Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A GUEST OPINION


A GUEST OPINION FROM A FRIEND IN RESPONSE TO ARTICLE FROM 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' with Thanks to SM and Acknowledgements to SWAYR


From SM 17/02/10

Absolutely. Thanks for sending that. I could have written that myself. Every time you and I discussed the inherent problems of Arsenal WYST, bored myself with the repetition of all the matters raised in this article. We are not alone it seems.In the current climate of fan dissatisfaction possibly a few games need to be used to show how pissed off all are with the myriad problems. En masse late arrival to kick offs? Smuggling in flags with the old crest on them to be unfurled at a given moment? Unfortunately given the 'new customers' at the Grove - stop calling it the Emirates it just encourages them, probably don’t care one way or the other. As long as there is no swearing or god forbid any standing up.Ivan Gazidis says: 'We strongly believe the right course of action is to freeze the cost of match tickets and season tickets for the forthcoming season. We are mindful that the current financial climate is difficult and our decision to maintain the current pricing structure reflects that'.I think the board are already hearing the rumblings of discontent and may be offering a sweetener to keep unhappy gooners on seats.Its youse guys money. You have the stick.Good luck. Up the Arse!

SM


From 'she wore a yellow ribbon' 16/02/10 ;Back in the year 2000, Arsenal fans were fed the line by the club’s Board that we needed to leave our beloved Highbury and move to a new stadium. Apparently as a club we’d outgrown our spiritual home and needed somewhere which could house more fans, bring us increased revenue and which would allow us to compete with any club in the transfer market – with the aim of becoming a European “Super Club”. With the foundations laid by Arsene Wenger in building a strong, competitive squad, these extra funds would see us forge ahead and become even stronger.Despite reservations from many supporters, we were assured that the move would NOT affect the playing side of the club. The Board promised us that any costs associated with the stadium move would be “ring-fenced” (their exact words) and that we’d continue to compete for major trophies as we had been doing since Arsene Wenger’s arrival. However, these promises to date have been broken and since moving to Emirates Stadium we have seen a steady decline in many areas of Arsenal Football Club. The failings of the Arsenal Board -The Board state that they’re traditionalists and care about maintaining the history of the club, yet we saw them mercilessly dump our crest without notice (cross-section of fans consulted, yeah b*llocks!) purely as a money making move – including the motto ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’.We now see an Arsenal team playing at home without white sleeves on their red shirts (a white stripe on a red sleeve ISN’T a white sleeve). Even worse than this, we’ve been subjected to away kits more suited to our bitter rivals – white kits and blue kits ARE NOT Arsenal kits. Okay we did wear white for a tiny part of the 1960s but our away colours are yellow and blue – end of story. On the financial side of things, the Board thought they’d turn property developer as part of our stadium move, to try and make a few more million. Instead of selling the Highbury land for over £100 million and let someone else build there, they decided that Arsenal FOOTBALL CLUB (yes, Arsenal FOOTBALL Club – not PROPERTY) would do the work – and as a result got caught in the property market crash. Still struggling to sell the remaining apartments, it remains to be seen if any profit whatsoever will be made. Whatever way you look at it, the way this project was handled can only be described as a major, major mistake by the Board. In the Boardroom we’ve seen so many childish squabbles – the most damaging ending with the one Board member who really cared about matters on the pitch, David Dein, being pushed out because he had the cheek to seek foreign investment from a certain Mr Stan Kroenke. Even though Peter Hill-Wood stated that “we don’t want his sort” the Arsenal Board have now completely changed their tune and have taken Stan on, choosing to hide behind him as they look to block a takeover bid by Alisher Usmanov – a man who has promised to pump a slice of his own wealth into the club and bring us back to a position where we can challenge on the pitch.On the commercial side of things we lack any real nous, and are comprehensively beaten by most top clubs in merchandising revenue. Our sponsorship dealings have been laughable for many years and while other clubs negotiate £20 million a year shirt sponsorships, we’re stuck in a contract with Emirates which sees us with a deal worth around £3 million a year.Money, money, money – that’s all