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Premier League Betting and Odds

Are clubs and the media trying to unsettle Saka and force a transfer?

By Tony Attwood

Prelim: Today is the anniversary of the first report in a newspaper of Arsenal fans signing a song to celebrate a victory.  A recording of the original of the song, and a report on where it came from appear today in the regular anniversary of the day series.

Are they trying to unsettle Saka?

It seems a ludicrous suggestion, more likely to be a symptom of paranoia than the truth.   But sometimes there does appear to be quite an attempt by the media to make Arsenal look inept and Liverpool like the golden boys of English football.

Indeed if one casts one’s mind back to the moment in November 2012 that the Daily Mirror ran the headline, “Red alert! Buy-out clause means Suarez can leave Liverpool for £40m,” we can see the approach in action.

In 2013 Arsenal offered £40,000,001 for the player.   Liverpool’s owner said there was no such contractual clause and refused to talk to Arsenal.  The media believed him, of course, but the jibe ultimately unravelled and the owner admitted there was such a clause.

The story didn’t suggest Arsenal actually wanted to buy the player, because it always looked like Real Madrid were the club most likely to take a player with a history of instability on the pitch, and the bid may well have been part of the vapour transfer trail that Untold often highlighted at that time.  And Arsenal didn’t mind since it was all an excellent cover for the early discussions about the possibility of getting Ozil.

But Liverpool made their noise, and with the media and the AAA always ready to jump on Arsenal, the “failure” of Arsenal to get their facts right became the story.  But Mr Henry, the owner of the club previously owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, then made a speech at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference admitting that he lied to Arsenal and the media on the grounds that contracts in English football are meaningless. 

The media in England didn’t make anything of Henry’s admission, although they made a little of what the Daily Telegraph called the ‘Appalling’ Liverpool tapping-up scandal.   Eventually, Liverpool were accused of ‘submitting a “falsified” document to the Premier League when trying to lure a 12-year-old schoolboy from Stoke City.

That story showed that the Liverpool owner did indeed believe his wild west scenario where there were no rules that needed to be obeyed. Liverpool tried to tap the boy up, and in that botched attempt left the boy “unable to play academy football and his parents in thousands of pounds of debt”.  Liverpool were accused of falsifying the date of a signature on the boy’s academy player registration application.

Damian Collins MP running the Culture, Media & Sport select committee said in a newspaper interview he wanted to examine what he called this “appalling” case.  And all this soon after Liverpool had to withdraw from their bid to get a Southampton player, because they were attempting to tap him up as well.

Meanwhile, the Premier League was accused of threatening to sue the boy and his family for exposing the case to the media.  The League also put a stop to any investigation of the way Liverpool had attempted to sign Virgil van Dijk in which Southampton clearly accused Liverpool of yet more tapping up.  

Ultimately Liverpool were banned from signing schoolboys registered with rival academy during the previous 18 months, and you can read more on the story here.

What is interesting is that the current tale about Liverpool buying Saka comes with no evidence presented that a) Liverpool want to buy Saka, b) Saka wants to move, c) Arsenal will fail to get Saka to sign a new contract – although the last point is given legs because of the media’s long-running tale (without any evidence) that Arsenal are worse than any other club are persuading players to renew.

But what is fascinating is the way that a simple suggestion (that Arsenal are incompetent at tying down players to new contracts, in a way that other clubs are not) has evolved from a fantasy without evidence, into a “Liverpool might try to buy Saka” tale and from there into the notion that the deal is as good as done because Arsenal are incompetent.

This is the power of the media; it is not just one made-up story but rather the ongoing background that people then start to believe.

There is no evidence that Arsenal are any worse than any other club at failing to get players to sign new contracts, nor that slipshod management at Arsenal is allowing players to leave the club in a way that doesn’t happen elsewhere.   The only evidence we have is that a) Arsenal tend not to tell lies in the way that the Liverpool owner did over the Suarez affair and b) a part of the media is desperate to run a new story every day to the effect that Arsenal are incompetent.

 

16 comments to Are clubs and the media trying to unsettle Saka and force a transfer?

  • Arsenal,the eternally incompetent, inept and totally useless club. That is the holy grail of the media and their sympathisers. It has gone on for so long that some people actually believe it to be the truth and nothing but the truth.

    I came to the same conclusion you did,about this Saka situation last year when Klopp was repeatedly so effusive about the boy. I smelled a a a rat and when he did it again and again and the evil media gave so much mention to this totally useless ‘news item’, I quickly came to the conclusion that they were up to something.

