It’s time to make a decision at Arsenal. With financial fair play looming on the horizon, the financial playing field that clubs have to play on looks to be leveling out – no longer will smaller, wealthier clubs be able punch well above their weight. Gooners everywhere will breath a sigh of relief. For them, it can’t come too soon. However, it is going to take a little while longer before it makes the impact that Arsenal need it to.
In the mean time Arsene Wenger is staring at the possibility of losing the latest crop of his established stars. Van Persie, Arshavin, Vermaelen, Djourou and Walcott are all now two years off the end of their contracts and the club will be looking to secure them on long-term deals in the very near future.
Without the long-term contracts, Arsenal will find it hard to fight off offers for their best players next summer. Before the introduction of financial regulation, wealthy clubs will use this last opportunity to pay inflated prices to try and prize the key assets away from other teams. The vultures are already circling the Emirates and the rumours have already started as to who and when.
So Arsenal have a choice. They can, just this once, break the bank and secure their best players on lucrative, long-term contracts. Or they can sell them and invest this money in youthful replacements and debt management.
What is most painful for Arsenal fans is knowing that their two majority shareholders are both billionaires. Whilst it looks as though Usmanov (one of the richest men in the world) would happily invest some serious money into the club, majority shareholder Stan Kroenke seems much more interested in seeing a regular profit sliding into the bank.
The danger is that if Arsenal become less competitive on the field, they become significantly less competitive off it. Maybe now is the time that Arsenal takes a step away from the moral high ground, spunks some cash and in doing so, protects its short-term future. The long-term seems to be reasonably assured thanks to the strategy in place at the club, but could sticking to their guns leave Arsenal vulnerable because of financial markets outside of their control?
It’s a tricky dilemma for Arsenal and its supporters. Every fan that I know is incredibly proud of the way that the club is run. It is good to know that the team they support has been built organically. Yes, there are a few dissenters calling for private investment, but by and large they are a small (but vocal) minority. The main problem for many supporters is frustration; they pay the highest prices in the league to see their team play, but they don’t see the same level of investment made on players that the other teams make. This is largely due to debt attached to the new stadium, which many fans seem to have forgotten is still being paid off. Still, it’s undoubtedly frustrating for everyone.
So what are the possible solutions and outcomes?
1.Arsenal carry on as they are, lose a few players and bring a few new faces in. They stay in or around the top four, financial fair play kicks in, they become more stable and as the stadium is paid off, they are able to offer amongst the highest wages on the planet, attracting quality players and future success.
2.The club invests money now and pay their established players the wages needed to keep them. They invest heavily in new players such as M’Vila, Hazard and Benzema and continue to be competitive domestically and on the continent.
3. Kroenke stubbornly refuses to step up and take some responsibility for his team. They don’t respond to the financial market and in doing so they drop away from the top of the league. They can’t compete financially and lose all their best players and so don’t stay competitive. The loss of additional revenues slows the mortgage repayment and it takes Arsenal many years before they are stable enough to challenge again.
There are many more permutations and possibilities. These are the big three. Carry on as is and succeed, increase short-term investment and succeed or fail to respond to the market and in doing so set the club back as many as five to ten years.
What makes this such a horrible predicament is the choices that it presents. Does Arsenal abandon its principles – the very principles that make it the envy of every responsibly run club in the world – and throw cash at their problems? Or do they stick to their guns and hope?
This supporter would like to think that they can weather the storm and turn things around before it gets too bad. Arsenal are a great club and given their ethical approach to the financial side of the game, they should be applauded. FIFA and UEFA should be doing more to make sure that clubs that stick to budget are rewarded on the field. The current suggestion is that UEFA will ban overspending clubs from playing Champions League football. We can’t expect the big clubs to take expulsion from European competition laying down, they’ll just form a new ‘super’ league, fracturing the sport beyond repair. Financial penalties for irresponsible clubs are never going to work; I think points deductions for serious offenders are the only way it’s ever going to change the game.
Arsenal has some decisions to make. Do they stick or twist? Do they stand by their principles or move with the times? One thing is for sure, the next season is going crucial for the Gunners. Even if they don’t win a trophy, they’ve still got to keep moving the club forward, because without momentum they might just go off the rails.
