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Arsenal signing & financial disaster news

UPDATE – since I wrote this article it seems Setanta is going bust. I have added an update commentary based on that view, in the correspondence column that follows the article.

Here’s the original article…..

Shock horror, English football is falling apart – and Arsenal are making a signing of someone who is not 11 years old. Here’s the latest.

SETANTA is seemingly on the very edge. The shareholders are not willing to stump up the £150m the TV station needs to keep going – and that means they may well go down. So the rights they own (for example to EPL and FA Cup games) will be up for grabs. Sky will take some, although at a knock down price – but can’t buy them all because EU rules forbid it. Net result: amount of money coming into EPL is reduced dramatically. As for Scotland’s Prem League, Setanta has simply refused to pay them the money owed, so they are in a real old mess with no TV deal at all.

LIVERPOOL

If you get annoyed when players say “it is an honour to be linked with Milan / Barca / Inter” etc, spare a thought for Liverpool. Not a kindly thought of course, more a giggle.

Mascherano’s agent said today, “If a club like Barcelona want to bring you into their ranks after completing such a brilliant season winning everything, obviously as a player you are going to say, ‘Yes, I want to play there.’ I believe that a transfer would be feasible. If Barça really want him, he will sign for them. He would have a very easy job at Barça fitting into their system.”

Meanwhile Liverpool’s manager claims he has lots of money to spend, despite not being able to afford G Barry. But he (and the fans) won’t have liked the revelation that the Liverpool owners, having not only bankrupted the club, also claimed £2m last year to cover the “travel, legal and other personal expenses”. In other words you and me pay to go and watch Arsenal play football. The Liverpool owners GET PAID to go and watch Liverpool. (Mind you I think if I had to watch Liverpool each week I’d ask to be paid too.)

Unfortunately the club is now so bust that it can’t even afford to pay all the expenses claimed by its owners. £188,000 of the expenses claim is still owed to Gillett and Hicks by the club!

WEST HAM UNITED

They have new owners, true, but sadly the new owners are not the white knights we took them to be but are themselves on the edge of bankruptcy.

Because 70% of the new company is still the Icelandic bank Straumur, and is simply a device to try and extend the time that WHU can hide from its creditors and avoid the EPL docking the club 10 points for going into administration or bankruptcy.

The “new” owners have until 12 June to get an extension to the freeze on payments of debts – but even then the creditors can object and they have until 6 August. If not, its the end. So all that talk about takeover and “funds for transfers” is just the normal stuff you get from the outer eastern reaches of the Underground system.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Not content with being so far in debt that the club can’t even pay the interest on its debts, Manchester U is now being sued by CSKA Sofia who say they have not been paid their FIFA Solidarity Payment for the transfer of Berbatov from the Tiny Totts last season.

FIFA Solidarity Payments go to clubs who develop players from a young age and then find them transferred for big fees. Normally payments (which are only about 1.5% of the transfer fee) go through without a problem. The fact this one has not been paid speaks volumes about Manchester U’s finances.

ARSENAL

And so, while the rest of football collapses into nothingness it looks like we are buying Thomas Vermaelen. What’s interesting is that despite him being only 23 he is captain of Ajax, which speaks volumes for his central defence leadership.

NEWCASTLE UNITED

But the final word of today must be with the fact that M Ashley is so anxious to sell the Zebras that they are now advertised to one and all, asking someone, anyone, to buy the thing. If you want to place a bid you need to drop a line to admin@nufc.co.uk Untold Arsenal has written and offered a deal on the same terms as the American’s deal which bought Liverpool – including the right to claim expenses – which will cover my season tickets, the drive to Arnos Grove, the underground fare and the fish and chips in the ground.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009. Although this may read as if additional contributions have been made by M. Mouse I can assure you its all true. Honest.

20 comments to Arsenal signing & financial disaster news

  • Marc

    Ha, Tony you beat me to it. I’ve just been watching the Jeff Randell show on Sky News and they are claiming that Setanta stopped accepting new subscribers today and that all staff have been called to a 9am meeting tomorrow morning. The obvious inference is that Setanta will be appointing administrators very soon.

    Tony do you know the amount of money that is received by each (on average) club from Setanta? Also I was under the impression that Arsenal TV was heavily tied in with Setanta. What are the potential implications here?

