Category Archives: Arsenal

Greed is not just a disease of the “Big 6” – it is a disease of the modern game

Last year whilst in the Championship, Leeds United were charging away fans £39.

At the same time the Premier League capped away tickets at £30. Arsenal subsidised this further for their own fans, reducing the price to just £26.

And that is why I feel uncomfortable when Leeds United ran out yesterday with “FOOTBALL IS FOR THE FANS”.

Whilst the “Greedy Six” clubs who have proposed the European Super League should be criticised; other Premier League clubs should not take the morale high ground. They would all jump at the chance to play in the ESL if invited.

If the ESL was formed 20 years ago and Leeds United were invited to join, they would not have turned it down. The club literally bankrupt itself chasing Champions League money.

A West Ham United fan on social media tweeted that the “soul has been ripped out of football”. Just 2 years ago their fans were protesting that they soul have been ripped out of West Ham as the club moved to the London Stadium.

David Sullivan and David Gold are no better than Stan Kroenke or the Glaziers.

In 10 years time, with Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri financing the club, Everton could have replaced Spurs in the “Big 6”. Would they oppose the ESL then if they were in position to join?

Newcastle, like West Ham, have spent the last 4 or 5 years (maybe more) protesting their owner. Labelling him as greedy. By now pointing at the Greedy Six, they are begging to accept their own owners behaviour.

Football is greedy from the top down.

FIFA and UEFA are the head of the snake. The rest of the continental federations follow so behind.

They pretend to be acting “in the best interests of football” but the reality is they act in the best interests of themselves.

That is why we have ended up with World Cup’s in Russia and Qatar, and a European final in Baku.

Just 5 years ago, both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were banned from football for 8 years after a 2m Swiss francs payment by Blatter to Platini.

A total of 18 individuals were indicted following the 2015 corruption scandal.

These included the President of CONCACAF, the President of CONMEBOL, the Former President of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the Former President of Football Federation of Chile.

A second round indicted a further 18 individuals.

UEFA are not against a European Super League. They are against themselves not running a European Super League.

In their last accounts, UEFA generated £3.8billion. Much of it through the Champions League and selling TV rights.

Whilst much of this money goes to clubs across the continent and beyond, a lot of it ends up in the pockets of UEFA officials.

In 2018, UEFA announced that its president Aleksander Ceferin earns a pre-tax salary of 1.56 million Swiss francs ($1.64 million) for 2016/17.

Ceferin’s pay in 2016/17 is similar to FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s 1.53 million francs ($1.61 million) salary in 2017. FIFA also said Infantino is eligible and also receives living expenses.

Football allows these men to live a life of luxury. Staying in the most expensive suites in the most expensive hotels. Eating in the most expensive restaurants. And all expensed through their organisation.

And the next level is no better.

The Premier League was literally set up as a break away from the Football Association and Football League to make more money, and to funnel more it those at the top.

Every club in the Premier League owns a single share. An equal voting right. The Premier League’s greed is the greed of its members. The clubs.

So whether you are Arsenal or Manchester United, Aston Villa or Leeds, Burnley or Sheffield United. All support the greed of the Premier League.

And then you have Sky.

Sky are no better than the federations. They do not care about fans.

It is all well and good Gary Neville ranting about the European Super League, how it could kill football and it is not thinking about the fans. But where is his voice when Arsenal have to travel to Liverpool for a 5:30pm kick off on a Saturday with no trains home after the game?

Where is Carragher’s voice when Sky schedule Brighton v Newcastle on a Monday night? Fans having to travel the length of the country and take 2 days off work just to follow their club.

Sky (and BT and all other media outlets) do not care about fans. They only care about profits.

And then we have the players.

Whilst many players have spoken out against the ESL, how many of them are going to refuse to re-sign a new contract with their club? Or look into cancelling their current contract?

If Manchester City come in for Patrick Bamford or Matty Cash this summer, both players will sign on the dotted line.

So let’s stop trying to take a moral high ground.

Premier League clubs outside the Greedy Six would jump at the chance to join the ESL.

UEFA and FIFA have both tried in the past to expand their own tournaments to generate more money

Sky Sports do not care about fans

The only reason these bodies are complaining is because they were not allowed to be involved in the set up of the ESL. They fear it could damage their own finances. And that is what they care about.

So please, no more T-Shirts from Leeds. No more Aston Villa tweets. Stop pointing at others greed when you are no better.


The Future: Where will football go after the European Super League is founded?

With the announcement of the proposed European Super League yesterday, the question that arose next is “what will then happen next?”