Football is broken. It’s turning into a joke. I for one am starting to get disillusioned with the sport because it has become so detached from its roots. It used to be a rough and tumble game, played by real men in front of working class crowds who loved the banter, the excitement and the escapism. Now its a millionaires hobby, filled the brim with corrupt money-grabbing whores with nothing but self-interest at heart. I’m not calling for a return to the old days, when players would roll around in mud and kick the shit out of each other, but we need to bring some integrity back to the game – before it disappears up its own arse in a wave of self-congratulatory money-hording back-slapping corruption.
Firstly, if it were up to me, I’d give every member country of FIFA an equal say in decisions. No more of this elitist ‘big country’ crap. If you’re eligible to play in the tournaments and qualifiers and prepared to take your lickings on the field (San Marino, Liechtenstein etc etc), then you should get a vote. No more of this disgusting FIFA ‘decision’ making, where a couple of fat cats, stuffed to bursting point on the money of honest supporters, make decisions that only further line their pockets. It needs to stop. With a redistribution of power we’d see an end to the bribery that is so common in football’s governing bodies – it’d mean no more oil-rich countries buying themselves prestigious international tournaments.
Next I’d turn the headquarters of FIFA into a copy of the Galactic Senate in Starwars. I’d give each of the delegates one of those hovering platforms and they’d all sit around and talk about football every day. No particular reason, I just think it’d look cool.
My next step would be to introduce video refs in all of the top domestic divisions and in all internationals. The haphazard approach to refereeing that we currently have is just not good enough. Lampard’s ‘goal’ against Germany, Henry’s basketball moves against Ireland; I could go on and on and on with this one, this list is comprehensive. The captain of each team would have three chances to call on the ref, and the ref could go to the video as often as he (or she) liked.
Next I’d ban all communication with the ref from players who aren’t captaining their team. You speak to the ref without being talked to first; you’re off. I guarantee that it would take two or three weeks and a couple of 8 v 8 games and then all the problems that we currently have with hassling the ref, gamesmanship, intimidation and harassment; all gone. It does my nut watching grown men, alleged role-models, spitting their dummies every five minutes and acting like spoilt brats (which they are – but that’s a different matter).
Scrap the new offside rule. It’s a confusing pile of wank.
Wage caps need to be introduced. I’m not suggesting that players shouldn’t be handsomely paid, but it’s not fair on supporters of teams like Tottenham or Stoke that other similarly sized teams (like Manchester City and Chelsea) can just blow them out of the water when it comes to offering wages. I’m not suggesting some communistic approach where everybody gets the same, there should be bands that players fall within – Ronaldo and Fabregas need to be paid more than Rory Delap, for example. But it’s not fair when an average sized club like City can offer players/mercenaries like Nasri triple the wages of a bigger club like Arsenal. It creates a false economy and the people who end up paying the difference are the supporters. Besides, the best players will get more money from their sponsorship deals anyway.
There needs to be a more even distribution of television money. Barcelona and Real Madrid currently hold a monopoly over broadcast rights in Spain. It is not conducive to fairness. The Premier League is pretty good at its financial distribution, but this needs to replicated across Europe. All teams should benefit from the sports popularity, not just the elite.
All football agents need to be taken out back and beaten to within an inch of their lives, just for being money grabbing scum. There is no way that so much of supporters money should be lining the pockets of middlemen.
Clubs shouldn’t be allowed to live above their means. Ever. It just ain’t fair. Is it right the supporters of Bolton or Norwich will never get to enjoy the thrill of their club being in the Champions League, just because some diminutive Russian/American/Arab billionaire/swindler/prince has decided he wants a vanity project? How has it come to pass that we’ve let these super-rich individuals trample over our clubs and our dreams? You spend what you make, the end.
It seems to me that football is, without a doubt, the best game on the planet. You put 22 men on a field (who know what they’re doing) and you’re going to be entertained. When played at the highest level it can, at times, be a joy to behold. The honest competition, the banter, the song-singing, the spending all week waiting for Saturday to come – these are the trimmings that, along with the game itself, make football the most exciting and entertaining spectacle in world sport. Surely we owe it to ourselves to make sure that it’s run with integrity, honesty and in the spirit of fairness.
