Right, transfer window over, lets start the Arsenal bashing

By Tony Attwood

“I totally respect the Premier League as a successful business that generates an enormous amount of income and brings some of the best players in the world to these shores,” said the shadow sports minister in the UK, Clive Efford, recently.

“But the way the finances are sucked in perpetuates a culture of greed and far too little of it filters down to develop sport at the grassroots. I think that is something the Premier League needs to consider.”

And the greed is the greed of…   well he doesn’t say, but the implication is, the players who simply sell themselves to the highest bidding clubs.

So with such a vague statement we can be sure that nothing new will happen and the debate this week will explode on all the usual fronts:

1.  “Arsenal is the most expensive football club in the world to watch” without any explanation as to the source of their income, their self-sufficiency, the £10 tickets for league cup matches (all the way up to league cup semi-finals), the fact that the majority of clubs’ away support find that going to Islington to watch Arsenal involves a cheaper entry fee than going to watch their own club at home.

2.  “Football clubs are greedy” except that there will be no talk about the involvement of the funds behind Manchester City and Chelsea, the need for others to keep up if they wish to compete, and no recognition of the (admittedly admirable) way in which Man U has sold itself as a worldwide brand for fifty years, and the impossibility of catching up with that.

3.  “We should have more English players in the Premier League” which has nothing to do with the debate but always finds its way in, as a way of stopping any proper debate over the failure of the FA to build proper pitches for youngsters, or why the FA accepts sponsorships from Macdonalds, and how the FA spent a fortune on Wembley and is still trying to manage the debt.

4.  Britain is fighting an obesity crisis which an interest in football could help counter, but doesn’t, because, oh, there are hardly any pitches for grassroots football and the money comes from a burger chain that doesn’t actually welcome discussion on heathy eating and activity.

5.  Players wages should be capped – without any debate on how this might be achieved.  (Debate is now no longer good, because it confuses the readers of the mass media – so best not to get involved).

It is true that the Premier League has consulted a number of supporters’ groups across the country to discuss ticket pricing, and of course the media will bring back pictures of Manchester City’s protest against Arsenal prices, while ignoring the fact that Arsenal supporters were delighted to pick up the unwanted tickets at the same price once they became available.

Certainly the Premier League 4 Sport and allied programmes is doing far more than the morally, politically and financially bankrupt FA to promote grassroots sport and engage with communities.   But even so much more could be done.

The FA lost its Sport England funding after failing to use it to build artificial turf pitches for the communities it is supposed to serve (it blamed the weather and spent the money on its mortgage of Wembley), and has since spent its time talking about various grandiose schemes for more community pitches while hiding in the small print the fact that it has no idea how any of them are going to be funded.  And so none of them are.

The Football Supporters’ Federation has been running a Twenty’s Plenty campaign to suggest that £20 should be the admission price for away fans.  Arsenal is close to this already with the majority of its matches, but for goodness sake don’t let anyone tell the press.  They already have the headlines written.

Efford also said, “All the indications are that the total income will go up. If all that does is feed huge wages for players, makes more money for agents there is something seriously wrong.  There are all sorts of things we could do in conjunction with the Premier League if they were less greedy.”

Except we live in a capitalist state and capitalism is built primarily on greed.  Many people in the UK would agree that what we have is a government of the rich by the rich for the rich.  Perhaps not a majority share that view but quite a few do, which is why there is such an upturn in support for the Green Party in England, the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales – the nearest things we have now to left wing parties.  If that group came to power the Premier League and FA would quickly learn what was required of it.

Currently the Premier League takes a sixth of its overall income and redistributes it beyond the clubs in the Premier League.  Which is nice, except that the bulk of this goes to the relegated clubs.

And in considering this you also have to remember that the Premier League has abjectly failed to take up the mantle of the Championship’s efforts to curb insane expenditure.  Clubs that break the FFP rules in the Championship get fined.  But if those clubs get promoted to the Premier League the Premier League wants nothing to do with the system – and refuses to do anything about such clubs.  So the fines are not going to be collected.

So we have the insanity of clubs like QPR knowing that relegation back to the Championship will now mean that the Football League wants nothing to do with them, and they will have to apply for membership of the Conference.

