This weekend Arsenal play the evil empire

This week Arsenal play yet another club whose ownership is unknown.  It is the club of Martin Taylor.

It is an evil entity owned by Grandtop International Holdings, who are owned by….   Well what a surprise.  We don’t know of course because they are all registered in the British Virgin Islands.

So what bunch of odd-balls is likely to have bought a club that wins nothing of significance and has a rather unsavory reputation both on and off the pitch.

But to be fair, one might ask the same of the ownership of Notts County and Leeds United.    Who would ever want to buy them while having something so profound to hide that they will never actually say who the real owners actually are?  And who would ensure that the FA and League would never ever do anything serious to find out who owned the clubs?

The most obvious answer to the question of who would own a football club but want to stay secret is people who have been banned from owning football clubs – people who simply are not allowed to own football clubs.

So who is not allowed to own a football club in England, and yet might want to… and wouldn’t really give a toss whether it was a club with as unsavory past as Birmingham, or a club going nowhere very slowly, like Notts County.  Or even a club like Leeds.


Actually the only ones I can think of are

  • Betting syndicates,
  • Gambling companies,
  • Owners of other football clubs

Now let’s remember that Birmingham City – whose main claim to fame is that their player crippled Eduardo, and that their directors have been arrested and held on police bail over various financial (and in one case sexual) matters, and that they then sneaked their player back into football after he took a three match (yes only three match) ban – cost the unknown and unknowable owners £81.5m which is £17.5m more than Aston Villa cost a couple of years back.  And Aston Villa won the FA Cup seven times in the 19th century (or something like that).  (And I must make it clear that in Birmingham’s case nothing has ever been proven and no wrong-doing shown).

Birmingham’s financial director recently said, “We want to be able to extend our hearts and our hands to them [our fans] and we want to bring all the supporters back to us and, together, we want to build a bright future for everybody.”

If that doesn’t make you throw up, nothing will.

So, who really will hide their identity and offer platitudes?

Betting companies obviously have an interest in knowing the results before they happen, as do the syndicates that try and beat them.  The Chinese are quite heavily into betting, although I am sure the front men of the unknown owners of Birmingham City have no connection with any of these dastardly fellows.  (And if they did Sexton Blake and Tinker would be on their trail quick as a flash).

And of course there is that pesky rule about not owning more than one club.

We can see why a betting organisation would want to own one or more clubs, but why would Manchester United (to pick a name at random) want to own Birmingham City (to pick a name out of the sewer)?  Well, it would be handy if you wanted to try out some youngsters, make a few quid on the betting, check whether a ref could be nobbled without getting the Manchester nose in the dirt, and be certain of victory when the clubs play each other.  A fair list of reasons in fact.

Of course I have no knowledge about who really owns these clubs – and certainly nothing to connect the very fit and proper people who own and run Manchester U with the undoubtedly (if only we knew who they were) fit and proper people who run Leeds, Birmingham or Notts County.

But that’s the point.  As Patrick Moore always used to say about what lies on the other side of black holes, “we just don’t know.”

Perhaps the best chant when we meet the evil empire on Saturday would be “Who owns you?”

Today on Making the Arsenal there’s the story of the first time Arsenal’s ground was shut because of “an incident with the referee”.  “Making the Arsenal” written by, well, as it were, err, me, since you ask, will be published on 30 October and will be available from this site.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

27 Replies to “This weekend Arsenal play the evil empire”

  1. Until that horrible day 2 seasons ago, Birmingham City was just the name of a football club which meant nothing to me. I didn’t hate them, I didn’t like them, it just was a team we should win against.
    I still can remember that black day, in fact it was a warm and sunny winter day in our parts of Euope. I was a little bit pissed off because I couldn’t see the game live because I had to do my match as a ref. Normally my son keeps me updated with at least the final score. But I didn’t get any message that afternoon.
    So I thought by myself driving home: did they lose ?
    When I came home and saw his face I knew something really bad had happened. He almost couldn’t say what had happened and just showed me the pictures on the internet. Even the final score line didn’t matter anymore.
    I must say that my own footballing days ended in a similar way, long, long ago. So seeing such pictures really hurt me, who ever is the victim, but that of all people it was Eduardo… I still get emotional on it. That day we also lost the title race.
    Since that day I hate Birmingham City, even more than that other North London team, and I really hope we teach them a lesson and win by the highest score ever in the PL. Who goes down doesn’t bother me at the end of the season, but I really would be very pleased if Birmingham City was one of them.
    Would you, or would Wenger play Eduardo – if he is fit – in this game ?