    Apparently Mike Ashley received an offer of a Curly Whirly for Newcastle. Whoever did this obviously needs some lessons in financial prudence!

  • steww

    Hmmm. What happens to the Arsenal channel if Setanta goes bust?
    It’s interesting how many pundits on the broadcast media are saying Liverpool are too big to go under. Um, ever heard of General Motors? I believe they were a fairly large well known organisation. Honestly people are so blind to the facts, and it sounds like ‘Newcastle are too big to go down’ to me.
    Hang on I’m getting down on my knees to pray to any Gods that may be listening and give thanks for Arsene and the Arsenal board.

  • Marc

    steww – The world is litered, and football especially with companies or clubs to big to go bust or down. The problem for Liverpool is that their debts are now getting so big that they become to expensive to save.

  • As I understand it, the Arsenal channel is made by a production company under licence from Arsenal, and then space is bought on Setanta for a monthly fee. In fact anyone can buy space on Setanta (until they go bust) or Sky – and if you ever meander through the obscure parts of Sky you’ll find there are thousands of bizarre obscure channels. A colleague in the business told me you can set up a simple TV channel on Sky for about £100k.

    Setanta offered the better deal to all the single club channels except Man U which signed with Sky ages ago, because they wanted to boost their package – you get all the club channels except Man U, plus Scots football, the EPL, Dutch, French etc and the FA Cup all for the single price.

    So my guess is all those deals revert to the owners (Arsenal in the case of Arsenal TV on Setanta) and the clubs try to find another location. Truth is, the only obvious firm that would be interested would be Sky – and they won’t want to do a special low cost deal. Why should they? There is no rival with an alternative bid – unless ESPN comes in with a package (see below).

    There’s a bigger problem with Scots football because Sky don’t want any matches which run at the same time as their existing games on TV – so they would have scheduling problems. And there is an EU law that says that Sky can’t have all the live TV – at least one package must go somewhere else. Who gets that now?

    ESPN is the only one I can think of. ITV / C4 / Five all have financial problems.

    So ESPN as the only bidder could screw the price down into the ground for the final group of matches next season. If they do that, they might make a moderate offer for the club channels too, to boost their profile.

    But Setanta has 2 packages of games (I can’t remember if the games are sold in 5 or 6 packages – sorry – let’s say 6 for the sake of this). Sky has paid mega dosh for 1 to 4. For the coming season the two Setanta deals are up for grabs. One must not go to Sky under EU rules. ESPN bids 10% of the Setanta price – and as the only bidder, gets it. So that leaves one other set of games which Setanta held for next season (the last of the current round). Will Sky pay what Setanta paid? Of course not. They will also bid a much smaller amount.

    In effect, without warning, the Prem League finds its income next season cut by 25%. And that for clubs that are already tied into deals with their players.

    And we still have to sort out the FA Cup. Who gets that? Whether it is Sky or ESPN, it will still go for a fraction. As for the Scots League – they’ll join Newcastle by selling it on EBay.

    To me this shows why and how football has become unstable. Everything depends on the whole fragile infrastructure holding in place. One domino falls (Setanta) and down comes the lot.

    And there is still the EU court case this summer re the reselling of satellite cards from one EU country to another. If Sky lose, every pub can show the games that are showing on Greek TV or any other EU country TV for a tiny fee, rather than the incredibly high prices Sky charges pubs.

    With all this uncertainty football is financially unsustainable, in the same way that sub-prime mortgage lending was unsustainable. Among those in the know, the lending frenzy was known as STCB or Short Term Crazy Banking. Football is just like this, and we are getting close to the edge.

    AS the price of TV football collapses Liverpool and Man U will go down very quickly because they are the most vulnerable. Most clubs could borrow some more to tie them over. Man U and Liverpool can’t.

    At least, that’s how I see it….

    Tony

  • Marc

    Tony – Agree with most of what you say. The BBC might fancy grabbing some PL or FA cup football but they also have certain financial problems. I don’t think that the EU ruling will have long term implications. If the PL sees Sky cut its next offer substantially (they might even try to renegotiate the current deal if they feel they are commercially disadvantaged) because of cards imported from the EU it will just put up the cost of PL matches shown in other EU countries so they either get they money back from other sources or no one bothers to show them abroad leaving Sky the only source for domestic viewers.

