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If trophies were on offer where do you draw the line? Move ground? New colours? New name?

By Tony Attwood

The question is: how far would you support your club in return for trophies.

Some supporters have in the past drawn the line and said, this far and no further.   The group that set up FC United of Manchester, now in the Northern Premier League, were one example of a group so alienated by the activity of their club – Manchester United – that they went off and did their own thing.

Supporters of Wimbledon drew the line when the club was moved to Milton Keynes and so they formed AFC Wimbledon – which is now in League Two (the 4th division) having worked its way up.

Supporters of Cardiff are having to decide if being changed to red and white is beyond the pale or whether the promise of a debt free club with a big transfer budget means that the colour of the shirt is of no matter.

It is, as I say, all a question of drawing the line.

John Beech of the excellent Football Management blog recently put it very clearly:

“What is happening at Cardiff is little short of seeing owners who view a club as a commodity which can have some brand value spray-painted onto it to make it stand out from the rest.  A simple question to Dato Chan Tien Ghee [the owner]– if the key to your success lies in owning a red club, why didn’t you buy a red one?  If the answer is simply ‘Well, Peter hadn’t got a red one in his briefcase to show us’, God preserve us.

“Others have tried this drastic rebranding, with some commercial success.  An obvious example is that of SV Austria Salzburg, which Red Bull bought and rebranded as FC Red Bull Salzburg in 2005, complete with change in club colours and logo.  The new club has enjoyed considerable success since the takeover, but the old club had also, and that is where the comparison begins to break down.  Red Bull bought an already successful club and turned it into an even more successful one.  But in doing so they alienated fans to such an extent they started a new club, which they called SV Austria Salzburg, and which has already climbed, Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester style, from the seventh tier of the Austrian football pyramid to the third tier.

“I’ll leave my final thought to the SV Austria Salzburg fans who are reported as having raised this banner in the past few days.”

(Do click on that banner – it is really worth seeing).

While I was writing the book “Making the Arsenal” about Woolwich Arsenal FC in 1910 I asked myself this question: if I had been a fan living in Plumstead, seeing my club sink away from its high spots a few years before, and knowing that we were about to go bust, would I have supported Henry Norris as the new chairman?

Norris paid all the debts, but didn’t invest a fortune in new players.  And he did make proposals to the effect that Arsenal should move to, or even merge with Fulham.   After dropping those ideas following resistance from the existing board and from the League, he gave the assurance that the club would stay in Woolwich for a year.  Later he extended that, and Arsenal spent 3 years more in the area, before moving to Highbury in 1913.

Now, what would I have thought had I been there?  Would I have withdrawn my support in protest at the arrival of Henry Norris?  Would I have given up football totally?  Would I have moved over to arch-rivals Millwall?  Or would I have followed Arsenal to Islington – even though the journey was a bit of a bugger.

I would like to think I would have gone whenever possible to the new ground, especially as, although the club were relegated at the end of their tenure at Plumstead, they did well in their two years in the second division.  I wouldn’t have objected to the changing of the name from Woolwich Arsenal to The Arsenal, either.

And with Arsenal today?  What if Mr Very-Rich comes along and says, “£100m transfer budget every year?  No problem!” and then we find out that plan A involves making us play in black and white, what then?  Would I keep my season ticket, or would I resign that seat in block 99?  Or if he said, “Arsenal is not the right name – I am in the power generating business, not armaments, so we’ll call the club Power Arsenal.

I think I would leave, and the comparison between Henry Norris in 1910 and Mr Very-Rich now is instructive.  What Norris did was rescue a failing club.  He determined that moving to north London was fundamental to the long term survival of the club, and so he delivered on that.    But the changing of colours, as in the case of Cardiff, and the changing of the name as with SV Austria Salzburg, is nothing to do with the good of the club.  It is to do with corporate whims.  That’s the difference.

But there is more.  There is the question: what happens if Mr Very-Rich gets up and goes away?  Or worse, turns out to be a crook.  That then is the problem.   Rangers, let us not forget, were incredibly successful in Scotland, winning the league nine times in a row, among other things.  Portsmouth won the FA Cup in England.  And now both are… well, in a mess.

That’s why I feel we need to tread very carefully when it comes to considering rich people investing in clubs as benefactors rather than shareholders.

Part of my worry is the speed at which football is changing and new benefactor owners are coming through.  We have looked at quite a few in earlier articles, here are some more.

Getafe   In April 2011 by Royal Emirates Group for around £80m ]

Real Santander.  In January 2011 bought by Ahsan Ali Syed, an Indian business tycoon and went through three different managers last season.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.   A fifth division side in 2000, the was bought by Dietmar Hopp and reached the top division by 2008.     And for a moment let’s pause here.

Dietmar Hopp transformed a local amateur club into a top Bundesliga club, but not everyone is happy with this.  There is no history, no fan base, and bizarrely the club is from a village with 3,300 inhabitants.  In this regard it challenges the myth put about that German clubs are all owned by the fans and financed “properly”.  Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen receive financial support from corporations (Wolfsburg from VW and Leverkusen from the drugs company Bayer.

We could go on…

Spartak Moscow has a chairman (Leonid Fedun) seemingly worth $7.1 Billion (although they have not won the league since 2001.

In fact once we are into Russia we can see the way the whole thing can get out of control.  A whole group of very rich people and companies owning the clubs (Dinamo Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow….)

In the Ukraine there is FC Metalist Kharkiv, owned by Oleksandr Yaroslavsky and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk owned by Andriy Stetsenko.

There are so many clubs like this, and all the time we have the thought: only one club per country can win the league, only one in Europe can win the Champions League.  And yet sometimes there are several mega-rich clubs per country.  What do they do when they don’t win the league because another mega-rich man has done it?

Or worse, what if it is all just a game, rather than a tribe and a passion.  Look at the interestingly name Arsenal Kyiv.

In May 2007, because of their financial problems they were going to be relegated.  Then Vadim Rabinovich took them over and started paying for the transfers etc.  Then in January 2009 Leonid Chernovetskyi bought Arsenal Kyiv for about 50p.  Chernovetskiy’s son Stepan became the club’s president.  In 2010 Rabynovich bought the club back.  Apparently young Stepan wasn’t doing very well.  So it goes…

My points are

a) In some cases it is a rich man’s game – and you never quite know when they will get tired of the game.

b) In some cases it is a marketing ploy, in which case there has to be a limit somewhere as to how many changes to tradition you can take.

c) In some cases it involves corruption, like Rangers, and I suspect, Portsmouth

And above all, nothing in this game is stable.   Maybe that is the biggest point.  An Arsenal built on solid foundations, as I believe the club is at the moment, will survive the end of Mr Wenger, the sale of shares by Mr Kronke, and so on, just as it has survived such changes before.  Just as it survived the banishment from football of Sir Henry Norris for selling the club coach and putting the £150 in his pocket, because Sir Henry had spent his money building a self-sustaining football club.

But a club which is morbidly dependent on the annual financial input of the benefactor, or is dependent (as Rangers was) on no one tumbling the fact that there was something very dodgy going on in the way players and managers were paid, is a big, big risk.

And that’s why I tend towards supporting the self-sustaining model, even if it means I don’t get another Unbeaten Season, or even another League win in my time.  I will know that the club that has been at the heart of my life ever since I can remember will be there for my grandchildren.

And somehow that’s rather important to me.

—————————-

This article is the end of the series on the billionaires.  If you have any ideas for topics we might look at, or indeed you might like to write something yourself, please do write to Tony.Attwood@aisa.org

The Billionaire Files:

 

88 comments to If trophies were on offer where do you draw the line? Move ground? New colours? New name?

