The Arsenal are in the title race

The Arsenal are in the title race.

Third in the league, playing the league leaders next week, we could be sitting here a week today just 2 points off top.

Recently, it has felt a bit shit to be an Arsenal fan.

Before yesterday, we had won just one Premier League game in 2016. After being the form team of 2015, our title challenge was collapsing around us.

On the field we have been in disarray in 2016.

Off the field it has been no better.

Yet another transfer window where we have kept our powder dry followed up with 3 days later that disgraceful email from the club about Barcelona being Cat A a surcharge set to be added to our season ticket costs at the end of the season.

I have never known Arsenal fans to be at such a low eb, both online and in the pubs. There was nothing to be positive about.

Then we have Bournemouth.

A proper old fashioned away  at tiny stadium in a backwards part of the country. A small allocation made the atmosphere feel a little bit older, a bit more mature, a bit more old school. No beer throwing. A few old songs sang. NO BEER THROWING.

And we win. 2-0. With 2 quick goals. Something to keep us warm for the half hour trek back to the station in the wind and rain.

The Bournemouth victory certainly does not paper over the cracks of the last month, and does not hide the fact that the greedy head of our club has reared itself once more, but what it should do is remind us that there is a league title to be fighting for.

I often see a lot of people make two statements.

Love The Arsenal, hate those running it
It’s Arsenal FC, not Arsene FC

I completely agree with both statements. And it is important therefore that over the next few weeks, Arsenal FC, the 11 men out on the pitch, get our full backing.

You might hate Wenger, but do not let this hatred for the man allow you to continually get on the back of the team.

You might be disgusted by the way the men running the club are currently running the club, but do not let this hatred for the board allow you to continually get on the back of the team.

Yes, protests are planned. Against ticket pricing. Against kick off times. Against Sky. Against everything there is to hate, to despise about the modern game. And these protests are justifiable. They are needed.

But at the end of the day, it is the XI men on the pitch we turn up to cheer on. They are the ones going to win us the league title this year. They are the ones we need to be backing.

So remember, back the team through thick and thin, no matter if you are not currently backing those running it.

Keenos

Super Bowl 50 – HYPOCRITES

Tonight is Super Bowl 50.Super_Bowl_50_logo

“The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Broncos v Panthers.

And it is a load of crap.

I have never watched the Super Bowl. I never intend to watch the Super Bowl. And personally, I feel any English football fan who gets excited by it is a hypocrite.

Now before you all get offended, please read on.

As we discussed yesterday, everything about American sport now is where English football is going. And it is not a good place to go.

So what is it that makes being a fan of American Football whilst being based in England a hypocrite.

Foreign “Tourist” Fans

One of the key reasons why clubs have stopped caring about local fans is due to the globalisation of modern football. It is more important for a club to build a fan base in Korea, Dubai or Thailand than look after the local fan.

What this ultimately leads to is an attempt to attract foreign fans to the Emirates (in Arsenal’s case) on a more regular basis. The main method at the moment seems to be selling blocks of tickets to away games to foreign tourist companies to then sell as part of a package deal.

Visit England and go to a Premier League game

This policy contributes to the over demand in tickets, pushing up prices, and dilutes the the atmosphere at games, already at home and more increasingly away.

We all moan about it. Yet when it comes to going abroad, football fans are more than willing to become a Foreign Toursit Fan themselves.

Whether it is going to Dortmund to experience the Yellow Wall. Visiting the Nou Camp or Bernabeu for El Classico. Miami to watch the Heat play basketball. Or in the case of NFL, Denver to watch the Broncos.

You moan about foreign fans infiltrating the English game, but are happy to infiltrate another countries game yourself. Hypocrite.

Game Abroad

Whether it is an ordinary game, or the 39th game, everyone was up in arms over plans to play Premier League games in Sydney, Dubai or New York. It showed complete disregard for the local fan. The ultimate sell out to the foreign tourist fan. Rather than they come to the mountain, we would take the mountain to them.

But then flip it around. Whenever their is an NFL game at Wembley, I see a lot of fans who moan about the 39th game proposal boasting about the tickets they have for the NFL.

With more games in Twickenham and Spurs planned, there were be more and more games in England against in America.

It is made even worse when you think an NFL side has only 8 regular season games.Play one abroad, you are essentially taking away 20% of games a season from local fans.

So how can you ,as a football fan, moan about the 39th game, yet then go to an NFDL game in London? Hypocrite.

London Franchise

An extension from a game abroad will be eventually to have a London Franchise. I have seen a few football fans getting excited over this. But remember, this will not be a new team in the NFL, it will be the removal of one of the existing franchises from their state, their city, their town, and move it to London.