  • Marc

    Tony – Just had another thought (I know its a little contradictory to my previous comment but if I could see the future I would be writing this from my huge yacht moored in the Indian Ocean, actually I’d have a very pretty girl, wearing very little, typing this for me while I dictate). The EU ruling about splitting up the packages was supposed to stop any broadcaster monopolizing the broadcast of PL football. As it stands the PL has a collective agreement, this protects the smaller clubs and ensures that they get a decent slice of the broadcast income. If Setanta were to go bust and if there was no one willing to bid a similar amount for their current package, plus the impact on potential future broadcast rights, could this push ManU and Liverpool as two of the bigger attractions to the TV companies and with them being in so much financial trouble into striking out alone for individual TV rights?

  • shotta-gunna

    Tony – Note that the English press continues to pretend it is happy times. Last Monday one of the rags (The Times I think) in reporting the West Ham story said, without equivocation, that Zola was guaranteed substantial funds to make new signings. Iceland is in the midst of one the biggest financial meltdowns in Europe and WHU is in the hands of a financial consortium from a country on life-support, many of its banks are wards of the State, and we are to believe they have funds to prop up a football club.
    I am convinced the English media has a vested interest in perpetuating this financial illiteracy. Keep football fans, in ignorant stupor, revelling in the myth of the greatest league in the world, while their clubs collapse in financial ruin. Exhibit A: ManU. Liverpool, WHU and Newcastle. I maintain, the FA and the EPL have perpetuated a system of unregulated club ownership and financial wheeler-dealing, allowing great football clubs to be treated as chits in the financial casino where mega-millionaires/mega-banks/mega-hedge funds relieve them of every penny while plying them with the free liquor. (Pardon my mixed metaphors.)

  • Shotta-gunna – never thought I would ever see myself write this, but…

    To be fair to the Times yesterday’s edition did correct the earlier piece with a new article which said “West Ham’s future uncertain after latest Icelandic takeover”.

    My comment on the Times would be that they have read 1984 and taken it as a blueprint rather than as a warning. In 1984 Smith re-writes the news each day, without any reference to the previous errors, knowing that what he is re-writing is also an error and will be re-written. There is no mention in the Times of the previous nonsense it wrote. Just as the Mail made no reference to the fact that in running the Arshavin story about the salary it was just reprinting a story of 2 weeks before, which itself was lifted from other papers.

    So I agree with your general point – most of the press treats the football fan as so thick and so stupid that he/she won’t notice that today’s story contradicts yesterdays.

    That’s why I keep repeating the Mirror on Crouch with their Crouch for Arsenal story last summer. This summer they have already run “Crouch back to Liverpool” – and of course there is no mention of last summer’s gibberish.

  • daokta

    Good article Tony. I am a beans counter myself so I read your articles each day with great interest.
    I do not think Setanta’s potential demise will impact Liverpool and ManU immediately but it will be one more nail in the coffin for their business model. ESPN most likely will take up the slack but as you say – for a reduced price.
    Liverpool is just a bank meeting away from imminent collapse.
    ManU will survive as long as they dont lose their CL spot – which I think they will keep next year even if they lose Ronaldo.

    On another topic, I have often wondered how Spurs manage to fund their annual transfers – regardless of the financial meltdown. Their owner resides in the Bahamas I believe and there is hence no record of his sources of income. However, I read somewhere recently that Spurs total wage bill is extremely low compared to other EPL clubs. I know comparisons are difficult with Arsenal including the salaries of the groundsmen and coaching staff in their numbers unlike other clubs. Do you have a view on this Tony?

  • Jeff from Fulham

    I thought they were already going bust?
    What happened to all the money they got from the cricket?

  • Jay Javeri

    Great article! Like some others here I too was worried about the implications of Arsenal TV on Setanta (not that I get it sitting here in India, but still… what’s bad for the club, is bad for us).

    Good to hear it won’t affect us so much. What will be interesting to see though is how the other clubs are going to cope with the 25% reduced income.

  • jinal

    Disturbing news, if true, that Gallas is on his way out. I would have thought that we would have wanted to keep our best defender for as long as he was motivated to play. He certainly was after being stripped of the captaincy, but the silence from him since his injury, for one so mouthy, has been deafening. Even more appalling a prospect is that of the cumbersome disaster called Senderos coming back. Now he has to be amongst the worst players, along with Silvestre, to play for us (and we’ve had some awful central defenders over the years). If we take him back, that surely has to signal the start of the silly season where we go for bad players. A few months ago someone said on this site that Senderos would be the new Tony Adams when he returned!! Well Adams was two years younger than the bald one when he captained us to victory at Anfield in 1989, so how ridiculous is that statement?