  • arsenal-steve

    I have watched Arsenal for 54 of my 63 years. I have supported them through thick and thin. I have never doubted the integrity of the club. For the first time ever I see this board and owner dousing us in spin. We are owned by a club collecter, Kroenke, probably the worst scenario possible, and a man who knows little of soccer and does not have the love of ‘soccer’. We have the Alastair Campbell of football, Gazidis, who is a master of meaningless bullshite. The relationship between the board and the fans is an insult. Arsene Wenger himself is almost autistic in his non-existent relationship with fans. I will support this club until I die, but I will not support this board, who in reality are enjoying control and power without giving anything back to the fans. What saddens me is the docile way the Arsenal fans are led to the ‘slaughter’. This club is not in financial danger, it is losing the iqyalitative factors…mystique, public image, and numinosity. We are run by bullshite merchants. I can forgive Wenger although he could do more to support the fans, but this board is poor to say the least.If they do not buy some ‘talent’ this summer they are irresponsible and I will back Usmanov.

  • @arsenal-steve – we call it ‘football’ over here.

  • Stan Streason

    Interesting article.

    As a Chelsea supporter I have thought about this. What is it I support – its not the players – they are transitory. Its not the ground – every single stand has been replaced since I first went in 1964. My grandfather certainly wouldn’t recognise the place and he was there in the 1920’s. It’s not the colour blue – half our games are played in some 2nd or 3rd strip that lasts for no more than a season. Is it the name? If it were changed to London United, who knows? I would have to support someone. I have not lived within 50 miles of Chelsea for over 50 years.

    Surprisingly as everyone would think from a Chelsea fan, its probably the history in my case; the link through family – we are now into our 5th generation of Chelsea supporters in the family. So if everything changed at once, that link may be broken but if it were bit by bit? (Although thinking about it a Wimbledon/MK Dons move would definitely be a deal-breaker)

  • @Stan Streason – Ahhh… Theseus’ paradox – or “Trigger’s broom”. It’s a good point.

    “The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nice comment Stan Streason.
    And yes this articles from Tony (a great series it was Tony) have brought a lot to think about.
    What is our personal price? Where would it end for us? When does ‘our’ football club stops being ‘our’ football club?
    I cannot imagine myself that I would stop supporting Arsenal because they don’t win anything any more. If that would have been the case I would have stopped in 1979 I think 😉

    I surely would struggle with a name change and certainly a colour change like is happening at Cardiff. You simply cannot throw 125 years of history in the bin. brrrr feeling a shiver just by thinking about it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    off topic but this Gooner is all happy and excited because Arsenal is coming to Cologne again this summer in August.

    Great that is only an approximate 1,5 hour drive from my home near Antwerp. 🙂 🙂

    I will be there!! 🙂

    sorry about that but had to express my joy. That’s hardly two months waiting 🙂

  • Rhyle

    Dogface – subtly racist lol! Also inorrect – the term soccer was coined in the UK and used to differentiate Association Football from Rugby Football…sad of me, I know…

    Tony…interesting read, and as I’ve said before, agree with the central theme that sustainability is both right and honourable…just not in the form we’re delivering it (particularly in terms of distribution of wages through the squad – a point I made on here a week or two ago and saw shot down by your more zealous commenters…great to see the club finally acknowledge this…I’m gloating, sorry…), but I’ve got to say the other theme…that of “it could be worse y’know…” is always a hard sell in the face of “but it could be so much better…”. It’s akin to saying “I know Wenger has only broken your heart by diminishing the quality of the first XI over the last year but let’s be grateful we’ve got a club at all” whilst knowing that the cash to splash on the right players to strengthen the team (£50m, minimum) has been on the balance sheet for 3/4 years for anyone to see if they looked. Not even carefully. It’s just there…I’m not talking about a radical overhaul, I’m not even talking about competing for the £30m players on the market…hehe…baby steps!..but let’s be open and honest and say that, year on year the team has got weaker in terms of quality.

    Businesses play this little parlour game all the time…sending messages like “there’s a recession, you know – you should be glad you have a job at all ‘cos it could be worse” as propaganda while they make people work harder for longer for less…

  • Stan – I am with you completely on this. From the age of 9 I was taken to Highbury by my dad, and it was Arsenal for me becuase of father and grandfather connections.

    The move to the Emirates didn’t matter, nor whatever odd colours we turn up in for away games. It was that Arsenal was red, and we were Arsenal. That was my tribe, as I have said a few times in this series.

    But there is a funny thing about players. I am currently writing with others a book “Arsenal in the 1970s” and I have just been writing up the story of Liam Brady’s first games for the club. I loved that footballer, as did everyone associated with Arsenal, and we were devastated when he wanted to move away – and again when he returned to London after the Italian venture, but not to Arsenal.

    And yet I can still love him as an Arsenal man. It is helped by the fact he returned as youth development officer, but still, even though he left, he is Arsenal to me because he never criticised the club.

    (Incidentally in the early 20th century, Arsenal contemplated changing their name to London FC!)

  • @Rhyle I’ve just read the first line of your post (will read the rest in a min) but I am aware that it comes from ‘association football’ – sorry had to get that out there before I continue reading… 🙂

  • dan

    Usmanov – whats the deal? Here is a man who could buy any club in the world, yet, he doesn’t sell his stake in Arsenal. Makes no sense if he was really a football lover he would of bought some other club, may be ManU as he appears to support them.

  • Arsenal Steve, you said, The relationship between the board and the fans is an insult.

    Talk to Liverpool fans and ask them about a relationship between board and fans. Gazidis comes to meetings and talks and answers questions – I’ve been there and heard him. That doesn’t happen at other clubs.

    Your insults against everyone in the club are so overwhelming, I wonder what it is that you actually support.

  • Ha – that well… ok – the first line was all I had to answer to. Anyway – subtly racist?

    It wasn’t intended that way – but we do have a lot of posters who claim to have been fans for XX years and/or a season ticket holder for n years kicking tin cans down the street in the shadow of Highbury since they was a nipper (they always start their posts like that, it’s something of a CV of fanship so we all know that they are the trusted voice of experience) and then bang on about how we’ve never had it so bad… ever.

    It’s clear from some of these posts that the language used does not fit with the image they are trying to portray… that is all.

  • Rhyle

    Dogface…thought you would’ve done…it’s known as soccer in the forces a lot more frequently, but let’s not ever say it’s common use in the UK or that it ever will. Still…vive le difference with us GREAT British and our former colonies, eh?!

  • Rhyle

    Another fair point well made Dogface.

  • Rhyle

    it’s something that grinds my gears too. I do not believe having a ST ( I DO BY THE WAY…LOL… ) makes you more passionate or right. But, when you’re accused on not loving Arsenal because you’re not enamoured with the direction that Wenger has taken the club over the last few years (only)…well, laying out £1k+ (more like £3k after travel, beers, food and paying for a psychiatrist) does lend a bit of weight to the fact that…yeah, you may not agree with me…but you can’t say it’s not as big and as important part of my life as it is of yours…or that I love Arsenal any less than you…getting away from the meat of the post…but there you go…mea culpa…

  • Shard

    Rhyle

    Still playing the know it all and the martyr rolled into one?? Please.. give that up..It’s annoying. Some people might have disagreed with your views on the salary structure. So what? Is your point that you want the salary structure changed, or is it your point that you were right? (hopefully while recognising that there is no one right answer or one wrong answer to anything)

    Ok.. So.. it’s business. They want money in the bank.. For what purpose? Boosting their share prices? They could all have sold to Usmanov at higher prices. Kroenke’s net worth stays higher so he can borrow more money from banks? Maybe.. But do you have any evidence he’s been borrowing money for anything with his Arsenal shares as collateral?

    Is it not at all possible, that they actually know how much they have and can spend, and Wenger knows how much a player is worth, and they take decisions based on that? And that’s without getting into the murky world of football transfers where extra money might be demanded to pay off some interested parties.. (Ignore that last for now)

    For the record.. I agree with you about the wage structure needing to be changed. I still don’t classify it as a mistake. It;s just that circumstances..both at Arsenal, and in the rest of the league..have changed..making it necessary to adapt. To some extent at least.

