The Twinkle of a Fading Star
By Tony Attwood
Trotting off to Italy for a week and a bit is rather an interesting experience. My Italian verges on the non-existent side of useless, so my attempts to glean footballing information from Corriere dello Sport in its native printed form is limited.
Fortunately there is an English edition – of which today’s headlines are
- Balotelli salutes Italy
- Hernanes: “Thank you Lazio”
- Inter Milan Euro Challengers
- Balotelli: “Italy cap a thrill
- Prandelli: “A great team
which shows you that their prime interest is, quite reasonably in Italian football, and by and large they don’t give a pig’s ear about the EPL. All that talk every day about the EPL dominating the world – maybe, but there are limits.
Which means that in Italy they haven’t actually noticed that Liverpool, one of the three most successful teams in English football in the past half century, are about to go plop. (I would say “go bang” but I think this is a case of TS Eliot predicting the future perfectly.)“This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper”
Those lines come from Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” which starts
We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together
How perfectly that describes Liverpool FC. It won’t be at all long before the memory of Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1 is a dim and distant memory, replaced by thoughts which if not as perfectly written as TS Eliot’s below then at least carrying the same sentiment.
This is the dead land This is cactus land Here the stone images Are raised, here they receive The supplication of a dead man’s hand Under the twinkle of a fading star.
“The Twinkle of a fading star”.
How perfectly that describes Liverpool FC
Before I went to Italy I wrote a little piece saying that I thought that all the talk of 6 bids on the Liverpool tabletop, (the Chinese, the Malaysians, and that bloke who runs the fish and chip shop outside Everton) were just chit chat, and nothing would happen.
I was wrong in one regard – something did happen.
The Royal Bank of Scotland have let it be known for sure that they will call in their debt of £237m on October 6, rather than agree to any more re-financing deal. What is more, that the jolly duo of Tom Hicks and George Gillett now have to pay RBS £2.5 million a week for being in default.
Shall I do that again, just in case you didn’t see it? No, allow me to move for a moment into boasting mode and say that I and a handful of others were writing about this two years ago. Then, when the auditors failed to sign off the Liverpool accounts I was writing about it again.
Of course I know it is just finance and just economics and just plain boring old guff that has nothing to do with Arsenal – but let me try it this way.
Let us say that the average EPL player of merit earns £25k a week. The money being paid to RBS each week for no reason other than the fact that the club is in default, could alternatively be used to pay 100 extra players at Liverpool. (OK I know about the 25 rule and they couldn’t use 100 players, but you see what I mean. They could buy and pay the salaries of a complete new squad week by week with that sort of money. It’s a sort of metaphor – without the metaphor.)
All of which shows you that if your names are Hicks and Gillett’s and you feel like borrowing £237m from RBS make sure you can pay it back when they ask you to. Which was actually April. (Eliot again: “April is the cruellest month”).
So by October 6 when RBS call in the loan, they will have added a neat little extra £60m to the bill making £200m since February 2007, when RBS stuffed £185m into the back pockets of those pesky Americans.
As for all those bids I was talking about before I went for my little pilgrimage to the Italian Lakes (so refined at this time of year don’tcha know what?) Yahya Kirdi’s,the ruling family of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qassimi, Kenneth Huang, uncle Tom Cobbley and all… sorry guys, they haven’t paid up.
So what of Arsenal? Those of us who are members of the club got our membership packs some 10 days or so ago, (complete with the 3.5 seconds of me on the DVD asking Arsene Wenger to define himself) and within were details of the new share purchasing arrangements for fans. The idea hit the papers yesterday, and got a very positive response.
It doesn’t mean that you or I own the club through the new system, but it is a positive step, and interestingly was welcomed by everyone on the board and the big shareholders off it. (Good move Mr Usmanov – more of the same please).
So let us compare and contrast Arsenal and Liverpool. Arsenal – total disaster, no trophies for five years. The model clearly doesn’t work, let’s do something different. I know, let’s follow the Liverpool model, except that they now have a chairman who is a season ticket holder at Chelsea, are paying £2.5 million a week to the bank in default payments, and can’t find a buyer – and so will become the property of the bank.
If you want to know what happens next look at Rangers in Scotland. They are run by the bank, and yes indeed they won the league last year, so maybe it isn’t such a bad idea after all.
But just take a look at what is happening to that club, as every asset under the Rangers banners (from players to the club shops) are being sold off. No one wants to buy them, and soon there will be nothing left. Absolutely bugger all.
Arsenal meanwhile are still under the board’s control, still making money, and very slowly giving some control over to the fans. Not a full Barca model (thankfully – they are bust too) but a step in a more reasoned direction.
There is so much excitement about the new Share-Save scheme that the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust website crashed for 90 minutes yesterday.
We are on the edge of having a debt of just £240m – the outstanding debt on the Ems. That debt has an interest rate so low that the chances are that if you have a mortgage on your house, you’d do next to anything to get such a rate.
That is good news, because since there is no doubt that the debt will be paid off then the club will become worth more and more over time, and the shares will be worth more.
Actually it is really really amusing that some of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites are telling us not to touch the shares – what with the ground being half empty on Saturday for the Blackpool match because of the all the season ticket non-renewals. They will, as always miss out while the rest of us have quite a nice day out.
May I express my sincere thanks to Walter for running Untold during my time away – challenging articles, vibrant conversation… that is exactly what Untold Arsenal should be. An antidote to the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites while publishing articles of the type to be found nowhere else.
Untold’s Index – see the world through a grain of sand
Woolwich Arsenal – the history of the club from the fans point of view
Making the Arsenal – the book every Italian was reading by the poolside this summer.
One of these statements is not quite correct.
- Why is it becoming so difficult to find a sponsor for new football stadium?
- Corruption flares up again in Italy, as Premier League figures don’t look too clever
- How much does a club have to spend on transfers to get a trophy?
- Does the team that is top after 14 games usually go on to win the league?
- How the Taliban infiltrated the World Cup and used it to maintain its war on women