  2. Great Post. Never been here before but this is the kind of thing that should be more widely covered. Not the rags going on and on about this and that. Great Read! Up the Gunners!

  3. This is going to be an emotional match. It sucks that our sports channel over here chose to show another match (another decision that for the best of me i can never understand).

    For that, I will put myself in a media blackout before the match and turn on the TV only for that match. No cellphone (unsubscribe all reports), no internet (no livescore / news / sorry Tony u have to go too), no tv (because other channels will try to give updates).

    Walter – If I’m Eduardo, I imagine I’d be very afraid to play against them again. But then again, maybe he wants to dispel this fear once and for all by facing them. I just want the arsenal to repay them in kind this weekend. I still remember the look on cesc’ face that night. I hope he will repay them personally.

  4. Walter, I want Dudu to play this match and score a hat-trick. I know this would be very hard for him to face the team who almost ended his career but We all know how strong He is.

    Prick, I cant forget the looks on Cesc’s and Clichy’s face. And the way Cesc was urging Gary Lewin to come. That will be in the minds of all the Gooners and everyone will want this to Repay that will a performance better than the one 10days back. I really hope they do that for Eduardo.

  5. IndianGooner – yes, thank God for Gary Lewin. The best damn physio we could have asked for.

  6. Prick, He really is a great physio. He really did a great job with Eduardo and Diaby as well. He even helped Terry in 2007 Carling Cup final.. I just wished he was still with us and I hope Colin Lewin matches or even crosses the standards set by Gary.

  7. To put it bluntly, Gary Lewin saved Eduardo’s foot let alone his career.God bless him.

  8. I have tried so many times to blank the memory of that bleak day out of mind, but I was quite unsuccessful. The injustice from UEFA & the British Media to Eduardo only serve to heighten the feeling of disgust that I feel each time the picture crosses my mind. And thus Birmingham ‘Shity’ FC, just like Man ‘Shity’, added itself, all by itself, I swear I didn’t add them, to the list of clubs that I hate the most.

    As for the debacle of club ownerships, well that’s the failure of our football ruling authorities in this country. I once heard a song, I don’t recall the singer, but it said something like “Authority Stealing!” Bang on singer, whoever you are.

  9. Is this the same Gary Lewin that missed Kevin Campbell’s slipped disc for a whole season? Surely not.

  10. Aahh, that day of infamy! I remember most that shattered look on Gallas’ face when he sat alone in the middle of the field after, now we know, was a bogus penalty against Clichy. He knew more than anyone how high was the price of defeat (was it a draw?) that day. Despite the unfair mauling he took from the English press, Gallas earned my respect because he couldn’t contain his feelings. The fatherly figure of Arsene Wenger with his arms wrapped around the inconsolable Gallas as they left the field told the entire story.
    But we will make them pay this Saturday. COYG!

  11. It was a savage assault, which could have ended the career of a player infinitely more talented than the mediocrity who carried out the attack. But apparently, he was a nice guy and didn’t mean it. So that’s alright then.

    For me, this is a special match. I sincerely hope for nothing less than the total humiliation of this bunch of no hopers. But I would not want our players to get angry and take risks with their safety.

    If I were Arsene, I would let Eduardo decide whether to play. I would expect him to say yes.