  • Thank you Rhyle – and thanks also for the factoid on terminology in the armed forces – I can well imagine it’s something an officer might say now you mention it…

  • Shard

    Tony

    It’s really an interesting thought isn’t it? Where do you draw the line.. I think I can unequivocally state that if what happened to Cardiff was done to Arsenal, it would be over. It would no longer be my club. But what about other aspects.. If we gave up the self sustaining model and embraced a billionaire. I guess that depends. If we maintain our playing style, and our ‘honour’ on the field, then I think I couldn’t give Arsenal up, even if I dislike the way we buy players. What of we got someone like Mourinho with all his disgusting behaviour and of course that translates onto his players as well.. I think I MIGHT reach that threshold there. For trophies?? I wouldn’t give up anything. No compromise on what we stand for.. Trophies will come when we play well. Trophies are the by product of all we aim to do. Not the ends in themselves. At least that’s how I view it.

  • I think I could put up with Mourinho. After all I supported the club as a child with George Swindin and Billy Wright as managers.

  • Rhyle

    You’re right, Shard – when we established the wage structure it was good business sense. The mistake was not changing it sooner.

    As for people disagreeing with me? I’m all for it. It’s the manner of the disagreement from some…not all…that’ll lead me to gloat occasionally.

    Value and worth are in the eye of the beholder but you can’t tell me that it’s acceptable to fix a price on the sell side at one level (we’ll call it a bid price…) and then one on the buy side (we’ll call it an offer price) that are so disparate as to be unrelated. Demanding £25m for our players while offering a max of £15m for those we try to bring in? That’s why we never bring in the finished article, preferring the unknown of delivering potential – because you have to pay a premium for it…

  • Shard

    Tony

    I couldnt put up with Mourinho..And that’s not about defensive football. It’s to do with the sheer..well… ugliness (I could be cruder) he brings to his teams. I used to like Chelsea under Ranieri. While some would argue Mourinho turned them into winners, I contend he turned them into a disgrace in terms of the way they behaved. I would be unable to have any pride in Arsenal if we started to behave that way.

  • @Rhyle/Shard

    I would say that this is the first season in which we can invest significant funds in the right kind of players – I’m not sure I agree with the idea that it’s been there for 3/4 years as this was in my view a buffer to give us breathing room should we drop out of the Champions League… so it is easy to look back in retrospect and say we were too ‘careful’ – but that takes a lot of our achievements for granted.

    There is an issue of changing the culture in how we interact with the market, there have been years of covering costs with the new stadium – but I think that we have navigated these waters very well, trophies would have been a bonus – but we can’t have it all, much as we wish we could!

    The culture in the club does need to adjust to the financial corner that we have turned this season, but one step at a time… I still trust the board and I am personally happy with how they are moving the club forward and playing the ‘long game’ so to speak.

    Which takes us back to the post – do we need external investment for short term gains and to what ends will it take us?

  • Shard

    Rhyle

    I don’t know.. It depends on what you get for your money.. I mea nif we sell Nasri for 25m and buy Arteta for 10m, then we’re not doing badly. Rather the reverse. I don’t think the money on transfers is reliably reflective of the quality of players. Of course.. I’m not saying I’d be against buying a name player.. A star.. For years I dreamed of a front line of David Villa and RVP. But..If it doesn’t happen. I’m not going to get upset about it. I tend to stick to ‘demanding’ what positions we need filling, rather than what specific player should come in. And of course..positions can also be filled by buying a player in an alternate position and moving someone else there.

    (Did my post even make any sense? I’m in a rush to get my membership renewed, and then go and watch the Euros)

  • bongo

    I draw the line at the rich sugar daddy. Usimov and I’m off.
    I’m surprised by how stupid most gooners are. City and Chelsea and all the big spender clubs are spending their last few seasons of financial doping and are scrambling to build big squads before financial fair play comes into play.
    Think they’ll break off and form a super league think again. Chelsea and city have both stated that’s not an option as they’d be the only English clubs who would benefit. United wouldn’t touch it, barca and real couldn’t either as they’re bankrolled by a bankrupt state and Malaya, psg and anzhi just aren’t going to draw the crouds. Chelsea and city may have bought success but they’ve lost respect. Fans have always been United in their hatred of United and its self important glory hunting fanbase and now Chelsea fans are the same. Rabid glory hunters that will sell their grandmothers for a trophy, suckling on the teat of a corrupt business man. But what happens when they again go through ten more managers only to be restricted by fair play rules? Will Roman still enjoy playing with his toy when he cant solve all their problems by pumping in more money? Their short term gain is their long term loss. They can revel in their recent history of winningbut history will always speak of them buying and not earning that. Just a pity so many short sighted gooners would rather we prostituted ourselves to a dirty old billionaire than do things the right way and ensure the clubs long term future. We’re building a club for the next 50 years what’s going to happen the sugardaddy clubs when uefa, fifa, and the fa step in to ensure greater competitiveness by imposing financial restrictions?

  • bongo

    For the record Gadzidas stated recently that our equal wage structure is being abandoned. Our youth policy hasn’t failed it just needs adjustment and their going to restructure our wages to facilitate keeping our best players. They admitted they were naive to think they’d bee immune from the effects of financial doping and are now working to combat that from the inside.

  • WalterBroeckx

    bongo,

    from my part of the planet where I live I can confirm you that City and Chelsea are seen as having bought the PL and the CL. People shake their head and wonder what football has become over here. City was the best team but it was just a bought team full of mercenaries with no link to the club. Of course the life long City fan will enjoy this moment but they are celebrating a hollow win. and I think deep inside the life long City fan knows that. will not yet admit it (the rush of the celebration is not over yet…) but it will come when the next rich sugar daddy steps in and buys even more than their own sugar daddy.

    this in case FFP would not come in to action of course. If it does the fun is over again.

    About Chelsea… the way they won the CL has only brought up bad words. Like a pundit said today in my country about the euro’s that he is afraid that some teams might adopt a cattenacio way of playing once again. Like he said it : “playing with 44 players behind the ball waiting for that one counter” .

    Real football friends hope that it will not happen but if you can win the CL like Chelsea did then the temptation can become very big to try to do it that way and throw football back to the dull middle ages.

  • Rhyle

    Shard…same here. It avoids (well NEARLY avoids) getting hung up on the names that are banded about in the rags on a daily basis. Back in the hay day’s of Arseweb, there used to a table updated on a daily basis containing all players we were linked with and the source. Every summer it’d get to c.100 players. Wish they still did it.

    I don’t care about age, nationality, race, sexual proclivity. I care about ability and attitude. Particularly attitude. My problem with Wenger is that he’s replaced players who score 10 out of 10 on both counts with 9’s, then the 9’s with 8’s…I’d like that nipped in the bud before we’re trading in 6’s for 5’s…in spite of many people think…the trend isn’t always your friend!

    By the by…if anyone’s interested…new kits for the kids arrived yesterday. Look much better in the flesh than they did in the pictures. Ordered myself a new pair of the shorts. They’re…snug…(fitted)…and let’s just say they’re bordering on cycling shorts and I do NOT look good in lycra…

  • andy bishop

    Been a gooner for 52 years now cos I was borne and bred in Highbury..simple. Arsenal are Arsenal end of. No need to move, change colour or name to win things. The frustrating thing is we are so close and need that extra impetus, that magical player, that decent winning run to give the players the belief thay can win. We have to maintain a hub of real quality players starting with RVP. If he goes this year the same way as Fabregas and other top players then Gazides is bullsh…g.. we are being suckered and it is the balance sheet the board is worried about. I want Arsenal to win things like any fan as they have done in the past. I see them play good teams off the park that have won things and expect them to win things. The fact it is a well run club is great but to think the FFP and our youth policy will deliver is naive. Meanwhile our owners investment reaps massive financial rewards. Waiting on Chief Executive promises is not good enough for the Arsenal

  • Jacobite Gunner

    @Rhyle

    “Demanding £25m for our players while offering a max of £15m for those we try to bring in? That’s why we never bring in the finished article, preferring the unknown of delivering potential – because you have to pay a premium for it…”.

