F.A. Forget To Bolt The Stable Door, plus teams, and the incredible Untold Rumours.

The F.A. Forget To Bolt The Stable Door……Again.

Simon Bailey.

The fact that the Champions League is fast becoming the only prize worth having in club football has not escaped Michel Platini or UEFA. Staging this round over four weeks so as to maximise TV income is a clever move evidenced by the greater income 100million and higher prize money 75 million.

That means more prize money for each match, round, etc for the teams involved.

On the surface and from our point of view, that may seem ok. The prestige of playing in the competition, beating well known and respected European teams, making your fans happy and, and, making pot loads of money while your doing it. That’s almost as good as it gets, unless you get into the final or even win it.

It’s true that every team really wants to win it, but just competing in it and progressing even to this stage is hugely financially rewarding. For as long as the D and G brigade can remember, there have only really been four English clubs who get to play in it. So year after year this income has come into United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Ourselves.

For such a long time, Chelsea have been so swimming in the filthy lucre that the Champions League money just represents a smaller loss on their meaningless yearly accounts.

For Liverpool and United, especially United, the money has helped them pay interest on loans that they never needed to have taken out in the first place. Players were also traded, and the Brands remained strong, but the ledgers tell the true story.

For us, player development and stadium development meant that all the cash we earned was well and truly accounted for. We also traded players and did rather well, thank you. What we didn’t spend the money on was servicing idiotic loans.

Arsene Wenger and the board correctly predicted the need to run the club prudently, and having made a series of excellent decisions.  So we find ouselves uniquely placed to face UEFAs new rules concerning finance and there we are, playing in the competition every year, spending the money wisely, and hence shaping up nicely for the rule change.

But a little scratching of the surface and it’s plain that all’s not well. The simple fact that the ‘top four’ are always in it makes it seem like its because they’re in it that they are always top four, and that the millions they earn from it keep them in the top four and then in the CL  Etc. Etc. Etc.

For Chelsea this is not the case. Several suitcases stuffed with Roubles has propelled and kept them there. I would also argue that what has kept us in contention every year is the aforementioned Arsene Wenger. The stadium is a relatively new thing and it only requires income from one in four competitions.

Liverpool and United have definitely profited from their constant appearance in Europe. The money has been vital in sustaining their crumbling empires but  for all four clubs,  the money  represents at most 12% of their total income.

Ahh, cry the FA, it’s only 12% because you are all so rich and earn so much anyway, it would mean much more to a non top four club.

So despite the obvious, the FA have suggested that it might be a good idea to auction the fourth qualifying place into the CL. The top three will get automatic qualification into the big money matches and the next four will fight it out for a chance to fight it out for a chance to get into the big money matches.

Despite an already crammed fixture list, the FA is proposing that these teams squeeze in another 2 or 3 matches. A cynic would point out the extra TV revenue. Is it the 39th match in a different disguise? A cynic would also point out that of all the clubs represented, only the top four thought that this wasn’t a great idea.

If the FA want the EPL to retain its place at the pinnacle world club football, it should consider that the reason we have four spots is that as a country we generally do quite well. The reason we do so well is that the best four teams, measured over a 38 week period qualify. We don’t send the best three and one other because, as Everton found to their chagrin, actually qualifying from that position is not easy.

It seems fairly obvious that the best four teams should qualify. But the FA want to spread the wealth around and it appears that this is the way they plan to do it.

So, in order for them even to consider this idea, the FA have to believe that:

  1. United and Liverpool won’t slip down the table because of financial mis-management.   And…
  2. They along with Chelsea will pass the new financial tests being brought in by UEFA.   And…
  3. That no other team will ever claim fourth spot for the foreseeable future.

If United or Liverpool or Chelsea, or any other club in the first seven don’t pass the financial rules and if City or the Spuds make it into fourth, the monopoly will be broken.

As an Arsenal fan, it’s all good. The proposed FA and UEFA qualifying criteria, coupled with impending financial disaster ensure that we are unique in the top four as far as qualifying is concerned. It looks like outside forces  will conspire to make the proposed 4th place auction look a bit like bolting the stable door after the horse has fled.

