Morning, a football free Saturday leaves plenty of time to enjoy this morning’s playlist, Going To Hell. You can find it in the right sidebar on Dad’s Jukebox, or here in your browser.
It was the rarest of victories and probably only for the briefest of times. Arsenal saw and heard the opprobrium of the masses and retreated on their decision to add a surcharge to season ticket holders for the match against Barcelona. This will be nothing more than a short-term climbdown from the club, underlined by the contemptuous tone conveying their decision to bow before the altar of public opinion.
Money has to be made and Arsenal are determined to do so in the face of any opposition from supporters. And fair play to the club, they managed to unify a fractured fanbase like no other issue has before. Perhaps that was their strategy after all…
This on a day when rumours surfaced that as a result of a failure to agree on capping away ticket prices, those clubs in favour of the fairer deal for supporters were set to announce reciprocal deals with like-minded peers. Any club which charged £30 would see their own travelling fans charged the same. Arsenal are understood to be among those who rejected the deal. No surprise there.
The club weren’t helped by Arsène with both his words and lack of action condemning their ‘Barcelona Tax’,
We are a company who, on one side [the fans], want you to buy more players. What will happen is the prices of the players will go up and you will need this supplement of money coming in to buy new players. I believe that the pressure on spending the money will become bigger and you cannot necessarily distribute the money to other people.
For someone whose transfer activities over the past two windows amounted to youth players, a goalkeeper and midfielder, it’s a bit rich to claim that cash is needed to “buy more players”. Until Arsenal do start to regularly invest in the squad, the reality is that they will always face attack over ticket prices.
Arsène’s strong principles in this area always give rise to an uneasy Canute comparison. He later offered the view that the emergence of the Chinese clubs in the transfer market would fuel the first £100m fee. The signing of Teixeira in the face of Liverpool’s reported interest fuels speculation that a new footballing superpower is emerging but the initial flurry of activity, to me at least, involves few players who were of interest to Arsenal and the elite clubs.
It’s this aspect which is overlooked. In years to come, it might be that the Chinese league becomes a major player but that will need to be backed by the national team and the danger with importing ‘stars’ is that development of native players is not as quick as the theory suggests. As an Englishman, I’ve witnessed this first hand and know that the road of underachievement has long distances between its’ junctions.
But the underlying sentiment of over-priced tickets is not going away any time soon with talk of Leicester and Arsenal supporters staying out of the ground for the first five minutes of the upcoming Premier League match. This at a time when Liverpudlians are to walk out of their match this weekend on 77 minutes in protest at the proposed ticket price structure at a remodelled Anfield.
Arsène had better news on the injury front. Danny Welbeck came through an hour of the Under-21s match against Brighton yesterday, beginning his journey back to the first team. He’ll be greeted like a new signing, I am sure. I haven’t seen that phrase used yet but it’s coming, you know it.
What the future holds for Tomas Rosicky is not so clear. The Czech is out for several months according to reports but contrary to the received wisdom, Arsène isn’t giving up hope that he hasn’t played his last game for the club. It’s fairly obvious that Rosicky is going to leave this summer when his contract ends so we can only hope he gets a last hurrah or two before he goes.
Despite all the years of injuries, he has never seemed to lose popularity or attract scorn in the way Diaby did or Wilshere does although a lot of the latter’s problems stem from his nationality which according to his critics, affords him ‘pet favourite’ status. It does. It’s called ‘The Homegrown Rule’.
Rosicky spoke emotionally in the interview carried on the official website about his return to first team action last weekend. There’s a great deal of love on both sides and it will always be one of the great shames that we were robbed of so much of Rosicky’s abilities in his prime. Immensely talented and with a gambolling gait across the turf, he has nonetheless left us with some great memories. One or two more wouldn’t go amiss.
Anyway, watch it for the rarest of modern footballing moments: a sincere love of the club.