I’m getting disillusioned with football. I know the rules, I recognise the players, but there is something not-quite-right going on at the moment. We’ve let a few entrepreneurs and a handful of flash-monkeys transform it into something grotesque, something unrecognisable. What happened to my football? I want it back please.
I laughed my ass off when I first read it. Poor, poor Arsenal. Gooners who’ve heard the reports must be very frustrated. Some idiot at Barca – a vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu – has been out gloating how they’ve completely ripped Arsenal off.
Apparently he reckons that the 35 mill that they paid was cheap and that Fabregas is worth closer to the 60 million that Arsenal initially valued him at. Perhaps he should’ve kept his mouth shut; nobody likes to get robbed, but its worse when people shout about it in the press a month after the deal has been done.
The incident has confirmed for me what I have long suspected: Barcelona have no class.
When they are actually playing the game they are a joy to behold. The passing, shooting and movement are all top notch. They are, without a doubt, the best team on the planet right now.
But this level of quality is sadly lacking in everything else that they do. They dive around like a bunch wimps, crying and holding their faces when people look at them funny. They might have skills, but they’re also a cheating scum. I know that in European leagues and in South America that they look at it as ‘earning a free kick’, but I don’t care how you dress it up, it’s petty cheating and it doesn’t suit a team that are so excellent in all other respects.
Off of the pitch they are not much better. Gone are the sponsored UNICEF – a saving grace for the club – replaced by the sponsoring Qatar Foundation. Not so much a charity but more a PR exercise by some seriously corrupt oil sheiks still trying to convince the world that they didn’t bribe their way to the 2022 World Cup.
They regularly tap up other teams players. They realise that the pull of playing for such an amazing team is going to convince their targets to push through transfers, so they just bypass the part of the transfer process which involves them agreeing a fee and go straight to the talking to the player part. They’ve started brazenly doing it through the media, and UEFA don’t seem even slightly bothered. Sure, they don’t get the president to do it; it’s the players who speak out on their behalf, but at the end of the day, it’s still tapping up.
Nobody doubts that Fabregas shouldn’t be back at his old stomping ground. Only the most unsympathetic Arsenal supporter would suggest otherwise. But surely they could have a little more decency in how they recruit. First they tap the player up by talking about him publicly for over two years, then when they actually get their man, they rub salt in the wounds of the selling club by reminding them how much more they should’ve paid for the player.
They’ve done a good bit of business with resigning Fabregas. He is indeed worth more than the 35 million that Barca paid. And maybe there is bit of justice in the fact that they got him on the cheap from Arsenal (who themselves poached him from the prestigious Barcelona Academy many seasons ago). But there is such a thing as being a ‘gracious winner’ and not gloating in the face of someone you’ve just defeated, whether on the pitch or in the board room.
Barcelona seem to have the world at their collective feet. They’ve got everything. Just like Charlie Sheen, they’re winners. It’s just a shame that they’re also a bunch of @*?%’s.
Arsenal have been busy busy busy today. They’ve confirmed the signings of two defenders: Mertesaker and Santos. Two great bits of business by the looks of things. Now all they need is some midfielders. Arteta is looking like the man they want, though if I were Wenger I’d be suspicious; he went through the Barcelona Academy. Perhaps he should have a DNA test as part of his medical.
Joe Cole has picked Lille (the French champions), over Aston Villa. You’ve got to feel sorry for Cole; he was supposed to be the next best thing and he’s….. well….. not. That signing fueled all sorts of rumours regarding Eden Hazard, but so far it looks like that ain’t happening.
Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch still don’t know where they’ll be playing next season. Presumably they’ll go wherever you can get a better deal on a tube of Pringles. Those curved little buggers just get Crouchy dancing. Expect them to head up North somewhere.
Owen Hargreaves has signed on the dotted line for Man Citeh. Presumably they’re trying to keep their physios busy, after all they pay them and it’s not fair if they just sit around on their arses all day doing nothing.
Villa have made two underwhelming signings with Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas heading over to the second city. I envisage they got sold purely to fund…..
Last seasons Player of the Year – Scott Parker – has just signed for the Spurs. Great bit of business by that scamp ‘Arry ‘fuck off I’m a football manager, not a wheeler dealer’ Redknapp. Can’t believe nobody signed him before today.