In 1999 the Premier League agreed to give 5% of its broadcasting income to the support of grass roots football.  In return the government agreed to allow the collective selling of TV rights.   The Premier League has never once honoured that deal.  The government has done what is commonly known as “sweet FA” (or in politer circles, nothing) over this point.

The regulator Ofcom which is supposed to regulate such matters has said that it will take action against the Premier League if it is ever ruled that the collected auction of TV rights restricts competition.

But I suspect holding one’s breath on this one might result in an early demise.

Untold Arsenal

35 Replies to “Right, transfer window over, lets start the Arsenal bashing”

  1. Tony, good article as usual. I share your views on all Arsenal matters and, I suspect, your political outlook.

    However, I fear that your description of Greens, Plaid Cymru and SNP as true left wing parties is a bit of a leap of imagination.

    I am all too aware of the failings of “New” Labour, but the fact remains that a transfer of voting allegiance to the Nationalists and Greens is a sure way to increase the risk of another Tory govt. after May 2015.

  2. Superb article. Grass roots…..most people who want to play football either have to pay for a power league 3 , 4, 5 or whatever g pitch which can cost rather a lot of money for a session, either that or play on a muddy dog shit ridden council pitch. Just turn up at a park in at least SE England, and you will be rapidly ushered off by someone officious. Welcome to England in 2015, people in power talk quite a bit, but do very little with no accountability.
    As for Arsenal bashing, apparently, there is some sort of tectonic balance of power shift taking place. Will have to look out for it in May.

  3. Not just a burger chain. Gary Lineker, the BBC face of UK football, advertises crisps then hosts MOTD. Allen Hansen advertises Wm Morrisons then sits on MOTD. The kids in this country could get so obese they could be rolled down the hill, would Linkeer still advertise crisps?

    Another excellent article, thank you.

  4. I don’t think capitalism is primarily based on greed. A true capitalism allows a person to upgrade and improve his life with freedom and innovations while able to do the same with people around him. However, an irresponsible and immoral person will become greedy through capitalism. For example, compare Abraham Lincoln and George Bush, one took the job because he put others before him and paid with his life while the other slither himself up, took as much as he can and made others pay for his life. Both were presidents of a country. AW too had the opportunity to do what a Chelsea is doing now in the loan system but he put human value first before money value. I personally improved my life through capitalism from my own ideas and inventions but always reward the deserving ones around me. You must have a character of a true leader if you wanna make capitalism work for everyone.

  5. Financial greed is a capitalist trait – works for the most ardent communist preachers also. The system that also cares for people around you is socialism. Capitalism with a heart. There are many who claim to be one & practice the other.

    Football has become the means to uncontrolled riches that has created the most vile agents & financial leeches. The players wages are obscene as are the wages of media presenters. This rapid growth of wealth has also become the bed of corruption. Some of the corruption is visible & some hidden beneath the facade of ownership & involvement. There is bound to be some turmoil where controls are lacks as has happened to Rangers, Leeds & Portsmouth amongst others.

    The Sports Ministry has to appoint financial specialists to evolve a system where the games benefit & caps/chokes are applied on leeches.

  6. I don’t mean to turn this into Untold Politics but some of the comments require a little challenge if not correction.

    Michael – capitalism is based on profit. In order to make profit a capitalist needs to sell his product for less than it costs to make. It is that simple. Thus he needs to exploit those further down the chain. This is why most of the clothes we buy in the West are made in south and south east Asia in sweat shops at very low wages. In this century the gap between the haves and the haves-not it wider than it is EVER been.

    Menace, I am not a communist but what you are referring to is state communism as practised by China or Soviet Russia, that is not communism which was the ideal utopian society Marx predicted would flourish once states withered away. He was wrong of course, much better to read Kroptotkin than Marx (or read Groucho!)

    John, the logic that if one votes Green or SNP you will get the Tories back works to some extent, but the Labour Party have to be a party that is worth voting FOR. IT is not enough to vote against something, people want to be inspired. The Greens in England and the SNP in Scotland offer something different. I joined the Greens because their social policy is the only one that seems prepared to think outside of the centre. I think they will take a lot of Labour and LibDEm votes in May just as UKIP will pinch some from Cameron. The Greens have also pledged to have Anthony Taylor keelhauled*

    * I might have dreampt that

  7. @Blacksheep,

    You are correct that the Labour Party should be worth voting for.