    Were they telling us what we didn’t know about Saka? No,they weren’t. We knew the young boy is a revelation and that was exactly why Arteta broke him fully into the he team last season. Even before last season, we saw what he could do and knew that the present and future of Arsenal rested on the young man’s unwavering shoulders. Besides, since when did the media begin to compliment ANY progress worth mentioning about Arsenal? They talk trash about us and associate us with nothing else. They have always had the agenda and have pursued it relentlessly to this day.

    This is the next stage; open destabilization of the player and insidious attack on the club. The media objective is hiding in plain sight to anybody with a pinch of discernment. Why all the sudden attention on the boy? The darling of the media is interested in the player and to shore up to their gradually fading team. Mane, Salah and Firmini are on the wrong side of 30 and they need someone else’s player to replace them. The media are only trying to do their bit to help out in the tapping up and destabilization of the player.

  • mick shelley

    This story has now expanded into Man City and Man U wanting Saka as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Real Madrid added to the queue in due course.
    Incidentally at the end of the last game against Liverpool did anyone else notice Klopp approach Saka, put his arm around Saka’s shoulder and talk to him with that big toothy grin on his face as they were coming off the pitch. I often wonder what was he saying. It could have been ‘well played young man’ of course but it could also have been something more sinister along the lines of ‘Why don’t you come and join us Bukayo and win some medals, we would love to have you’ etc etc etc.

  • Nitram

    Gunnerphilic

    “Arsenal, the eternally incompetent, inept and totally useless club. That is the holy grail of the media and their sympathisers. It has gone on for so long that some people actually believe it”.

    And you only have to go back a week or so to see that that includes too many Arsenal fans. In the end I just gave up because no matter how many trophies we win. How good our overall transfer spend is over the years, they will not waiver from the notion that we are crap at everything, even, if you can believe this, when compared with Spurs.

    When an Arsenal fan tries to paint us in a worse light than those habitual bottlers you know they are a lost cause.

    Anyway, you’ll see soon enough because as sure as Spurs will win nothing yet again this season, they’ll be here spouting their nonsense.

  • mick shelley

    Off topic but.
    Re Martinelli’s double yellow card against Wolves, see the following….
    https://www.givemesport.com/87972088-gabriel-martinelli-red-card-michael-oliver-gave-brighton-player-yellow-card-in-similar-incident
    Oliver makes different choices for different clubs. Maybe we should make Arteta aware of this footage, it would come in handy for when he asks the PGMOL for explanations.

  • Mike T

    Tony/Nitram

    But what is fascinating is the way that a simple suggestion (that Arsenal are incompetent at tying down players to new contracts, in a way that other clubs are not) has evolved from a fantasy without evidence, into a “Liverpool might try to buy Saka” tale and from there into the notion that the deal is as good as done because Arsenal are incompetent.

    I think it was Wenger that talked a lot about an increasing number of players running down there contracts and the reality is that is happening not just at Arsenal but just about every club and yep Chelsea included.

    To a large degree 24 hour sports news keeps us far more up to date with things like fixtures etc but that means the press has to somehow fill their column inches with more speculation rather than fact and that unfortunately tends to lead to far more clutter than fact.

    Personally I think a significant number of the stories that surface about players comes from agents feeding a tame journalist with a line that’s intended to send a message not so muvpch to supporters but the club that the player is contracted .

    Saka is an interesting one because the length and reported value of his contract doesn’t quite make sense when compared to the likes of ESR and say Martinelli. I can’t but help feel that Arsenal surely would be talking to his representatives not because his contract is close to running out, because it’s not, but more to do with two factors 1) Saka clearly is a gem and would need to be rewarded as such and 2) He will be entering the last two years of his contract and Arsenal have publicly stated that if a player doesn’t/ won’t sign a new contract they will sell at that point in time.

    As for tapping up or the press trying to force a clubs hand look at how Saints are conducting themselves and indeed the pressure the press are trying to put on Chelsea regarding Broja. This lad is under contract till 2026.

    Tapping up goes on all the time, it shouldn’t but it does. I read that there is an almost agreement in place that clubs will allow it to happen unopposed up to the point the manager or a senior official of the club doing the tapping up gets involved and communicates directly to the player and yep Jose met with Cole but even an agent talking to another club is tapping up under the laid down definition.

