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June 2021

In football image is (almost) everything. Which is why the media’s fanatical anti-Arsenal approach is so frustrating

By Tony Attwood

Imagine you had a son or daughter who was showing really great promise as a footballer.  And imagine you were a lifelong supporter of Liverpool.  Or Newcastle.  Or Tottenham.  You wouldn’t worry too much that it was 26 years, or 90 years or 56 years (as it has been for those three clubs) since they last won the league.  Your heart would be with your team, and the honour of having your child within that club, even if just at the under 9s level, would be something wonderful.

In such circumstances I can imagine that nothing would get in the way of that pleasure.  Years of not winning the title, years of under achievement, none of it would matter.   Indeed you could add Chelsea to the list, for if you were a lifelong fan then even knowing that the number of players who have made it from the youth team to the first team since John Terry is very very very very tiny you still wouldn’t mind.  Chelsea is your club.

Same with Manchester United.  The fact that Manchester City has more modern training facilities for youngsters while Man U has not been in the Champions League for a while would not worry you.  Man U is your club.  Even if you live in Cornwall, it is your club.

So the fact that Liverpool have just been fined £100,000 and banned from signing academy players from English league clubs for two years  (the second year of the ban suspended for three years), after being found guilty of speaking to a Stoke player and his family without permission, and of offering inducements, including paying for the boy and family members to attend a game at Anfield, probably won’t put the families who support Liverpool off the club.  It’s a sort of Sam Allerdyce offence, only with children. It might however put off families associated with teams with a less prestigious academy from looking at Liverpool.

Families might also note that the parents of the boy have been left liable for thousands of pounds of school fees after the club refused to pay for the commitment that they had made, in placing the youngster in a private school.

The official ruling said, “In an investigation following that rejection, the Premier League found evidence that Liverpool’s conduct prior to applying to register the player contravened League rules. The League found evidence demonstrating regular communications between representatives of the club and members of the player’s family. This included hosting them at Anfield for a match with expenses paid and other efforts to encourage the player, via his family, to sign for Liverpool. League rules strictly prohibit the offer of any inducements to encourage a move.

The schoolboy concerned is now 13 and cannot sign for another club until Stoke receive a compensation fee of £49,000.  Liverpool are not paying that so he now can’t sign for anyone.  Bit of a cock up really.

But Liverpool are not alone in not quite following the rules of course.  Barcelona, and the two Madrid giants are all too familiar with fines and punishments relating to under age footballers and from what we hear nothing is stopping families queuing up to get their children into the clubs, no matter what laws are broken en route.

So does anything put parents off?  Breaking the rules, leaving the young lad without a club.  Leaving the parents with a massive private school bill.  Or in the Spanish cases moving children across country boundaries…

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It made me wonder what would put me off supporting Arsenal.  Having Sam Allerdyce as manager would.  But the stories in the media about Arsenal’s turmoil and collapse?  No, because I go to almost every home match, and some away games, and I know what really goes on.

So if I look at the Daily Telegraph and see, every single day headlines like “Watch | Arsenal fans clash outside Emirates stadium” it doesn’t affect me at all.  I know just how many are involved.  But for parents of talented youngsters, looking to find a club, yes that could have an impact.  So could the stories of walk-outs, late arrivals and chaos within the club as the media gives us every day – none of that can help entice young players who could go anywhere.

The damage is being done by the protest groups and their media allies day by day, not just because sacking one manager and appointing another is most certainly not a route to instant or even medium term success, but also because of the image of the club.   West Ham of course did themselves no good yesterday through the actions of their fans, but they have less of a good reputation to maintain.  We’ve already seen the pictures from the Tax Payers’ Stadium this season.  But at the Ems, these activities will be eating away at Arsenal at all levels, just as the rather sordid episode at Liverpool will have dented their image and made some youngsters more likely to go elsewhere.

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The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle.  Full details are here.

Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without.   For full details please see here.

