Trophies, Identity, Board Wranglings

Red & White’s Open Letter, and the subsequent chatter around the internet is the reason I decided to try and write something. Trouble is, I am angry, and I don’t know if I’ll be coherent enough. Why am I angry? Because I don’t like my club being harmed. Now, some would argue that the club being harmed is exactly what makes Usmanov angry, or ‘concerned’. And that’s why he’s decided to write something like what he did. I disagree. But let’s move on from this for a while. I’ll keep referring to parts of the letter though.

The more fundamental question is..Why do people think there is something wrong at Arsenal? Usmanov refers to dressing up a bad game, and I guess the same applies here. No matter what people say, the reason for there being a perception of something being wrong, is only that we haven’t won a trophy for a while. And that is exactly what Usmanov is seeking to capitalise on.

What is a trophy? It’s something you win. Even Usmanov says “because it is the trophies which are the crowning achievement for everybody at the club.” What is the keyword in there for most people? For me, it’s ACHIEVEMENT. A trophy is not the end to be reached at all costs. It is something you earn. You earn it by playing well. You earn it by being better than others wanting to win it too. Sometimes, despite playing well enough you miss out on it due to factors outside your control that can be simplistically labelled as luck. Where is the achievement in assembling a team of the highest paid players? What is the meaning of the trophy if you are simply getting your hands on it? I could buy a trophy from some guy who won the track and field at the national athletic meet. Hell I could pump myself full of drugs, nobble him, and even race him for it and beat him. (See, I worked for it) I would then display it in my cabinet. Maybe show it off to some people who visit, who would be suitably impressed. But what do I get from it? Nothing. Nothing important anyway.

But let’s say you do. Some of you feel that the trophy IS the ultimate achievement regardless of how you come by it. What would be the collateral you would be willing to give in exchange for your trophies? What would you sacrifice for it? After all, no such thing as a free lunch. So if you’re not paying the bill for your lunch, someone else is. Who is footing that bill, and why? What do you risk owing that person in exchange for having your ephemeral desire satiated? And what do you have left after the desire is fulfilled?

Having one person owning the club is inherently risky. For every Abramovich there are tens of Shinawatras, Chainrais, Ridsdales, Whytes, Yeungs, Venkys, Tans, Romanovs (starting to get the picture yet?) And if you don’t know who they are, it’s because the media doesn’t quite give the same amount of coverage to the important problems in football, as it does to transfers and the rest of the drama. Of course, nothing like this could happen to Arsenal. Arsenal could never go bankrupt. Even if we do, there will always be someone richer and more ‘ambitious’ to rescue us and bring us more trophies. Right? You come back to the point about why someone will foot your bill. Let’s get one thing straight. Rich people do not give away money. That isn’t how they got rich in the first place. If they seem to give away money, it’s because they aim to gain something out of it. It’ll always be more money, whether directly or indirectly. It could be an advertisement, it could be as an investment, it could be to gain legitimacy. Anything. But it is never charity. Never. Eventually, they will no longer need this toy that they have. It will happen. It may not be in 1 year, or 10, or 50. But it will happen.

Now some people seem to have no problem with players switching clubs for more money. Neither do I. They do it in contravention of rules though, and that’s something we shouldn’t forget, or brush over. But ok, we’d all switch our jobs for more money. But would we switch our loyalties? Let’s say someone offered you a large sum of money to start supporting Chelsea with them (because they are all alone and they want to feel as involved with their community as we are) Would you do it? Turn your back on Arsenal? Chelsea win trophies, remember? I would think not. So it seems people have some qualms about switching loyalties for money or trophies. Yet, what people are advocating with bringing Usmanov in, is also switching loyalties.

What are we loyal to? Just the name ‘Arsenal’? Well, we were also variously named Dial Square, Woolwich Arsenal, Royal Arsenal etc. right? Didn’t our fans maintain their loyalty? Don’t we accept those names as part of our history?

What are we loyal to? The location of the club? Well, yes. But the reason for that isn’t just location itself. It’s what it represents (and I’m an overseas fan) to the people, to its traditions.

I follow Arsenal because of our ethos. Our tradition. our values. Our class. Our style of play. Our history of success.

Now. Some of those things will not last forever, and I’ll still be around supporting Arsenal. For instance, our style of play. I’ll still follow Arsenal if we play like a bunch of club footed, catenaccio loving bunch of amateurs. And of course, if we are playing like that, there will be no trophies.

But some things, are THE identity of Arsenal. Values, and traditions. CLASS.

For one moment, forget trophies, forget FFP, and talk of we can’t compete (we do compete most years) and think about it. It’s just good sense to not spend more than you have. Most of the world is finding out right now that living in and off credit is something which comes back to bite you. Usmanov’s notion of a debt free club, with a large war chest is all well and good. But isn’t that exactly what the current board are looking to achieve?

In any case, having a sugar daddy model doesn’t guarantee success. Even in today’s world. What happens when EVERYONE goes down that route. You can pump in 2billion, someone else will pump in 5, someone else 10. What guarantee do you have that any amount of money will be enough? Are there enough billionaires interested to go around? And that’s nothing to say of what it means for the state of true competition in football. Even the US, which is the most capitalist country in the world, organises its sports in a very socialistic manner with wage caps, draft system, and restrictive transfer rules, because those rules promote a more competitive environment. ManCity might be Arsenal’s rival, but if they end up destroying all competition, they end up destroying themselves. Sports are not a normal competitive business environment in that sense. There are no monopolies in sport. There is no excitement in viewing a foregone conclusion. Arsenal do things in a way which are moral, which are important, and importantly, which does have a chance of success. The chance is lower, and it is affected by being targeted at this point. But the chance is still there. They only target us, because they fear us.