  • Nitram

    mick shelly

    Well done for finding that mick.

    As most of us have conceded, both incidents were possibly, not clearly as the guy in the clip suggests, possibly yellow cards, it’s that we’ve never seen 2 cards issued like that before (well at least I haven’t) despite there many times when they could of been.

    I myself pointed out how on Saturday Lingard received a Yellow for a foul, then instantly showed clear visual and verbal dissent right in the referees face, another yellow card offence, yet he did not receive the second yellow.

    Of course he didn’t because referees never do. As they never do what Oliver did. Except he did.

    And you know why he did ? Well this is my theory anyway. He did it because he thought that’s what he was expected to do. The media frenzy over Arsenals perceived, or real, whatever you want to believe, ill discipline, fostered a belief that you could, and indeed should, meter out the maximum punishment possible to this bunch of ill disciplined thugs at every opportunity. It’s got to the point where if you don’t issue Arsenal with a red card you’re letting the side down.

    I bet he’s as surprised as I am at the amount of ‘footy folk’ prepared to be critical of his actions.

    Poor old Oliver, if only it had been Xhaka, he could of been a hero.

  • Mike T

    Mick.

    As strange as it may seem having read other sites comments on advantage it seems that because the “foul” didn’t stop a promising attack developing them the view is that if the ref plays an advantage because of a promising attack he can’t go back and issue a yellow card.

    Here’s the interpretation from the governing body

    When a referee plays advantage following denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, the red card becomes a yellow card. Likewise, if the referee plays advantage for an offence which interfered with or stopped a promising attack, the yellow card is not shown.

    Mad I would 100% agree but I guess that’s why a yellow wasn’t issued for the first offence

  • Mike T

    Nitram

    I myself pointed out how on Saturday Lingard received a Yellow for a foul, then instantly showed clear visual and verbal dissent right in the referees face,

    For me this is one of the rule/ laws that I personally wish was rigorously enforced. The venom that so many players and yep Chelsea ones included are able to rain down on refs is beyond belief

    It would only take a couple of yellows and in the instance you refer to the message would be taken on board in a blink of an eye.

    The point is it wouldn’t need any rule change it would make the game far healthier

  • carl

    Everyone now is at last mentioning the anti Arsenal feeling within the Media and FA, its been obvious to all Arsenal supporters for years but never mentioned as we didnt want to be seen as whingers !!
    Recently even Ex City Players like Micha Richards whilst on live TV are seeing the anti Arsenal attacks by the FA Media Pundits even Managers of other clubs and Clubs themselves but at last it is being mentioned.
    Also the way Clubs are allowed to tap up Arsenal players for fun even though FA law states that clubs are not allowed to tap up players under contracts. But the FA never does anything when its an Arsenal players being tapped up.
    Its all a joke !! The premier league is rigged for the rich clubs !! the REFs and VAR help the rich clubs with biased and sometimes blatant cheating. We all see it but nothing will ever get done !! Now Newcastle will be added to TOP LIST for the Media and the FA as they now are filthy rich !! mark my words just wait and see !!

  • James LeBlanc

    More lazy dishonest anti Arsenal ‘Mirror reporting’ ……….
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/american-sports/super-bowl-rams-bengals-kroenke-26198810
    ‘The stadium move…and the loans which followed
    An expensive stadium switch spiralling well over the estimated budget prior to construction. Sound familiar?
    For Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium, change the LA Rams and the stunning SoFi Stadium which will play host to tonight’s title game.’

    The Emirates stadium was built on budget & on time thanks to the much missed late Danny Fizman.
    We know which ‘Mirror loving’ North London team’s new stadium was completed significantly late & with its budget spiralling out of control.
    Comparing too of course in a negative Arsenal light player recruitment strategies with the LA Rams is ridiculous as the NFL attempts to level the playing field with the annual Draft & salary budgetary restrictions as opposed to the Premier League’s phoney adherence to FFP.
    The UNIQUE Martinelli sending off exposed once more the Refereeing agenda against Arsenal which is bizarre considering with the exception of the sometimes brainless Xhaka, we are a team who gives referees the least of difficulty to referee.

  • We have been mentioning this for 14 years Carl, but you are right that no one beyond Untold seems to have picked up on it.

  • Nitram

    Mike T

    “For me this is one of the rule/laws that I personally wish was rigorously enforced”.