    Now I beleive this is a flawed argument because other benchmarker’s such as Man U rarely bring in the finished article, Rooney, Nani, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Hernandez to name a few…

    Wenger scouts players for years and not just one who becomes “in demand” or popular.

    May you please note that our most premium signed player has wholeheartedly dissapointed to live up to his billing ie. Arshavin for £17 million (yes 17, not 15). The more you pay for the player, the higher the risk…

    You may disagree but there are two sides to each coin

  • Terry

    The supporters are the true Arsenal. Without us there would be a few in the executive boxes, the journalists and the stewards in their yellow coats at home games. A rather empty, echoey shell. We’re a business first, second and last – not a football club that exists to win trophies. The board are no longer the custodians of Arsenal – were all a lot more educated these days and we can be the custodians ourselves. It’s OBVIOUS we’re a money-making business that happens to have football as its product. And, given the wealth of the Champions League, trophies no longer count…just Champions League qualification. Maybe it’s time to start again – AFC Wimbledon-style. That way I could bring my children to matches without attracting penury. Alternatively, let a super rich oligarch come in and ‘buy’ us the trophies. I don’t see any Man City or Chelsea fans complaining. At the moment we have the worst of both worlds – a super rich oligarch who won’t splash the cash. We pay top ticket prices while the board collect massive salaries. When they sell their shares they make even more of a profit. And still no trophies! This should not be the Arsenal way. FFP will make little or no difference. Money talks – but that’s OBVIOUS as well, isn’t it?

  • Shakabula Gooner

    I wasn’t there or here when it was “boring Arsenal”.

    However, if Arsenal stops playing “the beautiful game” beautifully. That is, if, when the players are marching to the field, no shiver of expectation of something special, something that will confound pundits and critics alike passes through me; if I don’t expect anything more that I would as a Stokes fan; and if this seems ok with the management or there is no prospect that the team will return to the root that drew me to them in the first place, guess I shall seriously go off EPL entirely…reconsidering my support for Arsenal is a more painful option!

  • Notoverthehill

    Quite obviously someone does not understand the covenants of the Bond holders! To claim that there was £50 millions available for transfers, shows someone’s financial ineptitude.

    Read, hear what Mr Ivan Gazidis said about paying £25 millions for a player.

    Dogface, officer material? never!

  • nicky

    In listing name, colours and ground you NOW have the sacrosanct core of Arsenal Football Club. I use the word “NOW” because only a few years ago, Highbury was the Club’s birthplace as far as all living Gooners are concerned. Now we have the most modern fit-for-purpose stadium in the UK, if not Europe.
    Over the years, the shirts have, of necessity, been amended in design but never altered in the basic colour of red and white.
    As for the name, IMO, any change would be resisted by those who support our Club and any prospective “owner” would be well advised to retain the world-wide brand that is Arsenal.

  • Rhyle

    Jacobite – expecting there to be a logical link between what you expect people to pay for your players versus what you expect to pay for theirs is completely different from your comparison.

    Yes, there is always risk attached to buying any player – in my books the biggest risk Wenger ever took on a player was buying Bischoff sight unseen (that’s right – he’d never seen him play. That always works out as ably demonstrated by Fergie when he bought Bebe…where is he now?). Arshavin was a risk having never played in a major European league (I’d argue that the Russian league isn’t), but his performances in Zenit’s run to the UEFA cup and also for Russia in the Euro’s didn’t just have Wenger (and me) purring – many would have paid for his services on the back of that so it’s what I deem a calculated risk. I have no idea if it’s £15m or £17m…I’ll go with the widely reported (by the papers / rags) £15m, if you don’t mind. Not sure why you think you know better but won’t quibble over £2m anyway as it doesn’t change the thrust of my point.

    Man Utd – £27m on Ferdinand, Rooney £25m, Nani £14m (nearly as much as our record signing…), Ronaldo £13m, Fletcher came through the ranks, Hernadez was a full international plaing in Mexico…not exactly the land of record transfers. Factor in fees paid for RvN, JSV, Carrick, Jones…I could go on…and you’ll hopefully realise it’s a flawed comparison – Man Utd bring in the finished article far more than us and we rarely spend the same amount (or have the same success) with players deemed by you as “not the finished article” . If we’re scouting them for years and years, why is he not? Are the players flawed? Is the scouting system flawed? Is Wenger flawed? The risk is lessened by buying experienced, quality players. The biggest risk of all is buying someone is isn’t the quality you need in the hope / expectation that one day they will be.

  • Rhyle

    Notoverthehill. I work for a global investment house and can read a balance sheet just fine. Google my name if you want, or look me up on LinkedIn. I’ve been in the investment industry for 12 years. You might say I make a living out of finances. ‘Cos that’s exactly what I do. Might be worth spending a bit of time over at Swiss Ramble’s blog, too. Dogface is probably closer to the mark as to why we retained the cash – anticipating the prospect of not qualifying for the CL and the financial impact of that. Still – if you look at our balance sheet beyond the £50m I believe has been repeatedly made available by the board for transfers, it shows we are in a cash positive position. As in that £50m, as stated by PHW and IG among others, as being available for transfers is money set aside exactly for that and the spending of it would not impact the fiscal stability of the club in any way whatsoever. Still…we’ve got Denilson and Bendtner’s development to worry about, I suppose…

    Calling me “financially inept” is a bit rich…just spouting spurious nonsense makes you look PROPER smart, though…

  • RobL

    @ Rhyle, wasn’t Bischoff on a free? I’m sure fergie was wishing Bebe was…as he was rumoured to be a week before his transfer to united…

    @ Tony, I always hoped I’d win the lottery so I could sponsor Stoke on behalf of Durex, Dulco ease or more appropriately Caniston Once – known the world over to get rid of irritating *****.

    Who here wouldn’t want to see Pulis run out with that on his tracksuit!

  • ak47

    made my bed with the best intentions, now i lie in it, too proud to ever give up the arsenal.

    move us to shanghai, change the colour to polka dots and call us akkab. its just a chapter.

  • Rhyle

    RobL – he was a free, I think…but you still have to pay him to move to UK, sign the contract and then pay his wages. A risk, sight unseen, on an injury prone player. Wenger admitted as much himself.

    As for your point with regards to sponsoring Stoke…magic. I’ve always fancied sponsoring our neighbours. Wouldn’t be as polite as you…would just have that well-known European Chicken noodle soup “Cock”…They sell it in Asda so it should benefit Stan’s missus as well.

  • Rhyle

    ak47…I think the moment you move us out of North London and change our name…well, that’s when we lose any sort of identity. I was born in Shoreditch and raised in Stokie for the first few years of my life and have family there. The club’s part of the fabric of the community. I can honestly say I’d be devastated and completely unable to forgive the club. I’d go over the O’s.

  • Rhyle

    I’d like to revisit that – the club isn’t part of the community in Highbury. It IS the community. You look at the pubs, restaurants and other businesses around the ground – the community has been built on the back of Arsenal.

  • Matt Clarke

    off-topic, sorry…I will comment, but have just seen Chesney sent off for, what was to me, an obvious intentional leg entanglement by the Greek striker Grrr!

    Penalty saved – some justice.

  • robl

    @ Rhyle, thanks – had a day in our stoke office where apparently they have the transfer coup of the decade by signing our 19th choice right back….good luck to him and his forthcoming gorilla DNA injections….

