By Tony Attwood
Two headlines caught my attention. One read, “Seven times Arsenal tried to ‘lowball’ clubs in the transfer market” and the other was, “Latest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang update is not good news.”
ther clubs are more straightforward and deal properly, morally and honestly.
And indeed, the argument goes, the size of the disaster is seen in the Aubameyang situation. Arsenal won’t sort out his next contract and are trying to strip out some bits of the deal, while meanwhile Barcelona (“according to reports in Spain”) are ready to give him everything he wants, no messing. Indeed “according to reports in Spain” Aubameyang “has his heart set on a move to the Catalan side”.
So the question is, “Why is Arsenal populated by such a load of prats that they endlessly screw up transfer deals by trying to shave a few pounds off a fee?”
In the article cited above, Arsenal’s stupid behaviour is seen as the reason we didn’t get such luminaries as Wilfired Zaha, Karim Benzema, Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain and why we almost didn’t get Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette, and why we are losing Aubameyang
Now I took this to be just another bit of knocking copy, until one name leaped out: Suarez. Because in that case Untold did a lot of digging of its own in the American press (Liverpool being owned by an American) and after suitable research, eventually ran the story “Liverpool owner admits he lied about Suarez’ buy out clause”.
It was a classic piece that was not covered in the English press at the time (rather like the current Fifa court cases, the evidence of crowd influence on referees, the Qatar slave labour affair etc etc – the stories of football that are “untold” in the English media). But the Suarez affair was covered extensively elsewhere where it was widely reported that the Liverpool owner admitted at a sports conference in the USA that he repeatedly lied about the transfer arrangements of Suarez in order to make Arsenal look stupid. In fact the story rumbled on for quite a while and we ran a second piece at “What are they smoking at Anfield?” John Henry’s jibe against Arsenal comes back to haunt him…”
You’ll maybe remember the case. Arsenal bid £40,000,001 for Suarez knowing that there was a clause in the player’s contract allowing him to negotiate a move away from the club if a deal at that level came in. Arsenal made the offer and the Liverpool chairman denied there was such a clause. The press lapped up the story as an example of Arsenal stupidity and incompetence, but it was all a Liverpool smokescreen.
Liverpool knew perfectly well that if they put out a story in England the media would accept it without question, and would turn on Arsenal as the idiots in the case, irrespective of the truth. And this is what they then did.
English transfer rumours
Everyone I talk to in the world of football is quite clear: most transfer rumours are fantasies invented by the media. As you may have seen, we regularly find only 3% of the summer transfer tales come to fruition, so what about the other 97%. Try 8 new players coming to Arsenal to give us 122 transfer rumours this summer if you’ve not caught up with just how ludicrous it all is.
Also, no one ever takes responsibility for the stories. Instead, each cites other publications which in turn cites another which…
Blogs, newspapers and broadcasters like these stories because they cost nothing to make up, they keep the columns running, people read them, and stories can be recycled over and over. (We’ve even had the Zaha story back again in the current transfer window).
Now in any other walk of life, a 97% failure rate in terms of story truthfulness in the media would cause that type of tale to be dropped – but football transfer rumours seem to be something else.
However although most clubs are linked with many potential rumours that never happen, far fewer clubs are then blamed for not making the transfers come to fruition. With other clubs it seems to be largely accepted that the stories are fantasies (although none get as many fantasies thrown at them as Arsenal). But with Arsenal some of these stories are thought of as being true – and then Arsenal are blamed for not getting the players wanted.
So we are told Arsenal act appallingly and stupidly, making ludicrous bids, backtracking, not being clear or straight, changing their mind, while always trying to save a few extra pounds on the deal. And it is only Arsenal, because no other club has anything like this number of transfer rumours in each window.
Who are the fantasists and the liars?
Of course, as anyone who has worked in business will tell you, there are some people who do run businesses in which they try and get everything at a discount, they never pay bills on time, they haggle over details, won’t answer calls and so on. After a little while, everyone in the industry gets to know who these people are, and eventually, the straight companies refrain from dealing with those who are “always on the make”.
And there’s no reason to think this is not how it is in football, except for one detail: the number of football clubs is small and the football community is close-knit. Managers and directors of different clubs are rivals, but also they exchange information with each other. “Be careful of dealing with…” “We had a lot of difficulties getting the cash out of …” and so on.
So supposing Arsenal are always trying on the tricks that are suggested. Everyone will get to know about it very quickly and the answer becomes, “OK, you are Arsenal, I know how you behave, I want an offer in writing, signed by two directors, and a 10% non-refundable deposit.”
In fact for many years it was Liverpool that was the club that others were very hesitant in dealing with, not least because of its mega-debts ten years ago, after which the banks took the club over. It is one of many reasons why they had 30 years without a Premier League title.
But there is no evidence that Arsenal have a bad reputation among other clubs when it comes to deals. Rather, the people with the reputation for not telling the truth and always inventing weird tales, are the media.
However as for why they always seem to pick on Arsenal, that’s another story. I’ll come back to that anon.
- Why the media all want Arsenal to buy buy buy, and why we shouldn’t
- “The important thing is not to stop questioning” (Albert Einstein)
- We are running out of referees, and the reason is the PGMO.
- Arsenal v Tottenham: the key fact the media won’t to tell you – and why they won’t
- Arsenal v Tottenham: different clubs, different managers, different successes
- Arsenal v Tottenham with clubs now getting more cards than they put in tackles!
- The Women’s Champions League – the most confusing football tournament in the world?