  • Jonny Neale

    The rumour I have heard is that Arsenal TV will revert to being an online concern. Apparently it is a profitable model and, given the rapid rise of BBCi and 4OD, everyone knows the future of TV is online anyway. TV as we know it will be dead by 2020 according to new government commissioned report.

    If Sky fail to make a good offer for it, ATVO will carry on/take over and the middle man will be cut out altogether.

  • Marc

    I must admit I am thoroughly enjoying the rumour mill featuring non Arsenal players for a change. You’ve got Vidic and Ronaldo from ManU and Mascherano from Liverpool. Nice to see other clubs being destabalized during the summer.

  • We love Tony Attwood. Lone voice in the wilderness.

    In the mean time, one of the klutzes who pretend to be journalists in the Times wrote that the current level of debt at CSKA Fulham, Liverpool I and Manchester B. is sustainable if they keep winning.

    He didn’t mention that even the tiny totts spend millions on their squad each season and have won-to use the technical term, f–k all. CSKA recently bid £45 million if the rags are to be believed (and that takes large doses of credulity). If they get him they’ll add another £5-6 Million to their £172 M wage bill and find some clever accounting to only turn a loss in the few tens of millions range.

    Reeks of denial. Football is in trouble. If Liverpool’s predicament doesn’t help people see this, nothing will except for a big club going bankrupt.

    Don’t we just have every reason to be proud of our club, our manager and our board?

  • Marc

    Ole Gunner – Every reason. Arsenal are an example to other teams of how to run a football club. The Chelsea situation is farcical. Peter Kenyon has been claiming for years that they would be self sufficient by now, it did appear for a period earlier in the season that he was no longer willing to keep pumping funds in but Hiddink seemed to reignite his interest. I wonder how long it will take for him to lose interest again if Chelsea do not meet his expectations?

  • FunGunner

    I hope your rumour turns out to be right, Jonny Neale. Even bringing back the live ATV stream for UK-based ATVO subscribers would be fantastic.

  • F. Frederick Skitty

    Hello all!

    What a wonderful read this site is! Congratulations Tony and all contributors.

    For what it’s worth I think you are doing the right thing in “discouraging” random hate-filled rants from posters, who really should feel more at home on the anti-support sites that abound. Such “characters” can often infect a site and change it beyond all recognition.

    I also agree with some posters (Shotta-Gunna and others) that the finger should be pointed at the FA, the EPL and the media for bringing English football into its current perilous state, driven by rampant commercialism.

    Sky etc. beat their chests and bray about it being the “biggest league in the world” but what actual benefits accrue to the supporters?

    How is the current “product”, which prices local and average income supporters completely out, more enthralling and involving than what went before it in the previous generations?

    I no longer identify at all with most players, while I love their skills, I despise the preening, petulant, mercenary characteristics that are continually displayed and then reported over and over again.

    Would they really be less “valuable” if they were paid a tenth of what they currently get? would they try less hard to win? Are wages or transfer fees ever going to go down or even stabilise? It seems that we are being held ransom over our passion for football and this cynical “juicing” seems immune from the current climate.

    I would love to see Manure and Liverpool collapse and for a new responsible way of doing things to be installed but is this really likely to happen? Will Arsenal and other better run clubs be allowed to benefit and dominate or will the goalposts be moved to protect the irresponsible?

    It just seems like all of the wrong messages are being sent out by football in general.

    We are so fortunate to follow the Arsenal, the paragon of clubs. It just hurts that we seem to be ridiculed and destabilised for trying to do the right thing, while Chelsea are given the thumbs-up for winning the F.A.Cup every 2 years.

    It’s a strange world we live in!

    Nevertheless, justice will one day be done and it will taste so SWEEEET!!!

  • waltergooner

    There’s only one Tony Adams, sorry it has to be Attwood.
    Nice articles. You’re the best, Tony.

  • pig

    i will miss setanta and arsenaltv. setanta ireland always showed a 3pm saturday kickoff match, they even showed arsenal once or twice.

    i hope the bbc dont buy the rights, there will be even less arsenal on tv.

    just wish that jamie redknapp worked for setanta now.