So I write this in the wake of our expected exit again from the Champions League, this time at the hands of a terrific Bayern Munich side. I’m taking nothing away from them,but our performance epitomised everything that has been wrong with Arsenal, not just this season but since 2006.
I’ve called this piece Arsenal Holdings FC, because we are no longer Arsenal Football Club,but more of a business that stems from the very day the development was approved to create our stadium at Ashburton Grove. There are more scholar tweeters, bloggers and writers who know much more than me about the finances of football and Arsenal, so I am not going to pretend I know all the finances to the enth decimal point, but I write this as a fan of Arsenal.
My personal story starts in 1993, a season where we did the cup double, but also my last season as a season ticket holder at Highbury. No longer would I be able to call the West Stand Upper my pseudo home every other Saturday. Student life and debt forced me to take this action. I had to serve the rest of my ST exile as a Silver Member. But don’t worry folks, I saw plenty of my fare share of games under the buoyant Wenger era.
I start my story there because it is important to understand what moving to The Emirates meant to me, which seems to now be at odds with the board at the club. No sooner had I quit my ST, I was placed on the waiting list in the vain hope that one day I would get one at Highbury.
Fast forward to 2006 and my 13 year exile was over. 13 years I waited to return to the season ticket fraternity. I skipped to the marketing suite Brewery Road with my dad and brother in tow and virtually selected 5 STs in the North Bank Upper Tier. I didn’t care how much it cost, I had a season ticket (or 2!!).
I had a double bonus, a ST again and a promise by the club that the move would enable us to compete with Man Utd. Win-Win, happy days.
Here we are in 2013 with me seriously asking, was moving to the Emirates the worst thing Arsenal could have done? Yes, as Arsenal Football Club, no as Arsenal Holdings.
I am not blaming Arsenal at how Ambromivich changed the landscape of the game or the club on the economic crash which affected the sale of the properties at Highbury. I do blame the club for the poor, locked in commercial deals, which in part stopped us competing with Utd financially. I do blame the club for ensuring we cannot compete on the pitch, leaving me and other fans feeling the move across the road was a dud from the start.
We have gone from Champions League finalists in 2006, to relative Champions League chumps, 20+ points behind the league leaders and out of both cups by lower league opposition. I said as we were torn apart in the 1st half by Bayern, we had better enjoy tonight because the way we are going, hearing the Champions League fanfare at the Emirates again might take a few years, if at all.
I’m a fan, not Arsenal’s accountant, and £70m in a transfer kitty is there to be spent. Problem is I’m not sure I trust Wenger to spend it wisely and it seems he doesn’t want to spend it at all. How he can’t think that in January there weren’t any players who could improve us is beyond me, and he is the man who now thinks Gervinho is a marquee signing. I want to compete with Utd. I want Arsenal to really be in for some big players, not actually sell our best to them!!!
What a sad ending seems to be brewing for Arsene. I love the stadium but I wouldn’t have wanted to move there and regain an ST if it meant capitulation on the pitch. I am forever Arsenal Football Club, not Arsenal Holdings FC.