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May 2021

State Aid Utd does something odd at Tax Payer Stadium while the media looks elsewhere.

By Tony Attwood

Once upon a time newspapers were there to print the news on paper (the clue is in the name).  Now their prime purpose (at least in terms of football) seems to be to insult.  Take this as an example…

Thought Manchester City fans were bad? Sheffield United supporter lays into players on lap of dishonour

And if that were not enough we now have

Premier League review: Lucky Louis van Gaal gets away with reckless gamble 

Same newspaper same day on its website.   Bizarrely it hadn’t finished as it then popped up with…

Manuel Pellegrini offers bizarre explanation for Samir Nasri omission

Well, you might think that was enough complaining and knocking for a day, but no, next we have

Ronny Deila says nothing he did at Celtic would have been good enough

Moan, moan, whine, whine.  And still I struggle to find the really interesting story.  Peeking around the corners I find (same newspaper, same day)

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Arsenal fans aren’t angry really, they’re just bored

And here we will pause for a moment before I do reveal what seems to me, this evening (at least this evening where I live) what the most interesting story of the afternoon was (and it didn’t turn up in the Telegraph)>

This “Arsenal fans are bored” story is by Charlie Eccleshare, who is called a “digital producer” for the Telegraph.  He is the guy who gave us, “Millions spent on players and marketing but no discernible style and very few trophies: Just what is the point of Real Madrid?” and “Are Liverpool about to be in a full-blown crisis?” and on and on.

And to be clear this guy isn’t some work experience fellow whose just won a scholarship in writing school (in the style of J. Liew, also of Buckingham Palace Rd).  No he used to work for the Mail.

In today’s piece he tells us that Arsenal are in a “stronger position” than Liverpool “on the face of it”.  Just a point is needed for Champions League football for the 19th season, and that leads to doubt?

“And yet, there are many Arsenal supporters who would almost rather be in Liverpool’s position, because above all, many of them are not angry or disappointed, they’re just bored.”

And so I ask, as so often before, “how on earth does he know this?”

Well not surprisingly (for a newspaper that prints PGMO press releases wholesale), evidence does not form a part of the Telegraph football reporting.    He leads the way that many others like to follow – I’ve looked and made up my mind.  That is enough.

I have no objection to a Telegraph employee knocking out this sort of twaddle, and the Telegraph paying him to do so.  But why on earth can’t people acknowledge that when something is their opinion it is their opinion?

He then writes about the “ennui” at Arsenal, (a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement, it says in my dictionary) and they print a staged picture of a guy lying across three seats to prove the point.  And again, the evidence?  I haven’t seen any.  I’ve heard a lot of noise, and seen rivals on the question of where the club should go, come to blows.  We’ve had people come on here complaining that pro-Wengerians tore up their banners and abused their children, while I’ve witness the anti-Wengerian who sits behind me get so angry with Wenger that it was only the likelihood that he was about to have a heart attack that caused the stewards not forcibly to remove him from the ground.  Ennui?  Not a chance.

Of course Charlie E is not all bad, for he admits that “Liverpool, as well as many other clubs, have spent a fortune in the last two decades desperately trying to achieve Champions League qualification” before going on to say that Mr Wenger is “rightly mocked”.  (The paper then ran one of their instant polls on whether you would have been happier supporting Liverpool or Arsenal this season, and Arsenal were clearly winning the day when I voted).

But the knocking copy goes on and on.  Try this one for size: In the last home match against Norwich, the majority were not mutinous – they could barely summon enough interest to revolt.

If that is what he saw… oh no hang on.  He wasn’t there was he?

Anyway, all this is sad because there is, as I said, an important story around and it concerns State Aid United.  Now the Telegraph will not speak a word against the old pornographers, and to prove it have wheeled out Arry Redknapp to write a piece for them.  It is headed

Leaving Upton Park will be sad for West Ham – but the future is bright 

This is an interesting twist on a day of such multiple negativity, because what Arry says is as dull as two litres of ditchwater than have just been recycled through the something incredibly dull and ditchwater.  But what has got me exercised is the fact that State Aid Utd have announced they have sold 50,000 season tickets for their 60,000 capacity Tax Payers Stadium next season.