the current Board seem interested in. Doesn’t matter that we don’t win trophies any more… as long as Magician Wenger can work on a shoestring budget and deliver Champions League football every year, it’s job done. The Arsenal Boardroom is Party Central every time Arsenal are confirmed in a top four spot for another season. Sod silverware.The Board will shout from the rooftops that we made a record profit last year and how the new stadium is bringing in all this extra cash. But so what if it’s just going to sit in the bank or be used to pay another bit off the new stadium? If you buy a house do you live like a pauper for 25 years until the mortgage is paid, or do you live to the best standard you can, while making sure you pay the bills? Seems at Arsenal it’s the former. The Emirates ‘Experience’ -Let’s start off with the transition from Highbury to Emirates. We were told that elements of our old home would be taken across to our new stadium so that we’d still retain links to our glorious history. Only now, after four years of bare concrete, an overall generic feel which resulted in many complaints, the Board are taking note by way of their ‘Arsenalisation’ of the stadium. BUT – where is the famous clock? At the moment it’s stuck on the back of a scoreboard whereas it should have been INSIDE the new stadium right from the start. We’ve been told it will be brought inside, so let’s wait and see.The club have sought to turn the new stadium into something more akin to an afternoon at the theatre. The audience (let’s face it, it’s not a football crowd) can sit there nicely and clap, sometimes sing a happy tune, but they’re not allowed to swear – take part in any form of banter with the opposition or their supporters, or god forbid stand up. We now even have a ‘grass them up’ facility whereby you can send a text during the match to complain about someone whose actions you don’t agree with. Thinking back to how an afternoon at the football used to be, this sanitised experience just isn’t right. Ticket Prices -The biggest issue with hardcore Arsenal supporters is the price we have to pay for tickets. Overall, Arsenal charge the highest price for club football tickets in the world – yes, the WORLD. You’d be hard pushed to find another club which charged almost £100 for ONE general admission ticket (can anyone find another club that does?).Added to this, Arsenal also introduced the ‘Club Level’ tier in the new stadium with season tickets ranging from £2,500 to £4,750 a season. What do you get for that? A decent enough view from your seat, and a huge bundle for a free drink or two at half time. Oh, and the chance to have a pre-match meal in one of four restaurants – for a price, of course!Given the fact Arsenal fans were promised that the stadium move would see us elevated to “European Super Club” status and be able to compete with anyone in the transfer market, most would feel that the high prices were just about acceptable if that promise was delivered. However almost five years down the line with no hint of silverware and genuine world class stars being replaced with average quality kids, are these sky high prices justified?If we were paying a lot less to watch the current team it would be more acceptable, rather than be conned into paying a hefty price to watch a bunch of no-hopers. In the mid-80s we weren’t challenging for trophies which most of us at the time accepted, because although we were average on the pitch, we weren’t paying a small fortune for false promises. And it was much more fun compared to the sterile atmosphere we’re now expected to accept.The playing side of things -On the field, a trophy winning side – a side which in 2004 won the title without losing a single game – has been systematically dismantled and sold off, with the majority of the profits staying within the club. In fact in the last five years, Arsenal have made a net transfer profit of £25 million. Looking at our present squad, it’s a sorry state of affairs compared to the playing staff we had a few years ago. We’ve resorted to shopping in football’s bargain basement and now have a mix of youngsters who are Championship quality at best, and old has-beens who quite simply should have been put out to pasture already. It’s generally agreed that we only have three or four top quality players at the club, and if things continue they way they have been going, it won’t be long before they’re sold (and any profits banked – again).The Board continue to feed us the line that we can buy whoever we want and that there is money to spend, so why are we in this situation on the pitch? Is the Board holding back money or is the manager simply not choosing to spend it? The Madness of King Arsene -Looking at our manager, we have a man who has done wonders for Arsenal football club, however he has obviously been put in a tough position since moving to the new stadium and hardly has any money available