UNTOLD RUMOURS by Algenon Fitzgibbon-Beater, (followed by the teams)

People living in the vicinity of Very Old Trafford have complained about the noise – not the supporters that is, but the music played in the build up to the game.

Eight pieces of music were played so loud that they breached health and safety regulations.  The Health and Safety Executive described the music as “excessively strident”.

Manchester United said that the game in question had many “silent patches” so the music at half time seemed louder.


A court has issued an arrest warrant for Sulaiman al Fahim of Portsmouth by the sea, for failing to pay a debt of more than 8 million Flavian Pobble Beads.

An investor from Azerbaijan (actually this might well be true and not a rumour) demanded the dosh after Mr al Fahim’s company failed to build some buildings.

The Court ordered the Saviour of Pompey to pay $2.3m plus interest at a rate of 9% a day.  The defendant said, “everyone else is doing it, and Arry said it was ok.”


Billy the Dog

Hoyte the Younger, Eastmond, Westmond, Hoyte the Even Younger

Cesc, Cesc, Cesc

Sheikh Yerbooty, Sulaiman al Fahim, Sheikh Yermoney

  • Wind: definitely
  • Air pressure: very heavy
  • Hedgehog: Yes
  • Image rights: Try telling that to the Revenue and see what they say.


(and I really wish you would pay attention)

Billy the Dog in Porto: a pre-match special unlike any other

We’re slowly solving the question of Arsenal’s reserves at the start of the 20th century Read the latest

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury and not somewhere else?

Making the Arsenal. The story of how the modern Arsenal was made.  A must for every Arsenal fan with a sense of humour.

From Man U to Mansfield – how football is falling apart and what three guys have done to stop it.  Read here.

Untold Rumours appear after every article except when it doesn’t.

31 Replies to “F.A. Forget To Bolt The Stable Door, plus teams, and the incredible Untold Rumours.”

  1. Just me being a conspiry theorist…. Who is fighting for fourth this year? If Arsenal were would the FA intro this?

  2. I used to work with The Centre for Global Energy Studies and one of their principal founders was actually called ‘Sheik Yamani’. No joke.

    I’m hoping for big things from Cesc tonight. Since his amazing cameo when he last got injured he has not really taken a game by the scruff of the neck in the way Gerrard/Drogba/Rooney do on the big occasions. We’ve seen glimpses and we know he can do it but he still hasn’t shown his very best on the big stages enough.

    I am still scratching my head and wondering quite how Man Utd get so much luck. Both Ferdinand and Rooney could/should have been sent off last night.

    Still they were once again alarmingly direct and incisive.

    2-1 to the Arse.

  3. About a month ago, or maybe less (time is moveable as you get older) I wrote a piece in which I said something like this…

    “There is no top 4, there is a top 3 of Arsenal, Man IOU and the KGB in Fulham.

    Below that there is a rotating four, of Liverpool Insolvency, Man Arab, Aston Hold Your Head and the Tiny Totts (at least this year).

    It looks as if the Idiots In Chief have taken my jottings once again and decided to act upon them. What they haven’t yet said is how this affects the Wonderful Europa League. Does this play off scheme have any impact on the Euro League placement/s?

    And Jonny – both the Sheikhs are, I think, real. Frank Zappa did an album named after one of them, and a song for the other, although for the moment, what with it being late afternoon, I can’t remember which was which.

    I thought my line up was quite powerful.

  4. Great article Simon
    By the look of the 180 odd comments on Sky Sports web site to this story, it seems most people think it is a ridiculous idea, and I also agree. I’m most convinced by the simple argument that it just cannot be fair that a 7th placed club – that could have 20odd points less than the 4th placed club, could have the CL place if they won a play-off. We already have play-off’s for the CL anyway. They take place between all clubs and each one has to play 38 games to decide the winners.
    If the Premier league is sincere in it’s wish to make the EPL more competitive, then it has to do this by regulating clubs spending on wages, such as a salary cap. In a theoretical world, If the EPL legislated that players could not earn more than £20,000 per week (still near £1m a year wages), then I would bet that the spread of top players would filter across many more clubs as the Joe Coles and Shaun Wright-Phillips of this world would no longer be able to justify sitting on a bench for 3 years of their football careers, as they have both done at Chelsea. We are starting to see the effects of years of inflated wages – in plain evidence now as clubs at all levels are abandoning reserve teams like there’s no tomorrow simply because they cannot afford to have many players on their books. This can only be bad for the English game in general as there will be less and less opportunities for good young players to make it.
    It’s all well and good Arsenal having a great youth set-up, but what good will it be when there’s no one left to play

