Beer and pies ruin football ………….

November 20, 2015

Much has been written about prices of tickets for football games and the proud club of ours is, as usual, top of the table of most expensive tickets. I am sick of hearing the clap trap that footy has become the sport for the wealthy. It’s not the tickets that screw up the bank balance, it is all the booze and pies you consume when at the Emirates. Bring your own pies and flask, and you stand to save yourself a few bob.

And it is you, yes you moany git who is the first to moan about the ticket prices, but at the same time insisting on Wenger buying Benzema, Cavani and Krychowiak in one big swoop.

I am sure some will come after me with open flick knives, but I am a keyboard hero and don’t care and will carry on – I was stunned after reading the following comments yesterday:

“Couldn’t get tickets (for WBA at the Hawthorns). It’s getting harder and harder.

Or for Aston Villa. Villa sold out to 20+ – we have 19! (away credits)

Liverpool away on a Wednesday flippin night in January for over £50 and a crap view. Probably won’t go down to our level of away credits anyway.
Might have to go to flippin Stoke away 4 days after. At least we’ll have 20 away points then and have a little more chance for other tickets.”

Two most disgraceful Arsenal fans, with season tickets and 100 years of support between them cannot get tickets for the above games. Not that they wanted to see those games, after all it is just WBA, Villa and Pool, but they live for those trips away – camaraderie, greasy pies, crisps and lots more of junk food, washed down with gallons of booze, sing alone, some funny snaps and their lives are complete.

They schlap week in and week out 300 miles round trip by car, by train and on foot, pay year after year for the season tickets and cannot attend games because all chits were sold out. Shocking! And there is only one way to resolve it – bump up the prices! That way there will be plenty of tickets for those who really want to see a game and are prepared to bring their own sandwiches to balance the books.

How much are you prepared to pay for a ticket? I think £50 is reasonable for most games. Double it for most popular games and half for lesser opponents.


Is Governance the Problem at Arsenal?

November 19, 2015

Who owns Arsenal and how is it governed? Although many fans would answer that Arsenal belongs to us, the truth is that we fans are just consumers of goods and services from the club we love. We are very important to the club but this gives us no element of ownership. Good governance would normally include ensuring that decision making bodies are representative, decisions are transparent and both bodies and decisions are accountable. It is for you to judge how well Arsenal does in these terms.

Firstly actual ownership of Arsenal is the prerogative of shareholders as a whole. Currently this means that 66% are owned by a company called Kroenke Sports and Entertainments (KSE) which is wholly owned by Stan Kroenke a US billionaire who owns a number of sporting clubs and franchises mostly in the US. 30% is owned by a company called Red & White Holdings (RWH) which is jointly owned by Usmanov and Moshiri. The remaining paltry 4% is owned by a constantly decreasing number of older fans and their families.

The current situation emerged from a volatile and active Board disagreement on the new stadium. This led to a lock-down on share disposal from the Board initially and ultimately on the death of Danny Fiszman to the sale of his shares to Stan Kroenke who then exceeded 30% shareholding and had to make a formal bid to all other shareholders. This had been pre-agreed with all Board members and other major shareholders. The primary effect was to make Stan Kroenke effective sole owner of Arsenal and as a secondary effect put David Dein who had recently been removed from the Board completely into the wilderness. As a consequence he sold his shares to and briefly led RWH who garnered at that point just under 30% of the remaining shares.  This RWH share position is important because if Kroenke were to obtain a further 9% support then he could change Arsenal to a private company and this could involve all sorts of shenanigans as any Man U supporter will tell you in the light of the Glaziers following exactly this process. So Usmanov currently has an impregnable blocking vote on that.

There is one other aspect of share ownership that must be covered before we move on. Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) who have as their members a large portion of the small independent share holders, sought to agree with Kroenke at the point of his bid and Ivan Gazidis as CEO that they would set up a Fanshare scheme to enable ordinary fans to have an opportunity to buy shares and so participate in ownership of the club. It is noteworthy that the nearly half a billion £ Kroenke has paid for his shares has not given a penny into Arsenal coffers- only new shares being issued would do this. In spite of intensive effort and pressure the issue of new shares was never agreed by Kroenke and the Fanshare scheme is going through the long, sad and arduous process of being wound up. So much for real attempts at involving fans meaningfully.

Day to day running of the club is of course the responsibility of the Board which is elected at the AGM by the shareholders (ie Stan Kroenke). The Arsenal board is currently very small, comprising only 6 persons. Two non-executive Directors are Sir Chips Keswick, a banker, and Lord Harris of Peckham a carpet retailer and Philanthropist. Neither are shareholders of any significance. There are two employees namely Ivan Gazidis as CEO and Ken Friar a very long standing employee of the club. Finally there are Stan and his son Josh Kroenke who attend with that 66% majority in their bag. The board meets monthly and all are wined and dined well at each match including away matches with luxury travel with the first team. No mean sinecure. The only major earners on the board are the two employees. Both Kroenkes and Sir Chips, who is chairman, draw a standard fee of £25k although Lord Harris donates his to charities. Neither agendas nor minutes are public documents so transparency is almost nil.