  • Jayjay

    Am not a season ticket owner nd certainly not an Arsenal fan due to it being passed down through generations…. And for the records an African nd never being to europe. Y am I going through all these?
    i didn’t fall in love wit Arsenal because of d Home stadium(Highbury precisely) nor did i luv Arsenal cos of d shirt (never knew red nd white was the true Gooner colour when I first saw Arsenal in d 90’s.)
    So it gotta be the Club itself;
    The name, Style , manager nd how it’s being run..

    i always remember what Wenger said some years back ” We don’t buy superstars, we make them.”
    so I sure will walk(don’t tink I can though) not after 49yrs trophyless(49 games unbeaten is worth much more than that), not if we change ground(the Emirates is beautiful frm wat I hear nd I sure hope to be there soon), or shirt colours(but never want to see us in blue like those lots who stole the UCL)
    the breaking point wuld b Arsenal bhaving like City nd playing like Stoke, buying evry decent player 4rm their rival, paying unholy transfer fees nd wages(50m nd 200k per week?), dishing all Le Proff has worked to build?
    Nd the worse of the lot, Ving TONY PULIS as Manager Nd the thuggish BARTON nd DELAP as captain nd vice captain respectively…. that surely will b it.

    frm a gooner in NIGERIA (delighted Arsenal re cuming in AUgust…)

  • Matt Clarke

    What a great and timely series of articles Tony, thank you.

    I really feel for the Cardiff City supporters – there certainly some things that contribute to a club identity that one would not wish to lose.

    The colours and the badge are obvious ones – Arsenal have changed these before (but not in my lifetime).

    The ground is another – thankfully we have moved only a short distance recently.

    As I too have moved from North London to South London and back again and eventually right out of London the relocation across London does not worry me as much as it used to. (My local club is MK Dons and whilst it is good to have League football here I do feel sorrow for Wimbledon fans. Another case, however, of use it or lose it and they lost it).

    The club ethos is quite another. As far as I can tell the ethos at Arsenal has not changed.

    For me its a case of trophies – they would be nice but not at any price. It’s The Arsenal that I support and that’s a complex blend of entities.

    Thanks again Tony, I hope that a great number of fans get to read this – it certainly makes you think.

  • Rhyle

    We ALL need gorilla DNA. I lack that “knitted” look that a silverback has thanks to the back hair…

    Lol…think there may have been a bit of confusion between Stokie (Stoke Newington) and Stoke though! Bearing in mind what we’ve both posted over the last few…an easy mistake!

    Jayjay…can understand where you’re coming from but a lot of people identify themselves with the club and to change to it…well, it’s asking for trouble. Change the badge? Fine…but we’ll moan. Change the motto from Victoria Concordia Crescit to Forward? Again…there’ll be a bit of a whinge up. Move Stadium? Magic. Only a few naysayers didn’t like that. Move to a different city? Handbrake goes on! Even if we’d moved to Wembley, as Dein mooted or, if we’d waited to this point, the Olympic stadium…for me, Highbury, Stokie, Islington…is Arsenal. The club is the community and the community is very much the club. I hope you do get to a game – when you do walk down the Blackstock Road. Go in the cafes and restaurants and pubs…you’ll see what I mean. Repeat that the other side on the Holloway Road. Queue for a tube at Arsenal station…you’ll get it then.

  • Damien Luu

    @arsenal-steve: Oh, YOU will back Usmanov! Now that’s scary, really!

    @Rhyle: Sometimes, no, many many times it is not “what you pay is what you get”, especially in this foolish, crazy football world. Besides, do you know how much Arsenal had to pay for The Ox? Reported 12 mil, for such a young player. Now point me some morons who say Arsenal don’t have ambition or don’t invest into the team and I will kick the hell out of their asses.

    Arsenal don’t buy so-called established players or superstars who have ridiculous prices simply because their prices are ridiculous, not because we don’t have ambition. Tell you the truth, any player who costs more than 20 mil is ridiculous to me. And I mean any one, including Messi or whoever.

    We make our own superstars from the relatively unknown players and what to call it if not brilliance, huh?

  • Rhyle

    Using the six / seven examples of £10m+ players we’ve bought over the past 12 years (Henry would be the first, wouldn’t he?) does not mean we invest in these sort of players on a regular basis, Damien.

    When was the last time we made our own superstar? Arguably Wilshere will be (crosses fingers), and we certainly made Fabregas (although he was mooted as such waaaay before we paid Barca for him).

    Truth is, we’ve bought all of our players, and paid not inconsiderable for the vast majority of them, just far too many maybes rather than definitely ares, and created NO superstars in the past 5 years. Walcott? Not for me. Song? There’s a case to be made but I’m yet to be convinced he’s a SUPERstar. Nasri? Full French international before he came to us. RvP? Again, a great success and talent before he came to us but…ok, we DID take him from STAR to WORLD CLASS player.

    Any player costing over £20m is ridiculous? You’re living in ’99. When we’re paying distorted sums for mediocrity (and we have at times) it’s time to grow up a bit and acknowledge that, if we want to have world class players, we’ll have to pay for them. Hell…Shearer cost £15m in 1996…

  • Matt Clarke

    @Rhyle:
    (but just for the laugh)
    you have answered your own question!

    and…

    watch player prices fall (along with economies).

  • Rhyle

    Matt – amazingly, hope is never an argument. We’ll see if economies fall (they won’t…they never have…even Zimbabwe, which had inflation running in the thousands% at one point is recovering. That’s economies for you – they’ll do that, it’s a cyclical business. Transfer fees will only go one way too…if you want to get technical, inflation is the last club that central banks have in the bag to get out of the current level of debt (inflate it away – make the pound / euro / dollar they owe worth less than it currently is…make sense?). So if we see economies continue to struggle, the likelihood is we’ll see transfer fees GROW.

    The stars we’re making are too few and far between. That would be my point. We’re a good first XI. We have an average squad. We don’t buy superstars and we don’t make them any more. We gone from 5-2 at san-siro to 0-4. We’ve gone from Adams & Keown to Campbell & Toure to Koscielney & Vermaelen – few would argue that’s diminishing returns. We’ve gone from Anelka & Bergkamp to Henry & Bergkamp to RvP on his own. We’ve gone from Overmars & Parlour to Pires & Ljungberg to Walcott & Gervinho. We’ve gone from Winterburn & Dixon to Cole & Lauren to Clichy / Gibbs & Sagna. We’ve gone from Vieira & Petit to Vieira & Gilberto to Fabregas & Song to Song & Arteta. We’ve gone from Seaman to Lehmann to Almunia (I still can’t believe that one) to Chezzer…who again, I have great hope for but isn’t the world-class keeper he will be just yet…

    I hope that illustrates my point…that, because we haven’t kept pace with transfer fees we’ve seen diminishing quality within the first XI and the squad overall.

  • Rhyle

    To clarify – I am not one of those that wants us to spend fortunes but picking up two or three quality players in the spine of the team is common sense if you want to compete for trophies. Not win…TRY to win them. That’s what I want to see from us again. Anything else is not ambition.

    Build a solid spine and you’ll compete. You compete you’ll retain quality. Add one or two players (not necessarily in the superstar bracket but you’ll need to pick one up now and again) and you’ll stay there. It’s what Wenger did for the first TEN YEARS he was at the Arsenal and it worked. He changed and we stopped competing. Stick to what you do well, Arsene. The fans loved you for it…

  • Shard

    rhyle

    could you go back here and take a look at my last post, and bob’s subsequent posts addressed to you. I’d like to know your views on it.

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/21632/comment-page-2#comments

  • Mahdain

    great article Tony really puts some things into perspective.. One thing i dont understand is why people keep demanding spend,spend and spend even teams are dropping like flies due to bad management and spend,spend and spend… Apparently Rangers is not big enough for them

  • RobL

    @ Mahdain, because they don’t live in the real world or they divorce football in their minds from it. You can’t blame them as the £250K per week players, £85M transfer fees, and Billions pumped into clubs to buy leagues is so grotesque considering the wider world and millions of people wondering where the next meal will come from, and dreaming of clean water.

