It’s not all about Arsenal … let’s not Bury our heads in the sand

As a football fan this is becoming hard to watch, minnows and historic clubs struggling to survive week on week, young pro footballers with families who don’t actually know if they are getting paid, fans who have loved a club all their lives who don’t know if they will be going to Gigg Lane again.

That is a tragedy of the modern football world and whilst we all worry about spending £45m or Kroenke putting up his own money or not there are fans who have far greater concerns.

I haven’t seen reports of just how much Bury owe their creditors and it appears the current owner is just another problem in a line of troublesome owners. It’s made all the more troubling by the fact that they got promotion last season and even then were on the brink of financial collapse.

So my question today is what percentage of EPL revenues from a TV deal alone would change the finances of clubs from League One down, and should fans from across the footballing landscape start working together to restore some balance, be that by mass protests at grounds or otherwise.

We need as fans to protect the whole game, we should know that Elite Player Development rules put into place by EPL taking control from the FA are partly to blame, if you are a small club and can’t run an Elite Academy your players are cherry picked away by clubs with better rated Academy for a pittance. Clubs that used to rely on those one or two big fees every so often for a local talent can no longer do so without huge investment in their own academy status.

I haven’t fallen out of love with Arsenal yet but I am falling out of love with football as a whole.

Personal experience to validate the above, I thought taking my boys to Arsenal was going to be no 1 in things I enjoyed doing with my kids, something that gave me an emotional moment about passing the baton etc. I’ve done it and it was great, but taking them to Latitude Festival and dancing to Stereophonics and Underworld with them on my shoulders etc actually surpassed it.

Why is that the case?

Gooner in Exile


24 Responses to It’s not all about Arsenal … let’s not Bury our heads in the sand

  1. RA says:

    Good Morning, GIE, Rasper, and All,

    It would be rather easy to say that the dire problems afflicting some football clubs and the impact on their fans is down to one thing — in a word MONEY.

    The Premier League right from the get go decided to cut themselves off, in the form of its member clubs, from the rest of the football leagues, with just a lifeboat payout to any Premier clubs who fall by the wayside each year when relegation bites.

    The solution? I have no idea. The Premier clubs are unlikely to share more of their money with clubs in lower leagues — that would be a little like turkeys voting for Xmas, in their eyes.

    If they refuse to do so — maybe the Government / UEFA should impose a requirement through the FA to force them to do so.

    Trouble is that leads to another aphorism, “Pigs might fly”. 😩

  2. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, you raise important questions.

    You could compare the loss of these smaller clubs to the death of the high street as a result of the massive buying power of the online giants – paradoxically it is all consumer driven … and in doing so, we consumers are destroying things we hold dear.

    I understand your wondering if you’re falling out of love with football .. I’ve asked myself the same question … but sitting at The Emirates watching our boys play beautiful entertaining football again last saturday dispelled that fear … for the time being at least. I guess it’s like everything in life, if there’s hope, if there’s a challenge, we are enthused. Surely the football community can find a way to give that back to the Bury supporters.

  3. Rasp says:

    Is there a ‘Just Giving’ type page on the internet to raise money for Bury?

    How much would it raise if every fan attending a EPL game this weekend donated £1? … comfortably more than half a million I’d guess.

  4. GPayne says:

    As a Shaker fan myself we very much appreciate you bringin this to the attention of Gunners fans and appreciate you sharing one of our sadly many go fund me or just giving pages. The sad reality if everyone donated at the weekend by then it would be too late. We literally have until Tomorrow to show proof of funds we don’t have or get our scrupilous owner to sell otherwise we are out of the football league & out of business

  5. RA says:


    You have my sympathy and that of everyone on here.

    I do not know how both Bury and Bolton have fallen into such a parlous state, but what I have read is that your current owner is far from scrupulous – or you would not be on the brink of going out of existence.

    He may be playing some game, by holding out for a White Knight to save the club, at the last moment, by buying the club from him — or may be he (the owner) will suddenly show he has funds to carry on after all.

    That’s not too helpful, I know, but in business, as in life, it isn’t over until the Fat Lady sings. There is still time, buddy.

  6. RockyLives says:

    A powerful piece GiE and nothing in it I can argue with.

    Rasp notes that it’s consumer driven, yet I suspect if you did an opinion poll of English footy fans about whether more of the EPL telly money should be given to lower league clubs you would get a majority supporting it.

    Of course that’s not the only issue. You can give a lot more money to clubs but if they are badly run they can still go under…

    Actually GiE, there is something I can argue with come to think of it: Stereophonics? Underworld? Really? Now if it had been Jethro Tull I’d be with you all the way…

  7. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, you’re right to put me straight. As consumers we are always going to be easily manipulated by businesses that give us what we want …. and we can enjoy their ‘products’ as long as we turn a blind eye to some of the less palatable consequences.

  8. LB says:

    Well, if the mention of Arsenal and Tull in the same comment doesn’t get BR out then nothing will.

  9. RockyLives says:

    Indeed LB – if BR is too old to rock ‘n’ roll he surely isn’t too young to Post!