And I include Usmanov in that. Usmanov wants to own the club, right? If Arsenal succeed, he doesn’t get to own Arsenal. As such, his ‘concerns’ are very much the opposite of Arsenal’s. His interests are contrary to the fans. Usmanov is selling a dream. A dream Ridsdale sold his Leeds fans, and then said that for a while, we lived it at least. To be fair, the board is selling a dream too. The worst that can happen in following that dream is that we won’t win trophies. The worst that can happen with chasing Usmanov’s dream is…well.. a LOT worse. Trophies would be the last of our worries then. Ask Portsmouth fans. Usmanov came in through paying Dein 75m for his shares. and promptly proceeded to go on a bullying spree against all the blogs who were naturally enough curious about his past. His shady past shouldn’t disqualify him, but it should make us wary of him. Usmanov is also the only one making high and mighty promises, which he knows he’ll have no need to prove until he can give us all a massive shrug with massive shoulders and say..Tough.. I lied. He’s the only one who makes opportunistic statements destabilising the club, just to try and force his way in. He’s using the fans’ concerns, presenting them as his own, and trying to use us to get his way. Kroenke was on the outside looking in too. He never made any statements harming Arsenal. Of course, Kroenke is not an angel. He is just someone who’s track record and behaviour suggests he is more trustworthy, or at least, less risky.

I would MUCH prefer not having either of these people involved with Arsenal. But only Kroenke has sports teams (and no, they are not all ‘unsuccessful’. Saying that is displaying a vast ignorance about how US sports are structured) He has NEVER sold any share in any sports team he has owned. He was initially resisted by the board, but brought in once Usmanov appeared on the scene. (which suggests they aren’t simply motivated to sell out, nor did they accept Usmanov’s higher offer)  Kronke uses his sports teams as a business. Arsenal IS a business. What does he bring to the business? He brings with him a wealth of marketing experience using sports teams. Liverpool’s owners managed to get them a bumper shirt deal through their own channels of influence. Kroenke offers us much the same. He can increase our brand value, and that in itself isn’t as simplistic as saying, if you win, your brand value goes up. Kroenke has something to offer us. His endgame is still unknown, but his record of not selling any sports team gives me confidence he’s not here to make just a quick buck.

So basically, I think this whole worrying over trophies is distracting us from the main issue. The current board need to change some aspects of their running of the club, in an ever changing situation, but what they say, and even the transfer dealings over the last 2 summers suggest they are aware of that. The desire for change, should not mean desire for complete change. We will not know whether R & W will be any better, until it’s too late to do anything about it. So far, everything Usmanov has done, has led me to grow more and more in favour of keeping him out. Much as I’d prefer Kroenke also gone, at the moment, if he’s all that’s stopping Usmanov from coming in, I’m thankful for his presence.

To end, I will make a statement that seems to go contrary to all I’ve written above. I think it is possible to maintain class, even under a billionaire model. No really, It is. A financier doesn’t HAVE to change the club’s ethos. He doesn’t have to make the club all about money. He can help the club overcome some shortcomings. But in that case, he doesn’t guarantee much more success at trophies. Once you start paying players more and more money, class invariably goes out the window. In any case, Usmanov has a distinct lack of class, and he’s shown a few times that he’s willing to harm Arsenal to serve his own interests. Hence my feelings above.

Written by Shard

135 Responses to Trophies, Identity, Board Wranglings

  1. Gooner In Exile says:

    Shard, that sir is a very fine piece of writing and a very good take (imo) on Usmanov’s pronouncements.


  2. Very well put. An excellent piece and has encapsulated what I also feel at this moment. I wish more of the blogs would talk sense.

  3. Morning all, that’s a very well written piece Shard, full of astute observations.

    I guess it highlights the paradox of a entity which has a non commercial “customer base” operating in a commercial environment.

    Jabba will rationalise his actions that are damaging to our club as being necesssary to achieve a longer term objective that will be for the good of the club.

    However Jabba’s links with David Dein, whose son continues to engineer moves away for our best players, does lead me to view R & W holdings with distate – and what a cynical bit of naming there; blatantly populist.

  4. femi says:

    let usmanov come in you fools.

  5. Terry Garratt says:

    This is an excellent article and I agree with nearly all you say. However, a few points. I have been an Arsenal fan for 56 years. For the first forty of those Arsenal WERE a catennacio team AND we did win trophies. I supported that approach and took a perverse pride that during that time Arsenal were one of the most disliked teams in English football. During those early years it was ALL about winning. Nearly every Arsenal fan derided the West Hams and Tottenhams for their (relatively unsuccessful) approach. Wenger has altered my football philosophy 180 degrees (and something of my life philosophy actually). I do now accept that we do not have to win at any cost (although I still want to win). You paint a very alluring picture of Arsenal’s commercial ethos. Sadly we have plenty of evidence that Arsenal have not always behaved with decorum. It is almost certain that in 1919 the then Chairman, Henry Norris, bribed chairmen of other clubs to get Arsenal promoted to Division !. Something which contributed enormously to the enmity between Arsenal and Tottenham. (Already at a high level fllowing Arsenal’s move to North London. (With possible bribery of Football League officials connotations.). Henry Norris subsequently moved to Fulham and was thrown out of football following further financial scandals. The uncharitable could say that Arsenal’s position is founded on extremely fragile moral foundations. I make these points to show that we should not be too moralistic in our analysis. HOWEVER – Usmanov’s background is extremely concerning. It is quite surprising that he has been considered a “fit and proper” person to be involved in the ownership of a club. I absolutely do not wish to see him associated in any way with Arsenal FC. Neither am I happy with the stewardship of Kroenke. Our “failure” has been to not properly exploit our commercial position. I do not have enough space here to detail the missed opportunities. The annoyance of Arsenal fans is not that we have not won trophies per se but that we have not achieved anywhere near our potential. I believe that most Arsenal fans are not asking for a Man City or Chelsea approach to hoovering up any player that attracts their attention for five minutes. They are like the spoilt rich kid who sees the poor kid with something he wants and bullies and bribes until he gets it. (Usually tiring of it quite quickly – viz Adebayor, Shevchenko, a string of managers). Arsenal fans exasperation, I suggest, is that we feel that we are talking about such a small extra effort to retain/secure quality players that it would hardly threaten our long-term financial interests. Much is being made of the “Financial Fair Play” regime and that it will benefit Arsenal in particular. I am fairly certain that, in fact, any commercial lawyer will shoot massive holes in this. Football clubs are not actually “clubs” in the legal sense. They are commercial businesses. Can you imagine Shell or Ford or BMW being told that they can not buy new machinery to improve their output? That is exactly the equivalent with the FFP rules. Arsenal fans are not asking for massive injections of cash. We just want a slightly more adventurous investment in quality established players with slightly less emphasis on buying players for development (usually for someone elses benefit) and a more commercially focused approach off the field. Anyway – thank you for a very interesting and thoght provoking article.
    Terry Garratt