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31 comments to In football image is (almost) everything. Which is why the media’s fanatical anti-Arsenal approach is so frustrating

  • CJ

    Please stop using double spacing.

    The Typography Police

  • Jorn

    Tony, putting all the blame on the protest groups isn’t right. If you are satisfied with the way Arsenal fc is run, then I doubt your analyzing skills. Football administration on a top level has changed a lot the last 10-15 years. The job is spread on several individuals. All the top clubs, except Arsenal, are organized that way. In Arsenal we have our dictator and control freak Wenger who want to be in charge of everything. I would say that all you fans who continue to support Wenger and the way the organization is run now is a part of the problem. It has proven not to give us success and we have to learn from that. Every organization has to develop or else you go downwards, like Arsenal has done the last 10-15 years.

  • Norman14

    I think that somewhere, there is a “Duty of Care” on media outlets, such as print and audio/visual media, to TELL THE TRUTH.

    If they are not telling the truth, or not putting up proper, referenced argument, with evidence and statistics, then they are probably in breach of their Duty of Care, obligation.

    Not that they give a shit!

  • Gord

    I think medja largely gave up on truth a long time ago. And part of the result of that, is that people are not tuning in and they are having problems staying viable.


    Man City has apparently bought two (more) clubs in South America. I would presume these are the top clubs in those countries, or close to them? What happens when Man City owns the top clubs in every league? If some team (say Bayern Munich) goes looking for a certain kind of player, one of these teams hears about it (or Bayern actually talk to them), and they report back to ManCity what is happening. ManCity now has the pulse, and possible the control on all trades.

    Maybe. Possibly being paranoid. But I don’t think this is an activity that was intended.

  • Jorn: an interesting view, but you offer no evidence, so it really doesn’t get us anywhere.

  • CJ: it looks all right on my computer. Is anyone else seeing double spacing in this article?

  • Gord

    Billy, I think the problem is proximity to Jorn.

    I suppose if one was almost legally blind and had to use very thick glasses, things might appear double spaced.

    But, this kind of problem (double spacing) is more than likely some setting in the web browser, and how it interacts with CSS. Try a different typeface might be the easiest one to do.

  • Zedsaunt

    Jorn posts

    ”In Arsenal we have our dictator and control freak Wenger who want to be in charge of everything.”

    I have a problem with the word ‘dictator.’ For some decades now I have gone around Europe looking for the evidence of dictators and some of it is very specific, and very exact. None of it is to be found in the Emirates.

  • Leon

    I think there’ll be changes to Arsenal’s structure whether Wenger signs a new deal or not. As you say he’s taken on a far too large a role which has become a burden (as he heads into old age) and is not helped at all by his incompetent CEO.
    For all his faults David Dein would not have allowed Arsenal to become such a media hate target & laughing stock.
    No evidence required, we know how they envisage us.

  • jake

    its actually a shame i was going to make a point about learning difficulties with regard to the “double spacing” as being the least of the issues to talk about .

    But the tendency for wankers to jump on ppl’s grammatical mistakes/spelling is a clear case of well being cunts and has happened for years think back to pink floyd

    I have to take time to think how to spell a word its frustrating.

    Dyslexic and fucking proud

  • omgarsenal

    Jorn……you might have more credibility and we might pay more attention to your comments IF you;

    1)supported them with actual facts and proof, neither being evident in your disjointed post, and

    2)if you actually learned to spell,compose, use proper syntax and punctuation. since I have asked you for proof, here are some corrections that you might want to make in future:

    * Arsenal fc is normally written Arsenal FC,
    * The job is spread on several individuals should read spread OVER several individuals, since we spread jam ON bread but spread responsibilities over,among, between, etc.
    * Wenger who want to be in charge of everything should read Wenger who WANTS to be….
    * I would say that all you fans who continue to support Wenger and the way the organization is run now is a part of the problem should read the organization is run now ARE a part…..

    Hopefully you’ll come back, write an article about how and why AFC have not improved over 10-15 years and how Wenger is a dictator. My intuition tells me we won’t bwe hearing from you anytime soon.