    (For anyone aged under 50, there’s a Tull album reference in there)

  10. John Mathews legend says:

    The mention of Arsenal and Tull in the same comment gets me crawling out of the woodwork…..
    Went to see them last November in Paris with my youngest daughter (she’s been a fan since she was a little kid, listening to my old vinyls)
    Gig was for the 50th Anniversary world tour, just the one date in France.
    Effing brilliant!
    Old Ian still tooting the flute on one leg, his voice has gone though, but still fantastic.
    They only did one song we didn’t know as they ran through the album history from ’68 to ’78 + this song.
    Videos with ex-members saying hello, starting with Clive Bunker.
    The hall was the right size, somewhere between 2500 and 3000 people I’d say.
    Near the end I asked my daughter to look across the hall and tell me what she noticed…….All the men had grey hair! But they all had hair (sorry Terry) Plenty took our next generation along with us, and everyone still smokes (2500 out in the street for the fag break)
    Talk about Tull fan stereotypes…..

  11. Rasp says:

    You’ve started me off now …

  12. GoonerB says:

    Thanks GIE, very thought provoking and hard to disagree with. The plight of Bury doesn’t sit easy with me and nor should it to any genuine football fan. I feel GPaynes anguish.

    Like Rasp I wish that the footballing fans could get together right now and help Bury out of their plight.

    Could Arsenal itself not arrange, in official conjunction with the F.A, to stage a fund raising match at the Emirates with all proceeds going into a separate account (I.e completely bypassing any unscrupulous owner) controlled by the F.A so that it could purely be used for paying debts and player wages?

    Am I being too idealistic with that. My thoughts would be that creditors would still back off and give leeway as long as they knew an official plan was in place to help resolve the situation.

  13. GoonerB says:

    On your post in general more GIE and you are absolutely right that the balance of things is completely and utterly wrong. However I think any attempt to redress the balance would have to be done in a smarter way than just taking more of the EPL T.V generated money from the EPL clubs and filtering it lower.

    It must be remembered that once in the higher rarer stratosphere one needs better and more expensive equipment, and clubs will not want to be weakened financially in this way.

    Consideration also needs to be given to the top end of the EPL being in direct competition with other top clubs in Europe, and they will not likely follow suit so we have to ensure that we don’t weaken the top of the EPL financially to the point they can’t compete with their European counterparts.

    That would weaken the English leagues position overall and would filter down eventually through the leagues. So it is tricky. How do we get lower league clubs to receive greater financial support while at the same time not weakening the top end of the English leagues?

  14. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Rasp – I love Living in the Past (might be my theme tune to be honest).

    John – I saw them about 18 months ago in upstate New York with my 26-year-old son. The whole thing was magical, especially being there with my son and passing on the Tull baton to the next gen.

    Which is why I can empathize with the final sentiment in GiE’s Post today.

    But I wouldn’t put it above shared experiences with the same son at Arsenal when we were both younger and before we moved to Canada.

    I just feel privileged to have had both.

  15. GoonerB says:

    In general GIE I think the general warning signs have been there for some time that the situation at Bury and maybe a couple of other clubs could happen.

    Long before now I think the F.A could have been more proactive in putting up safe guard measures to prevent one of this countries great football institutions from disappearing.

    These long standing clubs, even at the lower levels, are national treasures and part of the fabric of history. There should be special protectionist laws like we have with listed buildings.

    The F.A should have taken things to government level to have laws passed that ring fence and protect the fundamental existence of these institutions in the case of the severe mismanagement or unscrupulous behaviour of a single owner.

    The F.A should have the power, in certain extreme circumstances, to freeze and seize all club assets and finances and to step in. If new buyers are secured then the misbehaving owner only gets what’s left, if anything, out of the sale after all players wages and debts are settled, including any financial help the F.A itself has had to put in.

    This wouldn’t put off the serious overseas investors in our football clubs but it may stop the fly by night type owners, thinking they can make a quick buck and then letting it go to shit when they realise they can’t, from trying their luck.

  16. John Mathews legend says:

    Great song….dodgy video..
    Sadly, I have never been able to bring either of my two daughters to a match, what with living in France. That pleasure goes to my bro (ST holder) let’s call him Stanley for the family name, eh?
    He can usually get just the one spare ticket per game, specially at Xmas time, which is often when I get up to London with both my girls.
    Nota: At the tail end of Arsène’s last season I went to the Stoke match and could have got tickets for half the small town where I live (pop. 42000) His mates wouldn’t let me pay for it, too embarrassed, just the half-time beer was enough!
    My eldest got to see her first match with him against Chelsea. We were still at Highbury,and Petit had Chavved out. She got to see half the French national team on the pitch, being half French it was fantastic for her. Was hard giving up that spot, but all for the good cause. Her sister has also been a few times.
    Both true goonettes, proud dad.
    Stan’s biggest feat was the total Arsification of our nephew, fathered by one of the spud persuasion….
    On about his 8th birthday, he got a spuds shirt from his dad, who had been trying to brainwash him all his young life.
    He turns round and says ‘sorry dad, can’t be wearing this, I’m a gooner’
    After his initial spud reaction ‘sh*t, can I get a refund?’ He cursed uncle Stan ooh he did.