  6. dandan says:

    Thank you Shard that I believe sums up the position superbly.
    As a matter of interest the Japanese have a take on the free lunch Question. They say “A free lunch is the most expensive lunch” unfortunately one or two clubs have partaken already and are beginning to count the cost. IMHO Arsenal must continue to pay their own way, through prudent cost control, foreign billionaire owner or not.
    It is just unfortunate given our current situation, that we in the UK know this as going Dutch. 🙂

  7. keys says:

    I cant continue reading this. U are decieving urself if u think a club’s success is not trophies. When we talk of spending on the pitch, we dont mean we should buy 20 players or pay 50 and 30 million for a single player. But try to hold on to our key players or atleast replace them with quality players. We rather compeat with mid table clubs for average players. The few good players we have too we wait for their contract to run out before renewing them. What kind management is that? Apart from this yr, most of the players we buy are supose to play for a mid table clubs. We sell our players for big money but go for cheap replacements. And most of Wenger’s decisions, tactics and choice of players have been horible in recent years. Selling ur key players means selling ur trophies. Remember u cant eat ur cake and have it.

  8. robn says:

    the board and manager have no ambition. simple
    it seems you are stuck in a corinthian time warp where its not the winning but the taking part thats important.
    do you not want better for our club ??
    wake up, were in the 21st century

  9. Gooner In Exile says:

    Terry a fine comment sir.

    The problem with player retention is that the cost is prohibitive due to the arrival of the billionaire benefactor.

    Let’s take two players that moved to City and RvP.

    According to reports Adebayor’s wages jumped £100k a week, as did Nasri’s, RvP turned down a reported offer of £150k a week from us.

    Irrespective of transfer fees earned we have only just broken even on footballing side. The cost to keep the above would have been £10m a year for Nasri and Adebayor, and assuming RvP is looking closer to £200k a week we would be looking at £20m a season to have kept those three players. We simply have not had the resources to do that (That’s excluding any signing on fees that would have been needed).

  10. chas says:

    Excellent, Shard.

    Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
    Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye
    That tears shall drown the wind.
    I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself
    And falls on th’other.

  11. well structured and most avenues covered,,, I am interested in hearing about your take on the behavior of players… e.g. RvP current’s articulations… and on the players that hardly say anything…

  12. Shard says:

    I just saw this come up on news now. My first reaction was to cringe as I wasn’t sure what I’d written made much sense, the fear I expressed at the beginning. It was pretty much just an outpouring of all I felt at the time.

    Terry Garrat,
    I thought I made the point about our style of play not lasting forever. And for all the faults of those teams you mention, we certainly didn’t play like club-footed amateurs 🙂 Regarding the match fixing story of Henry Norris and Arsenal, and that contributing to Tottenham’s ill feelings towards us, I personally have no idea what went on since I’ve never done the historical research myself (something I’m good at by the way), but I have read an alternate explanation which seems to make good sense as well. Oh, but I thought Norris was already the chairman of Fulham before he bought into Arsenal. In fact, as I recall reading, there was talk at one time of the Woolwich Arsenal being merged with Fulham. But anyway. That is just as a point of interest. I still basically agree with your point about morality being flimsy ground to stand on, because it’s ever shifting, isn’t the same for everyone, and is hard to define. Still, I reckon we all have an idea of what we’d consider good, what bad, and what we’d be willing to accept, and it is possible to find consensus on it I think. Institutions, do have a ‘soul’ though. A certain character. I believe that is important to maintain.

    Your point about football clubs being like businesses is true, but I think I mentioned that it isn’t a business in which you can succeed by wiping out the competition. That is the logic of the TV money being shared around as well. I don;t know how it would work out in legal terms, and while I don’t think it’ll be as effective as we’d hope, I also think it won’t be as lame duck a legislation as we fear. My support for a well run, self financing club goes beyond the FFP’s success anyway. It just makes sense.

    The commercial deals, I’d like to hear your views on it, but I think the club are expanding in that regard, and the long term deals that were signed, were actually deemed very good at the time.

    Anyway. Thanks for taking the time to reply and put forth some good arguments.

  13. colario says:

    For some, what ever Arsenal do or happens is wrong.

    We have a majority share holder who knows little about football and has no experience of English football so he leaves the running of the club to those who have the knowledge he lacks. This according to our critics is wrong. He should be hands on and interfer with the teams as happens at other clubs. Of course if he was ‘hands on’ how the critics would howl.

    We have had stabilty at the club for the last 16 years some how this is wrong. We have produced some of the most entertaining football England has ever seen and this wrong. Acknowledged that we haven’t won silver wear for a few years but in that time we have come very close and with one exception (the league cup v Birmingham) the final result has been beyond our control.

    We have a stadium all other clubs would love to have. And yet the cry is: we are a mediocre club going nowhere. We should sack the board and bring in a man with billions and almost as much to hide.
    Sack the players and sack the manager and replace him with some untried inferior.
    To all our critics I say just this: If you believe the club is as bad as you say it is, you don’t have stay. Go and find yourself a better club. We don’t need you and we don’t want you.

  14. Anyone seen the new ticket prices ? A tenner off class “C” games sounds good to me; maybe I can see some games this year after all.

  15. Shard says:

    Hi Chary,
    Yeah, that is how Usmanov will justify at and I’m sure some will believe him. Me, I think it’s more self serving than anything else, and pretty much his only option after losing out in the share gobbling battle with Kroenke. He must be in shock losing to a skinny dude with a moustache compared to his probably immense winning record when it comes to gobbling things. 🙂

    You’re right about the name too. Maybe we should call them Fat & Orange a la Arseblog 🙂

  16. How about Mos Eisley holdings, Shard ? 🙂

  17. Shard says:

    Haha.. I like that Chary.

  18. richie says:

    First off thanks Shard for a very well written article that should spark a lively debate. In so many ways its such a pleasure to read you articulate what I consider to be the ethos of a Gooner, we follow a club that has traditions and real class that many other football fans wouldn’t understand. Like you I’m not interested in winning at any cost (Although it must be recognised that some supporters are). These days I fully recognise the paradox of my position, I want my cake and I want to eat it too.