Now that is interesting when you consider these figures.  First, there is no limit on how many season tickets can be sold, save that it must be less than 90% of the capacity, because PL rules say that 10% must be made available to visiting supporters, unless they can’t be, for safety reasons.  If they don’t take up the allocation then those tickets can be reallocated to home supporters – if the barrier between both can be moved.

As a result of this ruling, we can see that Man U have 72% season tickets, 10% for away fans and 18% sold on the day.  Arsenal sell 15% to members with Silver or Red membership.  But West Ham are going to reduce their tickets for the day to 5%.

This is going to fill the ground for most matches, but it is also going to cause a problem.  Most season ticket holders hold onto their tickets, and most clubs find that their season ticket population is ageing, with fewer younger people getting into the ground.   That is why Arsenal stopped at the lower number of season tickets, and have the silvers and reds for sale for each game.

This in turn means good news for State Aid for the first few seasons, and a good insurance if State Aid Utd slip back to their spiritual home – the second division (unless of course a lot of people give their season tickets up there and then).

But this is not a plan for the future – not a plan that will encourage young people to become part of supporting the State Aided club.  The club will pay just £2.5m in rent, while the tax payer pays for all the running costs of the stadium.

So what are they up to?  The stadium costs them so little, they can’t be desperate for cash.  They won’t have any of the hiatus years that Arsenal have suffered and Tottenham will soon start seeing, as they build a stadium.   Virtually everything is being paid by British tax payers, whether we live in London or Shetland.

However throughout the suspicion has been that the owners wanted this deal, in order to sell the club with the deal in place.  Now being able to sell it with 50,000 season ticket holders, the sale should be assured, if that is indeed what they intend to do.

Of course I have no direct line inside the murky world of State Aid Utd, but this is certainly an issue worth contemplating.  The Telegraph could even have put someone onto the story.  But no, it doesn’t really fit with the Arsenal bashing mode they are now stuck in.  And besides, Arry wanted to write about the club.

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A note about comments.

Untold Arsenal is a web site set up by people who support the manager, the players and the club, for people with a similar outlook.  Over the 8 years we’ve been in operation we’ve had thousands of comments posted which are from people who don’t share our views, and as long as these comments were not abusive we’ve generally published them and answered them.  However despite our patience in answering such points with evidence, we have some people sending in posts reiterating the same old issues while utterly ignoring the evidence based answers we have presented.  Reading the same stuff over and over again, without any attempt to carry the debate forwards based on evidence is making the commentary part of the site tedious, so we won’t be publishing any more of these.

16 comments to State Aid Utd does something odd at Tax Payer Stadium while the media looks elsewhere.

  • Luvyourclub

    If you want to find out anything negative about the club you support or others then Facebook is the place for you. Seems its the place for all the haters, everything is carp and I no longer support this team so I’m going elsewhere type of fans. A few lone voices trying to show support but they get drowned in a sea of comments. Seems all the journalists go there when their decide that team x need a Damn good rogering of negativity today.

  • Robert

    50,000 season tickets sold means X million in the bank now – in time for the summer transfer rigmarole.

  • Andy L

    A couple of snippets from a ‘farewell to the Boelyn ground ‘ which has bored the pants off most people all day on Sky , fortunately I was only channel hopping and didn’t suffer too much . An interview with the slimiest pornographer revealed that they would make £12M extra from gate revenue , as Karen Brady boasted it is certainly a good deal – but I am not sure the Tax payer wins . Additionally 10K season tickets have been sold to children , to sit anywhere in the ground , for £99 for the season. How they intend to ensure that children will use those tickets is a mystery .

  • Pete

    Regarding Tottenham’s construction costs, I asked my “connected” Spurs supporting friend at the weekend if he was looking forward to the austerity years…just when they finally seemed to be doing something right on the pitch. He reiterated that the whole shebang was being “paid for by Uncle Joe [Lewis]”.

    He did also go on to say that they were Dead Certs to beat Southampton the next day… so who knows?!

    Regarding West Ham, there was a small comment in the Standard that, due to the unexpectedly strong(?) season ticket sales they had decided to increase the capacity to 60,000 (not quite sure from what)… Forgive me, but I didn’t think that was the kind of decision that could be made on a whim at short notice??

