Tag Archives: reading

Is the EFL Cup a ‘rip-off’?

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On BBC Radio 5 live, Ex-Spurs and Newcastle player Chris Waddle declared that the EFL Cup was a “total rip off”. Saying that teams should announce their squad for the cup’s fixtures in advance at the start of the week.

“It would mean that if you’re travelling a long way you’d know that it will be a weaker side and you may not buy a ticket,” Waddle said.

First a foremost, it shows just how out of touch pundits are with fans. Ex-players and journalists who have not had to pay for a ticket for years, and not had to put their hand in their pocked for a train either.

Anyone who does away games will know that you buy your train ticket early doors, taking advantage of Advanced tickets. No one will leave it till the Monday to decide if they want to go to a game based on the team sheet coming out, as you would then face ludicrous train prices.

For example, if the EFL Cup was next week, and a Spurs fan decided to pay their ticket today to Liverpool, the cost would be £153. The cost for November 29th (the QF date) is more than half that amount.

So fans need to plan in advance their travel. They cannot, as Waddle wants us to do, wait until the beginning of the week to decide if they want to go to the game based on the team sheet. Then add in booking the time off work booked at short notice, and you see just how out of touch Waddle is with his comments.

Then you have the clubs. It would be a logistical nightmare.

Arsenal have one of the best ticket booking systems around. Imagine 60,000 people logging on at 9am on a Monday morning to buy their tickets. The system would crash. And clubs who still use paper tickets rather than membership cards, it would be impossible for them to post out tickets on a Monday to guarantee them getting to the fan on a Tuesday.

Again, Waddle would not know this, he has not bought a ticket for a match in decades.

So we have an out-of-touch pundit who does not pay for his own tickets, does not pay for his own trains, has everything organised for him by whoever is paying for his comments, fighting on behalf of fans rights.

Why does he not talk about the likes of Sky & BT leaving it so long to decide what games they are going to show on TV? Meaning, like with the Man City v Arsenal game, cheaper advanced tickets are sold out before the game is moved. Why does he not pipe up about Arsenal fans having to travel to Burnley on a Sunday evening with no way home? Or a trip to Everton being scheduled on a Tuesday night?

Where was Chris Waddle when Everton fans had to travel to London to face Crystal Palace on a Friday night. With no way home. Or Burnley having to travel to Watford the following Monday. He is surprisingly quiet when it comes to how fans are mistreated by TV companies and scheduling. But why would he bite off the hand that feeds him.

Instead Waddle talks about how clubs treat fans poorly due to putting out changed line ups for the League Cup.

Before the Arsenal game, I stuck this up on the SheWore Facebook page:

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Yes, I was disappointed by the amount of changes (it was actually 71, not 80) and I even suggested cancelling the competition, or making it under-23 only. But that does not mean that I think it is a rip off.

Playing youth sides, reserve sides, in the League Cup is nothing new. You do not travel to Nottingham Forest or Sheffield Wednesday on a mid-weeker expecting Arsene Wenger to put out Arsenal’s strongest line up.

In-fact, weakened sides is what often makes the competition more interesting for fans. The likes of Jack Wilshere & Cesc Fabregas made their break through in the competition.

Fabregas made his debut in the competition in 2003/04, scored his first goal for Arsenal that season, and all 3 appearances in red & white came in the League Cup. The next year he played over 40 times in the first team.

Jack Wilshire also made his first start in the League Cup (his 2nd appearance for Arsenal overall having played 6 minutes against Blackburn previously). In 2008/2009 he started 3 times for Arsenal. All were in the League Cup. Like Fabregas, he also scored his first goal.

The League Cup is now a big part of a players development.

In last seasons disappointing 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, the Arsenal number 45 making his debut was a chap called Alex Iwobi. Who would have predicted a year later people would be asking why Alex Iwobi is playing in the 2nd string in the League Cup once more?

This years competition has given the chance to the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Who knows where all 3 might be next year?

Fans go into the League Cup knowing their side will be putting out a weaker XI. But it is the chance to see a youngster in a senior game that gets the fans excited, the reason why the turn up. They certainly do not feel cheated when the side is named, as Waddle would have you believe.

For the Reading game, Arsenal, as always, charged fans £10 lower / £20 upper for adults. And kids got in for £5 lower / £10 upper. Likewise, Nottingham Forest reduced their prices to just £20 when Arsenal visited them earlier in the season.

The majority of sides already offer massively discounted ticket prices for the League Cup, recognising the fact that there will be wholesale changes to line ups.

Now if Arsenal were to charge the normal £33-£60-odd prices for a League Cup game to watch a rotated side, then yes, I would feel ripped off. But they do not. And the majority of clubs do not.

Once again, it shows how horribly out of touch Waddle is. He probably could not even tell the BBC how much Arsenal, Liverpool, or other sides charged their fans this week. He is probably not aware that a father could take two kids to the game for £20.

Does Chris Waddle complain that fans of semi-professional Halifax Town are ripping of their fans?

