsene is not the only ‘lucky man’ Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal was known as

    ‘Lucky Arsenal’

    Its only right that the UK press give the credit for Arsenal’s success to ‘Lady Luck’ for that is where the credit for Arsenal’s success is due.

    How else could a southern club get success!

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Happy Birthday Tony!

  • Thank you, thank you. Actually my birthday mention was supposed to be a throw away line at the end, not the focus of the whole piece!

    But thank you all the same.

  • TailGunner

    However you look at it the Olympic Stadium deal is a good piece of business for West Ham which has Karen Brady’s fingerprints all over it.
    If things had turned out differently we might be singing the praises of David Dein for pulling off a similar deal for New Wembley.

  • Lanz

    Still, it is good to know your birthday so Untolders can make it an occasion! Have fun.

  • Florian

    Happy Birthday Tony! To more Untold articles!

  • SamratJha

    Happy birthday Tony

  • Gunnerjoe

    Happy birthday Tony it’s my birthday as well 1961 for me how about you or is that a secret.

  • Menace

    Happy Birthday Tony.

    The paper was right in the Wenger won 2 league titles. The third was ‘sailed through despite stormy seas to an undefeated English Premier League title victory’.

  • Damilare

    Happy birthday Mr Tony Attwood

  • rich

    That process of keeping things separate and not joining dots reminds me so much of the commentary which enraged me during the Hull cup final.

    One of the commentators admitted each time we had a strong penalty claim that we were a bit ,or very, unlucky there, but…there was a total refusal to join them up or add them together. Each one existed briefly, in isolation, and was then forgotten. Bizarre ,to say the least, as one of the primary jobs of pundits is to keep updating their picture of the match as a whole.

    I’ve noticed since that this is fairly routine. It allows those commentators to keep a semblance of reality to what they say…while avoiding pointing towards patterns and conclusions they are very keen to ignore.

    Neville is the master of it. When it suits him, he’ll use individual parts of a game to build the evolving narrative of that game. When it doesn’t suit, things are left as separate isolated fragments. No narrative, no pattern to see here.

    Now think what Mourinho did after the Burnley game this year. He took the process which should happen at times (game 50), but doesn’t, and used it where it should not be used. He did it because he knew it was safe to do it- that not a single media figure would call him on his gargantuan hypocrisy.

    Every element of what he did over those few days could so easily have been pulled apart if there was any kind of willingness to do so.

  • Damilare

    Happy Birthday Tony

  • colario

    @ Menace
    A keen dedicated Arsenal supporter told me that the second Arsenal double wasn’t Arsene’s double it was Pat Rice’s double.
    So may be the Independent knows something we don’t!

  • Al

    Its shocking to see how all those in the media seem to speak with one voice when it comes to Arsenal. Funnily enough, when we win 4-1 in a match where the other team will have had a potential penalty shout we’re constantly reminded what might have been had the ref given it against us. Now how can a publication such as the Independent manage to get the number of league wins wrong like that. Ask any average Arsenal fan and they’ll be able to tell you that without doing any kind of research.

    Happy birthday Tony.

  • WalterBroeckx

    How many titles has Wenger won was one of the questions in our Arsenal Belgium quiz the other week. Did I mention I won the quiz? Several times you say… 😉
    Even my wife got the answer right on that question… 🙂

  • C

    Happy Birthday Tony, always nice to congratulate a fellow early Cancerian :-).

    In regards to the dots being connected, we could all become Guardian members in order to contribute to ‘fearless and persistent investigative journalism’ (or some such blurb). Perhaps we could suggest it to them as in fairness no other newspaper is more likely to do so than them…

    No one wants fans to know how much money is bled out of football into the wrong hands; thankfully, what with us having the Professor AWKB in charge we don’t have to worry about our own club in that respect yet!

  • Gord

    A few people have suggested not looking at the crap articles, however you spell crap.

    The problem is that the medja has no idea that you could have looked, and chose not to. If you are using a search engine that searches the “news”, learn the power of negation.