    When I talked about this on the day, I actually said something along the lines of ‘did I expect, did I even want Lingard sent off ? No”

    But really you are right. It should be enforced. Maybe I’m just so used to seeing it it’s been ‘normalised’ for me. But realistically the problem is we don’t really know what was being said ? Do we want Rugby style officiating where dissent in any form isn’t tolerated ?

    If so, could we trust the referees to apply a more stricter interpretation evenhandedly ? I don’t think so. They are not even handed now, why would that change ?

    We’ve all lip read players effing and blinding and getting away with it, whilst others seem to say every little in comparison and get a card.

    I believe this is often dependent on who he plays for or who he is. You may disagree.

    But back to Lingard as an example.

    He had his back to us. What DID he say? It certainly looked like he was ‘abusing’ the referee but we don’t actually know. Was he just saying something along the lines of “Come off it ref old chap, that was never a yellow card dear boy.”?

    We don’t know and if the ref says, I didn’t card him because he asked how my Mother was, we have to take him at his word.

    For a stricter application of the ‘Dissent’ law I believe referees would have to be Mic’d up and I cant see the ultra secretive PGMOL ever allowing that, can you ?

  • Nitram

    Mike T

    When I read what I had written:

    “We don’t know and if the ref says, I didn’t card him because he asked how my Mother was, we have to take him at his word”.

    I thought, what am I talking about ? When are you EVER allowed to ask a referee why he did something?

    In the words of Captain Mainwaring ‘Stupid Boy’ !

  • Mike T

    The ref being on a live voice feed is interesting and yes it works in Rugby.

    I think a degree it comes down to the players thinking they are above the law and yep that is now something we seen in the criminal context.

    I was looking the other day at things that yellow cards “must” be issued for. Not May but must

    Here they are

    CAUTIONS FOR UNSPORTING BEHAVIOUR

    There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour including if a player:
    attempts to deceive the referee e.g. by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)
    changes places with the goalkeeper during play or without the referee’s permission (see Law 3)
    commits in a reckless manner a direct free kick offence
    handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack
    commits any other offence which interferes with or stops a promising attack except where the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball
    denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by an offence which was an attempt to play the ball and the referee awards a penalty kick
    handles the ball in an attempt to score a goal (whether or not the attempt is successful) or in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a goal
    makes unauthorised marks on the field of play
    plays the ball when leaving the field of play after being given permission to leave
    shows a lack of respect for the game
    initiates a deliberate trick for the ball to be passed (including from a free kick or goal kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands; the goalkeeper is cautioned if responsible for initiating the deliberate trick
    verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart

    CELEBRATION OF A GOAL

    A player must be cautioned, even if the goal is disallowed, for:
    climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which causes safety and/or security issues
    gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way
    covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item
    removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt

    DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

    Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by:
    appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving it to a team-mate to take
    delaying leaving the field of play when being substituted
    excessively delaying a restart
    kicking or carrying the ball away, or provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play
    taking a free kick from the wrong position to force a retake

    Some real interesting ones in there and before anyone jumps up and down all referees and yes outside England allow things like players kicking the ball away at a free kick.

  • Nitram

    Mike T

    The problem is Mike, there’s about 30 examples there, and even though on the face of it the rule is clear, I would say all but the following are subjective, or open to the referees interpretation.

    For example, how long is ‘excessive’ ? What may be reasonable to one referee may not to another.

    The following are just about the only ones that are not open to interpretation.

    -makes unauthorised marks on the field of play

    -plays the ball when leaving the field of play after being given permission to leave

    -climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which causes safety and/or security issues

    NB: Even most of this is down to the referees interpretation as to what is ‘causal’.

    -covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item

    -removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt

    -appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving it to a team-mate to take

    -kicking or carrying the ball away, or provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play

    NB: Even this is down to whether the referee considers an action provocative or not.

    As you will be aware Mike, I believe 99% of the problems we face are due to the subjective nature of footballs rules and laws. Almost everything is subjective and subjectivity effectively means a referee can never be wrong.

  • Michael Ram

    Let’s be honest. The English media are current organised crime entity at present right now. They will take care of clubs who pay and bribe them, especially sugar daddy clubs. Average club becomes powerful from media narrative and the sugar daddies get positive reviews despite bad business practises at home. Btw, Kroeke family are Republicans in the US. Arsenal FC under Arsenal Wenger created the most well run club in the land with everything abide by the rules. That’s why Arsenal is a special club. Integrity and professionalism runs very deep here.