    I believe that it is. Hopeful indicators are that the break from Neo-Liberal / Neo-Thatcher “New” Labour recent past is likely to happen. When Mandelson, Blair, Hutton, Milburn, plus various tax-exile, Tory-donating, millionaire “captains” of industry are voicing their criticism, it’s a sign that the Party is returning to its roots and true values.

    Some Green policies are admirable and I hope that Labour adopts them, as well as taking courage from the Greek electorate’s rejection of austerity.

    Atkinson is worse than Taylor, because he is cleverer.

  8. @john

    I would like to qualify your statement: –

    “You are correct that the Labour Party should be worth voting for.”

    My view is that all political parties should, by their behavior and policies, ensure that they are worth voting for.

    Unfortunately most political parties, mainstream and marginal, have lost their direction and have resorted to devising policies with the intention of misleading the voters (rather than devise strategies that will improve the lot of the country) – the get into power at all costs scenario.

    Most governments do not finance themselves in the Arsenal way, i.e. they do not spend within their means, hence the long standing national debt. Very regrettably, Labour, when last in office, really went overboard with spending with the result that the UK (having just reached the point of almost clearing war debt) will be mortgage up to the hilt for some generations. While sympathetic to the concept of a party that should look after the interests of the working man, I am not convinced that Labour have learned the lessons from this disaster.

    Who would I support – difficult – perhaps Walter’s answer at 10.06am woud sway me!

  9. Jeremy Corbyn who had a role in the building of the new Arsenal stadium is the Arsenal’s local MP. Has been for decades, since before I was born.

    He represents the traditions that earned citizens the right to vote, that rebuilt the UK under far more taxing conditions then the current bogus “austerity” gibberish ( 🙂 ) at the end of of WWII, that encapsulated the values of Dickens and the English enlightenment. He somehow survived the Neo-Labour Blairite purges that eviscerated the Labour Party and completed the Neo-liberal Extremist Milton Friedman inspired (his theories are discredited by all non-sociopathic academics) Thatcherite purges of UK politics that began in 1979. JC is stepping down at the end of this parliament.
    If I don’t want to waste my vote which was earnt against the wishes of the likes of the Cameron Klan in fields of blood many many years ago then there’s no option but Green going forward?

  10. By my admittedly not very clever understanding Capitalism boils down to land and property. Which is why extremist capitalism which is the belief system favoured by say the Tories so resembles Feudalism. Because that is what it is. This is why the likes of Abramovich and Usmanov are desperate to buy property in London!
    It’s funny to me that amidst the attacks on AFC by the extreme right wing media for remaining a debt free institution there has been little coverage of the detente between those who own the pitch at Stamford Bridge, and the owner of Fordham Investments (Gazprom!) – Land & Property.

  11. Debt free institution < debt peonage free institution!

    Subtle but important difference! As far as I know the club will still paying off the loans for the stadium for the next fifteen years, as per the terms of their well managed loan…

  12. “Most governments do not finance themselves in the Arsenal way, i.e. they do not spend within their means, hence the long standing national debt. Very regrettably, Labour, when last in office, really went overboard with spending with the result that the UK (having just reached the point of almost clearing war debt) will be mortgage up to the hilt for some generations. While sympathetic to the concept of a party that should look after the interests of the working man, I am not convinced that Labour have learned the lessons from this disaster.”

    Labour made some stupid economic mistakes in power. Selling off the gold, arrogantly proclaiming they’d stopped boom and bust. They’re light touch regulation of the city.

    However, in terms of spending, they didn’t really do anything wrong; and you’ve fallen for the Tories lies that the current economic crises is down to public spending. It isn’t. The current deficit is primarily down to the following things:

    1. Higher interest charges caused by the massive amount of public debt taken on to bailout the banks

    2. Reduced tax income from putting up VAT, reducing tax for those earning over £150k,

    3. Reduced tax income from due to lack of growth caused by austerity measures.

    The Tories promised us that the deficit would be cut by this year. A few years of pain to sort the country out. They lied or failed.

  13. @esxste

    You are assuming to much when you state: –

    “you’ve fallen for the Tories lies that the current economic crises is down to public spending.”