  • Rhyle

    Okay…had a nose and some good points. I hate getting hung up on Nasri (and I know I brought him up) but his mugging and crowing since the end of the season, along with Cole’s does niggle.

    I also agree that in the first one or two seasons at the Emirates we were having to service serious amounts of debt. We’re now at manageable levels and could, in fact, take out more with the strength of our balance sheet over the last 3 years of so. And there in lies the rub. The club have CONSISTENTLY stated that there is money for Arsene to spend, should he choose to do so, including on a “£30m player” within our sustainable model. I didn’t say – it’s been said by PHW and IG, I seem to recall. I’ve been patient with Wenger – his record demands it but, for me, he’s run out of excuses for the quality of the squad and our failure to compete. It is a factor to be considered in the early days but has not been one for the last few years…again, Swiss Ramble’s insights into this are far more detailed than my own and I don’t think you’d appreciate me rambling on about economic theory. It doesn’t seem to have met with much approval so far…lol…

    Bob’s comments…firstly Boro Primorac was never at Marseille. He was at Valenciennes at the time of the controversy but spoke out and was ostracised by many in the game, bar Wenger who took him to Grampus Eight but well aware of the ill feeling between the guy and BP. It’s a consideration, for sure – and would explain the reasons for him being a driving force in his decision in the same way that Darren Dein has been a factor in players leaving the Arsenal in recent years, too. As for the media? Agreed – they are the first to try to feast when they spot a dying animal. Doesn’t make them wrong. Just makes them irresponsible and a little too vicious in how they go about it. I’m amazed you’re so emotional about how we’re portrayed in the press – let’s face it, we’re known worldwide for the “quality” of our press. In fact, outside of watching footballers preening on Twitter, watching the Leveson Enquiry is the next best place to watch self absorbed, priveleged people bleat about how hard they have it…

    Arsene out last year? I was nearly there after the mismanagement of the summers dealings. This year? I’m not getting involved in protests or anything of that ilk, and, although I’m honestly of the opinion that he may not be able to take us forward I do want to see our transfer dealings before passing judgement. I’ve not called for him to be sacked yet…well, not since an emotional outburst post 8-2 but I don’t think I was alone in that…Football’s an emotional, passionate business and there will be two sides to the coin. I’ve not called anyone an idiot on here for believing in Wenger – that’s fine, I just don’t agree with you…I just hate it when people get on their high horse with me because my opinion differs to their own.

    I do consider all factors but will discuss the ones, as you do, that are what I believe to be the most important factors, most pertinent. This does not mean dismissing them…but often means not addressing them. The fact that I don’t does not mean that I’m ignorant of them.

    The great thing about the net is that we all get to play. Le Grove has their corner, you have yours. They have the AKB thing which has been twisted over time – I wouldn’t use the term (and haven’t) to describe someone who can make a passionate argument in favour of Wenger but to describe (as was intended) someone who’s only argument in favour of Wenger is “Arsene Knows”…hence AKB…and you have AAA, which again I think needs refining to those who wish bad things on the Arsenal to prove their ill conceived opinion that Wenger / the Board / Kroenke / Gazidis / whatever needs to change.

    I’ll be honest – because you don’t agree with me I’ve enjoyed the last week or two on here. When it’s been sensible (and I hold my hands up to helping it get…carried away…at times) it’s been more stimulating having to justify my stance, back up my opinion and be presented with (sometimes!) well defined arguments against me. Surely, everyone sitting around agreeing about how right they all are is the stuff of nightmares?!

  • Rhyle

    Let’s not get confused about people asking the club to spend BETTER and people asking the club to SPEND either, please!

    Saying we should pay those at the bottom of the pay scale less so we can pay those at the top more is not a bad thing. Asking us to behave realistically in terms of the transfer market is also not a bad thing.

    Expecting £40m for Fabregas is fine – as long as you’re willing to pay the same to replace him with someone you deem to have equal quality. If you can get away with paying £10m for someone almost of an equal quality, as we did for a 29 year old Arteta (something we’d never done before) is fine, though…but appreciate it’s a stop gap solution, not a long term one. When was the last time you saw us with a 33 year old CM?!

  • Shard

    rhyle

    You still made no mention of the one factor I was really looking forward to hear your take on. REFEREES.. And all that entails.

    Plus, about the media. I think you either ignored the coverage, or got caught up in it with your emotions, but the press that Arsenal have received over the past year and a half, has been unprecedented in sport. Terms like ‘rictus grin’ , ‘wrinkliest swinger’ and ‘smacked between the eyes’ spoken for the manager. I don’t have to tell you, those have pretty morbid connotations. And those are only some of the ‘highlights’.

    The board do say there’s money to spend. Do YOU of all people, believe everything the board say? They can’t say anything else anyway. Besides, having money to spend, and when to best spend it is at best a judgment call. You can argue this, that Wenger’s judgment was wrong. Fair enough. That’s your belief. I argue that it remains to be seen, because we don’t know the details of it.

    What I do know is that Arsene Wenger wants to win, and wants the best for the club. in BOTH the short term, and the long term. He doesn’t have to bother with the long term because he won’t be around for most of it. But he does.. Because that’s part of his job and how he sees it. It’s a pity more managers don’t and that this seems somehow to be strange or a bad thing.

    Also, I firmly disagree with the suggestion that Arsenal don’t have ambition. As Gazidis pointed out. The stadium move showed ambition. During the move the scenario changed, leaving us pretty much where we began. Which left us on an extended period of chasing that ambition. Exactly as we have been doing. Buying a 30m player shows ambition to win the title. NOT buying a 30m player when it entails risking your club’s long term future, shows ambition to be the best club in the world.

    I know terms like selling the future have become popular amongst those who do not believe in what Arsenal are trying to achieve. That’s by the by. No one can predict what will happen. The point is..this is what Arsenal are trying to achieve..And in world football, as far as I know, there is nothing more ambitious than that.

  • Matt Clarke

    @Shard:
    Spot on.

  • Rhyle

    Refereeing…ok…sorry, I was bound to miss something in my rantings…

    My opinion is that refereeing standards have deteriorated hugely over the last few years, but I can’t buy in to it being a conspiracy against Arsenal as some do, with a couple of notable exceptions! Let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan of Phil Dowd or Mike Dean, but we’re not alone in moaning about them – I think half of the PL think they hate them! The standard of refereeing is a problem across Europe – when was the last time you saw someone run a game in the manner of Collina? It needs addressing – but would you want to do the job under the scrutiny, both from UEFA, the teams / managers, the fans – both at the games, through the press and online? I won’t go so far as to say I pity them…they put themselves in the firing in line, same as anyone involved in the game, but bejesus if isn’t a tough job. We also had the same in the early 2000’s with that ginger tosser and still managed to compete – it’s nothing new under Wenger!

    I also don’t think it’s unprecedented – see the treatment of any England manager, Dalglish recently, Rafa Benitez…god, I sound like a Liverpool fan…Keegan when he was at Newcastle,(post “I’d love it” rant)…they’re vermin…scavengers…quick to pounce when they spot weakness. Again…don’t view it as right, just don’t feel it impacts on how the clubs run which is what I take exception to in places.

    I don’t have to believe the board that there’s money to be spent – I can see the cash on the balance sheet. We have A LOT. And have considerable sums to invest in the squad without risking our sustainable model. The board acknowledge that, Wenger is obviously loathe to as it contradicts his stance and willingness to “make superstars rather than buy them”.

    The move to the stadium was ambitious. The rhetoric coming from Wenger vis a vis our league competitiveness and failures show that his ambition is CL qualification…that doesn’t fit with the reasons behind our move to the new stadium – which was exactly to compete with the biggest clubs in the world. Yes, the world moved on with regards to billionaire owners…but I don’t believe we need to spend fortunes to keep up. Just fix some obvious defencies in the starting XI and squad (which I’ve documented previously elsewhere). The facts – the known knowns – remain the same – the board and balance sheet show that we have money to spend. Importantly – I don’t expect to win trophies, and I certainly don’t want us to mortgage the future of the club in order to do so, but we’re far from competing. One of my original points when I started posting here was that winning isn’t everything – trying to win is. That’s about attitude and ambition. Accepting a “fourth place trophy” is not ambitious. Finishing fourth after making a real fight of trying to win the league IS.