Tickets for the National League North side – the 6th step on the football pyramid – are £16 for adults, £13 for concessions, and £5 for under 12’s. So on Tuesday night, you could have been watching Halifax Town play FC United of Manchester for the same price as you could have watched Arsenal against Reading. Who is really being ripped off?

The fact is, whilst the EFL has its problems, it is a brilliant opportunity to take kids, watch some young talent (and established stars – the Arsenal XI contained 5 players capped by their countries) and have a good evening out with the family at the football. Especially taking into account this week has been half term.

Like a young players first game for Arsenal being the League Cup, I wonder how many fathers have taken their sons for their first game in the League Cup this season, or previous seasons.

Maybe Waddle, before spouting rubbish, should have got out of his cosy BBC studio and gone to Arsenal, Liverpool or Leeds on Tuesday and asked the fans as the left do you feel ripped off? I bet no fan would have replied yes.

So Chris Waddle, you’re out of touch and talk a lot of twaddle. Maybe if you actually paid for a ticket, or a train, you would understand the real problems that fans have on a normal game day. Rotated squads for the cut-price EFL Cup is the least of fans complaints these days.

Keenos

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Arsenal’s win over Reading

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The Good

Our 12th game unbeaten saw us into the quarter final of the League Cup (Or whatever the competition is now called). With either Man City or Man U, and West Ham or Chelsea set to exit the competition tonight, a cheeky trip to Wembley on 26 February 2017 could be on the cards.

Emiliano Martinez put in a solid performance in goal. I saw him play a few years back in the 7-5 defeat of Reading in the same competition, and he was all over the place. Now 24, he looks to be developing into a decent 2nd string goal keeper. Add in that he is home grown, he has certainly put his name in the hat to deputise for Petr Cech next season if David Ospina leaves the club.

It was good for Carl Jenkinson to get 90 minutes under his belt having been out for 9 months with injury. He clearly loves the club, and is a popular lad. It will be good for him to now quick on and put Hector Bellerin under a bit of pressure for the right back spot.

“Unfortunately no one speaks about the performance of Rob Holding. You should be happy, he is English and 20 years old. I am sorry he didn’t cost £55 million, so he can’t be good.” That was Arsene Wenger back in August. 2 months on and most will agree we have a player on our hands. You have to be careful not to overhype, like what happened with Calum Chambers, but as the minute, at £2million, Holding is looking like a steal.

A few more youngsters also put in bright performances. Ainsley Maitland-Harriott was quietly effective in the middle of the park. A good defensive midfielder is one is rarely seen. Who gets on with his work efficiently. And Niles certainly did that. This boy is talented. He has the stature and passing ability to become a top central midfielder. He just needs to ignore his mum.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide also looked silky. He was sometimes guilty of holding on to the ball too long, but he was continually on the front foot.

Finally Alex Oxlade-Chamberlainwas the two goal hero, and put in a performance in the League Cup you would expect him too. Surrounded by youngsters, playing against weakened opposition, he stood up to be counted for. He was the stand out player on the pitch and has certainly given Arsene Wenger something to think about for this weekend.

The Bad

I hate people who go out of their way to find something to moan about in a victory. We won 2-0 and are through to the next round of the cup, blooding some youths along the way. Those that sit there and moan clearly have an agenda and an inability to enjoy a win.

But there is space for constructive criticism. And today that is aimed at Lucas Perez.

It was an odd performance by the Spaniard. He looked off the pace, not match sharp, but that is exactly where he is in his Arsenal career. Someone who is not yet ready. This was just his 2nd start for Arsenal, alongside a handful of minutes coming off the bench.

His link up play was poor, the play often broke down when it got to him. A few times, when presented with the opportunity to put a team mate in, he played a poor pass and the move broke down. Compare this to Olivier Giroud who, when he came on, slotted straight back in bringing others into play.

Perez looked better in the 2nd half, a mazy run led to a chance. But he is so one footed as a player, this will make him predictable in the Premier League.

Another to have a poor game was Mohamed Elneny. He struggled with simple passes, and after a poor performance against Boro at the weekend, and with Francis Coquelin and Granit Xhaka ahead of him, Aaron Ramsey returning, he might struggle for game time in the coming weeks.

The Ugly

Reading put in some robust challenges. One of which ended Lucas Perez’s game. The moan is the change of rules.

After Grant Xhaka was sent off against Swansea, everyone found some new rule that was introduced this summer about it being a red card when a player makes no attempt to win the ball. Well, Reading did that on numerous occasions last night and came away from the game with just 2 bookings.

All we ask for as fans is consistency. And we do not seem to be getting that.

 

Onto Sunderland away. A long old trip up north.

Keenos

Promotion and Relegation – The view of a travelling fan

Being an away day traveller gives you a different outlook as to who you want to be promoted and relegated. Rather than just thinking who you like / dislike, you being to think about the best away trips, the cost of the trips, stadiums you have not yet been too, etc.

With today being the last day of The Championship, and with 2 Premier League sides potentially to get relegated this weekend, it would now be wise to discuss who we want to stay up (and go down) and who we would like to see come up.