to strengthen his squad (not that the Board would tell you that). Mr Wenger therefore embarked upon a personal project where he’d try to build a young, talented squad for peanuts – one which would win trophies so we could stick our fingers up to the Chelseas of this world and say “see – you can win things without throwing a blank chequebook at it”. Only problem is, this project has failed miserably – not that Wenger would take any notice. His stubbornness continues to this day and you get the feeling that now, even if someone gave him £100 million to spend, he’d do his best to keep it tucked safely away.We have everyone screaming out that this Arsenal squad needs an injection of established, top quality players but still we’re not doing anything about it. Arsenal legends are in the press almost every week saying exactly what the majority of fans are saying – but still we continue with sub-standard youngsters and a policy of buying up teenagers who may become good 8 or 9 years down the line. What about today?!Okay we play nice football but is that enough when you’re charging your fans top dollar week in week out? Wenger is obviously trying to mirror Barcelona in playing style but is this Spain? Can it succeed in a physical league such as the Premier League? You have to doubt the approach and even then, Barcelona has succeeded because they have players like Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Alves etc. The bulk of their first 11 is world class and complemented with other top quality players, and there’s a few kids and fringe players thrown in too. We have two or three top quality players (one or two maybe close to world class) and the rest are either sub-standard kids or creaking has-beens. Not quite the same, is it Arsene? Arsenal - the Tesco's Value version of Barcelona.And what about Wenger’s decisions to now treat the FA Cup with such distain? The world’s greatest domestic cup competition and you get thousands of Gooners travelling up and down the country only to see the manager willing to chuck it away because we might have an important game in the next week. Sorry – not acceptable, and the Board should tell him that.In the last couple of years we’ve seen Wenger try to take over Alastair Campbell’s title as the King Of Spin. Week after week he’ll babble on to the media about how great his squad is and how when other teams beat us it’s because they don’t play the game properly. Everyone else is wrong but we’re doing it the right way, Arsene tells us. He also tells us that we “nearly” signed players on the last day of the transfer window – a tactic which Tottenham used to use and one we all used to laugh at. Does he seriously think that ‘nearly’ signing a player is good enough and that the fans buy that kind of bull? Where do we go from here? -It’s a tough call but has Wenger had his day? Has he lost sight of what his job really is, or is what he’s doing at the moment exactly what the Board have asked him to do? Either way, things have to change. If Wenger goes, who do we bring in? Especially when it seems any manager won’t be given money to spend if the current Board are still in place.If I had it my way I would see a complete overhaul in the Boardroom. Get in a Board who REALLY care about Arsenal Football Club. Give the manager a decent transfer budget and tell him he HAS to deliver on the pitch. A big shiny new stadium and monster profits, coupled with real ambition, means Arsenal has to be challenging for the major prizes every year.As a company director if one of my staff was missing targets I set, I’d be questioning their performance. If I gave them budget to make sure they hit their targets I’d be even more pissed off if they failed to spend money and messed up – to me that’s negligence and a disciplinary matter. But just what targets have the Arsenal Board set their Manager? At a guess it would be “Spend as little as you can in the transfer market and make sure we finish 4th or above. Anything above that is a bonus”. And that alone would prove that the people running the club have lost sight of what’s important.Let’s face it – a club not winning things will attract fewer punters at the turnstiles, especially when ticket prices are already through the roof. And less punters means less income, which means a smaller transfer budget, which means it becomes harder to attract top talent. A severe lack of quality players means nobody worth their salt will want to play for your club, and you’ll get sponsors turning their back. Corporate punters will be long gone, because they only want to watch the very best, and their wallet is what the Arsenal Board are mostly interested in. So how do you pay for a shiny new stadium when you’ve got no way of paying for it?

1 comment:

  1. So when do the redskins attack. Silly old me was expecting John Wayne!

    ReplyDelete

having said that;

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