    “You want another tier, guv? Yeah – of course. No problem. Give me another couple of weeks and I’ll have you an extra 10 thousand seats. Yeah, happy to throw it in for within the agreed price as you [HM Government] have been prompt in settling my bills…”

  • James LeBlanc

    Hi Tony,
    Since the forced revelation of the stadium deal, are you aware of any action/investigation thereafter that’s been proposed?
    Surely there should be a parliamentary committee seeing as taxpayer funds are involved?
    Shouldn’t the EU investigate regarding state aid or at least propose to do so depending on EU referendum result?
    Could the deal break any UEFA &/or FIFA rules?
    Kind regards

  • Florian


    Amen to that. I’ve been wasting days of my life fighting specimens who don’t differ very much from a goat – and that makes goats a disservice, at least they give off milk which I heard can be quite healthy.

    Btw, ‘Arry doesn’t know how to read, but he seems to know how to write? 😉

  • Pat

    Have to disagree with you about Harry Redknapp’s article, Tony. I’m not a Redknapp fan but I enjoyed this article.

    It described a different East End where a lot of the fans were dockers, crowded in very close to the pitch, sometimes having witty exchanges with players from behind the goal.

    The players lived among the fans, all within about a five mile radius of the ground, even walking home in the crowd after the match.

    I had to sympathise as well when he mentioned the names of a group of home grown players like Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole, and sadly wondered what might have been if they had stayed at West Ham rather than achieving success at other clubs.

  • Mick

    ‘Arry most certainly can read, I heard him on Talk Sport saying he was reading the Sir A Ferguson autobiography. This was shortly after stating under oath whilst giving evidence in his court case that he couldn’t read or write!
    He must have taken a crash course in English after the trial.

  • colario

    Here is an example of trite – tripe in the media.

    Its a headline of an article by Amy Lawrence no less in the online edition of the guardian.

    “Arsène Wenger knows true value of reaching Champions League again”

    After 20 season managing* in the champions league only now are we to be told that Arsene ‘knows the ….’

    Some how dear delicious Amy believes we cannot work that one out for ourselves and so writes an article to inform of us of this most profound brain searching knowledge.

    * For those who weren’t born when Arsene started his managerial career. Arsene managed in the Champions League in France with Monaco.

    But only now does he know the value of the Champs League!

  • colario

    This from the Guardian on what is news in the newspapers is worth a read if only that it confirms the suspicions of many.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The media knows which part of its bread is buttered and will always side with those paying top dollar. I’m often shocked that people believe the crap that is sprouted by them and cannot even think for themselves .My question is always ,” What are the hiding or not telling us ?” , and never on the main gist of the breaking news.

    Does anyone remember Peter Arnett ,( ) who was the face of CNN during the 1st Gulf War ? We were being daily fed a diet of outright lies and far fetched stories probably emanating from army intelligence ( an oxymoron , if ever there was one !) and their higher ups . How we were impressed by the smart bombs and all that firepower .POW ! KABLAM ! FOOSH !

    ” Thousand points of light” , my arse ! Thousandfold pack of lies , more likely !

    Many years later he wrote an article that was printed in TIME magazine about Operation Tailwind ( ) which was very quickly recanted . Suspiciously so , to my mind. He was quickly discredited , and so were the producers .

    I gave up my subscription soon after , and prefer now to do my own research on whatever interest me . Do read about the above fiasco from other sources , as WIKI may not be the truest or trustworthy site , being possibly moderated by hidden hands !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The original article – Did The U.S. Drop Nerve Gas?
    from TIME Magazine June 15, 1998

  • norman14

    The collective UK media are just plain old rip off merchants.

    They write rubbish then charge their subscribers to read it.
    The TV companies get their customers to subscribe, then increase the price, reduce or remove services or provide SD pictures as HD, and charge extra for the pleasure. Or ALL of the above.

    Imagine, if all football supporters across the country decided en block, to cancel their TV subscriptions?

    For a start, only those clubs paying their own way would survive..

  • Goonermikey

    @ James LeBlanc

    Good question. I don’t doubt that the ‘State Aid Utd’ tag has some significant degree of validity and the whole thing does smell quite a bit. Yet, I have not been able to discover why there have been no questions by various bodies/organisations in several different locations. Come on UA, what is the latest on all this? Have I missed something?

  • norman14

    If they get relegated, the rent gets reduced.

    If the plan is to sell it for a massive profit, what would happen to the “State Aid” bit if it was bought by non UK citizens?

  • Ben

    In the coming years because of the new ground and the minimal rent. Does anyone see West Ham being a regular in the top 6?