Real matters of governance concern would be that the board is in no way representative of the fans. It has no women although they are increasingly present at the stadium. It also should be noted that any skills set analysis would find the board very narrow and inadequate. There is good management and business skills but experience at top playing or coaching level is entirely absent.

When talking of the board the elephant not in the room is of course Arsene Wenger. He probably rightly has avoided siren calls to join but has zealously guarded his right to select and train all footballers on staff. He also expects the primary say in transfers in and out of the club although we have no knowledge as to what parameters may be set by the board eg specifically on total cost or value. Arsene in particular seems willing to let the buck stop with him in these areas.

Perhaps the best way to assess Arsenal governance performance is to consider issues and I have chosen three but you may well have your own and it would be interesting to see your cases and views in comments.

  1. For two years there has been a strong fan reaction to the news that a wholly Kroenke owned company has been paid £3 million each year for unspecified services commissioned and approved in particular by the two non-executive Directors. Now in principle I am not opposed depending on the services given and their true value. There are aspects of marketing and match day experience in which the US is a world leader but the problem is we are not told anything useful and so it is zero marks for transparency. Of course if it is just a means to pay Kroenke and avoid paying the nearly half again to RWH that a dividend on shares would entail then there are entirely new issues emerge.
  2. For several years local Islington Citizens supported by a number of fan groups and Arsenal blogs have been trying to persuade Arsenal to adopt the London Living Wage for it’s own staff and when the opportunity arises for external contract staff. This is clearly morally right for a company in Arsenal’s financial position and there are strong arguments that it would positively enhance the match day experience. And all at less cost than the Kroenke company fees. But in spite of being raised at the last three AGMs accountability is so poor that the policy still awaits a final board sign-off. Perhaps Stan Kroenke whose other half is not only better but also richer being a Walmart inheritor, where staff pay is notorious, has an undesirable influence here
  3. Arsenal are very rightly proud of the work they do as Arsenal in the Community. But it is extremely difficult to find a way of suggesting innovation. The FA has got itself into all sorts of foolish financial difficulty but there is a singular clear and pressing difficulty in developing youth and grass roots football. Could not Arsenal under the auspices of Arsenal in the Community set aside £5-£10millions to train and employ 25-50 new fully qualified coaches which could be offered to local schools and local cubs to build a new approach with the ‘Arsenal way’.

I have to say that for me the questions and principles that were posed in the opening paragraph are sadly evidenced that Governance at Arsenal is a long way from good enough and we as fans have to try to bring all the pressure we can to get improvements.

Vintage Gooner

Injuries Hurt!

November 18, 2015

One has to wonder if Arsenal have yet come to grips with these continuing cycles of injury that besets our players.

I suppose that one first needs to analyse the causes of the injuries.

It is obvious that some injuries are out and out thuggery by an opposition player, such as has happened to About Diaby and Rambo, for example.

Others may be a result of a genetic imbalance that makes some players inherit brittle bones, or ligaments that fail more easily than perhaps is normal in professional sport.

Then again, the warm up and warm down process before and after a game or when coming off the bench should be straight forward to apply and in most cases does not cause most players a problem.

The style or nature of some players needs to be taken into account as well, and it seems obvious that a ‘big engined’ non-stop, physically aggressive player is likely to suffer injuries more often than a laid back, skilful player who makes the ball do the work for him.

It seems obvious that there is nothing the club physios can do about the occasional bursts of thuggery that can be bad enough that it can cripple a player’s career, as it has done for Diaby and Eduardo and nearly put paid to Rambo too.

The same is also true of players who have been born with a genetic condition or predisposition to be more easily injured, which can only be medically ameliorated rather than cured.
It might be worth the club considering investigating a player’s family history in that respect before extending contracts, as paying someone to sit on the injured roster for months or even years is not helping the club or its devoted followers, altho that action does have moral and human rights significance, but in any event there is little the club can do about it.

The warm up and muscle conditioning process may need to be tailored to suit individual players, as Theo, for example, seems to be extraordinarily prone to apparently self-inflicted injury, as does the Ox, and Tomas R.

Overall it has to be recognised that football is a physical game and injuries are bound to happen whatever precautions are taken, and to help counter that the club needs the very best facilities to sped up recovery, and, as I write, new facilities are in the process of being built.

Contiguous with that, it is essential that the very best physios are retained to put in place the very best medical knowledge and apply the very best treatment, and again I think the Arsenal’s physios are among the best.