  • Shard

    Then by that token 2010-11 was a real success. We tried for all four trophies.. and ran close in the league till the end. Also, as I said, 2007-08 puts paid to your contention that our standards have constantly declined since 2005. Unless of course you want to dispute the worth of that team.

    I won’t challenge you about referees. There is plenty to suggest, conspiracy or not, the refereeing follows a strange pattern. It’s just hidden behind the universal crapness. And I think that’s by design. You’ll find a lot of that documented on this site if you care to look. But if you don’t want to be convinced nothing can convince you, so I’ll let it go. Just wanted to know where you stood on it because it is a factor which goes some way towards explaining where we end up. I guess your world view on Arsenal tends to ignore that for the most part. Mine, unfortunately, doesn’t. Innocence lost and all that.

  • Stuart

    It’s so sad that people think supporting a team means demanding trophies. What do trophies mean anyway?? It’s nothing to the fans really. When Arsenal won the league, I didn’t win it, I just witnessed it happen, it’s the players who worked for it, training hard and playing at 100%, they won it and it’s their reward, we just paid to watch it. That is the reality of it deep down. If a club changes it’s colours, it’s not really a biggie, it’s ridiculous that football has got into a state where this is worth doing for commercial reasons but it is also petty to worry about the change of colour and not the damage being done by these wealthy new owners.

  • Stuart

    Rhyle

    When you bring up Swiss Ramble, I assume you also take note that he says Arsenal are working on a break even basis every season.

  • Rhyle

    And…as I said, I didn’t have a problem with Wenger at the end of last season. It was a gallant attempt which laid bear the implications of underspending…the “what if we’d bought a bit of quality cover here or here”…if’s and but’s though and all that…but if we’d loosened the purse strings juuuuuust a little bit…heh…

    It’s not that I’m not here to be convinced. I do have an open mind and have no interest in fighting for the sake of it – I’ve been known to change my mind in the face of overwhelming evidence. Give me some reading. I’m an insomniac so anything interesting is always welcome.

  • Rhyle

    Stuart – That’s right, although worth bearing in mind that the annual break-even position is distorted by…you guessed it…the hefty, ill distributed wage bill I’ve been banging about, but you’re quite right. Get rid of some of the dross in the squad, trimming the 80 or so pro’s we have on the board (as we seem to be doing this year…at last…) and we could make more of a P on the P&L. This doesn’t change our cash position. Beef up our commercial deals and now you’re talking – although we’d need to maintain our current position as a top-notch draw if we’re to make any meaningful dents here…

    Swiss Ramble also states that our balance sheet is strong enough for us to take on more debt if we wished to. Not that I’d advocate that…

    As for your former post – as a lifelong Arsenal fan – I do feel part of their success. I’m a grown man and it’s sad, I know, but pals and work colleagues congratulate me when we do well and rip the pish out of me when we don’t. Don’t ruin it for me by being too honest about it!

    Of all the things discussed…changing the colour of the kit affects me least of all. I remember the uproar when we chose a white away kit…and laughed because my dad always told me about the old white away kit in the ’60’s…

    As long as we play in North London and retain the name Arsenal (in some form…I could live with Royal Arsenal coming back…I’ll wait for it with baited breath, obviously!) I’d be fine with whatever else changes. ‘Course there’s always that thing I haven’t thought about that they go and change and I go MENTAL. I’m an emotional man, y’know…

  • Rhyle

    …didn’t have a HUGE problem with Wenger…honestly…it’s like I go word blind occasionally…

  • Stuart

    I suppose you could say if it came down to colours for you, you wouldn’t be supporting Arsenal next season with the new kit looking a bit Man Utd (ish)

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Rhyle’s often ramblings and musings are interspersed with occasional valid reasoning and I can only make the comparison of Frasier in “Frasier” the show who waffles on under the pretention that his aura and beliefs supercede that of anyone else who enters into conversation with him.

    Although lets face it, Frasier does make you laugh!

  • Rhyle

    Jacobite…I’ll take “occasional valid reasoning” over some of the other things that’ve been said of me on here..! As for the Frasier comparison…one of the best back-handed compliments I’ve ever been given…

    Stuart…who are you addressing there?

  • Stuart

    Rhyle,

    Just responding to the article and anyone in the convo in general.

  • Jacobite Gunner

    “The board acknowledge that, Wenger is obviously loathe to as it contradicts his stance and willingness to “make superstars rather than buy them”.”

    Now Rhyle, you believe that your paraphrasing Wenger here to make a point however it was actually Gazidis who said this. Is this another Frasier moment your having?

  • Jacobite Gunner

    No bother Rhyle, may call you frasier now on…

    keep it up!

  • Rhyle

    Fair enough…I’ve actually seen a few complain about it as being too similar to Man Utd’s…as if we’re taking their cast-offs in terms of kit design from Nike. Another conspiracy theory I’m not buying into! You’re never going to please everybody with regards to kit design…just ask anyone who bought the away kit between 91 & 93…

    I like it. The two kids who are old enough to buy kits for like it too. That’s good enough for me.

  • Rhyle

    Gotta be honest with you Jacobite, and say that I don’t remember who said apart from Jayjay earlier. There was a bit of a discussion about it…wasn’t implying that Wenger said it as I couldn’t be sure…but the point remains the same…

  • Adam

    Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

    The Bayer company became part of IG Farben, a German chemical company conglomerate. During World War II, the IG Farben used slave labor in factories attached to large slave labor camps, notably the sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. IG Farben owned 42.5% of the company that manufactured Zyklon B, a chemical used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and other extermination camps. After World War II, the Allies broke up IG Farben and Bayer reappeared as an individual business. The Bayer executive Fritz ter Meer, sentenced to seven years in prison by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, was made head of the supervisory board of Bayer in 1956, after his release.
    (This is a link to the above http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer_AG )

    Im suprised this side has any supporters left.

  • Stuart

    I’ve never associated red white and black to Arsenal but I have to Man U even though they have not always had the black component. Strange how but that is just the case.

  • Rhyle

    It’s not black – it’s navy blue.

  • Stuart

    Is it? Thought it was black, looks it. I should have a proper look then.

  • Rhyle

    That’s what I meant when I said looks better in the flesh…it does look black in the photo’s.

  • Arvind

    I actually read through every comment today; which is not something I’ve done in the last month. Largely due to too many idiots(yes forgive me) coming on and taking off on a tangent.

    This post and its comments made for a lot of good reading though. I’d like to chip in with my perspective.

    To answer the root question, of “how far would you go if trophies were guaranteed”…there’s 2 things:
    a) Trophies aren’t guaranteed
    b) You need to look back why you like football

    So a) means… you can change the manager, the team, the ground, the business structure, the board and all the 999 things that make up a football club and still not be guaranteed a thing. So you have to then think….Of the 999 things, what ALL are worth sacrificing to try and attain a goal which in this cases is a PL trophy or maybe maybe a CL trophy. That’s what each one has to do..and its different for each. Its very similar to life really. Would you give up a nice job which pays you reasonably well and where you have a fantastic work culture and great friends…..for a much higher paying job but with more stress and a greater possibility to be at the top? You decide. There isn’t ONE answer. You decide what YOU can give up and what you can’t. That list is different for each again.

    And then after rambling on “generally” what would I do? Well…sitting way across the world in India means the color, the stadium, the roads, the pubs, the daily banter, the weather… and everything I missed here will NOT mean as much as it would to someone who has, say, lived in Islington for generations. It cannot. It is illogical to think it should. Yes…it’d be nice for me to know about the history of AFC and everything about it, but that will be just a hobby; not a MUST for me.