Remember the uproar when Wimbledon moved 80 miles to Milton Keynes. Now imagine Jacksonville Jaguars moving to London. 4259 miles.

Now let’s flip it.

Stan Kroenke is planning to move the St Louis Rams to LA. That is a long way. Now imagine in 10 years time, he still owns Arsenal, the Premier League has gone down the franchise route. 20 sides. No relegation or promotion. Kroenke does a deal with the Premier League to move Arsenal to America, LA to be exist, to become the first American franchise of the EPL (as it will be rebranded). How pissed off will you be?

And if the answer is very, but you are excited about a London Franchise in the NFL, then you are a hypocrite.

The Super Bowl

The 2021 Super Bowl will be played at Wembley. Whilst that is not fact, merely my opinion, I am sure it will happen.

The Greatest Show on Earth.

One of, if not the, most important date in an American sporting fans calender. Held in London.

We had fans of Chelsea and Manchester United moaning that they had to go to Moscow to watch their sides play in the Champions League Final a few years ago.

Imagine the pain that the American fans would feel having to spends thousands on flights, hotels and tickets to watch their side in London, just to appease English and European based fans, to give them a chance of watching the Super Bowl live. It is not right.

Now imagine the FA Cup Final. It is Arsenal v Spurs. Yet due to a multi million pound deal, for one season, potentially more, it is moved to America. To New York Jets MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. How pissed off would you be?

Yet you will happily buy tickets for a London Super Bowl.

Kick Off Times

Traditional, the Super Bowl starts at Sunday, 3.30pm Pacific Time, or 6.30pm EST. That is 5 hours behind GMT – 11.30pm. It takes around 4-5 hours to complete. So already you are seeing the problem. It can not start at 11.30pm GMT when held in London.

Taking into account English football scheduling, I imagine it would be scheduled to start after the 4pm Premier League kick off has finished. My bet would be 7pm. Peak audience time in the UK. Enough time to finish watching the football, make some dinner, and sit and watch the American football.

That is then 2pm EST, or Noon, Pacific Time.

You moan about the lack of Saturday 3pm’s, that TV companies are ruining the game with kick off times. Then you want the Super Bowl held in London. Changing the traditions of millions of loyal American fans. Hypocrite.

 

Personally, I believe, if you love the Super Bowl, go to Wembley, plan to go to America to watch a game, you are as hypocrite. You lose your right to complain about any similar changes in England, in the Premier League.

Keenos

English football and American owners – A worrying combination

30% of Premier League clubs have ownership or investment by an American.

Obviously you have Stan at Arsenal. Then the Glazers at United. Liverpool are owned by an American sports fund, FSG. Ellis Short is at Sunderland. Randy Lerner at Aston Villa. And most recently Crystal Palace have had Joshua Harris invest £50m into the club.

There are an additional 3 American owners in the lower leagues (Fulham, Millwall & Coventry).

Whilst the Eastern European and Arab investors saw buying a Premier League club as play thing. Something to chuck a lot of their personal fortune at for their own please. Like a yacht, a super car, or a chalet in the alps, the American’s saw it as an investment. A way to make money.

Back 15 years ago, you would be crazy to buy a Premier League club in the hope of making money. The majority made massive losses. The ones that made a profit, it was barely worth speaking of. Maybe a million or so.

Arsenal often bucked the trend, especially with the new stadium build, making profits in the £10s of millions. We were the Bank of England club.

American investors saw a gap in the market though. They looked at the sports clubs they owned, how much money their franchises made, especially in the NFL.

In 2015, the 32 NFL franchises had a combined revenue of $7billion. Almost every single franchise is worth over $1billion (£690m). Only 5 Premier League sides are worth above this.

So the American investors sat their and looked and the Premier League and noticed its short falls against the NFL. Places where the NFL was raking it in, and the Premier League clubs had barely scratched the tip of the iceberg.

What we have then seen over the last decade is an explosion in Premier League revenue. Arsenal, as an example, have seen a 46% increase in revenue since 2008 (Source: Swiss Ramble). And that is before the new TV. It is more than likely that after the new TV deal has come in, the average Premier League side will increased its revenue by over 100% over the last decade.

And it is not just the domestic TV revenue that has been exploited.

The Premier League, whilst already popular abroad, has increased its popularity overseas. Alongside this we have the new commercial deals. The sponsored naming of Stadium’s is one thing that Americans have bought in recently.

Back 10 years ago, it would have been unheard of to have a ‘Diesel Engine Partner’, ‘Savoury Snack Partner’ or a ‘Malaysian Official Integrated Telecommunications Partner’. All of these Manchester United have, and more.