    I don’t follow or support any political party – that should have been clear from my earlier post, sorry if it was not.

    I also do not want to get bogged down in a political debate on Untold.

    In summary, I hold most politicians in even lower contempt than Riley and his vipers – so the lowest of the low.

    The previous remarks I made about Labour and the financial crisis I do stand over – UK plc was very close to bankruptcy through considerable mismanagement – what I am looking for now is for Labour to convince me that they have learned from the experience – here’s hoping.

  14. bjtgooner,

    you said: “In summary, I hold most politicians in even lower contempt than Riley and his vipers – so the lowest of the low.”

    Very close to the truth. And I work in an environment (public sector) where I have a lot to do with politicians and public. I know a few MP personally and even though this they are Belgium politicians they seem to be the same where ever you go.
    The most important for them is :
    1. their own job
    2. their party
    3. their salary
    4. their benefits
    5. their special tax scale (only 50% of their income is being taxed in Belgium)
    6. their free use of buses, trains, …
    and I can go on and on and somewhere around position….

    99. the welfare of you, me, him, her, also known as “Jan met de pet” in Dutch (In English would be ‘Joe with a hat’ which could be Tony of course 🙂 )

  15. Blacksheep – the communist I’m referring to is the Hatton in Liverpool, the Scargills etc. they loved their cash & didn’t really want to barter anything they owned. The party members in the Soviet Union all had country homes & special facilities with ‘hard roubles’.

    The closest commune system is the kibbutz in Israel. Don’t know too much about the US clans, Armish etc.

    I like Walters take the best. 😉

  16. I’d vote for the Keelhaul Party Walter. Yes, I agree with you about Dereck Hatton & Arthur Scargill Menace, but they were not really communists but dyed in the wool Stalinists, its not the same thing in my opinion. They wanted power and wanted to hold on to it. I think this is one of the problem with trades unions in Britain, there leaderships stays in power far too long so they invite criticisms from the Tories. I’m not sure its as simple as a love of money, more a love of power and privilege but I agree its effectively as bad.

    Green is the answer folks, all football fans should vote for the only party that value grass 🙂

  17. I live in a marginal constituency, currently held by a right-wing Tory. It is a key seat for both main parties and the Tories are throwing a fortune at it.

    Labour has a brilliant, campaigning, principled, socialist candidate who has no connections to the New Labour / Blair types. Current polling suggests that she has a chance of winning, but it will be very close. If the Green Party takes votes from Labour here, it will almost certainly let the Tory back in.

  18. If most of the people in parliament were bus drivers, building workers, farm workers, teachers, nurses, clerical workers, housing officers, librarians, booking clerks, IT technicians – I could go on – we might get a government that did some things for the benefit of most people rather than for a small number of the rich.

    As it is, most MPs have a very untypically privileged background, and many are career politicians with little contact with normal life. This is even more true of those in the cabinet which takes the decisions. This creates a problem when going to the ballot box. Who will truly represent me?

    I can’t remember who, but someone in the government said if you are still travelling by bus at the age of thirty, you are a failure. How does this square with reality? And how is this a measure of whether you are a decent human being?

  19. Politicians these days in a modern, mature democracy, best summed up by Townsend, Daltrey Moon et al…”meet the new boss, same as the old boss”
    A bit depressing for an old labourite like me who used to hang off every word from the likes of Billy Bragg back in the day! Guess age does things to you. Some,great tunes though.

  20. bjtgooner; I suspect that you need to re-read my post. At no point did I refer to your political voting intention or make any inference to your political party allegiance. To put into context my following points; I voted Lib Dem at the last election, and if I have the choice to, I will vote Green at the next.

    What I did do in my post was politely suggest that you had fallen for the current governments spin that the economic crises was all labours fault, that public spending needs to be cut because labour spent wildly pre-2008. They didn’t. Public spending up until 2008 had been broadly costed and forecasted to fall roughly in budget. You may recall Gordon Brown talking about keeping his spending within economic cycles.

    Then the Credit Crunch came along. The country had to borrow 1.162 trillion pounds to bailout the banks. £1,162,000,000,000. Even at 0.5% interest per month, we had to repay 5,810,000,000 in interest. That’s before you add in any meaningful capital repayment.