    Why do I love football? For me when I watch Barcelona play or Arsenal at times…I forget what is happening around me. It is the display of skill…something done as well as possible…and where a number of parts working perfectly together in unison, try and create something great. I think football offers a lot of that. The chance to be like a perfectly well oiled fine tuned machine. And so I watch it.

    And Arsenal for me..have done that over the last decade..which is when I started supporting them. The football they played in 07-08 for example before Tiny Taylor crocked Eduardo was mesmeric. Yes at times, we are ponderous, we make awful blunders, we have our share of flops but largely..we try and play good football. And we try and do it the right way off the field. We try and behave well on transfers(AFAIK), we are respectful to our players and opponents, our players dive far lesser than the rest, we have a wonderfully articulate manager who is much wiser than the rest and whom it is a pleasure to listen to, we’ve tried to truly truly “build” success. So for me… those are big aims. Maybe we will not succeed and never win a trophy for the next 10 years. I couldn’t give a damn. I’d love it if we won, but if we don’t I couldn’t be less bothered.

    The day though, we lose our class, rant publicly, dive more, behave disrespectfully to people all around…or be proven to have been corrupt….that is it for me. Football will then become one more thing that I “just” watch. That is it. The day I give up supporting Arsenal…is the day football becomes just another “thing”. I could write on, but no one would read so I will stop here : )

  • Neutral

    Even though things have changed a little bit now, still you never know. Teams like Chelsea and Man City have given rise to a number of supporters all around the world who demand their team to spend crazily and buy expensive players. But does anyone remember the case of Sunderland back in 1953-54 season?. That season they were dubbed as the “Bank of England Club”.Nine players arrived for a total fee of £70,000. These included Jimmy Cowan from Morton (£8,000), Ray Daniel from Arsenal (£27,000) and Billy Elliott from Burnley (£26,000). It was believed that these three players alongside the current stars would end the bad days at Roker. Other players signed included Joe McDonald from Falkirk and Ken Chisholm from Cardiff.
    Many clubs were becoming envious of Sunderland and the club became the target of abuse from others who were saying that Sunderland’s financial spending was too excessive and harmful to the game. Every team throughout the country wanted to beat Sunderland – similar to Liverpool 70’s 80’s and Manchester United 90’s 00’s.
    Amazingly Sunderland lost 4 of their 5 opening games. They had no problem scoring but couldn’t stop conceding goals as well. After 10 games Sunderland had just 7 points from a possible 20. Another three defeats followed, including a hammering by Preston 6-2 and the lads were bottom of the table. Trevor Ford was sold to Cardiff for a fee of £30,000.
    Stories from older supporters suggested that Ford and Shackleton struggled to get on with each other and this caused a rift within the team. Not put off by signing players Sunderland purchased Ted Purdon from Birmingham for a fee of £15,000. Sunderland escaped relegation by the smallest of margins by drawing 0-0 away to Middlesbrough, beating Sheffield United 3-1 and Burnley 2-1 in their last three games of the season. Other teams around them failed to pick up enough points and Sunderland were safe.
    As it turned out, Sunderland made a comeback of sorts the following year finishing in fourth position one point ahead of Manchester United but the revival was short lived. The club was relegated to the second division in 1957-58.
    Now like i said before things have changed a bit. I don’t expect Teams like Man city, chelsea, psg etc to get relegated. But i expect and want them to get bankrupt and end up like rangers. Because the way football is moving right now its wrong. And it’s affecting the minds of young football supporters. They will grow up supporting the team which will spend most and will win most trophies, and not support teams with rich history just because they will be finding it hard to compete with the teams with rich owners.

  • Neutral – thanks for that. If we had an award for post of the week (rather than Oik of the week) I’d give it to you.

    I like to think I know my football history (what with being chair of the Arsenal History Society and all) but I didn’t know the Sunderland story you have given us. Many thanks indeed.

  • Neutral

    Thank you Tony. It’s always a pleasure visiting your blog.

  • Stan Streason

    You all seem like a reasonably intelligent crowd so may I make a few comments from a Chelsea perspective.

    Being a football supporter is bloody tough. A few seasons ago when we were competing for the title, every game was a potential nightmare to watch, the consequences of losing were so high. You must have had similar feelings during your unbeaten season when the result means everything. This season, us being so poor, actually made going to games more enjoyable, we could enjoy the game, the atmosphere, everything we love about football (even if the quality of our football was often rank).

    As Chelsea supporters, we have probably the best owner in the world. He has saved our club, built an infrastructure and given us players and trophies that I could never of dreamed of when growing up. No matter whatever you say I do not believe a single word of anyone saying they would prefer not to have been through our last 10 years as long as it had been their club instead.

    Yes, at the beginning it may be better to opt for Arsenals security against our roller-coaster – but with hindsight? Why we are so lucky is that our owner has turned into a fan. He is more involved 10 years on than ever. People keep hoping he will get bored but that’s just not going to happen now. Roman’s son was crying with tears of joy in Munich. Not much can do that for you when you have everything in the world. Get bored and give it up? I doubt it.

    As a Chelsea supporter I look at some comments made by Arsenal fans and, to be honest, they are a bit “up themselves” in the level of pretentiousness. There is a place for homely, well run, community clubs. They may even be quite big but you cannot send a man out to fight in a winner-takes-all contest with only a copy of the Queensbury Rules when every other opponent has a vast array of guns and knives. Not in the real world.

    Spending money does not guarantee success but it does reduce those odds a hell of a lot compared to not spending it.

  • Rhyle

    Stan – bringing a knife to a gun fight is a great analogy for it, although I don’t think we need to spend fortunes…

    One thing I will agree with you on – the worse things got last season, the more under the kosh we were put in terms of results, the loader the fans in the ground. I had three of the greatest days of football at the Emirates last season. In fact, I’d say the last 10 mins reversal v Man Utd is the only time the three of them have been bettered. Library? Forget it – last season saw the Emirates rocking.

    v Leeds – Henry’s goal
    v Spurs – 2-0 down, 5-2 up
    v Man City

    Awesome days…

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Stan Stearson,
    Thanks for sharing your view with us, we did bedsitter in the league armed with just the queensbury rules we performed better than the ‘jaggernaut’ that is Chelsea.
    That’s it.

  • Ugandan Goon

    better somehow became bedsitter, hmmm.

  • Stan Streason

    I really havent come on here to wind people up. Honest. But 10 trophies in the last 9 seasons and it is only this last one that Arsenal came above us in the league.

    Perceived wisdom is that a stable manager brings long term rewards but in UK that is based on an example of just one. We should be bad, chopping and changing but over 10 years the trophy cabinet says otherwise.

    Also somewhat surprisingly, the mercenaries who only come to Chelsea for the money seem no less loyal to the club than anyone else’s players, even after they leave. Vialli and Di-Matteo both are season ticket holders, Gullit, Zola and Dessailly all refer to the club as “we”.

    All I am trying to say is that rich owner is not necessarily a bad thing and their willingness to spend their own money just brings joy to the fans. Would I rather have an owner who puts £100m in each year of ones who take £400m out like the Glazers?

  • Stuart

    Stan
    Is Abramovich actually SPENDING his own money or is it loaned to Chelsea and will need to be paid back at some point?

    If the latter, it is really Chelsea future being spent / mortgaged I would think.

  • Stan Streason

    Most of the estimated £1bn he has spent (which includes the buying of the shares, the paying back of existing debt in the club and the purchase and building the training ground from scratch, has been capitalised so does not have to be paid back. Offhand I think the latest £90m is still in debt because he hasn’t got around to the paperwork. That’s the sort of thing you would do every couple of years or so as necessary. Trouble is the financial info is so far out of date. We only have info up till the end of 10/11 season – its over a year out of date