  5. A very unpopular idea will, as a matter of course, be doomed to failure. They came up with this idea in case Liverpool fails to clinch 4th spot. An unfair way to decide an important position.

  6. When Arsenal were fourth I would never have given credence to such a stupid plan. But in my own defence I have never once said on this blog that I claim to be either logical or consistent.

    Anyway Lord Wenger has chosen again to ignore my team selection and has gone for

    21-Lukasz Fabianski;
    3-Bacary Sagna, 31-Sol Campbell, 5-Thomas Vermaelen, 22-Gael Clichy;
    2-Abou Diaby, 15-Denilson, 4-Cesc Fabregas;
    7-Tomas Rosicky, 52-Nicklas Bendtner, 8-Samir Nasri.

    I thought my midfield choice of Cesc and two Cesc clones was stronger, but what do I know.

    Did you know that there are no FA rules against the use of cloned players in league matches?

  7. Just back from the Emirates… was lucky enough to get an invite to ask Tony Adams a question for a new ATVO show… an audience with

    WOW – an afternoon all those who attended will never forget.. and an afternoon full of startlingly honest and expansive chat from TA6

    i assure you, a lot of what he spoke will not make the final edit!!

    i am still gobsmacked with the underlying anti arsene stance he took

    going to settle down and watch the porto game.. but i will put up a full report of this afternoon on my blog later tonight.

    amazed with some of the stuff Big tone came out with… he certainly loves the club.. but he has 100% lost faith in wenger!!


  8. ugh…awful mistakes…versus a team that played hack-a-cesc. and my word, that hulk sure goes down easy for a big guy!

    walter, what did you make of martin hanson? (I was watching a spanish channel, so I have no idea what the commentators made of him, and that decision in particular…)

  9. I’m no Walter but I think I just witnessed one of the worst performance of a “top” European piece of refereeing in my life.

    I could’ve seen Rosicky’s being blatantly fouled in the pen from Jupiter. And it’s not only this decision either, almost everything he did was wrong.

    But we got bossed about in the 2nd half.

    In 3 weeks the team will have to teach them how to really play like a top class team.

  10. well, at least we got the away goal.

    poor lucasz…i think the poor guy’s confidence is shot. i hope he isn’t an internet addict as the knives are out.

    i don’t think anybody on the pitch (both sides and the ref and linesmen) turned up roses today.

    good night (or morning) to you all.

  11. plenty of positives.

    just seen arsene on itv, what a gentleman, ‘the first we got beaten, the second was unfortunate’

    two goalkeeper bloopers versus a stunning header form sol. an away goal which is priceless.

    rotational fouling rears its ugly head once more. before half time they flashed a stat that he had been fouled 5 times, must have been double that by the end of the match. he was pissed off at half time, and completely cracked by full time. he was spittng feathers.

    the turning point was the rosicky penalty non decision. its fair to say that we wouldnt have conceded the second in the same fashion had the penalty been awarded.

    the return leg will be a different matter. touch wood arsene will have a bigger squad to choose from, home advantage, an away goal and hopefully a ref that hasnt completely lost the run of himself.

  12. Hopefully in the cold light of day Arsene will realise that at the highest level you need a top keeper and strikers.Almunia is poor but flappyanski cannot do the basics unfortunately.Time to be ruthless or accept we will never take the next step.The choice is Arsenes,i just hope he makes the right one for next season.

  13. Diceman, what’s the weather like on Jupiter. It’s a bit nippy here in the Midlands.

    Now, after 90+ minutes of fouling and kicking, we have to start wondering who the hell will be fit for the game on saturday.

    Are we allowed to draft in any of the ladies team?