    I want to win trophies but I only want to win them playing the exciting fast attacking entertaining football that I’ve come to love since Arsene’s arrival. I loved watching that fast attacking football years ago, the Brazilians of the 70’s and the total football that Ajax played in the 80’s. But those footballing expirences were a million miles away from the one’s I encountered freezing my ‘Arse’ off standing in the north bank watching Arsenal in the 70’s & 80’s It was like watching 2 different sports. I never associated Arsenal with “That Football” “That Football” was for the elite, not my local team who often couldn’t string half a dozen passes together.

    Then I lived in France for a few years (no sky back then) and as an outsider I chose to follow the only “non” French team in their league (Monaco). The rest as they say is history, when Arsene (who) was appointed at Highbury I had all my old Gooner mates ringing me up asking what I knew. (After 3 years my knowledge of French players, managers etc wasn’t cyclopedic but it wasn’t a bad data base). What Arsene bought to Arsenal and therefore the prem was the best football it had ever seen. I’ve been sold on the dream ever since. Moreover I’m sold on our player developement self sustainable model. I want our Academy expanded. Currently compared to Ajax’s Toekomst or Barca’s Masia our academy is but a kindergarten, I want a bloody university thats how sold I am on the project.

    So forget Jabba he gambled on being able to take over the club it didn’t work coz Kroenke owns two thirds. Thats it! sooner or later he’ll sell his shares and go back to watching his first English footballing love Manu’er.

  19. Shard says:

    The word trophy used to mean the winnings (loot) from warfare. Fair enough analogy for sports I guess, except a scorched earth policy led to no trophy beyond an empty shell of a prize. And in case you think artificially pumping money is the way to go, the Spanish empire fell in large part due to influx of too much gold from the New World.

    Too vague an analogy? 🙂

  20. Red Arse says:

    Oh dear, it seems that I am going to try and rain on your parade Shard, but I wish it were other. 😦

    First, the salutations. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your very good and very coherent (yes, have no fear, it was! 🙂 ) essay.

    Secondly, and just to put my followings comments into perspective, this subject has been done to death recently, and I am becoming slightly jaded in trying to maintain a balanced response without descending into an argument that will strain everyone’s credulity, so bear with me.

    Finally, nearly everyone reading your Post will, by now, be cemented into an immovable position on the ownership ‘issue’ and will have the appropriate rhetoric readily to hand to justify that personal stance.
    That in turn has given me cause to ponder the purpose or point of my responding, but at base I think your Post deserves a response for the effort you have evidently put into it.

    It would be easy to get swept along by the populist appeal of an article purporting to stand on the moral high ground and hurling pointed shafts of disdain, in advance, at anyone who might deign to disagree with the main precepts contained within your article.

    So, allow me to oblige, because I am fearless when combating the written word —- the physical? —- not so much!!

    I want a trophy!! I am not greedy — just one trophy to start with would be nice. Followed up with a whole gaggle of them in the ensuing years, please.

    Does that deserve disdain, does it make me a discreditable ‘trophy hunter’? If so, I must become an appelate in the Court of public opinion, and throw myself on its mercy for having the temerity of wanting success for my team, and excitement and pride for myself and other like minded fans.

    Fie! On Kroenke and Usmanov both. Do not confuse my passion for my club, my team, with any morbid wish to become associated with either camp. I care not for them, or they for me–or you!

    But n’ertheless I espy a chink in your argument, altho mentioned in a passing sentence, or two, where you declare, guilessly, it seems, that you are prepared to countenance the possibility of a situation that runs contrary to all you have espoused.

    The ownership of the club, you say, does not necessarily have to equate with a change in its ‘ethos’ altho’ you then insert a caveat that ‘this would not guarantee trophies’.

    Ultimately you have arrived at a position that would seem to encapsulate a theory we all could live with.

    The current owners of the club, whoever they may be at any given time, should endeavour to administer the club in such a way that the objective of achieving on field success and the acquisition of trophies, commensurate with the financial well being of Arsenal, with the view to ensuring its long term heritage.

    There! That’s not so difficult to agree upon, surely. And does not require the unfortunate slice by slice public dissection of any shareholder or director, whoever they may be.

    At the end of my own dissertation, can I remind you that I did enjoy your Post, and look forward to more of them!! 🙂

  21. Plumstead gooner says:

    In other news Spurs have agreed a fee to sign Adebarndoor from Man shitty


    Thank you Shard, excellent piece. Ive convinced myself not to worry about the loss of our ethos or traditions. Both men know a good thing when they see it and will not damage the “Brand”.

    I am in the Redders camp with all of this. i am tired of scouring accounts, FFP, rights issues, etc. The season is almost upon us and it cant start fast enough for me, i want to watch football now.

    On the morning of the big kick off, i am going to take the last set of Arsenals financial statements, which i print off every year, and burn them in some strange ritualistic sacrifice.

    “Jumpers for Goal Posts”

  23. Gooner In Exile says:

    RA whilst I agree that whatever the ownership the clubs supporters will remain.

    I certainly won’t be one of the few forming FC Arsenal.

    What I think the Usmanov supporters need to remind themselves is where the man is coming from and what his long term motivations are.

    Assuming he is not an Arsenal fan as professed by many the question is why is he doing what he is doing, as Shard rightly points out its to get total control and in doing so he will then (one assumes) try to maximise his earnings.

    If he was really prepared to throw a bottomless pit of money at it he would be doing what the Sheikhs did buy a team in mistake cheaply and inject the bottomless funds needed.

    I smell a rat.

  24. Shard says:

    Hi RA,
    It’s always a pleasure reading your comments. I don’t think we disagree really. I want a trophy just as bad. I just don’t think following our own path precludes us from winning one.(We’ve been pretty close many a time) Going the other way, wouldn’t necessarily make us win one either.

    I do disagree with your barb about me standing on a moral high ground and shooting shafts of disdain. I fully recognise morality is a flexible, even an individual notion, and I do not think myself superior to anyone else in that regard. The above was an emotive response to an emotive situation. It has nothing to do with me being morally better off. It is simply my point of view. In fact, I think I’ve put forth the basis in the above that some people will disagree with whatever ‘moral’ issues I have.