    For example, if I search for “arsenal|gunners -cech” at Google News, google now a record that I was interested in news about Arsenal OR Gunners, and that I did not want to see any article that involved Cech. And Google knows how many hits Arsenal|Gunners brings up, so they know the effects of ignoring all those with Cech. And the next time the medja people come to Google for advice about writing articles, they will be told (for money) what has happened.

    While Google does some analysis of what it indexes, it doesn’t do a lot. It would be nice if you could go -AAA to not bring up with anti arsenal arsenal articles, but Google doesn’t do that.

    Also, Google “stems” words. Gunners, has a stem of Gun, and so it does bring up articles that have nothing to do with Arsenal, but do have something to do with guns.

    Google doesn’t seem to know about local vocabularies. It seems to be smart enough to recognize local spellings (color and colour), but by and large it thinks football is something the NFL in the USA plays.

  • TailGunner

    A very happy birthday to you and also to your alter ego

  • Micheal Ram

    Happy birthday, Tony!

  • rich

    Oh yeah, and happy birthday,Tony.

    Long may you continue with this sterling work.


    Spot on. We get one half-questionable thing in our favour- Wellbeck at Palce, for instance- and it will be dissected to death. We get four very good penalty claims in a match, and it won’t even be mentioned afterwards.

    Seeing as it now appears Cech has actually signed, does anyone else have to modify their worldview accordingly?

    I thought the idea chelsea would be willing to sell us someone who could be an important player a preposterous one. I’m not ready to allow that Abramovich is a better man than I thought, but he’s certainly at least a little different than I thought.

    Really feel for Ospina, mind, if he is the one to move on. He is undoubtedly a good goalkeeper and in addition to that simply seems a good man. I got the impression the more senior guys- kos and mert in particular- took to him instantly and have a lot of time for him.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice article Tony and have a very Happy Birthday!

  • para

    Happy Birthday to you Tony!

    I’ve noticed there are very few people who tend to join the dots together, and then they wonder why they cannot see the whole picture. This goes for all areas of life too, not just football. Even science takes the whole apart and study it in isolation, which is ok, but they then forget to put it all together again.

  • omgarsenal

    Bonne fete a Tony, bonne fete a toi, bonnes fete,bonne fete, bonne fete a Tony! Just a little Francophone celebration from Québec gooners!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Happy Birthday Tony ! Cheers !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    As it was in earth , so too it’ll be in hell . I would cry if this wasn’t so funny !
    And so true . And so sad . You’d probably recognise this country !

    A man dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country.

    He goes to the German hell and asks, “What do they do there?”

    He’s told, “First they put you in an electric chair for an hour.Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devil comes in and beats you for the rest of the day.”

    The man doesn’t like it, so he moves on and checks out the American hell, the Russian hell and hells of other countries.

    He finds that they’re all more or less the same as the German hell.

    Then he comes to the ( fill in your own country’s name .) hell and finds that there is a long queue of people waiting to get in.

    Amazed, he asks, “What do they do here?”

    He’s told, “First they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the ( ? ) devil comes in and beats you for the rest of the day.”

    “But that is exactly the same as all the other hells; so why are so many people waiting to get in here?” wonders the man.

    He is told, “Because the maintenance here is so bad that the electric chair does not work,
    Someone has stolen all the nails from the bed and the (?) devil is a former government servant,
    So he just comes, signs the attendance register and then goes to the canteen..!”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Here’s a nice quote for you Tony , and you guys –

    ” Many people will walk in and out of your life , but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart .”
    Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Then of course there are ‘them’ who would like to put their foot and fist prints on you face , but that’s another story !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Casting pearls before……

    A young man’s mother was now living in the big city and he didn’t see her that often. His father was no longer around and he was worried that his mom was lonely.

    For her birthday, he purchased a rare parrot, trained to speak seven languages. He had a courier deliver the bird to his dear mother. A few days later, he called.

    “Ma, what do you think of the bird?”

    “The bird was good, but a little tough. I should have cooked it longer.”

    “You ate the bird? Mom, that bird was very expensive. It spoke seven languages!”

    “Oh, excuse me. but, if that bird was so smart, why didn’t it say something when I put it in the oven?”