  14. I have just sent my comments on the second goal to Tony.
    I will go to bed now and relive the nightmare again and again….

    If Tony let’s you read it you will find out how big the mess was by the ref.

    Let me tell you that the ref ignored a few basic ref rules…. and again in the CL….

    Hello Platini ? Feeling happy ?

  15. I’d love to hear what Walter made of the ref’s decision to take the ball from Lukasz and hand it to the Porto player and then allow the quick free kick.

  16. Well, that performance shut me up about our need to buy a good goalkeeper. Mea culpa, fellas.

    And Simon, the other thing that CL football brings is the ability to attract a higher quality of player. You look at Man City’s difficulties in attracting top players (Kaka, Eto’o) and the reason those types of players won’t go to Man City is the lack of prestige and lack of Champions League football. The first of these can be overcome by more money. The second can only be overcome by Champions League football. Ask Chamakh whether he’d go to Arsenal for £50k a week or to Man City for £100,000 a week, and he’d probably opt for Arsenal because of the Champions League.

  17. Interesting game……..in all the wrong ways.

    Its not D and G, but………

    I can tell you now Fabregas is on his way out.
    He looked like someone going through the motions, and his post match comments were a bit of a giveaway. In case you missed them, he said the team were soft and the errors schoolboy.

    Farewell Fab…..the grass isn’t always greener though.

    We will definitely get a decent goalkeeper in the summer……I’d put money on that.

    And I have to say this, Clichy is a weak link…….roll on Gibbs….

    my feelings re the future……lukewarm.

    It can’t be good to lose Fabregas.

  18. How on earth did the Premier League contrive to make 4th place the most important position in the league?
    Frankly, it’s no more ridiculous incorporating the 7th team into the bloated ‘Champions’ League than the 4th team.
    It all rewards mediocrity.

  19. i think denilson is better free kick taker than fab….if u r playing him he shud take some of the freekicks and corners…

  20. Eureka!
    Ever get that feeling?
    I know where this ‘play-off’ thing is going.

    Look, no one at Sky, in the Bore Four or UEFA want a Fulham or Wigan to qualify, which they could do if there was a play-off.
    The monopoly, and carving up of the pie, has to be maintained.

    So……..put it in the minds of all concerned that this might happen……..and……..eventually someone (probably from Liverpool or Arsenal) will come up with the ‘idea’ of……wait for it, wait for it……..making it a Bore Five instead of a Bore Four.
    After all, in the ultra-competitive Premiership what could reward such ultra-competitiveness more?

    And, of course, that Bore Five won’t always be the current Bore Four and Man. City.

    Tell me I’m wrong!!!!

  21. Here is another conspiracy theory:

    FA is finally bowing to pressure from UEFA to trim Premiership down to 18 teams in line with other European leagues.

    As 16 teams voted yea and 4 teams nay, a compromise solution is reached to placate the Big-4:

    1 – Prem league is reduced to 19 teams, starting in 2011/12 season. 17th Position (Prem) team with fight it out with Championship 3rd, 4th & 5th for the 19th slot in prem league.

    2 – 2012/13 season: 17th, 18th & 19th relegated. 16th position (Prem) team will fight it out with CHampionship 3rd, 4th & 5th for the 18th slot in prem league.

    3 – 2013/14 season: Back to normal with 3 teams down and 3 teams up in a 18-team prem league. Start of that playoff of 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th position for CL Cup last slot.

    I am pretty sure there will be plenty fo trade-offs to obtain UEFA approval as well.
    Best trade-off is to reduce the prem league to 18 teams.

  22. ‘Don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin’, Red Man.

    If we take it that most of the power and money in the Premiership resides within the Bore Four…..exactly which one of them is going to stand aside and wave goodbye to their gravy train and guaranteed ‘Champions’ League place?

    Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas.

  23. You think the 16 other teams wield more power than the Bore Four?
    Are you George Bernard?

    The Bore Four can take their ball home with them if they don’t get what they want and, whilst the ‘Champions’ League is littered with safety nets, you can never have too many…..

    Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0
    39th predictable result of the season at AFC and Chelsea (out of 39).

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