    Thus, beyond the moral aspect, I think is also some logic. I do not believe in a free lunch. Like you, I don’t think either Kroenke or Usmanov exist for anything other than their own benefit. Only one of them claims to though, immediately making him more suspicious to me. Only one of them makes statements harming Arsenal. Thus my overt opposition to him. That does not mean I am pro-Kroenke.

    Oh, and the ‘moral’ aspect, is also business. It is, a part of our brand now. We ‘sell’ ourselves on that basis, and it has seemingly brought us new fans all over the world. (I am one of them) That ‘class’ that we attempt to show as a club, is hard to define, but anybody who closely follows the club knows what I mean. That is our USP..Paradoxically, that might be immoral (making money off a play of morality), but hey, morality is flexible, and I see nothing wrong with gaining from being recognised/thought of as more classy than the others.

    I’m proud to have a manager that says for him it’s all about winning, but never about winning at all costs. I agree with the bit you want us all to get behind. And yes, I agree this topic has been done to death, so I shall let it go there… I think we broadly agree anyway. 🙂

  25. oz gunner says:

    Shard…bloody brilliant piece. Saved it for half time during the footy and it didn’t disappoint. You are one of many on this site that have a fantastic writing style, and get your point across well.

    Now i’ll have to wait for the next break to read RA’s piece. cheers guys

  26. Shard says:


    Interesting that you also see our morality as part of our “brand” 🙂

    I was super excited about our first match of pre season tomorrow, and it now seems like it won;t be televised on Arsenal Player. I’m so frustrated. I want to watch Arsenal take to the field again. 😦

  27. Red Arse says:


    I regret my failure to clarify what I meant by my ‘high moral ground’ comment, which appears to have caused you a little angst. 😦

    I hope you will get to know me well enough to realize my usual preference is for an aethetic discussion on something that takes my interest, or deserves comment.

    Not for me the pointless slings and brickbats of outraged fandom, which unnecessarily personalizes criticisms and obfuscates genuine exchanges of opinions.

    My ‘moral’ comment was a reference to the general consensus of opinion, such as that about Usmanov, in which opinion seems to have become ‘fact’.

    It was not actually meant to be a ‘barb’, and was most assuredly not aimed at you personally, and, in any event, I am most certainly never going to claim custodianship of what is definably right or wrong about anything!! 🙂


    Hi Shard, not on Arsenal Player? I planned my day around that. Have these people no feelings?

    Yes, all part of the “brand” Shard. Just one of the things that makes Arsenal a special club.

  29. Red Arse says:

    MerryTerry, 🙂

    I am beginning to believe that you and the Glicster are one and the same person. 🙂

    Every time you are on AA, he is noticeable by his absence, and when he comes on in the evening, that same can be said about you!!

    Clark Kent changed his whole appearance (yeah, right) by donning and doffing his specs, and it seems likely that you do the same, using a wiggy to the same effect! 🙂

    Good to see you are just as enthusiastic and full of beans as ever!!

  30. boomergooner1727 says:

    at the risk of sounding ignorant due to the briefness of my sentiments, KRONKE’S TEAMS DON’T WIN!!! Ironically, the nuggets always do JUST ENOUGH the make the post season, on average, at about a FOUR seed. hmm…

    and as much as we love to chastise the new champions, WE were being run on diamond dollars while WE were winning trophies. i hate to play the red guys advocate but let’s look in the mirror before we criticize our foes. sure we weren’t being run the same but they’ve spent about as much on players as we did on the e******s. only real difference is a bit more sensibility and class but a lot of gooners (NOT including myself) might trade that for a carling cup at this point.


    Hi Redders,

    Dont know if you recall, but some time ago Cornwall mentioned that one of his previous jobs was to try on some rather risque latex outfits. He admitted that he felt shy and embarassed at first, but once the suit was donned he was a changed, and shall we say, a rather excited Glicster. So he cant be Superman, for from that day was born “Erectile Man”. hahahaha

  32. Red Arse says:


    Not sure what you mean. The team is the direct responsibility of Arsene Wenger. And they do win. Last season they beat Man City, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool, and Newcastle, all of them ‘top’ teams.

    We did not win a trophy, that much is true, but you seem to be saying that winning the Carling Cup might be preferable to having a fantasic modern stadium.

    Are you serious?

  33. Red Arse says:

    Peaches’s mum will be after you TerryM. 🙂

    No, I had not heard that story, and perhaps there was a little too much detail. Had you lent him your telescope?

    (Better not answer that — I think I can hear the sound of doom approaching!) 🙂

    I am surprised and disappointed, too, by the news that the friendly is not being shown on TV. Damnation!


    Redders, hahahaha. Ime off before the cavalry arrives.

  35. TotAl says:

    Hi Shard 🙂

    Another fine post, and nobody can claim you are not consistent in your views. Some very good responses as well and everything I wanted to say in response to your post has been said already.

    From the moment I realised, as a young boy, you actually can buy a trophy in a trophy-shop, the value of winning trophies diminished strongly for me. They are just objects, and objects cannot compete with experiences. During the last seven years, there have been so many fantastic experiences; so many moments of exultation, fantastic victories, and exhibitions of beauty and courage that I can only look back with pride and joy. The lack of new silverware in our cabinet cannot compete with that.

  36. chas says:

    RA, didn’t boomer say “NOT including myself” ?

  37. Mrs GLIC says:

    @ Terry

    The reports of a super hero by the name of ‘erectile man’ trolling around the area can’t be my Glic-y poo…I can vouch for the lack of evidence. He is good at arriving early but often comes up short!

  38. Red Arse says:

    He did, Chas, but I was trying to clarify what it was he was distancing himself from.

    But thanks for keeping an eye on me! 🙂

  39. We Will Find Him says:

    Mrs Glic, any information you can give us regarding the whereabouts of the Condom man, aka Glicster, ould lead to an award of an evening in a Kebab shop with the hirsuite Terry Towel Man — you pay, of course!

  40. Red Arse says:

    Rangers in Scottish Div 3 next season. (A little blood letting?)