Let’s face it – injuries are buggers and when they occur, and however long the player is out is not simply a question of a mathematical calculation – there are many factors involved including the player’s age, physique, style of play and genetic disposition, so we just need to suck it up when an injury occurs and realise it is in no one’s interest for a talented player to be sitting on his ass getting paid big bucks and that everything that can be done has or is being done and to cut back on the criticism of the club for not handling it.

In my opinion – of course. :D

Red Arse … RA…. Redders

Stay vigilant, Manager of the month‏

November 17, 2015

Morning all

We start a new week and boy what a week we have just had. Unsurprisingly, Arsène Wenger being voted Manager of the month has been overshadowed by world events. Of course the things that have happened have shocked us all, but that’s life as we know it now. The events that have led to these tragic stories, we can only hope, that it has shown what can and does happen in life, and hope we can learn from these tragedies.

Arsène of course is French, so he would have been knocked sideways by these happenings, but still Manager of the month, and in my mind well deserved, second in the league sharing the same points as leader’s Manchester City. Wenger has got the team together and pulled back the gap that had started to widen, he had stopped the rot you may say.

Yes through our fight, we have had casualties, at present we have almost a whole team of players injured, but by the time the Internationals are over we may just start getting a few back. I never like to predict who will come back from injury, as soon as you say they seem to have a relapse, and then we hear another couple of months.

Some who have had surgery will recover as per normal those with hamstrings should almost be back to normal those with groin trouble who can say, as the groin is a tender place as we all well know. The Internationals came at a time when a few of our players who normally join their countries squads, had been injured, so of course they couldn’t be included, for those who were ok, of course, they joined their squads. What we need to hear after this coming weeks games, is that we have no new injuries.

Our next league game is West Bromwich, hopefully we can assemble a team that can compete, and gain the 3 points on offer. There are some around us that want us leading the league clear by Christmas, and a good possibility of that happening if all goes well. Arsenal it has to be said have huge numbers of injuries every season, whether all clubs suffer the same numbers I am not that sure, but it certainly hurts us.

For those interested, I had my first Pike match yesterday, needless to say only thirteen turned up and only one pike was caught, sadly not by me, blinding bit of news I thought, a little more light hearted than the news we have been hearing, that’s for sure.

For those with season tickets or intentions of attending matches, keep vigilant and keep aware, big stadiums with many people need all eyes open to stay safe. Enjoy your football and respect your neighbour.

Steve Palmer


Who is going to be Arsene’s Successor?

November 16, 2015

There is clearly a need and indeed an obligation for a top football club, such as Arsenal, to have begun the intricate process of longer term planning for the managerial succession once Le Roi, Monsieur Wenger, finally calls it a day as he seems to have obliquely indicated in recent times.

The conundrum the Board have is that it may not be as straightforward as it might seem on the face of it.

All public limited companies, which includes Arenal Football Club are subject to the requirements of the Companies Act to avoid foreseeable risks and therefore they need to plan for the inevitable succession and also carry out due diligence would seem to rule out any appointment from left field which would rule out and this raises some problems.

For myself, I have absolutely no doubts that conversations between the Board and Arsene have taken place and he will surely have an input as to who his likely successor might be.

The need to carry on the momentum of the club and its need to remain at the top of the footballing tree, would seem to rule out any appointment from left field which would seem to rule out the appointment of an inexperienced wannabe manager including someone who is currently taking his coaching badges, such as Thierry Henry and the like.

What is needed is an established, successful, well grounded, experienced manager conversant with the needs of a top, top football club, and that would bring its own problems in terms of the timing of Arsene’s retirement, and the then availability of the required quality of mangers, with an eye on the advancing age of those currently managing other top clubs, as that is part of the price that is paid for experience.

I do not have any real idea who would be the fans’ favourite to take over, other than the obvious one of Guardiola, but no doubt you guys will have your own ideas on who should be recruited when King Arsene steps down and who will be crowned the new king of Arsenal.

There is an alternative to the above, which despite my pooh-pahing of a left field appointment could actually happen if all the pieces fall in order.


Arsene’s contract has been extended for another three season, so I have heard, finishing in the summer 2018. Meanwhile, the appointment of Remi Garde as the Aston Villa manager for a similar period has also been announced, and this may not be entirely a coincidence.

If an ‘Arsenal man’ is the preferred option for both the Board and the fans, other than the inexperienced ones, and it may not be, then it is entirely possible that someone who has had experience of running an EPL club by then and has also managed a top French team could be the answer.

Whatever happens, or whoever is appointed, it will be a novel experience for many of us after all these years of the Professor, but everything and everyone has a beginning and end, and I for one will be sorry to see Arsene step down, it will also be an exciting move into an new era at the club.

Vive La France, Vive Arsene, Vive L’Arsenal. :D

Red Arse … RA …Redders…

Tragic events in Paris

November 14, 2015

Friday’s post has been removed following the tragic events in Paris on Friday evening.