  17. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evening all, some good comments today and interesting to see how others feel. Thanks to GPayne for taking time to comment in what much be a difficult time.

    Rasp I think your high street analogy is quite apt, they hold a place in our hearts, Bury will be pivotal to their community in the same way a high street is to a town or city. Once you tear it away the cracks appear rapidly.

    But in the same way that some businesses are saved by the government for the good of the general public why not a football team? Put a compulsory purchase order on it make it a Community Interest Company which only seeks to reinvest money earned in furthering its activities. We have a number of them in our Buy Local Norfolk business group, local charities too. This may sound very inward looking but if a local area looks after its own it thrives money stays in the local community and is spent Locally football clubs are no different.

    Norwich are different to Bury, it doesn’t have the lure of big clubs on our doorstep, so it has a good source of fans. There are enough people in London to support lots of teams with dedicated support. The same is not true for Bury or Bolton and similar teams who occupy territories where the bigger clubs reside.

    Are they worth saving…..absolutely!!! They are the lifeblood of English football, they are why some people get out of the bed and give honest those die hard supporters are the ones I respect the most. Turning out every week to cheer on a team where the Premier League is a distant dream let alone European football.

    So maybe while Boris is in appease the public mode he may look at the plight of Bury and Bolton and do something about it.

    I was amazed that Toys R Us were allowed to rack up £1m of unpaid VAT and PAYE before being closed down, what difference Bury and Bolton why no leeway, because they are not national because they don’t employ as many people across the country? Neither Bolton or Bury will be the last to experience these difficulties, and if it goes on then the number of employees and local businesses affected will do far more damage to than losing a business like Toys R Us, I’d rather a football club in my home town than a stimulus giraffe selling shite toys for huge profit. It’s called the football community for a reason and I think our government needs to recognise that fact and maybe help out in some ways

    As I said earlier CICs are a potential solution, profits can be made no tax will be paid as long as the money is reinvested in the business Directors can be paid as can staff, they are not charities, and that is potentially the beauty of them.

  18. RockyLives says:

    The High Street analogy is a good one.

    I was quite sad when Woolworths went under. I know everyone moaned about it, but it had been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Visiting Woolies in Powis Street, Woolwich, was always exciting when I was a little ‘un.

    Another comparison might be when a local pub closes down. It feels like something vital being ripped out of the community.

    Footy clubs are like that but more so and I like GiE’s CIC idea.

  19. VP says:

    Hi Rocky, come to Aust. Woolworths is thriving over here.

  20. fatgingergooner says:

    Interesting post. I don’t have much knowledge of lower league football tbh but it seems to mirror the top flight in that you have a club like Salford who are lucky enough to have huge backers who can spend a fortune and get them multiple promotions, and then you have the likes of Bury who are on the brink of extinction. It’s a sad state of affairs, but no different to society in general. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and unfortunately, football seems to be no different to that.

    GiE, I think we are of similar age and have a young family of similar age and I have to agree that the love of football has diminished in recent years. What I’m not sure of is wether the game has changed or if it’s just that I’ve got older and my priorities and interests have changed. I sometimes wonder wether supporters from 50 years ago who were 18-30 suddenly lost interest and moaned about the game changing when they turned 30+, or is this something that’s happened in recent times with players becoming pricks, the excessive punditry, the ridiculous finance involved, and the amount of TV coverage.

    Has football always lost its appeal as fans have gotten older and had families and careers etc, or is this a recent change in the game that will eventually see its financial status come back down to ‘normal’ levels?

  21. fred1266 says:

    Unai Emery has suggested Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny are free to leave Arsenal as they are not part of his plans.

    Mustafi dramatically lost form last term and has not been included in Emery’s squad so far in 2019-20, with Elneny also omitted against both Newcastle United and Burnley.

    The European transfer window closes on September 2 and Emery suggested both players should secure themselves moves prior to the deadline.

    “We have some players, they know their situation,” Emery told reporters ahead of Saturday’s trip to Liverpool, who also have maximum points from two league fixtures.

    “For example, Elneny and Mustafi know their position in the squad and really I want the players to be happy here, I want the players to be protagonists here.

    “Last year with Mustafi and Mo, when they didn’t play they weren’t happy. I spoke with them a lot of times last year and this pre-season and I think it is positive for them to leave and sign for another team where they can be protagonists and be happy and continue their careers.”


    😎 @DaniCeballos46 👌

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    Arsenal signing centre-back David Luiz from Chelsea and midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid has pushed Mustafi and Elneny further down the pecking order at their respective positions.

    “They are very big players,” Emery added of the duo. “But for one circumstance or another, they are going to have less chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us and the minutes they play in matches.

    “But they know the situation and really, really I am wishing the best for them and I think now the best for them is to be protagonists in another team and sign to get another challenge.

    “We respect them, they are training with us, but they know their situation and only I am wishing the best for them.”

  22. Red Arnie says:

    Thanks, GiE, top post. Can agree with most of that. Sadly.

    Back again to the woodwork, then.

  23. Rasp says:

    Morning all …

    … New post …

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