Greasing the wheels of that transfer were the loan signings of Bentley and Lansbury. I reckon that West Ham have done a good bit of business there. And here was me thinking they were skint. Staying in the Championship momentarily, West Ham have also signed the player with the best name in world football; Papa Bouba Diop. I never get bored of saying that.
Christian Poulsen has come out of retirement at Liverpool to sign for France’s answer to Peckham Springs – Evian.
Zdenek Grygera signed for Fulham. Expect to see him worshipping at the shrine to Wacko Jacko any minute now – it’s in the contract.
Davide Santon went from Milan to Newcastle late last night. Boy, he’s in for a shock.
There have been some other transfers but none of them did anything for me, so I’m gonna pretend they didn’t happen.
Transfer gossip is reaching fever pitch tonight with the window closing in just over 24 hours. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at who’s bought who.
By the time you read this, expect some of the mentioned deals to have gone through.
Arsenal need new faces and fast. After getting well and truly spanked by the Champions on Sunday, Arsene Wenger’s red cheeks have emerged from the darkness of the Emirates to place several bids on several players. Some of them might have even passed puberty. The shock. The horror.
Mertesaker is seemingly on his way to North London. That will please Gooners everywhere. Santos looks like in interesting attacking full-back, if the deal is done. After kidnapping Park Chu-Young (see yesterdays blog here) Arsenal seem to have sorted their striker shortage.
With the exception of Mertesaker, whose signing will no doubt please most supporters, Arsenal have yet to address their most pressing issues. The most notable of which is the gaping hole in the middle of their midfield. Apparently Dortmund have politely given Arsenal the finger following an unsuccessful bid for Mario Goetze. Though, given the fact that he’s only just grown pubes, most Arsenal supporters will probably breath a sigh of relief.
The Gunners have also been sniffing around the Chelsea subs bench of late. Apparently they like the smell of Malouda, Alex and Benayoun. I predict that one of these might go. Maybe. But then what do I know?!
In Wenger’s usual stomping ground of Ligue 1 there are rumours aplenty. Lucho Gonzalez is too old for Wenger so don’t expect to see him. Marvin Martin is a possibility as is nearly every other creative midfielder worth his salt. M’Vila looked likely but apparently Rennes want 30 trillion for the player. No, I can’t see it either.
I know, I’m banging on about Arsenal a lot. Don’t worry, I’m nearly done. But I promise you the dealings there are more interesting than at any other club. You’ll see.
It might be easier to list the players that Arsenal haven’t been linked with. Maybe not, but you get the idea. There are fecking hundreds of them. Here’s a digest, in no particular order.
Cahill, Samba, Jagielka, Dann, Baines, Vertonghen, McCarthy, Arteta, Hazard, Jadson, Willian, Elia, Pereira, Zarate, Benzema, Defoe, Doyle etc etc etc etc zzzzzzzz. There are more, but I stopped giving a shit halfway into that list.
Aston Villa are apparently having a look at the perennially-crocked Owen Hargreaves. That sounds like a really ‘good’ idea. Unless he’s going to give them a cut in his next fitness video I can’t imagine why anyone would want him on their physio table. They must be desperate.
Alan Hutton might be on his way from Spurs. They also quite fancy Yossi Benayoun. That cheeky little Israeli scamp must have put something in the water because everyone seems to want a piece of him today. Scott Parker has an outside chance of signing for the Villans.
At the end of the day I don’t expect anything exciting to happen over there. It’s almost as if Alex McLeish has sucked all joy out of that place.
Blackburn Rovers once dreamed of signing Ronaldinho, but since he realised that they intended on paying him with giblets, there has been an unsurprising lack of transfer activity going on at the club. They look like they might sign Scott Dann from Birmingham and they’ve also been linked with the not world-famous furniture store Bangura’s of Stockholm. Meh.
Bolton might have condemned Gary Cahill to Europa League football. The bastards. By playing hardball with Arsenal and pricing the player out of the move he wanted, it looks like Cahill’s options are now limited. He said he wanted to play Champions League, so lets see if he waits for a free transfer or if he goes for the payrise that Tottenham will surely offer.
The Wanderers have been linked with that pint-sized bundle of pace Shaun Wright-Phillips. Good signing he would be I think. Well that’s how Yoda would write it if was: 1. Real. 2. A football writer and not a Jedi Master. They’re also looking at NGog from Liverpool; presumably they’re not missing enough easy chances.