  • omgarsenal

    bwe should read be!!!

  • Leon


    If you’re reading this please control the grammar police.

    OMG (Don McMahon), you should be ashamed of what you’ve written, but I know you wont be, you’ve always had this prickish attitude.

    jake, very well put.

  • colario

    @ omgarsenal
    06/04/2017 at 11:21 pm

    Jorn……you might have more credibility and we might pay more attention to your comments IF you;

    “1)supported them with actual facts and proof, neither being evident in your disjointed post, and

    2)if you actually learned to spell,compose, use proper syntax and punctuation. since I have asked you for proof, here are some corrections that you might want to make in future:”

    I agree with your comment in the paragrapher. Proof/evidence please Jorn for your claims/beliefs.

    As to vocabulary and spelling mistakes there may be a problem.
    I don’t’ know who Jorn is but if she/he does not speak English as a first language than knowing when to write ‘S’ or omit the letter at he end of the word takes a good deal of practice.

    Also prepositions take a lot of practice. In some languages many English prepositions are suffixes.

    Many people who learn English as another language learn from teachers who are not native speakers and they having learnt a mistake pass on their mistake to their students.

  • WalterBroeckx

    We can come to the conclusion that image is everything these days. Or is it images are everthing? 😉

    I see we are back to the “dictator” allegations…..

    Such words cannot be used in relation to Wenger. When you look at the sad state of the world outside football where there are more than enough examples of real dictators this is as big an insult as it can get. In fact it is almost on the same line as the insults the media invented when Wenger joined. I can’t take people serious who use the word dictator when it is about Wenger.

  • Leon


    I doubt if the person who used the “dictator” word meant it in the way that you’re suggesting. In fact we both know he didn’t don’t we?
    It’s more than obvious to Jorn and many other supporters that Wenger has far too much responsibility at Arsenal and needs to have his role diluted to the extent that he just deals with the team.
    Nobody is comparing him to world dictators.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Where do I even begin ? Let’s start with the article first.

    Tony , another fine article and to the point ( obviously its intent being missed by some !).

    As I don’t reside in the UK , nor read or follow its media’s bleatings and brayings ; or follow or give a shit at the follies and fuck ups of other clubs , and being only interested in the well being of the Arsenal, I am quite satisfied with our board and manager .

    We could have been in a better position in the EPL , or in the other cups , but then again ,it could have been a lot worse .There is still a lot to fight for and I will keep the faith .

    To find out such loyalty is regarded by some as being a source of Arsenal’s problem is ..well…,both startling and stupefying ! Up the Gunners !

    And , OMG ,as a one who almost exclusively uses English as a first language, it also grates me when I see it being murdered or mutilated ! And believe me, is being done regularly in my country .

    I for one ,enjoy your ‘prickish’ humour ! Am sure you have earned the right to it . Unlike some who are still stuck at the cunt stage !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Here is how to kill a language – with humour of course !

  • MickHazel

    This dictator nonsense propagated by our moronic media and repeated by the sheep who follow them is really annoying.
    Unless Jorn works at Arsenal he has no way of knowing how much and in which areas Wenger manages or what he does on a daily basis. As manager he obviously takes ultimate responsibility for all major decisions in a variety of different areas but I doubt very much he has direct influence in the day to day running of most of the many departments within the club. Is Jorn saying that Wenger is suddenly called away from training to sort out a problem in the catering department, or arrange a plumber to see to a faulty shower in the changing room. Most jobs including a majority of the really important ones will be delegated to a variety of senior staff, expert in their particular field, just like in every other large football club or business.

  • Leon


    Wenger would probably get his tools out & fix the plumbing himself and we know his attitude to catering. I support jorg inasmuch as he recognises that Arsene is a bit too powerful at Arsenal although his “dictator” ( which I doubt that he meant it literally) description and grammar seems to have agitated the usual smug pricks.

