Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford unwittingly wrote the Premier League theme tune. Were those in charge privvy to any sort of sense of humour, the Champions League ‘hymn’ would have a domestic rival, Barrett Strong belting out “Money, that’s what I want” before every game. Knowing the prediliction of football to ruin everything – or cock it up depending on your viewpoint – there would be some awful boy band version used instead on the basis that it was “hip with the kids“. It would suit everyone, not just players. Managers, directors, clubs; they all want it, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Fans would probably choose Joy Division’s “Heart and Soul” as a response.
And this morning money is all they want. Lots of it as well, earned and merited in some cases. Currently top of that list is Theo Walcott who is to be offered a new deal in the next couple of days that is worth anywhere between £85k and £115k per week depending on whose total you believe and which basis of calculation. Trying to work out the salaries of our heroes is a lot like attempting to fathom an APR; everyone will tell you there’s is the best but you just have to use their methodology to prove it. Something different and the result is turned on its head.
Theo will be hoping that his representatives are using the same as The Sun; the darlings of Wapping have come out with a figure which is about £1.5m higher than everyone else’s. Read the small print Theo, there’s always a catch in there somewhere. Of course you sit and read about £25m or whatever the total is and wonder does an additional 6% matter? I would hazard a guess that this is the case, updating Einstein’s calculation to E=Employer Over A Barrel. I was going to include MC to some sort of integer but quantifying the merits of the relative salaries of Marouane Chamakh and Theo Walcott is too complex a calculation for this hour of the day.
Whether it is enough to put ink in his pen is another matter. Walcott has not strayed from the line of wanting to stay at the club and must be credited with that PR line. Perhaps it is true, maybe he genuinely likes it but I will not be drawn into that with loyalty not a trait that one generally pins onto the modern footballer. He is however running out of options. And quickly. Wanting to be a centre forward was held as a primary aim, that has been met. Wanting to be well-paid? By any stretch of the imagination, this offer is that although in fairness, he may be able to earn more but shifting sands at this late stage will rapidly lose him support in this negotiation.
Arsenal are running out of options as well in that sense. Arsène is waiting in part for the outcome of negotiations before acting in the transfer window. Buying David Villa to augment the current squad makes more sense to me than as a replacement for Walcott. In that scenario, a different shopping list applies. And the money spent impacts on other areas of the squad which needs attention, presuming of course that Wenger believes it needs that much attention. Maybe they have applied the same medical technology that was available to Steve Austin in Abou Diaby’s case; he genuinely would be a new signing in that instance.
The club are probably mindful that Manchester City have returned 1,000 tickets for Sunday’s clash at The Emirates. In the great scheme of things, I am sure that will not materially deplete the coffers. It should please some though with no excuse being readily available should the club declare the attendance as any more than 59,034…
There is an irony in City being the club to publicly make this statement albeit via their supporters. The richest club in the land priced out from football. Not that this will appease supporters. Despite the inflated commercial deals in place, clubs continually drain supporters wallets at every opportunity. The pricing at Arsenal is a vexatious issue; home fans are overcharged for seats in Category A games; little wonder the club resorted to email marketing for ‘Family and Friends‘ ticketing for this match. Sky’s coverage is at the root of decisions not to attend – why bother when you can watch on television. Clubs cannot blame supporters for this choice when for an away game, the likelihood is that a day out will cost in excess of £150 for a fan to attend. It is bad enough when a run of the mill home game costs that for two, including travel.
In decades previous, there was regulation of ticket pricing with Arsenal resisted on a number of occasions when the club wanted to increases but the Football League resisted. In those years, a minimum ticket price was set but clubs rarely charged above it. This tied in with an era when Directors were forbidden from taking money out of clubs by Football Association rules. Those days are long gone and in tough economic times, the clubs are finding that the wallet is ruled by necessity rather than the heart.
Arsenal made a play of the cheaper ticketing available in Category C games. This is a small step but nowhere near enough when you consider the price of Category A games. Football is at a crossroads, unwilling to admit that it is a luxury item no matter how we like to kid ourselves it is a necessity. Whether the reality is ever acknowledged by the club is another matter. The toughest economic times may be over but many of the harshest decisions come when the road to recovery is travelled.