Back in the sixties, when the post war hard times were finally giving way to the Carnaby Street generation’s excesses, professional footballers whilst sheltering under the jutting chin of Jimmy Hill (the most famous linesman I ever saw at the home of football) were using George Eastham to fight for and win, the abolishment of the maximum wage.
Over at jolly old Fulham, Johnny Haynes the undoubted pass master of his generation, was immediately given a rise to £100 a week. Causing the workingman to write to the papers saying it was a joke. Probably because the Fulham chairman at the time, Tommy Trindler, was a famous stand up comedian.
This was in the pre-lottery days, when the get rich quick dream was the football pools, a penny a line, pick 8 draws and £100,000 could be yours, along came a young woman called Viv Nicholson. She won £150,000 about 5 million in today’s money. On receiving her cheque she said I am going to Spend, Spend, Spend. Which she did and of course ended up broke and an alcoholic
In those far off far off days all clubs had their local luminary for a chairman, butchers in the case of Man Utd and Burnley, Businessmen, Lord Mayors and Bishops of London in the case of the snooty Arsenal mob. Don’t know what it was at the spuds probably a cabby.
They were generally benefactors keen to be seen to be putting money in. No one knew what he or she took out. Many was the time in the standing years, at Arsenals big games and derbies, a crowd figure would be put over the PA and we jammed like Sardines in a can and unable to move, would be reduced to helpless laughter at the sheer audacity of the adjusted size of the numbers quoted.
Even so clubs pottered along staying above the breadline, wages rose gradually as did entrance prices, the clubs with the exception of the Arsenal rotated among the divisions, with several clubs having periods of dominance and all was well in the footy world.
Football violence and tragedies such as Hillsborough in 1989 put an end to this cosy world. The government cracked down demanding all seater stadiums by 1994 and this following the establishing of the Premiership in 1992, with the resultant TV deals changed the football world forever.
Now the football world has gone quite mad, it reminds me more each day of Viv Nicholson and her famous quote. Portsmouth today, Leeds yesterday and god knows who tomorrow have gone into administration a polite word for bust. The heady smell of promised success has caused successful businessmen to take leave of their senses. Casually mortgaging and spending not only the clubs future season ticket revenue, but also tomorrows TV money, before it even reaches the clubs current account, buying players, paying exorbitant transfer fees and salaries they cant afford in the headlong rush to win something and answer the constant demands of the fans.
Alternatively there are Man U and Liverpool, no longer local clubs but owned by Americans, who having borrowed the money to buy the club, then consigned the debt and its crippling interest payments to the club. Whilst at the same time extracting consultancy fees, dividends and commissions to further add to the debt. The fans worried now beyond winning things, demand the return of their club, less these uncaring people let it go broke. Should they do so, the Clubs position would be no different to Portsmouth, just bigger numbers.
In the middle of this mayhem is the Arsenal, financially stable in the care of a board who neither seek or pay dividends and manage a debt acquired by building our new stadium, that is covered by the revenue due from the development of residential properties on and around our beautiful former home. This debt will shortly be discharged.
At the same time our urbane manager of 12 years standing, has overseen the creation of a state of the art training centre, scouting, locating and acquiring the cream of the worlds best young players, training them on through all ages and teams right up to the first team to play the Arsenal way, a way that is universally admired by fans of other clubs throughout the world. These young players are brought on to the first team and either retained as our future or if surplus to requirements, bloodied in the Carling cup and sold on for a premium to clubs with lower standards. Thus this operation is also self-funding.
World class players have also been brought when necessary and moulded into the arsenal way to be sold on usually for large profits when the manager feels they are either past their best, or not conducive to team harmony. Interestingly none of the players sold has really gone on to greater things and the vast majority speak with affection of their Arsenal days and the regret they have had at leaving. All this achieved with a wages policy that avoids the pitfalls mentioned earlier.
So here we stand, stable, secure with a young playing staff that is the envy of the premier league. Should we win our next nine games all of which are with lesser teams we will win the premier league. Should we overcome our next three opponents in the Champions League that trophy too will be ours.
And yet we have a media pack and a hard core of fans that constantly in papers, blogs, on TV and Radio, chat rooms and phone ins continue to berate our club and the wonderful job they have done. Their constant criticism, we have not won anything in the past five years. True we have not.
Portsmouth and United have, would their fans and staff swap with us? Of course they would. Would we swap with them? No way.
When will these so called fans ever learn
By Guest Writer dandan