  41. Red Arse says:

    Terry, Not Guilty!!

  42. John Terry get’s off – what a surprise !

  43. Unbelievable stuff, “The chief magistrate said there was a doubt about whether he said “fucking black c**nt” as an insult.”

    The law is an ass.

    Still, after OJ Simpson anything is possible.

  44. jnyc says:

    Thats a great read shard, i shouldnt be surprised ,because i always enjoy ur comments here also. My view is somewhere in the middle, im proud of how our club tries to do business. But i wouldnt mind a little owner investment, as long as its not overboard. I would trust arsene to know when to use it, and not to abuse it. So, the key figure is wenger, and his judgement. For example, if it somehow turns out to be true that we afford and excellent dm, or if we lose rvp over money, and song next season the same way, i have to say that im unhappy with the current structure. Who knows who might leave after that. And if some rich owner comes to spurs, i bet we would all start opening our minds to usmanov, or anybody else.

  45. JT’s family cheered in court at the verdict, not surprising as most of them are used to being up before a judge.

  46. Gooner In Exile says:

    The FA can now act….interesting times ahead, Liverpool will watch like hawks as will Suarez. They simply can’t be seen to be lenient, especially considering the constant criticism of UEFA’s rulings on the matter.

    Banning Suarez as a non Englishman was easier than charging and suspending Terry will be.

  47. Red Arse says:

    How can they (the FA) find him guilty after that?

  48. Redders, I’m guessing the level of proof required is different in a court of law to that of an FA Hearing.

    I fully expect to see teflon Terry acquitted by the FA as good old British John has to be found not guilty rather than that slimey foreigner, Suarez.

  49. Red Arse says:


    After the Twitcher’s dog got off for salting away the odd £100K, I am now shockproof!

  50. True Redders,I blame 26 and his ilk – it’s their fault !

  51. Red Arse says:

    You are right, CharyB, they should put us accountant’s in charge, and we would have their goolies off double quick—- especially ugly bugs like Terry!!

    Not OUR Terry, of course!! 🙂

  52. No room for woffly pronouncments from the accountants – hard facts and donning the black beret to sentence the likes of Teflon Terry(not Mr Syrup) will be the order of the day !

  53. Gooner In Exile says:

    RA as Chary says Suarezwas charged for using racist language, Terry has admitted using racist language. Context/intent in the court was important as a guilty verdict would call Terry racist. The FA do not need that context to find him guilty.

    There has to be a charge and hearing to the same scale as the Suarez case and the report will also have to express its findings.

    The only thing the FA may find in Terry’s favour is his story hasn’t changed unlike Suarez’s, but I think this will be a test of the FAs equality. The first things that have to happen are the charge and hearing. The ruling will then be independent as was Suarez case.

  54. Red Arse says:


    Color me an old cynic, but I think the FA will quietly let this matter drop.

    What all this does for race relations is anyone’s guess. Nothing good I suspect. 😦

  55. goonerjake says:


    Very interesting article you have written their. I agree with almost all of your points. However i do think even though i unlike usmanov i still think he deserves a place on the board. Not because i like him not because i think he is the right man to take arsenal forward but for the simple fact If i had 30 percent ownership of a club i would want a place on the board and a say in all things… its only fair.

    Plus this would stop kronke doing what he wanted alll the time and would stop arsenal being run by just one man.

    Multipule ownership is the arsenal way with a fans say to boot.

  56. Red Arse says:

    GIE, Kelsey and anyone else interested.

    Liveonlinefooty are taking new registrations/subscriptions to show nearly all Arsenal games for most friendlies and throughout next season.

    I mention this because they were not taking new membership last season.

  57. tomstoned says:

    yeah Shard..who cares about winning eh ??????? not sure you like any sport at all…or are more than satisfied just watching it..just like a soap on tv..Shard you always have something to say about those Gooners who wants a change or even see winning as the endresult of being great…why ?
    and stop hiding behind the love for The Arsenal..we all love Arsenal..accept it !!!
    imho..people who seem to be happy nomatter what happens at he Arsenal are by far the most dangerous fans a club can ever have…
    oopss i almost forget…this post is the poorest i have ever read..full stop…

  58. chas says:

    Have you been drinking again, Tom?

  59. tomstoned says:

    Yes of course Chas..but i accept your rather stupid attempt of making fun of my opinions…..just like you always do :)well done mate…

  60. Gooner In Exile says:

    Chas how very dare you be disrespectful of someone else’s opinion!

    Tom we would all love to see Arsenal win again, the question is what are we prepared to risk to achieve it.

    Anyway in good news time there is a new Category of PL games, cheapest PL home game is now £25.50 (and £10 for JGs) in the lower tier, admittedly A games have risen to £62 lower tier so the effect over an entire season is £0 for those who attend every match (or who have a ST). But it’s good news to those who travel from distance sporadically to games.

    Also the Upper Tier for those Cat C games is now only £35.50 (goal end) and they were the tickets that hung around longest last season as it was hard to justify £50 + travel to come for the visit of say Wigan.

  61. kelsey says:

    Thanks RA,

    I actually managed to renew mine yesterday.They keep changing the payment method but 2 months is now £5.00 as opposed to £6.00. I pay in euros and it now goes through.


    May i ask you something and I promise you this is not disrespectful.

    How long have you been supporting Arsenal ?

  62. kelsey says:

    The reason I ask is that I and a few others are coming up to 60 years as a supporter and though the game has changed dramatically in ways that have been discussed several times the principl applies to day as it did 40,50 or 60 years ago.
    All clubs go through good periods winning trophies as well as many many barren years,.
    personally as a fan i would prefer the club to be self sufficent, but that is not feasable at the moment, as I don’t care much for either of our majority share holders one is playing very safe and is not a risk taker, the other would be a high risk taker possibly to be detremental to the club.One has to speculate to a degree to accumulate though that is getting harder year by year with the competition we face together with the fact the obscene money top flight footballers demand.

  63. kelsey says:

    How to kill a Friday night 🙂

  64. goonermichael says:

    I told you he’d get off. he’ll captain England again. the court is basicall calling ferdinand a liar.

  65. VCC says:

    gm. It stinks. We all new he would get off with it. Can’t that judge lip read.