And it is that question that is a fear for many.

At the moment, the ESL is being put forward as an alternative to the Champions League. The sides involved have made it clear they expect to continue playing domestic football and the ESL will take the place of the current European set up.

If it happens, with 15 of the 20 teams being guaranteed a spot, it will not be too much of a step for clubs to get their next wish.

No more domestic football

If the ESL begins alongside domestic football, the next logical step will be a full break away, with the 20 clubs involved stopping playing domestic football completely and just competing in their own, NFL style league.

Increase the size to 40 teams. Potentially creating new clubs. Each league with 20 teams playing each other twice a season. Top 8 in each league going into an end of season play-offs which results in a Super Bowl-esque final.

No promotion or relegation, but where you finish in the league massively impacts end of season prize money.

Playing across the globe

Instead of Arsenal playing their home games in London, Liverpool in Liverpool, and so on, football will go on the road.

Cities will “bid” for games in the same way they bid to host an F1 race. And each team will only play one “home” game in each city.

So this week it could be Arsenal v Liverpool in Sydney.

83,500 fans paying £250 a ticket to watch Arsenal in the Stadium Australia.

Ticket prices will be a premium because it will be the only chance those fans get to watch their team play in their city until the next year (or the play-offs if they make it)

That would generate north of £20million in ticket sales for a single game. A lot more than the £3.3million the Emirates makes.

And then next week it is Real Madrid v Arsenal in New York. Playing in the 82,500 MetLife Stadium. Another £20million banked.

Meanwhile in the same week, Stadium Australia is hosting AC Milan v Manchester United.

A different set of fans than the week before. It enables them to keep charging a premium for a “one off” experience.

And if it is two smaller teams, Tottenham v Atletico Madrid in New York, they will just use the Red Bull Arena. 25,000 fans. It will still generate double what the new White Hart Lane makes a game, despite half the population.

By limiting how often fans can see “their side” in their city allows authorities to charge a premium.

And the final? Well that is going to be £1,000 a ticket.

Player draft

And with clubs now franchises and limited, it would be time to do away with transfer fees and just have an IPL style auction.

Lionel Messi wants to stay at Barcelona? That is fine. He just renews his contract for a year.

He decides he wants to play elsewhere, he enters the auction. Highest bidder get him for the year.

The year after, if he wants to stay at his new club, he negotiates a new deal. If he does not want to stay, he puts himself in to the auction again.

Players playing “domestic” football can also enter the auction.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a great season for Everton. His contract with them has run out. He might decide the next season to enter the ESL auction.

Someone bids £10million for him, that is money in his pocket.

No one bids for him? He then searches the domestic leagues for a club who will take him. One will.

Players would no longer be tied to one club. They would move, potentially every year earning a big fee for themselves every single time.

And we are moving into an era where many players have as many fans as some cubs.

So Atletico Madrid go and spend big on Paul Pogba knowing that his arrival will see their fan base grow. Even if it just for one season.

More bums on seats, more shirt sales – because of course, with a franchised league the ESL will then look to bring in a single manufacturer. Get Adidas and Nike both bidding to make and distribute all shirts. With money filtering to clubs based on sales.

Whilst some of this might seem pie in the sky. It is where football could, and in my opinion will end up.

The ESL is driving by greed. Once the owners have their way, plans will begin on the next way they can “maximise profits from their assets”.

Move over NFL. Football is the biggest show on earth.


European Super League – A competition no one asked for, no one wants but we are going to get

It is a competition no fans wanted. It is a competition no fans has asked for. But it is a competition that Europe’s “elite” clubs have continued to push.

The European Super League.

Now the Champions League is not perfect. It has become dull. Viewing figures and match day attendances are dwindling and it is in urgent need of reform.

But the answer is not a “European Super League”.

One of the biggest problems of the Champions League is that we continually get the same teams drawing each other, year after year.

Arsenal have been drawn against Bayern Munich 4 times in the last 9 seasons, despite not playing in the competition for the last 3.

The magic of Europe for a match going fan was that you might be playing a club for the first time. And if not it might have been the first time in many years.

Being drawn against the same teams over and over again makes it less exciting.

It is the same for away games.

We all want to do a Euro Away. A few thousand of you in a city. Few beers and watch the game. But does anyone really want to go to Munich again? Or Barcelona? Or Olympiakos or Marseille?

Prior to a draw, top of my list is “a club we have not played before” as it gives me a chance to visit a new city. But with the current set up of the Champions League, it is 80% of the same teams qualifying year after year.