Chelsea have probably done most of their business. After all, they’ve spent enough money to make Solomon blush. Word on the street is that they’re talking to Stoke about loaning out their 20 million signing Lukaku. Can’t see it myself. Seems like they’re spending money now before the Financial Fair Play comes into effect, effectively stockpiling players for a rainy day. It’s not fair, but nobody seems to have noticed.
The one possible signing that could happen in the next 24 hours is Modric. Is he worth the reported 30 mil that Spurs are after? Maybe, maybe not. But lets face it, nobody gives a toss if Chelski get ripped off, do they?! Still, he’d be a good signing for them.
Oh, I nearly forgot about Gregory van der Wiel. Another quality full-back for the subs bench. Presumably Chelsea plan on arming the defenders with air rifles and forcing them to compete in a work-experience-boy shoot-out for a place in the first team.
Everton have no money. They might get a loan signing but I doubt it. They’re that skint. The vultures are circling now and expect one or two first teamers to ship out tomorrow. Arteta to Arsenal, maybe. Coleman to Liverpool, maybe. We’ll see. It’s a shame cos Everton are a great club. It proves just how difficult it is to compete with the big boys if you don’t have a sugar daddy to sit behind you, stroke your hair and buy you nice handbags.
Fulham are definitely on the prowl for new players. Their options seem limited because: 1. They don’t like to spend lots of money. 2. They’re just not that exciting. 3. Mohammed Al Fayed insists that all new signings worship at his private shrine to Michael Jackson. Just the thought of it sends shivers down my spine.
They’ve cast their beady eye on Grygera from Juventus. I won’t lie, I haven’t got a frickin clue who he is. More likely is Zaha from Palace and Jerome from Birmingham. Nothing scares fans more than pillaging players from the championship. I expect a tough season for them.
Liverpool have lots of money and they’re not afraid to spend it.
Some crazy rumours are about involving Joe Cole (almost certainly on his way to Lille on loan), a wedge of dirty five pound notes, a bottle of lubricant and Eden Hazard. I think it’s gossip mongers grasping at straws, but hey ho.
Sebastian Coates looks like a done deal. Look forward to loads of ‘get your Coates love, you’ve pulled’ jokes. I know I am.
Coleman looks a possibility, though it remains to be seen whether Everton want to suffer the indignity of dropping on all fours and selling one of their prized assets to a much hated local rival. Though money makes people do the strangest things.
Afellay is a long bet from Barca. And I read somewhere that King Kenny is going to have a head-butting competition with Arsene Wenger to see who will sign Pereira from Parma.
Breaking news. Liverpool in for 1 goal in 4 game striker Zarate. Do me a favour. NO CHANCE.
Manchester City, fresh from signing everyone good, have probably finished with their shopping. Though you never know. Fernando Gago from Real, maybe? Hargreaves from the United treatment table is more likely. Some people have called this one a gamble. Though it’s not really a gamble if you have all the money in the world, is it?!
I’ll be honest, I don’t really care what they do.
Manchester United proved at the weekend that they don’t really need to sign anyone else. That said, they’ve been heavily linked with the excellent Wesley Sneijder all summer. It’s a deal that may still happen. If it does, United will have put the cherry on top of an excellent midfield. Pound for pound they might not have the best players, but they’re a cracking team. Couple that with more injury time minutes than you can shake a stick at and you’ve got a winning formula.
They’ve also been linked with some dude called Ganso. He’s probably good. If you really care then google him.
Newcastle. Now that Mike Ashley is putting the finishing touches on dismantling the team that got his club promoted, he’s looking for cheap replacements to help them kick on. They’ve already made some interesting signings and they look like that they might make one or two more.
Davide Santon is the most likely. Having sold Enrique to Liverpool they need a cheaper alternative. They’re looking to loan Macheda from the Red Mancs. PSV’s Pieters looks like he might be on his way; expect him to be cheap too. I also read a rumour about Aly Cossokho from Lyon.
It seems like Ashley and co., are following the Wenger method. Sell your players at home, buy replacements of dubious quality from France and hope that it all works out. Perhaps someone should point out to the Newcastle board that it hasn’t really worked out all that well at Arsenal.