  12. when he got banned then unbanned, after being booed by opposition fans and england fans, he came back, played the match he was banned from and scored.

    he may be a bit nervy at the start, but if he were to play, i think he will be superb.

    as for the club ownership issue, surely there must be a legal way to compell the fa to do the checks and publish the results, or suspend the license of the clubs if they are unable or unwilling to do so.

    what is most annoying is that we dont even know if the fa even care about this issue, or what steps have been taken to do these checks.

    again, is there no way to compell them to answer questions about it?

    surely the fa can see that this is just the thin end of the wedge. if these three are allowed to get away with it, soon, most clubs will be like this.

  13. Pig, you see if the hands of the footballing authorities (i.e the FA, Premier League, Football League, et al) were clean, they would simply come and answer all the questions you have asked, and others similar to them. Indeed they would have ensured that those questions were not neccessary in the first place. But alas, we live in a world where power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So we can only keep on fighting with our words, our pens and our computer & internet in the hope that we may catalyse a change.

    Can anyone please remind me what punishment was given to Taylor for cripling Eduardo?

  14. Was it 3 games ? Well for once I can say that the Belgian Fa gave a somewhat (still not enough for me) ban on Witsel with 10 games for a similar incident a few weeks ago. The cancelled a few weeks in appeal but another incident (lucky no broken leg but an open wound from the calf until the bone) was punished by 6 weeks. Still not enough but the last one will be banned as long as the injured player so that is a good punishment.

    On the not knowing who owns a club the Fa just have to change it rules. Every club has to give their owners (with written proof) before the start of the season or else the club just can’t play in the league. If a take over in the middle of the season: immediatly let the Fa know who is the new owner, check him or her. If he is fit, no problem. Not fit: end of the season and 2 leagues lower next season.
    It can be as simple as that. But then again would the FA have the guts to act according to her own rules ? They don’t do it now so… you’re right LRV, we can only try to get them working and apply their own rules.

  15. If you look at the whole picture of the Birminham-Arsenal game 2 seasons ago it was as if the whole football world was working together to get us down. The leg breaking tackle. The not a foul but given freekick from which they scored. The not given blatant penalty by our dear friend mr. Dean on that big guy that in those days used to run his ass of in the last minute which would have given us a 3-1 scoreline. The given penalty in the last seconds against us, which was not a foul as clichy played the ball.
    Still sick of it when I think of it.

  16. Walter, it was Alex Ferguson and his paid FA/refrees again. The instruction to them was to ensure a loss or defeat for Arsenal so that they can leapfrog us to win the league once more.

    They’ve been doing that for years with FA in their pocket. They use refrees like Dean, Riley, Webb to do their work for them.

  17. Well said, Walter. It is like in one of the poems I read very long ago. Can’t even remember the beginning of that poem. Part of the middle stanza goes something like…
    “…Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot bear the Falconer
    Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
    Mere anarchy is loose upon the world…”
    I think it captures the present state of football governance generally, most especially in our country here.

  18. You are getting a bit understated here, Tony.

    Never forgave Brum for knocking us out of the cup in a quarter final at Highbury in 1956, my first season!!!

    Also 2 years running in the late ’60s as a 2nd division team.

    Brum always had a reputation for being a particularly hard team back in the days when they were all tough as nails. I know the Arsenal players of the 50s & 60s hated going there.

    Don’t especially hate them though.

  19. It is Yeats, the Second Coming, LRV, and an excellent choice. I’ll put it at the end.

    The punishment for the crime against Eduardo was 3 games, the Lord Wenger asking for a lifetime ban. After the 3 games Birmingham sneaked the player back in for a reserve game and denied all culpability.

    Now the issue of the FA.

    At the time of the attack on Eduardo, Karen Brady was one of the leading lights of the Evil Empire (she was in fact the MD). Today, just before Arsenal play the House of Evil for the first time since their attack on Eduardo, she has been appointed to the England 2018 World Cup bid board as a director.

    Do I need to say more about the FA? Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  20. @ LRV: the name of the singer of that song is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He was a man famous for taking on the corrupt military and civilian rulers in Nigeria (my country, by the way) through bitingly satirical songs. The ruling class hated him so much they once sent soldiers to his home who killed his mother by throwing her off a balcony. No one was ever court-martialled for that, by the way.