    And the Tories with the Murdoch media and the rabid right wing black tops have successfully convinced the country the fault lies with the disabled, the unemployed and public sector workers being inefficient and overpaid.

  21. @esxste

    You do seem to make a lot of wrong assumptions.

    When I stated –

    “In summary, I hold most politicians in even lower contempt than Riley and his vipers – so the lowest of the low.”

    the inference should be clear – the contempt in which I hold the politicians should make it very obvious to you that I am not likely to fall for propaganda from any such source.

    That was the point I was trying to convey to you – sorry if it was not sufficiently clear.

    As for your version of the cause of the economic crisis – well – lets agree to disagree – this is a football blog – and to me football and Arsenal are a lot more interesting than politics or our low life politicians.

  22. @bjtgooner

    You are a most confusing individual.

    You (rather inaccurately) berate me for making assumptions; then tell me I should in fact make an assumption based on a statement you made.

    You made an assertion about how Governments do not run themselves in the ‘Arsenal’ way, and lament that it is not the case. Further you make the accusation that the last Labour Goverment was particular profligate with spending, and made reference the current level of national debt. You were not sufficiently clear about why the national debt rose to its current level, or what it was spent on.

    I’ve provided figures to explain why you are incorrect to assert that Labour’s spending was overboard.

    If it’s OK with you, I might now privately make an assumption as to why you choose to suggest we “agree to disagree”.

  23. @esxste

    I’m very sorry that you are confused – I don’t mind you making assumptions – I’m just trying to correct your wrong assumption – one which I am rather disappointed that you made initially and still seem to want to persistent with.

    I don’t want to waste everyone’s time on an Arsenal blog debating politics or the wastefulness of our politicians, even when some are more wasteful than others (one could postulate that they are all wasters!). If you wish to make an assumption about that – fine – make your assumption – but I’m sure you won’t mind if I anticipate that your assumption is once again the wrong one!

    Lets stick to football!!

  24. You say you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, but I suspect those who have committed the time to reading these comments will now be as curious as I am as to why you’ve done just that by continually trying to focus the discussion around “assumptions”, rather than engaging with me on the point I originally picked you up on about Labours spending during its last term in power.

    This could have been an informative debate about that subject, which I’m sure the intelligent people who visit this blog would have minded less than this.

    Oh well.

  25. @esxste

    No. The intelligent people who visit this site want to debate football, they do not want to read you or anyone else eulogizing about any of our “nose in the trough” representatives.

    Looks like you can’t stop making silly assumptions.

    If people want to debate politics I’m sure there are many suitable forums for that purpose, but, this is not one of them. I do hope you are capable of understanding that.

  26. Given you commented on the topic of “our “nose in the trough” representatives” and I have not commented on that subject at all, and that I commented on this thread only to contradict a point you made, I find your last post rather ironic, with a good whiff of hypocrisy about it.

  27. @esxste

    I don’t really care what you think or “find”.

    Your first response to me was based on a misconception and your efforts to justify your assumptions based on the misconception have become progressively more disingenuous and self defeating.

    You should have taken the advice given earlier – stick to the football!!

  28. If you’d care to actually respond to my specific counterpoint about labours spending actually not being “overboard”, I’d most appreciate it.

  29. @esxste

    No. I have already explained more than once that this is not the forum for such a discussion. Best to amicably agree on that and move on – and back to the football.

  30. “No. I have already explained more than once that this is not the forum for such a discussion”

    And I have explained how you cannot say that, given you posted about politics and to which post I replied. You cannot now claim this is not the forum for political talk.

    So Respectfully, I disagree on that.

    Since you’re apparently so determined to get the last word, I’ll only respond again should you actually decide to do what you proclaimed you would and “stand for” your remarks about labour and the financial crises.

  31. @esxste

    Yes, yes and no.

    Yes I did post a comment, qualifying a comment made by another posted.

    Yes I stand over my view the last Labour administration were financially incompetent.

    No I do not have to debate the point further. You seem a bit obtuse on this point almost troll like.

    When you imply that I want the last word you are at your disingenuous best – given the warped implication in your last sentence.

    Football, esp Arsenal, is a much more interesting subject than a discussion about the political wasters.

    Take the advice previously given – stick to the football.

  32. Some corrections, apologies: –

    “poster” not “posted”

    “was” financially incompetent.

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