By Bulldog Drummond
Once upon a time the FA Cup third round kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Now if you get a match on a Saturday afternoon you are lucky.
Our match this evening makes travelling back by train difficult – the last train back leaves at 2017, making it a tight squeeze. And its a dead slow train that takes two hours longer than the normal journeys. Miss that one and there is the 2122, but be warned – that takes a massive 13 hours to do the trip to London. Not recommended.
But does the BBC, who changes the fixtures, actually care? Probably not. The Fulham game at Cardiff kicks off at 11.30.am, which is about the stupidest time I’ve yet seen.
And of course we’ve already had a bit of “cup action”, as the journalists like to say. And as expected West Ham at the running track had a spot of bother losing to Manchester City lost 0-5. Of course they will now say that it is good to get the FA Cup out of the way so they can focus on the league, and the poverty of the performances of Sunderland, Swansea and Hull could ensure that State Aid Utd do ultimately stay up.
But maybe the owners won’t worry if they go down. Because in that eventuality the cost of the rent will go down too. Never mind that stewarding, goalposts, corner flags, cleaners, undersoil heating, floodlighting, dugouts, changing rooms, toilets, security, cleaning, pest control and turnstile operators which are all paid for by us stupid mugs who pay taxes in the UK, State Aid Utd are going to pay less rent if they play in a lower league. (And by the way the policing costs for London football matches are already covered by the Metropolitan Police).
So kick off times change as the world changes – and so do the rules relating to the FA Cup. In the old days clubs drawn together would mutually agree ticket prices for the match – as long as it was above the minimum price laid down by the FA. If they could not agree, which was rare, the FA would come in and set the price. Each club then got 45% of net gate receipts, with the rest going to the FA.
Now the home club chooses the price and can make it anything it likes, and the away club’s fans can be charged more if the away team agrees and is greedy enough to fleece their own fans. Which means clubs can charge by and large anything, and the away team is only consulted if there is the suggestion of charging away fans even more.
There is one benefit to fans of smaller clubs in this – because before, as an agreement needed to be reached, lots of small clubs objected to larger clubs cutting the price to try and fill the stadium – they wanted as high a price as possible in order to get the most money out of the day. Away fans were fleeced. Now the clubs can fleece everyone.
Whatever the price the crowd at Hull might be quite small since supporters are arranging a boycott in protest at the way the club is being run. Their average attendance is 20,441, and their lowest so far has been 17,403.
According to the Chair of Hull City Supporters Trust only 3,000 tickets for the fixture had been sold for the fixture although there might be a last minute rush. In a really good gesture the Supporters Trust are asking fans who would have attended the game to donate their match ticket money to one of two local charities instead – the Hull & East Yorkshire MIND branch and Launch Pad, a local trampolining club displaced by the Allam’s expansion of Hull City’s academy.
And meanwhile what of Arsenal?
Arsène Wenger has said that yes, he could of course do with Jack Wilshere today but in the interview stated that the season long loan was right for the player – not least because it could work well for Arsenal in the long run if he comes back fit and in form.
Jack has played in 17 of Bournemouth’s 20 league games thus far, and two of those missed were the games against Arsenal.
For Arsenal today obviously Santi Cazorla, and Francis Coquelin are injured, Mesut Özil is ill and Mohamed Elneny has chosen to spend time in Africa rather than with the club that pays him.
Speaking of Granit Xhaka Mr Wenger said he was concerned about the penalties he gives away, but added, “You can see in his game he is not a dirty player. Overall I am quite happy with his defensive evolution. He is less spectacular in his tackling and he stays more on his feet. He uses his body better to win the challenges and his recovery runs are stronger when the ball goes behind him. Before he was a little bit in the moon.”
Actually I love that comment. I am not sure which bit of Granit was in the moon, but it is nice to know we are helping promote space exploration.
Per Mertesacker has recovered from his injury but is “still three or four weeks away” in terms of being match fit, and Mr Wenger said he expected Per to sign a new contract. Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sánchez will be rested for today’s game.
Up next, the full team and some other exciting stuff.
PS Do you remember in the old days when they used to say “Stay Tuned!” Never hear that anymore, and I suppose it doesn’t really apply to the internet. Hey ho.
New from the Arsenal History Society – all the player histories indexed. The AHS player histories tend to be more detailed than those on the official Arsenal site – especially for players from the early part of Arsenal’s history. Now we are undertaking the huge task of indexing the main articles. Players with surnames A to M have been linked to their main articles and we are continuing the task day by day.