Leicester and Burnley are already up. Leicester is a trip I am already looking forward too. Anything around the Midlands is reasonable when it comes to train times and costs. And with Arsenal having only played at the King Power (formerly Walkers) Stadium once, it is a ground where many, including myself, has yet to visit. The only downside is, like many new stadium built since 2000, it is not in the city centre, leaving a 30 minute walk from whatever watering hole you are in.

Burnely is somewhere many have done before. It is a backwater at the edge of Lancashire, where racism and football violence is still right. Am I happy they are up? No, it will be a horrid trip to a ground we have visited 3 times over the last 6 years.

When it comes to the rest of the Championship, Derby, QPR & Wigan are confirmed in the play-offs. The last spot is between Reading and Brighton. Derby, like Leicester, would be a good trip. We last visited 6 years ago, and scored 6. Just a 10 minute walk from the station, an hour and a half train journey from London, it ticks a lot of boxes and is my personal favorite.

QPR is a cheap trip if you live in London, but not a very exciting one. I was happy when they went down, and will not be too unhappy if they fail to come back up. The only factor which might change things is if Fulham go down. It is always good to have a decent amount of London sides in the Premier League to keep rail costs down. Losing Fulham (discussed later) would leave just 4 London trips (Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Crystal Palace). I can leave QPR, as long as Fulham stay up.

Wigan is my worst nightmare. A half hour walk from the station, it is another stadium which has been built on an industrial estate in the middle of no where. Most Arsenal fans would have previously done the trip, so it is certainly the team I would least like to see promoted.

The last two, Brighton and Reading, are very similar. New stadiums which we have been too recently (for cup games), both towns easy to get to cheaply by train. But both have the same flaw. When you get to Reading or Brighton, getting to the stadium is then a nightmare.

For Brighton, you have to queue up for another train to get to the stadium, a train which only leaves every 15 minutes. It is not too bad when going to the stadium, but it causes massive delays getting away from the stadium.

In the same vain, Reading is also a nightmare to get too and from the town centre. They put on buses to and from the stadium but these always have lengthy queues. It is a nightmare, especially after the game.

My personal favourite? Derby, unless Fulham go down then QPR.

Today, both Fulham and Cardiff could go down. One is a loss, the other I do not care for.

Cardiff, again, is a ground on the edge of town. A 30-40 minute walk filled with snarling sheep shagging Welshman. It takes over 2 hours to get to Cardiff from London (longer if the train is diverted via Gloucester due to engineering works) and is fairly costly. It is not a nice trip, and one which I certainly will not be missing. Bye bye Cardiff.

Fulham will be a loss. Whether you go on one of the many fan group arranged boat trips, or head to the river for a drink in one of the many pubs, it is a top trip. With zero rail costs and friendly atmosphere, it has been one of the best away days of recent years – especially when it is sunny. Add in that after the game, you are 10 minutes from Central London, it is one which you can make a full day of it. This year we were signing and dancing about Lukas Podolski until the early hours in Liverpool Street. If Fulham go down, it will be a sad day for the Arsenal Away boys.

The other sides in the relegation dog fight are Hull, WBA, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Norwich. We can almost discount Hull and WBA as they are 5 and 4 points away from the relegation zone respectively, with a game in hand on many of those below them. That leaves Villa, Sunderland and Norwich.

Aston Villa is a bit of a shitter to get too, with a train or taxi required to be taken once you get into Birmingham, but as already mentioned, I have an affinity with the Midlands. Under 2 hours to get their, decent train costs, it is a perfect away day outside of London. Birmingham is also a city I love to drink in before an away day, with the Shakespeare just outside the stadium being my place of choice. Aston Villa are a proper football club, Villa Park a proper football stadium. I do not want them to go down.

Sunderland is a horrible place. Whilst it has giving me my two best away days over the last 2 seasons – mainly due to the 5 hour journey’s (engineering problems) meaning I could barely walk once I got back to Kings Cross, it is a stadium I will not be fussed about going too again. If all go’s well ,it is a 3 hour train trip, you will be getting a sore arse by the end of it. But that only drops you into Newcastle, you then need to get the train to Sunderland. With a cost upwards of £100 for the train ticket, it is the most expensive day out.

Newcastle is a good city to drink in pre-game, but the post-game rush from Sunderland stadium, to the station, then to Newcastle has plenty looking at their watches for train times. Add in Sky’s enjoyment of putting teams a large distance apart on an evening kick off (or Monday night this year), there is always the chance that there will not be trains back. Sunderland are certainly a team that I would like to see relegated.

With Newcastle safe, we still get the trip to the North East next season, but without the arsehole bit after getting into Newcastle.

Finally we come to Norwich, who we could relegate next weekend. And I hope we do. A ticket cost of £50 is disgraceful. A lot has been made of our £62 ticket for Manchester City, but at least you get to watch Manchester City and Arsenal. £50 to watch Norwich? No thanks, especially when we only charged their fans £26.

It should tick all the boxes. Cheap train trip, reasonable travelling time, nice town with the stadium close to the train station. But their greed ruins it. They can fuck off.

So who do I want to go down? Cardiff, Sunderland and Norwich, with Derby coming the other way.

Keenos