Morning all, the weekend is upon us and the close season is getting into full flow. Players across Europe are considering their futures, promising to tell the back pages where their futures lie before they inform any club. They will certainly need Superlungs to be heard which by curious and in no way contrived, coincidence is the title of this morning’s playlist on Dad’s Jukebox, available in the right sidebar or here.
Expanding the finals to embrace 24 nations always meant that Euro2016 was always going to see some countries traditionally thought of as minnows, qualify. Iceland and Wales took giant strides to achieving that aim with their home over the Czechs last night, the Welsh likewise with a similarly close win over Belgium. It only needs England to win in Slovenia on Sunday for the trio to be complete.
Against that backdrop, Arsenal were charged yesterday by the Football Association for “for allegedly breaching The FA’s Football Agents Regulations” in relation to the signing of Calum Chambers from Southampton. Apparently, the information has come from a third party who felt the pie wasn’t cut in a fair way; Hell hath no fury like an agent spurned.
It’s one of those situations which just brings about a shrug of the shoulders. As far back as 1894, Woolwich Arsenal were charged with poaching a player from Blackburn Rovers, reportedly not having paid the £15 (£18k in today’s market) fee. Transfers, like most football deals, are a murky area as Arsenal know better than most.
This summer will be an interesting exercise for the club, particularly in their management of public relations. With FIFA being torn asunder by the rampant corruption, football’s lack of transparency is never far from the surface with transfer activity beyond the signing of the player long shrouded in darkness. That situation is one which has never been addressed, let alone satisfactorily, and it is a genuinely difficult area to resolve.
There is an insatiable appetite for information when it comes to the professional game, some of which entering the public arena can be commercially damaging. Clubs will argue that they cannot release information all the while transfer windows are open, it may negatively impact the buyer if a selling club learns how much has been spent on another player. Similarly, players will argue that they have a right to privacy as they have moneys due on any transfer.
Yet a solution has to be found if the image of brown envelopes or Cayman Island trusts ruining the sport is to be lost. The most practical seems to be publication of all fees registered with FIFA, once the window has closed. There’s always a sense that the clubs are hiding something when the words “an undisclosed fee” is mentioned in the context of a transfer.
Yet this is a sport that doesn’t have the stomach to fully implement FFP without watering down the regulations. The prospect of any sort of transparency over transfers seems very remote indeed.
On that subject, reports this morning emerge that Petr Cech was abused by a Chelsea ‘fan’ for thinking of joining Arsenal. Everyone involved in the deal was so shocked that pens slipped left, right and centre, causing the previously reported fee of £10m to rise to £11m. Such are the fine margins in getting a deal done.
If they can of course. Mourinho suggested that he could name a few players he would like in part-exchange, as if Arsenal giving him Cesc Fabregas wasn’t a gift enough. Surely we’re owed something in return? The same scenario might exist with Edin Dzeko supposedly replacing the Milan-bound Jackson Martinez. Manchester City have long coveted Jack Wilshere but doesn’t want to go to any club just because he’s needed as an English player. Good for him. Everyone went to City for a massive payday, why should he be any different.
Jesus, can you imagine the mood if that happened. If you pick an argument over a couple of months, God knows what people would be like after the sale of one of the club’s genuinely talented young midfielders. Mind you, think of the money you could make from a stall outside The Emirates selling pitchforks, torches and any manner of farming tools to the baying mob. It might cover half the cost of a season ticket.
Dzeko faces a fight for the lead striking role with Theo ‘Hotshot’ Walcott taking Billy’s Boots and using them to good effect. Theo seems likely to be recalled to the England line-up following Raheem Sterling’s sterile performance in Dublin. It will be an interesting test for Walcott, not least because England rarely string two passes of any note together and any forward who moves on the ground instead of leaping salmon-like to reach a cross, is generally treated with suspicion.
He can console himself with the new deal he has reportedly agreed with the club although whether those reports are true or not is dubious. If transfers are murky, contract negotiations are little better.