Norwich City’s survival this season hinges on who they have and who they will sign this summer. They’ve recruited from the lower leagues so far with Vaughan and Ayala the only exceptions. To be honest, rumours are a bit thin on the ground here. The best I could come up with is a last ditch attempt to sign Lansbury from Arsenal. I’m sorry, don’t hate me.
QPR – now this is more like it. They’ve got a few quid laying about somewhere I think. They’ve been linked with Scott Dann and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Can’t see either happening, but never doubt the power of the pound.
Someone somewhere says that they’re interested in signing Liam Ridgewell from Birmingham. I know many Villa fans will be disappointed that he’s not going back to them, but they’ll get over it.
They have just signed left-back Traore from Arsenal. Obviously he did a great job of selling himself on Sunday.
Stoke have been strongly linked with footballing journeyman and Pringles salesman Peter Crouch and his side kick, Wilson Palacios. Pretty boring rumours if you ask me; however, I think both would fit right in to Pulis’ team. If they sign them both then I think most Potters fans will be pretty chuffed with their summer spending.
Sunderland are a team who have spent this summer. They’ve got loads of new faces in at the Stadium of Light. Whether they’ll gel or not is a different matter; time will tell.
In an attempt to undo all their good work in the market it sounds like they’re trying to waste some wonga on signing Samaras. I think the only people who would be happy about that deal are Celtic fans.
Interestingly they’ve been linked to Papiss Cisse from Freiburg. He’s been scoring goals for fun in Germany. If they sign both Cisse and Samaras I think they’ll cancel each other out and they’ll be just as good as they were before they signed them.
Also, I just read that they too like the cut of Peter Crouch’s jib. It’s all about the strikers up there it would seem.
Swansea have, according to those devils over at Sky, just signed German keeper Gerhard Tremmel for free. Expect him to never play.
They also want to sign Master Bates from Middlesborough. I’m so funny.
That is all.
Tottenham! Why the exclamation mark I hear you scream? Well, I expect old ‘Arry ‘fuck off I’m a football manager not a wheeler dealer’ Redknapp to do some serious business in the next 24 hours.
They’ve been linked with Owen Hargreaves. Though I imagine he’ll stay up in Manchester one way or another. They’ve been heavily linked with Scotty Parker and, to be fair, it looks like a good match. They’ve also been giving Yossi Benayoun the eye today, hoping that he elopes with them instead of one of his other suitors.
Craig Bellamy has been touted as a possible signing. You never know, the no-necked bully might fancy a bit of London action. It also looks like they might make a move for Gary Cahill in a player plus cash deal, but he’ll only go if they buy him some Milk Tray.
They’ve been linked with Damiao for a while now; thats a maybe. According to the Times they’ve been passing love notes after class to both Fofana of Le Havre and Barta of Barca; it’s called hedging your bets and we’ve all done it.
Harry’s been trying it on with Joe Cole all summer, though it looks like he’s fallen in love with the French. He likes the accent and the ease at which they surrender to his charms. Allegedly.
I expect one or two of these players to sign. And probably one or two that we haven’t even heard of. He moves in mysterious ways does old ‘Arry.
West Brom are going to be tough to write up. I can’t find any decent rumours. They looked like they might sign Owen Hargreaves, but even he bolted when he realised just how boring they are. Expect Woy Hodgson to make one signing that nobody has ever heard of and expect it to be very boring. To be fair he has transformed them from being the team most likely to get relegated to being the team most likely to be terminally boring. Yawn….. You see what I meant about Arsenal now. Bet you wish I could rub some funk into this section don’t you?!
Wigan have just signed Albert Crusat from Almeria. According to some news outlets. It’s probably true. Why would they lie? Everyones favourite hate-rag – the Daily Mail – reckons they want to sign dos Santos from Spurs. Not really that interesting is it?!
A carrier pigeon just arrived here with news that Wigan are in talks with Celtic over the signing of Shaun Maloney.
I read somewhere on Twitter that they were looking at two South Americans called Canuhe and Fernandes. Sounds about right. They tend to make most of their signings by buying prospects from across the Atlantic. Expect one or two transfers and expect them to be just good enough to help keep Wigan up by the skin of their collective balls.
Wolves. Why do I feel like I’m talking to myself right now?! Well, as far as I can tell, nobody wants to sign for them and between you and me, I’m not surprised.