  66. VCC says:



    Evening all, VCC, did you lob some dough on us winning the league?

  68. VCC says:

    Yep. Got 11-1. But the way things have gone lately I think I might have been a bit hasty.

  69. VCC says:

    Arsenal v Sunderland . Arsenal win is 1-3 worth £30.


    Top man. Looking at the odds i reckon were the best vaule. In 1991 my brother done a bet, arsenal to win the league, west ham for divison 2, inter for the uefa cup, and some horse ante post. on the last day he was on to win £100k but west ham lost at home and Oldham scored in the last minute to nick the league. He was a bit gutted.hahahaha

  71. glic says:

    So it`s gunner cost me £29.50 for Goal Upper Back ( The Heavens ) against Sunderland, me think`s I`ll have some of that !. Can I borrow the Telescope again ?.


    Course you can, just dont wear the latex outfit and you should be alright. hahahaha.

    Hows Junior doing with the CIS stuff?

  73. VCC says:

    What a shame about your brothers bet. Every Saturday I do a few accumulators, it adds to the excitement.

  74. VCC says:

    I need three tickets for Arsenal v West Ham on boxing day, can anyone help?

  75. glic says:

    Is it a bird ?, Is it a plane ?, Is it a canoe in his pocket ?, no it`s Erectile Man !. Luv it. 😆
    The “trouble” has sorted it out, thanks for the help .

  76. glic says:

    Are you boys going to the first game ?

  77. goonermichael says:

    Last time I saw us play West Ham it was Cat A

  78. chas says:


    I didn’t realise I’d ever ‘made fun of your opinions’ before.
    You have to admit that declaring that today’s post is the poorest you’ve ever read, got exactly what it deserved. 🙂

  79. goonermichael says:

    Is anyone going to Cologne?


    VCC, the best type of bets are ante post. That way, like my brother, you think your gona win big for months only to have your dreams shattered at the death. hahahaha. I do them accumalotors to, always getting 6 out of seven, drives me mad.

  81. glic says:

    Last time I saw us play West Ham I got chased onto the pitch by ICF thugs trying to mark this gorgeous face . It was even more gorgeouser in 86/87 !. 🙂

  82. Shard says:

    wordpress ate some comments of mine..oh well..

    RA-suffice it to say I think we’re all good. No worries my friend. I didn’t feel any angst. just wanted to be sure I wasn’t misunderstood.

    boomergooner- I had written a fairly long treatise on how the NBA operates and how the Celtics didn’t win anything for 20 years. But anyway. Denver never got to the playoffs before Kroenke took over.

    goonerjake- Usmanov should be on the board only if R&W and KSE can get along, I doubt they can though, and rather than there being infighting on the board, it’s best if you have the board pulling in the same direction.

    tomstoned- ” .Shard you always have something to say about those Gooners who wants a change or even see winning as the endresult of being great…why ?”

    What do I have to say about those who want change or trophies? I generally don’t use terms like glory hunter (unless talking about ManU fans) or any of the acronyms that float about. I think you are taking something personally when I don;t think I said anything that could be taken as such. If I did, that was not my intention. I still don;t want Usmanov to be that ‘change’. But that’s my view, the reasons for which are in the article.

  83. glic says:

    I`ll go gm , if it`s anywhere near Cornwall !.

  84. Shard says:

    Hi kelsey,
    I’ve been a fan for 15 years now.

  85. VCC says:

    I came out on top last season Terry. Nothing major but still on top, and had some fun.
    Ladbrokes do an accumulator where you can still win with won result being wrong, slightly lower odds but you can predict say seven and still win if six are correct.

  86. VCC says:

    Boy this drink is affecting me…….”one”

  87. glic says:

    What odds can I get on Stan and Uzzzy getting caught bumming each other in the boardroom ? .

  88. glic says:

    Would it be part of a accumin u later ?.
    I`m not even drinking and I`m having problems with my spelling`s !.

  89. VCC says:

    I’d like to shove something up Stan, and this government after being made redundant this week.

  90. glic says:

    Sorry to hear that VCC, hope it doesn`t affect you too much. Whats the job market like in your part of Essex ?.


    sorry about that VCC

  92. Gooner In Exile says:

    GliC I’ll definitely be trying to get a ticket, think I’ll aim for Clock Endlower to start, then Upper then go for Ticket Exchange cause there will still be people on holidays. Reckon the new pricing should ensure sell outs even for the poorer teams (asking as ST holders not going stock tickets on Exchange).

    Apparently Ticket Exchange will be better this year giving a seating plan of available tickets, will certainly help.

  93. glic says:

    Do you think It will be harder to get a ticket for the ” C ” games being that there`ll be cheaper and will sell out quicker ? ( thicko, I`ve just answered my own question 😆 )

  94. VCC says:

    Cheers GLiC n Terry. I’ll be ok, but I fear for some of my guys on my shift.

  95. VCC says:

    Hey GLiC, I’ll have to become a gigolo, have you any tips?

  96. glic says:

    I`ve only got one tip and it`s staying under the wife`s lock and key !. 😦

  97. goonermichael says:

    Sorry to hear that VCC.

    Usmanov isn’t on the board of any of his companies. I don’t think he wants one personally. It’ll be dein

  98. glic says:

    Being a handsome bastard like me, you can always move to Cornwall. You will be paid well by the Hairy Inbreds down here, especially if your half as handsome as your avatar !. 😆

  99. glic says:

    And gm would make a killing as a Sheep Shearer……I said Shearer !.


    Theres a lot of money in that gigolo game VCC. No joke, i was once approached in a bar and given a card for this gigolo business, but got a bit suspicious because the approacher was a geezer. hahahaha

  101. glic says:

    Are you saying VCC would change from feeling sorry for the guys on his shift, to , feeling sorry for the guys on his shaft !.

  102. Shaft Gooner says:

    Who`s the Man, the man with a weapon in his hand,……Shaft !.


    gm would make a great gigolo agent, he knows thousands of women from his hairdressing business.

  104. glic says:

    Blimey, how long ago was that film , Shaft ( the original )?

  105. VCC says:

    Terry, I’ve come up with a plan, I’m going to kidnap handsome men from Cornwall and flaunt them on the web to rich women from the Chelsea area. A very lucrative business. Do you know any handsome men in Cornwall?