    I can’t wait for Birmingham. I got goosebumps watching replays of that “tackle”, seeing Eddy’s leg bent at that horrifying angle. Then having to hear and read various pundits vociferously defending Martin Taylor’s actions afterwards.

    I hope Eddy plays. I hope all the players watch that game again before kick-off. I hope they’re all so fired up, they go out and obliterate the record for most goals scored in an organised league game.

    Meanwhile, in a bit of shameless pluggery, I’ve started a blog called the ANR Review, in which I basically take on Pyles’s crap articles. I know silence is supposed to be the best answer for a fool, but I hope I will be forgiven for being unable to hold my tongue any longer in the face of his increasingly asinine writing. The url is

    I will do my best to update regularly, so I hope Tony won’t mind my coming on here and posting a link or two. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll get on NewsNow too!

  21. LRV you could be right, I am being a little harsh on Gary.

    He is a Gooner through and through, and sits in Club level at the ‘North Bank’

  22. A big thank you, Tony. That’s it; that’s the poem. Now I remember. Thanks!

    I agree with Lord Wenger. Taylor should have been barned, if not for a lifetime, for at the very least, a whole season + plus the remainder of that very season.

    Karen Brady! The same that was on police bail for some financial impropriety at Birmingham? Now a director with the ‘2018 World Cup bid board’? Mere anarchy is, indeed, loosed upon the world.

  23. Just been watching a brilliant recording about the Swedish writer Henning Mankell. It finished and I put on Sky Sports, (quite a come down from the heights of literature) and they are saying that Eduardo is unlikely to be fit for saturday.

    Theo as we know got injured. Ramsey is injured.

    Anyone else so far?

  24. I don’t think Eduardo was entitled to play if he didn’t play for Croatia. In the Fifa rules it says that if a player is not fit for his national team he can’t play for his club team within 5 days unless the country’s FA gives him permission to play.
    In our press there is something going on about Felaini and Everton. Felaini had some dental chirgury on monday, is not fit to play for Belgium on wednesday and the Belgian Fa won’t give him permission to play in the weekend, it seems. Maybe they still change their mind ?
    So if Eduardo is not fit he can’t play but if he would be fit enough it’s up to Croatia to decide if they let him play.

    Comes up the question: Who the f*ck is paying his wages ?????? How come FIFA gives a local FA power to decide if a player can play for his club ? Eduardo is an employee of Arsenal and it is Arsenal who pays him, so I would think that it is AW who decides if he can or should play.

    Just another example of the ..”self censored”.. of Fifa.

  25. On the whole Wenger has bought wisely. The big duds have been Jeffers, Reyes, Wright, Baptista and I would also put Hleb in that category although I know some people loved his ability of not being able to shoot! There have also been a lot of low level duffers like Cygan, Stepanovs, Mendes, Diawara and few others whose names escape me. But thats football – trading players and the best managers get it right more than the rest. Its an inherent part of the job. Has Wenger lost the bottle to buy big? Who can deny that the purchase of Bergkamp and Platt really started the ball rolling and revitalised our club. Is is time for another similar purchase? Just look what Arshavin and even Verm have given to us! As for Bendtner I think he does a good job as a squad player and as sub can turn a game. I am not sure he is good enough to be the main man in a big game but I am prepared to give him more a chance than a few others. I worry if VanP gets injured we will all of a sudden look weak in attack. As for the players I dont like yes you know who they are..Eboue should be sold NOW! Song, Diaby, Denilson and Almunia are OK squad players but not top drawer. We have too many players of similar levels of ability.

  26. ray – your list of players you reckon aren’t good enough is your opinion and entirely up to you, but surely Song, especially, has been magnificent this season. What more has he got to do to convince you? And the two players Arsene has bought in 2009 (Arshavin and Vermaelen) are pretty “big” – in fact sensational -buys in my opinion, the fact that they were signed for relatively small sums by Chavski or Shitty standards is just a bonus.

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