Premier League clubs are now bringing in more commercial revenue than ever before, with Manchester United and their American owners leading the way.

A lot of what the Premier League has done recently to increase revenue has been done on a global commercial level. Bar the TV deal, which sees less and less 3pm Saturday kick offs, very little was changed at a local level, effecting the local fan.

This is now changing.

When you look at the American franchise models and how the deal with their fans, it creates a cause of concern for the future of the English game for the local fan, as it is clear that the more American owners in the league, the more they will push for us to follow the American model.

Already we have seen discussions of taking a Premier League game abroad. Or the creation of a 39th game.

Now this is where I find some English fans hypocritical.

They will happily go to Wembley for an NFL game. With more games scheduled to be played at Twickenham and potential Spurs new stadium, there will be even more NFL games held in England. I am of the opinion that if you go to these games, you lose your right to moan when a Premier League game is held abroad.

And in my opinion, within 10 years, we will see Premier League games held abroad. It is inevitable.

Then we have the idea of the franchise itself.

America does not do failure very well. So their league systems do not have promotion and relegation. It ensures that no matter the sport, there are only a finite amount of top level professional clubs, all able to keep hold of the money,

Their are 32 NFL sides. 30 NBA. 30 MLB. 30 NHL sides. There are 92 professional clubs in England and hundreds more non-league who could one day become professional.

There is no great American dream of a side being able to rise through the leagues to win. No Nottingham Forest. No Wigan Athletic. No Swansea. No Leicester City.

You have your franchise, and that is that. The only changes you get are when an owners decides to uproot his franchise to a different city. Sometimes even a different state. Wimbledon to Milton Keynes is the norm in America.

So how long until we see a full Premier League break away from the FA. A decision to pick the 20 most popular sides. Or even create new sides (Sheffield Wednesday & Sheffield United becoming Sheffield City, Rovers and City of Bristol becoming Bristol United, etc).  A 20 team Premier League, with billions of pounds of revenue, where there is no relegation. Sod the rest of the league. That will be the viewpoint.

Imagine London, a City with 10 million people. It has 15 clubs currently in the top 4 leagues. A franchise situation would probably reduce that to 3. 4 at the most. As generations go on, that is a lot of people to be spread amongst not many professional clubs.

There was talk last week of securing places in the Champions League for the big sides. Guaranteed places. This did not surprise me.

It is the big sides that generate the viewing figures which in turn dictates the advertising revenue. More people will watch Manchester United globally than Leicester City. So it is only obvious that the money men would rather Manchester United play than Leicester.

Guaranteed slots for the major sides. This could then lead to an extension of the Premier League franchise. And European Super League with Europe’s top 30 sides, playing each other week in week, in a normal league format.

If all this is concerning, wait until the American investors introduce new pricing structures.

In the NFL you have something called the Permanent Seat Licence (PSL).

The PSL gives the owner the right to “own” a seat. It does not give the owner a ticket, week in week out, like our season ticket, but the right to buy a ticket week in week out. Basically, you buy you PSL, then you buy tickets in that seat on an individual basis. So you are paying twice.

Owning a PSL can cost anywhere between $500 – $150,000. And you still have your season ticket to pay for.

Based on per game (in the NFL, you get 8 games with your season tickets), the average season ticket prices in 2014 are:

Cheapest season ticket prices (averaged on a per-league game basis):

Premier League: $27 per game

NFL: $46 per game

Most expensive season ticket prices (averaged on a per-league game basis):

Premier League: $73 per game

NFL: $266 per game

Son in terms of pricing, the American investor will see that there is still a long way to go. Doubling, even trebling, the prices of the tickets.

Alongside franchising (potentially at a European level), it would create a situation where their are less top flight interests, with more top flight fans (over time), therefore dramatically increasing the demand for tickets.

Finally, you add in the foreign tourist fan. We have seen it for 2 decades, but even more now. Packages sold by the clubs to travel agencies to come on holiday to London and watch a game of Premier League football. Often your Chinese or Korean or Arab fan do not care who they watch, they just want to watch Premier League football.

The American investors will continue working the foreign fan base, creating more interest, selling more packages abroad, creating a situation where there are fewer tickets available at a local level.

We already here about Arsenal selling 200-odd tickets to Chinese travel agencies for the away game against Manchester United.

The less supply to local fans, the higher the demand, the more they can charge.

 

Everything in America is about money. and how to make as much as possible no matter how you step on. If you are unhappy with the state of the game now. In 10 years times, it will be a lot, lot worse. You probably won’t be going anymore.

Keenos