    Cornwall, hahahaha. Havent you seen Midnight Cowboy?

  107. glic says:

    Cant see him becoming a Sheep Shearer then !.


    VCC, hahahaha, dont know, never be up there. No offence to the area but i dont trust any place were sheep out number people.

  109. glic says:

    Probably Terry, if it`s about gigolos !. 🙂

  110. VCC says:

    I actually bought that record GLiC. Loved it

  111. VCC says:

    I think we should have an annual meeting of all AA,ers, perhaps a long week end, so we can all let our hair down sing plenty of Arsenal related songs and talk everything Arsenal.

    I nominate Kelseys villa for the first venue followed by the great wall of Cornwall.

  112. glic says:

    I dont recognise you under that name anymore, I always thought you were a bit Shifty, but now you are Shafty………..Shaft for short !. 😆
    You can borrow one of Terry`s 70`s Afro syrups and stand in front of the mirror with your Shaft playing and say ” you talking to me bitch ” and your missus will shout up stairs, ” is that you shaft ? “. A good will be on the cards !. 😆

  113. glic says:

    “A good night will be on the cards”


    hahahaha, never seen them shat films. I hear they deal with mans disulioument with a materialistic and nihilistic society. hahaha


    shat ?, should be shaft. hahahahaha

  116. glic says:

    Mancini and Shaft in Cornwall………could be box office.
    I`ve got to get up early, I`ve got bitches and muvvers to see, later !.

    Shat, Who`s the man, the man with a turd in his hand……….Shat !.

  117. VCC says:

    Nite nite all, have to prepare my cv in the morning, my beauty sleep is needed before my gigolo shoot. If my mug shots are not up to standard, perhaps GLiC can send me a look a like mask of himself, surely that will do the trick. Hablo pronto guys.


    Night VCC

  119. tomstoned says:

    no worries Shard…im a simple man…i like to be direct..not always the best way but heey thats me..
    im not convinced about the ticket tricks ::the cups arent included ??
    Shard im an older Gooner and have been at games once or twice a year since 71 when my old man brought me over..his only being a Gooner i guess and heey He did just that 🙂
    im ordering my tickets and travels to the Norwegian Arsenal fanclub…not sure if links allowed ..but take a look on total i pay about 1000-1500 pounds for a trip but that includes my job does limit me since i work on Svalbard 6 months a year..but i try to go twice a year..
    finally i know many of you Gooners in here find me over the top sometimes..the only thing i can that i love the The Arsenal with all my heart..:)just like the rest in here…
    thats all from up north and Shard…as i said no worries you are entitled to your opinion..its different opinions that gets the world moving forward..
    The Arsenal im afraid seems like a sort of Burma light these days 😉

  120. oz gunner says:

    Syrup…Terry Syrup!

    Who’s the black private d*ck / That’s a sex machine to all the chicks? / SYRUP! / Ya damn right!
    Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? / SYRUP! / Can you dig it?
    Who’s the cat that won’t cop out / When there’s danger all about? / SYRUP! / Right On!
    They say this cat Syrup is a bad mother… / SHUT YOUR MOUTH! / I’m talkin’ ’bout Syrup. / THEN WE CAN DIG IT!

  121. […] Trophies, Identity, Board Wranglings […]

  122. VCC says:

    Oz….nice one

  123. VCC says:

    Oz, that news seller looks like Ron Atkinson.

  124. Gooner In Exile says:

    Tom there are no tricks to ticket pricing. Across the EPL season we will pay the same as last year (hence ST price freeze). The CL are still A and B cat games, I think they could have been a little smarter here.

    The Carling Cup has reduced prices as normal, and the FA Cup will be game dependent.

    The only thing I wish they would do different is not give away fans Cat C pricing, for two reasons:

    1) they will take their full allocation so less seats for Gooners

    2) As an example Baggies fans will pay £25.50 to come to the Emirates, we will pay £40 to go to the Hawthorns (as its a Cat A game).

  125. oz gunner says:

    Morning all,

    You are right VCC he does.

    Cheers for the rumours GiE, I’d welcome those two into the squad in a heartbeat
    For those who haven’t seen him:

  126. Red Arse says:

    Well, we went from the VCC/Glic/Syrup evening show to the Oz “Rapman” song fest early in the UK morn!! Ace. 🙂

    Morning guys. 🙂

  127. Gooner In Exile says:

    Oz thanks for Ganso clips….he doesn’t mind the ball at his feet does he?

    Flair South Americans always concern me, I’m trying to think of that many who have succeeded in England, Juninho, Aguero, Tevez, Ardiles, Villa? Obviously Silva for us but he wasn’t exactly a flair player.

    I’m sure others will now come up with a list of names I have forgotten.

  128. oz gunner says:

    Morning RA,

    when those three (and you) get going it’s laughs all round!

    He does look very good on the ball, but I’ve never really rated the Brazilian league. It just seems like he and Santos just rock up and have free reign to do whatever they want against poor opposition. Then again they both perform on at international level so I’m probably a poor judge. The one part of the pitch a player can get away with being small and slight is attacking midfield because they often have so much space, so I think he’d do well in the premier league. I just always thought he and Santos have always had Barca/Real/Inter marked over them since the get go, and they’d only leave if it was to one of those clubs.

    All this just reminds me of how much i hate Fabregas! Thanks a bloody lot GiE haha

  129. Gooner In Exile says:

    Sorry Oz

    Anyway it’s Matchday, well 2×45 minute day.

    Arsenal v Anderlecht
    Arsenal v S’oton

    My guess is it was pre arranged as part of Ox deal?

    Hopefully we will get to see the new faces….highlights on Arsenal player tomorrow.

  130. Rasp says:

    Morning all…..

    ….. New post …….

  131. Gooner In Exile says:

    Oh scrap that no players who took part in Euros will feature, young squad plus Cham, Gerv, Santos, Coq and Gibbs.

  132. fergalburger says:

    Hi Shard

    This addresses much of what I wrote about (slightly incomprehensible to many). Though I m not sure if I agree with all of what you say, I like your passion and fire in looking to explain you views.

    Keep it up.


  133. Purseabs says:

    Select Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration, and then do one of the following.

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