by Tony Attwood
In the Telegraph today Matt Law, Football News Correspondent of the newspaper, who had been sitting in one of the privileged journalist seats at what is ludicrously called “The London Stadium” writes, “There comes a point when football supporters do not care about what is reasonable, or whether or not these things happen, or if they even themselves out, or whatever. They just want to see their manager let rip.”
If ever there was a 21st-century version of what Ben Elton in “Upstart Crow” would call “a load of bollingbrooks” that was it. First, supporters want to see their team win. Second, they want to see the opposition humiliated. Third, they want to see glorious free-flowing football. In that order. What they want last of all is for a journalist sitting in the privileged seats and being paid to do so to tell them what they want.
And I guess what most of us want now is for Arsenal to win the league. Ideally with several games to go, but however it happens, to win the league is what it is about. So let’s see if we will. Here’s today’s top-of-the-table.
Last season, 2021/22, it was at this point
…but the table ended up looking rather different, largely because Liverpool went from 2 January to the end of the season without losing a league game.
Going back one more to 2020/21, the top two were out of phase with the number of games played.
And when it ended
So what we can see from these two previous seasons is that a gap of 10 points after 21 games became a gap of one point at the end. Two years ago, a gap of three points, ended up as a gap of 12 points.
Just one more – 2020/21
… and at the end, the gap of 16 points became a gap of 18 points, although to a different team.
So what do we learn? Over the last three years the team that has been at the top after 21 games has been at the top at the end of the season. Which is slightly reassuring, even though the gap is currently only six points.
No need to panic yet. Perhaps it is time to have a laugh instead.
And it is not as if there is no jolly news around. According to the Telegraph and a number of other newspapers, “South African lawmakers have pledged to block a proposed £42.5 million sponsorship deal between Tottenham Hotspur and the country’s official tourism board.” Which is not good news for Tottenham who have still not been able to find a sponsorship deal for their stadium, upon which their financial forecasts for this year and the next fifteen years were based.
The newspaper continues, “Leaked details of a planned three-year partnership sparked public outrage in a nation currently impacted by power blackouts and water shortages and the parliament’s tourism committee are adamant that the idea must be halted.”
All the details come from leaks so a certain amount of caution is required but what is most certainly true is that there is outrage in South Africa – a country utterly beset by power cuts and water shortages. Indeed even the Tourism Committee in the South African parliament has said that the idea is utter garbage.
“This deal, it ends here, today, now, because there is everything wrong about the deal itself,” said the committee chairperson Thandi Mahambehlala, and yes from our perspective on the other side of the world that looks a fair summing up.
The plan was to include such goodies as kit branding, what is known as “backdrop branding” where the promotion is seen behind the player or manager being interviewed, and of course giving the top people in South Africa access to tickets, although those are becoming less valuable by the day.
Here’s the top of the league table with points per game shown for this season, and the end of recent seasons…
Arsenal’s points per game as things stand would be enough to win the league in 2020/21 but not enough in the other three years shown. That suggests the current blip cannot be allowed to continue any longer.
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