Tag Archives: Borussia Dortmund

German fans lead way in protest against fixtures moved for TV

German football fans stick up for themselves right.

I have recently spoken about how the globalisation of football has killed it for local fans.

As the Premier League and clubs within it began to chase ever increasing revenues, they neglected the local fans whilst building their global brands.

Ticket prices increased dramatically after the creation of the Premier League as clubs attracted more and more day trippers. People that would happily pay £100 to go to a single game, spend another £100 in the club shop, then go and visit Big Ben.

They got in bed with travel companies who sold “flight, hotel and ticket” packages to Americans, Chinese and anyone else that was happy paying above face value. Rumours circulated a couple of seasons ago that Arsenal had sold 150 tickets for Manchester United away to a travel company who then sold them to Chinese tourists – allowing them to jump ahead in the queue above fans who had spent years building up their credits.

You then have kick off times.

Games are now spread over a weekend so that TV companies can put on as many games as possible. They start on a Friday night, finish on a Monday night. The TV companies show little regard for whether match going fans can or can not get home. They are only concerned about maximising viewership for TV audiences in the UK and abroad.

The FA Cup was wrecked this weekend as the 8 games took place at 8 different times – with just one at 3pm Saturday.

We had Derby travelling to Brighton for a 12:30 kick off on Saturday, then Manchester United travelling to Chelsea for an evening kick off last night.

People talk about the magic of the FA Cup dying, but the FA are selling out to TV companies for money.

In April Newcastle travel down to London to face Arsenal on a Monday night. It will be their 3rd Monday night away game of the season.

The fact that the Premier League do not instruct TV companies to take match going fans travel into consideration when scheduling games shows that the TV money is more important to them then the fans that go. Remember, football is not a TV show, and without fans, football is nothing.

I do have to agree with Tim Stillman over at Arseblog when he says that whilst the globalisation of football has had negative implications, many local fans are complicate.

The foreign TV deal is huge – £3.2bn between 2016-2019, but the British TV out strips that over the same period – £5.14bn.

Local fans will happily moan online about fixtures being moved, but they will happily pay £80 for their Sky Sports subscription and watch Monday night football.

If it was them travelling away to Newcastle on a Monday night, they would be getting angry on Twitter. But when it is Newcastle travelling to Manchester United, they will sit in front of their TV with a curry and a few beers.

Whilst a lot of fans will complain about rising ticket prices, many others will pick and choose their game.

At Arsenal, Cat A fixtures sell out quicker than Cat C, despite them being 3 times. You have fans who will buy tickets for the big games (and moan about the price) but then not go to the smaller games. They pick and choose. And the higher demand will just encourage clubs to keep putting ticket prices up.

The problem is the majority of fans are happy to sit on their hands and not care.

Over in Germany, fans have constantly protested about Monday night games.

A four-year deal TV worth £4.07billion, which started in 2017-18 and included five Monday night matches a season.

Last night we saw Borussia Dortmund fans throwing tennis balls onto the pitch in one of many protests by fans across the country against the Monday night games.

These protests the German Football League to renegotiate the TV deal – with it now ending in 2020 – removing the Monday night games. Supporters’ groups have hailed it as a victory for fan power.

In England we have had some minor success.

The likes of Arsenal’s Blackscarf Movement joined supporters groups from other clubs in protests which led to a £30 cap on away tickets.

Fans across the country need to keep doing more, however. They need to remind clubs that it is the match going fans that are most important. That their clubs should be sticking up for them against the Premier League, against the TV companies.

Unfortunately until we see mass action from all clubs like we have seen in Germany, the Premier League and its member clubs will continue chasing revenue from around the globe regardless of the negative implications on match going fans.

How long until a European Super League is formed, with games held around the globe? That will truly be the death of clubs being the centre of their community, truly be the death of the game for local fans.

In other news this morning, Saido Berahino.

Has their been a bigger waste of talent then the Englishman – maybe Jermaine Pennant.

In an era where we are seeing young English players pushing themselves, moving abroad, taking moves abroad to play football, Berahino is a throw back to the Baby Bentley years of young players with poor attitudes getting too much money too young.

Last night Berahino was arrested at 3am in Central London.

“When officers arrived on scene a car was seen to drive away at speed,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

“The car was stopped in Bedford Square and a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.”

Scotland Yard said Berahino told officers he had been the victim of a robbery in Great Russell Street.

“He alleged a group of males surrounded his car in Great Russell Street and attacked him, stealing his watch,” the force said.

In 2015 Tottenham had a £15million bid for Berahino rejected by WBA, who valued him at £25million. Spurs wanted him as competition for Harry Kane – who had just one season as Tottenham’s first choice striker under his belt.

At that point, both players were at a similar level. Both 22-years-old with one proper season in the Premier League under their belt. Berahino the more naturally gifted of the two.

Since then, Kane has gone from strength to strength becoming one of the best strikers in world football -scoring 124 goals from 2015 to now. Berhaino’s career has been a car crash with a move to Stoke and various arrests for drink driving. He has scored just 12 goals in 4-years.

Saido Berahino highlights a lot of what is wrong with the modern game. He has become a millionaire by not doing very much, and still has 3 years on a £70,000-a-yar deal. By the time his contract expires, he would have earned over £18million from a club who are struggling financially.

The sad thing is if Stoke City cancelled Berahino’s contract tomorrow, there will be queue of clubs happy to pick up his wages. He will end up retiring at 30-years-old having earned millions from football, whilst not really achieving anything or caring for any of the clubs or fans he is supposed to represent.

A bit like how nothing will change in football if fans do not get together, clubs should do the same. Blacklist people like Berahino. Do not give him another chance. Tell him his kind is no longer wanted in the game.

