Parliament has spoken; the debate is over. Tracey Crouch passed the verdict: “It’s up to the FA whether they wish to play Russian roulette with public money.” Think about that for just one second. This is the government speaking, and they accuse another organisation of playing “Russian roulette with public money”?
Ms Crouch was on the warpath. The FA must reform or it will suffer the indignation of seeing Greg Clarke, its’ Chairman – not Chair but Chairman; it’s an archaic old duffers club after all – resign! Oh, and the government will cut the £30m funding it gives to grassroots football. That’s another pound per ticket on next season’s prices then; let the Honourable Member for the footballing hotbed of Chatham and Aylesford, step forward and take a bow.
There was nothing binding about the House of Commons motion chastising the governance of the Football Association; there are other deadlines for modernising the ruling body at the end of the March. After their exertions the previous evening voting on Brexit, 633 MPs lay drunk as skunks in the Commons Bar while 17 hardy souls debated the future of the game. 17, or 2.6% of the nation’s elected representatives. Where, I wonder, was Islington’s MP? Outside corralling people from the street to become members of his shadow cabinet as no MPs want the jobs.
As ever, politicians proved slow to react to the world around them. The government, it’s said, won’t back any future bids by the FA for hosting the World Cup or European Championships. Neither do any other FAs when the votes at FIFA or UEFA HQ are counted so as empty threats stand, that’s right up there with the best of them.
Sort it out, Arsène
Football’s governance is no laughing matter but the manner in which the corrupt House goes about things, as ever, leaves a lot to be desired. The FA isn’t representative of anyone or anything other than the fiefdoms the suits built while they were able. Successive chairmen tried reform and didn’t get very far; Clarke will get some through but will it actually improve football? Too much power, I fear, has already been ceded to the money gods.
Which does link into Arsenal, in a way. Despite publicly backing Arsène with their silence, the board is keen to let it be known they are working on a Plan B for the summer, just in case the Frenchman drives out of London Colney for one last time. There’s a four-man shortlist apparently with the inclusion of Bayer Leverkusen’s Rodger Schmidt raising eyebrows almost as high as his hairline. Everyone’s favourite Diego Simeone isn’t on the list, passed off as ‘official’ but Ivan read Twitter one morning and these were the names he saw, but Thomas Tuchel, Leonardo Jardim and Max Allegri are.
The idea we’re supposed to believe is that Highbury House is a hive of hushed tones and clandestine meetings, as they prepare for the future, even though they don’t think Wenger will go. They aren’t the only ones; Jack Wilshere joined the list of malcontents who won’t sign a new deal. According to the received wisdom, he’s waiting to see if Wenger stays. The unspoken part is that if he is, Jack’s off because he won’t get a look in as far as the first team is concerned.
He mentioned the T-word
Ah, the first team. Arsène spurned the opportunity to impress me by quoting Nick Lowe but he still wants some peace, love and understanding from us. And backing for the XI; the players achieve more with the crowd behind them, he mused. Look at what Tottenham achieved last year. Which was what exactly? Third in the Premier League, below us once again? Not the best example on so many levels.
It also shows a lack of awareness about the true nature of football supporters. There’s a romantic notion that every other club has loyal and unquestioning fans; nothing could be further from the truth. To paraphrase the title sequence of Burn Notice, football supporters are the bunch of whiniest little girls going. If Wenger thinks Spurs fans are happy with their centuries of underachievement, think again. Likewise, Liverpool whose wait for a title surpasses the indignity suffered by Manchester United. As for City and Chelsea…
You get the drift.
As much as he and his media acolytes may try to paint Arsenal fans in a bad light, the banner protests are nothing compared to hiring a plane to fly over the stadium. The nature of football has changed irreversibly during the Premier League era. If the owners, directors, players and managers want the grotesque rewards, then they must knuckle down and achieve. The quiet life is gone unless there is a sense of progress; that’s the flaw in the marketing spiel. Treat us like customers but don’t be surprised when the passive arrangement turns sour. Customers complain all the time when the goods and service don’t represent value for money.
Progress? Three consecutive wins outshine back-to-back defeats. While it won’t change hearts and minds for many about the manager’s future, he may get a little peace and quiet.
A small technical hitch with 1991 means a new playlist for Arsène and football generally will shortly be live here.