By Tony Attwood
Alexis Sánchez seems to be ok despite the attack on his legs by M Upson, once of Arsenal, in the Leicester game. He might still be rested on sunday against Middlesbrough but there’s no long term injury.
Aaron Ramsey however has yet another hamstring injury. He could be out for anything to the end of this month, to the end of March. His two previous hamstrings came against Tottenham H and Galatasaray. Mr Wenger said, “I can’t say it’s not a worry because after a while, the player cannot play with a free mind. He’s not over-played. I don’t know why this is.”
Beyond Arsenal the big news is the vast amount of money Sky and BT have bid to keep live Premier League football on their channels, and already the “cut ticket prices” lobby is on the move.
We all know that the money will all go in higher club wages. Chelsea and Manchester C will start the run, spending the income before it has arrived, because they can borrow at zero percent interest from their owners. That will allow them to outbid a faltering PSG who are mindful of their FFP position, Barcelona who can’t sign anyone, and Real Mad who have one eye on the Fifa’s investigation into its youth training system, and the other on the European Commission’s investigation into its land swap with the local council.
So, with player prices forced up, everyone else will have to follow and we will have a period from now on of the anti-Arsenal Arsenal lobby shouting that Arsenal are incapable of signing anyone.
A £10 cut in all ticket prices at Arsenal would make no difference to the sale of tickets (except that it would make it even more of a rush for silver and red members to try and get their allocation) but would cost the club £1,800,000 year – the amount it costs to train and develop five top youth players.
A lot of the approach will be on away fans with the Twenty’s Plenty campaign. Arsenal’s tickets for away fans are only below that level of league cup games, but I didn’t notice a single newspaper or away supporters talking about it during all the time the policy has been in place. Nor the fact that with many fans (such as Leicester) it costs less to come to Arsenal for an away game than it does to see their own team at home. But I am sure such petty detail won’t affect the campaign.
Of course if the FA were more than just a bunch of mindless wimps desperately trying to pay for Wembley they could have a meaningful say in pushing for using the money in the creation of more all-weather and indoor facilities for children and amateur adult teams. They have a plan to build a few pitches for £150m, but don’t have the money because… it was spent on… Wembley.
Indeed if the UK government really noticed that we are in the midst of an obesity crisis they might get involved as well. It would in the end save the UK billions in hospital and emergency fees in dealing with the overweight. They could at the very least stop the FA being dependent on Macdonalds.
At the moment the Premier League puts £12m a year into the Football Foundation (down from £20m, fifteen years ago.) Personally if the choice was between lower ticket prices and more pitches that children and amateur adults could play on, I’d go for the latter. I’d also extend the scheme for helping with sport in schools which the Premier League is engaged in. The scheme is a good benefit for children, and helps a little bit to patch over the collapsing school system, which is now desperately underfunded.
(The government claims to have maintained spending on schools, but it totally cut the spending on buildings, at a time when the school population is rising faster than ever since the Elementary Education Act of 1870. Along with the sale of school playing fields ordered by Margaret Thatcher the schools that did not benefit by the previous “Building Schools for the Future” programme are now rotting and collapsing, with many of them still with asbestos in the fabric of the building).
The Premier League could also clarify where it stands on Financial Fair Play. We were supposed to have details by the end of last year, but still there are none. In 2013 the clubs agreed to limit the total amount of TV money they can spend on players’ wages to £60 million by 2016, but I am starting to wonder if that rule has been swept aside.
Also from 2016 clubs in the Championship should receive 30% of the value of a “year three” parachute payment (currently £10m), while League One clubs will receive 4.5% of the value and League Two clubs will receive 3%. That is a slight increase for them, but still leaves the Championship clubs open to the spend-spend-spend policy of QPR operating a desperate attempt to stay in the Premier League and avoid the wrath of the Championship clubs that have abided by their of FFP rules.
Meanwhile we have seen this week the emergence of the Manchester U equivalent of the anti-Arsenal Arsenal (anti Mu Mu I suppose) with even the linguistically eccentric van Gaal expressing concerns about the crowd’s reaction to his regime. Like the aaa at Arsenal they are a tiny, tiny minority of the people who actually go to games, but still, it is an interesting phenomena to see the negativist movement spreading out from Arsenal to infest other clubs.
VG even said, “I heard the first whistles. That is a concern because we are playing for the fans. The fans are the most important part of the club. They keep the club living and that is very important but they also applauded after the match and always in matches there is 90 minutes, not 45.”
We’ve looked before at the way that Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has established lookalike clubs in Australia and the US, and how discussions are continuing in Brazil and South Africa to pick up and use the now abandoned stadia built for the world cups.
Manchester C is restricted from doing the same in Europe by Uefa rules but it can partnership with another club up to an extent. Given Manchester C’s history with FFP it is likely to push the rules way beyond the limit, and they will then set the lawyers and accountants on the case to fight the regulations that everyone else lives by.
They will do this by making the deal an “academy partnership” which will allow Manchester C to have first pick of the French club’s players, and give St-Etienne the chance to take Manchester C’s younger players on loan. This move will thus by and large make St-Etienne a nursery club for Manchester C. The Academy Manager of Manchester C is Patrick Vieira.
Arsenal don’t have such a deal, although there has long been a positive association with Lorient. In the current team Koscielny and Coquelin both spent time at Lorient. Gilles Sunu and Joel Campbell were also there.
However the Arsenal Lorient relationship has never been formalised and came about because of the similarity of philosophy between Christian Gourcuff when he was at Lorient and Arsene Wenger. (Gourcuff subsequently went on to manage Algeria but the mutual respect is still there between the clubs).
Anniversary of the day (and a reminder that we don’t just do the happy events)
- 12 February 1977: Man C 1 Arsenal 0. This fourth game without a win was also the start of seven consecutive defeats in the league – the worst ever run of defeats, beating the six “achieved” under both Chapman and Knighton, and worse than anything in the relegation year on 1912/13. The manager was Terry Neill.
- What every football club (and most certainly Arsenal) is aiming for.
- The apparent decline of Tottenham and the question of care for players elsewhere
- Positive injury news for Arsenal ahead Monday’s game with Sheffield United
- Arsenal’s finances stay secure but we can expect more price rises for fans
- How a 14th monk described Arsenal’s failure to buy Moisés Caicedo and Mykhailo Mudryk