  • MickHazel

    I am going to get my bathroom re-done, I think I may get Arsene to do a quote for me.

  • Leon

    ….and Jokerboy’s use of the C word can’t have been missed by the irony police.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Apparently it takes a lot of practice for a man to get it right !

    Queef –
    an expulsion of wind from the vulva during coitus; a vaginal fart.

    queefable man –
    A man who is capable of a woman’s queef .

  • Pat



  • blacksheep

    everyone a ‘dictatorship is a government or a social situation where one person makes all the rules and decisions without input from anyone else’. I’m not sure this applies at Arsenal FC either on a functional day-to-day level or more broadly. But, M Wenger does have considerable influence and power over the decision-making process that much is evident form outside (I accept the point that we can’t KNOW this).

    The question is NOT whether he is powerful (he is) but instead to what extent is he TOO powerful?

    Arsene always seems to operate as someone who admires the team ethic. He has never simply bought ‘stars’ he busy some and blends them with youth developed through a carefully managed youth set up. Whenever I talk to Andrew C before games (someone who bothers to watch the youth teams and reserves) he explains how their set up mirrors that of the 1st team.

    You can’t run a club (a business) as big and as complex as Arsenal FC on your own. You simply can’t take all the decisions without listening to other people. It is frankly ridiculous to think that AW decides everything.

    It is also widely known (or at least accepted) that Wenger gives very little in the way of half time team talks. Not because he had no ‘pashun’ [sic] but because he TRUSTS the players to work out the problems himself. In fact, I’d argue he should on occasion be a little more dictatorial!

    I have long wanted Arsene Wenger to have more help in the coaching and team selection/tactics. He seems to place a lot of faith in those that he has worked with for a while (the loyalty that is so often used suggest he is ‘weak’ by his critics). I’d welcome some fresh ‘legs’ in there and maybe there is a battle going on behind the scenes as some sources have suggested.

    But none of us know what is really happening at Arsenal nor exactly how much power anyone wields.

    So try and relax and let the dust settle. I see no point in protesting about any of this when I’m not armed with the facts nor have any realistic hope of changing anything. I’m not a defeatist, nor a slavish follower of all things Arsene. I simply pays my money to support my chosen football team. It costs me about £1000 a year plus Tony’s beer money (donations welcome) and I expect nothing more than to be (mostly) entertained, and chat to fellow supporters/sufferers.

    Its a game.

    Grammar, on the other hand, is much more important. 🙂

  • Leon

    ‘Grammar, on the other hand, is much more important. ?’
    It would appear so if the Fat Controller & Joker Boy’s criteria are implemented on UA.

  • porter

    Congratulations boys, taking a pop at Jorn’s grammar has proved to be a wonderful piece of deflection from the points he was trying to make. It may not have been perfect but the tenure of the points he was trying to make probably deserved more attention than just criticising his English.

  • Jared

    The points he was trying to make are ridiculous. “…go downwards, like Arsenal has done the last 10-15 years.” Hmmm, 15 years ago, what year was that? 2002? Yeah that was a straight downward trajectory if I’ve ever seen one.

  • Philbet

    So many thngs to hate Wenger for
    Tika taka football
    Zonal marking
    No players like Vierra and Dennis.
    No defensive midfielder.
    Wasting a fortune on Reyes
    The highest ST prices in the world!!
    The rubbish top Four trophy
    Failing Fourteen times to win the FA cup.
    Being old.
    Being a total dictator.
    Getting beat at Bradford
    Being French (what could they know).
    How could he poosibly be still in a job ??

  • Menace

    Philbet you missed out:

    The most educated Manager in the EPL,
    The most studious person of the game,
    Unable to go undefeated for 13 seasons
    Predicting it before doing it,
    A linguist,
    Paying for a stadium through success

    Indeed how could anyone want to keep him?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It appears that the self appointed hall monitor’s stupid protestations are being totally ignored by the moderators.
    Long live the good moderators !
    Long live good grammar !