And it gets worse in the qualifiers. Always the same teams.

It is a competition designed to ensure that Europe’s “big” teams qualify. And in turn ensures those teams get out of their groups.

And the proposed European Super League does not solve the Champions League’s biggest flaw. In fact it makes it worse.

In last nights statement, it was announced that just 20 teams would play in the ESL. With 15 of the teams being “founder” members.

So we now have even less teams able to qualify. Even less new cities to visit.

You have too much of something and it becomes boring, and that is what is happening in the Champions League and will be accelerated in the European Super League.

The same teams playing each other every season. No thanks.

The second issue with the Champions League is that it creates a two-tier system in domestic leagues.

Those that are in the Champions League end up with around £70million more revenue a year than those not in.

That in turn allows them to buy the best players, pay the higher wages. Which keeps them at the top and makes it hard for anyone else to break in.

Leicester City and / or West Ham might break into the top 4 this season, but it will be a one off.

Only once since 2005 has the Premier League top 4 contained a team other than Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea or Tottenham.

You either have to be very well run and get lucky with transfers (Leicester City) or have a billionaire oil baron turn up and finance your way to the top (Manchester City).

On the second one, the top teams hate that as well.

They do not want new clubs disrupting the status quo. A Manchester City coming in and financing their way to the top. As this makes their leagues more competitive. They do not want a competitive league.

Whilst the Champions League usually sees the same teams qualify, it does give the opportunity for other teams to qualify through a league position.

The ESL takes that requirement away and reinforces the “haves and have nots”.

Arsenal have not qualified for the Champions League for 3 seasons. This year it will be 4.

Tottenham have been top 4 just 6 times since the Premier League was founded. And with them unlikely to make top 4 this season it will be 4 times in 10.

Liverpool went through a stage of qualifying once in 6 years during the early 2010s and Manchester United have gone from every presents to qualifying just 3 times in 7 years.

Chelsea have also missed out 3 times in the last 9 years.

AC Milan are one of the founder members of the ESL. They have not qualified for the Champions League in 7 years. Likewise Inter Milan went through a stage of qualifying once in 7 years from 2012 – 2017. Juventus are just about hanging on to 4th place this season

Clubs are fearful of not qualifying and losing their place at the top table; and this greed is what has led to the ESL proposal.

These clubs have been pushing UEFA for some years to have “guaranteed” Champions League places regardless of league position.

They see themselves as the most important sides in the game. The ones that draw the big crowds, big viewing figures. They have the huge global places and therefore they should be compensated properly with guaranteed top level European football.

UEFA have resisted this, and correctly so. And this is their response.

The clubs are basically saying “we are bigger and more important than the rest of football. If you are not willing to guarantee us top level football and the riches they bring, we will set up our own competition”.

And it will fail.

It will fail because it does not resolve any of the problems the Champions League currently has. In fact it makes them worse.

They have over estimated the loyalty of match going fans. Fans will just stop going.

Whilst the competition might have interest from fans abroad, with them tuning into their TVs to watch – football is not a TV show. Those fans will not pump the thousands of pounds match going fans do to go week in week out.

There is a huge difference between someone in England, paying £1000 a year on a season ticket, money that goes to the club, and TV subscriptions, which again goes to the club; and fans abroad who might watch on a dodgy laptop stream and buy 2 shirts a year.

Games in front of half empty stadiums will not be a product they can easily sell to broadcasters and advertisers.

One final point is exposing a myth.

I have seen some say “but the ESL will generate more money which will allow us to buy more players”. No it will not.

Lionel Messi would already be at an ESL club. So would Kevin de Bruyne. And Cristiano Ronaldo. And so on

The founding members of the ESL already have the highest wage bills in Europe. The introduction of the ESL will not allow them to buy better players as they already have all the best players.

All the ESL will do is generate more money for less clubs. It will make rich players richer and their billionaire owners even more money.

Arsenal will not be better as a result of the ESL. It will not resolve how poorly we have been run. Same with Manchester United.

Manchester United is the perfect example.

They have the highest wage bill in England. They are a poorly run club. More money will not change that.

I hope if the clubs do go ahead with the ESL, then UEFA and the domestic leagues take a hard stance and suspend those clubs. Ban the players involved from playing for their countries. Ban them from joining other clubs.

Whilst UEFA and the Premier League might not be perfect, they are a darn sight better than having 15 teams guaranteeing huge financial windfalls for themselves and stick two fingers up at the thousands of other teams in Europe.

The European Super League. NO THANKS.