Training Diet the Schwarzenegger effect‏

November 11, 2015

I watched some of the news last night on TV, and one of the things I noticed, was how drugs in sport has taken so long for the Authorities to see it as a problem. The people responsible for investigating, have come out and said, they are shocked to find its a bigger problem than what they first thought. Now I find that amazing, where have these people been. Sport is all about performance enhancing drugs it always has been.

I can remember as a kid, watching the Olympics and thinking when I saw eastern block competitors. and thinking, that woman looks like a man. Questions were asked at the time , and I suppose they had to examine these peoples bits to find out one way or the other. Would it be worthwhile to the country, to have sex changes, Men into women to win a gold medal.

Now i am no expert in the fundamentals, but i can remember many occasions when I felt cheating was in play and that’s 50 years ago, why has it taken so long, to now find that athletes are using drugs. I also remember a guy named Lasse Viren a distance runner, who was a very good runner at the time, and when he had a final, had his blood changed for high altitude blood that was full of extra oxygen, and they guy ran like the wind, bit different I know, but even in those days, they thought of ways to get an advantage.

Different sports had different ways to cheat, Drugs, blood, sex changes, its all the same, performance enhancing ways to find an edge. Arnold Schwarzenegger won many body building titles, I was always keen on this sport, as the manly thing was to look big and powerful. Seeing Arnie parade on stage was like watching a giant for me back then, bulging muscles and seeing a developed body that outshone every body else, the man was a colossus.

Arnie was a cheat he openly stated as i remember that he was a natural body builder, Nothing Natural about Arnie nothing at all. These people stand out from the rest, I myself trained to build a bigger better body, I can honestly tell you that its impossible to build a Schwarzenegger body without some kind of help no matter how hard you train. When I was doing it, and moaned that my body wasn’t developing quick enough, Other guys told me that you have to use the gear if you want results. I used to train every body part to extreme and even thought about using these treatments myself, not to win trophies just for myself, but it seemed wrong at the time and it still feels wrong now.

I remember just a few years ago when I watched Linford Christy sprinting for England, the first thing i said to my Mrs is his shape is not natural, i said at the time you cannot build a body like that in the amount of time he had, he was only young then, and nobody questioned it. He turned out a cheat, I knew it why didn’t they.

Tiger Woods, my idol at one stage, the best golfer I have ever seen. The best Golfer that ever picked up a golf club and it all looked natural For sheer talent this guy had it all, and he showed he was head and shoulders above them all. Now although Tiger was not caught taking drugs that I know of, Tiger had a secret life outside Golf, we all know the story so I wont bore you, but for a top sportsman, its also impossible to play world shattering Golf , and stay up all night with half a dozen women without some kind of help, even a fool can see that.

What’s all this have to do with football you may well ask, Well is their sports enhancing products, that can aid a young footballer, well of course there are. There are enhancing items for every sport, that’s why it has taken years for them to only start finding out Yeh Right. And not just the young ones, the old ones need help too, even more so.

People ask the question, why do Arsenal suffer more injuries than other clubs, why do our players break down more than the other’s. Boy wouldn’t we all like the answer to that one. When Arsene first came to Arsenal , he introduced new training new diets which has revolutionised the sport as we know it. Now I am not pointing the finger and saying we also used enhancing products, but the way we went about our business, has made me wonder at times, how a player has more energy and stamina by not eating certain foods. My mother used to tell me that a little of everything does you good, and i believed that to be true, but when Mesut arrived, to me he looked like a weak link, He used to perform what I felt like a misplaced player in a league which was too tough for him, he looked skinny and weak and went off regularly before the ninety minutes. Now Mesut looks like a trained athlete he looks to have gained weight he looks visibly stronger he looks the part, in fact he looks the player we thought we had brought.

As I said, I am not pointing the finger, but has Mesut done all this by training harder or even stuffing beef burgers or has he had help, as it seems a bit quick for me. Theo another who has been accused of being a weakling, not so long ago we were saying he gets shrugged off quite easily he seemed like a weak link , but just before he got injured, he looked bigger more muscled and a dam sight stronger, has he been on the burgers as well.

Body shape and mass does not happen overnight, and its not down to diet, stamina is built up and the same with strength, a player training 3 hours a day cannot build like that, but that is just my opinion, as I said I am not pointing fingers. Schwarzenegger has had lots of medical procedures for failing organs due to his Steroid abuse, once a man mounting he is a shadow of his former self, older of course but if you cheat it catches up to you in the end, injuries happen more frequently and then the body starts to ebb away.

I do believe we have not heard the end of drugs and enhancement treatments, training gets you fitter and stronger but it takes years and years, do not be fooled by diets and different training.

Steve Palmer


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