Anyway, that is today’s musings.



Arsenal sign proper defender

After the free transfer of Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus, and German keeper Bern Leno, Arsenal have finally completed the deal taking Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund to North London.

The Greek international centre back becomes the 3rd ex-Dortmund player to join the club since the appoint of Sven Mislintat – joining January signings Henrikh Mkhitaryan & Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The 30 year old defender brings with him a wealth of experience.

Having started his career in Greece, he became AEK’s youngest-ever captain, at age 19. A move to Genoa in Italy followed, before he joined AC Milan at 21 for €14 million.

A year later, due to the complexity of deals in Italy, Sokratis returned to Genoa as part of a 8 man deal to solve player ownership issues between the two clubs.

Genoa immediately sold him to Werder Bremen, before Mislintat recruitment him to Dortmund.

After 7 years playing first team football in the Bundesliga, and 79 international caps for Greece, Arsenal are signing the experienced leader at the back we have lacked in recent years.

Raphael Honigstein, a self titled ‘German football expert’ explained recently what Arsenal are going to get:

“They liked his attitude, he’s a fighter, he’s a warrior but not too great on the ball. By and large, not the kind of player that gets you excited. Very tidy, very energetic, tough in a tackle, but I’m not sure he’s necessarily going to take the Arsenal defence to the next level.”

Reading it through, the first half gets you excited. We have lacked a fighter, a warrior at the back. Someone who is tidy and energetic, tough in the tackle. Someone who sees defending as the most important job for a centre back. Not trying to bring the ball out.

In the current era of football, we all seem obsessed about ball playing centre backs. The likes of John Stones. And sides seem too willing to ignore the dirty side of the game, the actual defending.

What is odd is Honigstein then says he is not “going to take the Arsenal defence to the next level.”

This is where Honigstein shows he is perhaps shows that whilst he might be an expert on German football, he is perhaps not an expert on what Arsenal. He has inadvertently described exactly what the Gunners have desperately needed for a few years.

When was the last time we had a tough tackling centre back? A fighter? A warrior at the back? Someone happy sticking the ball into row Z rather then trying to bring it down and play?

Look back at the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Would Antoine Greizmann have scored the equaliser in Islington if we had Sokratis at the back rather than Laurent Koscielny?

The Arsenal captain tried to bring the ball down and turn Griezmann in one move. He could have easily passed it back to David Ospina, or hoofed the ball out of play for a throw in or corner. Koscielny wanted to do the sexy stuff, not the dirty stuff. Sokratis would have cleared that ball.

Sokratis former manager at Dortmund, and Unai emery’s replacement at PSG Thomas Tuchel said  “He’s a little obsessed with defending. He wants to protect the goal-line no matter what and he’s hungry to face duels,”

“The defensive work that Sokratis puts in is just unbelievable,” added former team mate Mats Hummels.

A warrior, a fighter, tough in the tackle, obsessed with defending, keeping that clean sheet. Unbelievable defensive work. Honigstein might not get too excited about this sort of work, but just typing it out is making me wet.

Arsenal are signing a proper defender; not a footballer who can defend, not a ball-playing centre-half, not a converted midfielder, but an actual defender who loves to defend.

It should be exactly the kind of signing that gets Arsenal fans excited.

Since the turn of the year, only Manchester City have scored more Premier League goals than an Arsenal side significantly strengthened by the signings of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, and the return from injury to Alexandre Lacazette.

Previously I mentioned on Twitter how excited we would be if Aubameyang was the first signing of the Emery era. Now he is sexy, someone to get excited about. But he joined in January and the 6 months of Premier League football coupled with no world cup will result in him being ready to go in August.

Whilst the likes of the Lichtsteiner and Sokratis might feel a little underwhelming in contrast, you have to look at the bigger picture.

Are Arsenal stronger than they were when the transfer window closed in August 2017?

It is clear that head of recruitment Mislintat has a picture in his head of what he is doing at Arsenal, and improving the defence is clearly a priority.

Honigstein went on to say that it was “a little bit underwhelming” that Mislintat has signed a series of players from Dortmund, but this is like when people criticised Arsene Wenger for “only buying French” when he first joined. And Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Remi Garde, Gilles Grimandi and Nicolas Anelka turned out all right.

Should Mislintat have pursued players other than Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan  and Sokratis, just to prove that he has a wider knowledge of world football? Should Arsenal not be targeting former Dortmund player Osumane Dembele?

These are players fans of the club have called to sign for years.

We were all disappointed when Mkhitaryan joined Manchester United over Arsenal a few years back, and Aubameyang has been at the top of many fans wish list for a few years. Dembele is another fans called for the club to sign before he joined Barcelona for silly money last summer.

Arsenal are desperate for leadership, physicality and defenders that can defend. In Lichtsteiner and Sokratis, we have secured that.

Now we just need to sort out what sits in front of them and what sits behind.


What links Arsenal, Sokratis Papastathopoulos & Max Allegri?

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is a name you have to Google just to spell.

The 29 year old Greek centre back has been heavily linked with Arsenal this morning. And we can reveal some interesting links that could show a path to the future.

Arsenal were first linked with the Borussia Dortmund centre back in 2013 when he was at Werder Bremen. In May 2013, the eve of the 2013 Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Papastathopoulos completed a €9.5 million transfer to Dortmund.

In charge of his recruitment was Sven Mislintat, who is now Arsenal’s Head of Recruitment.

Three years before joining Dortmund, Papastathopoulos joined AC Milan for €14 million. He was the Italian clubs first signing under new manager Massimiliano Allegri.

It all fits together rather nicely.