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Fly Emirates!!! – Go Arsenal!!!

November 24, 2012

Back in 2004 – Arsenal had just been crowned Champions! They were dubbed “the Invincibles” after becoming the first team since they used jumpers for goalposts in going a whole season without losing  a game in the league.

Arsenal were looking to move from Highbury to a new stadium. A thirty-eight thousand capacity at Highbury was nowhere near enough to mix it with the big boys and the club needed money for the project. A deal was struck with Emirates Airlines where the club would use the name “Emirates” on the team shirt and the new stadium would be named “Emirates Stadium”. £100m in 2004 was a good deal.  The tie up would run on the shirts till 2014 and the stadium till 2021. With the help of some front-loading on the deal and the odd bank loan or two Arsenal moved into the “The Emirates Stadium” in 2006.

Since the deal was struck in 2004 other clubs have brokered bigger deals from sponsors for their names to be emblazoned on shirts, some renaming their stadiums as well. However, can/should current deals really be looked at along side Arsenal’s which was made eight years ago? Well it would not stop those with axe to grind or agenda.

Yesterday Arsenal renewed their shirt deal and stadium naming rights with Emirates Airlines, this time for £150m over five-years. The shirt naming will run till 2018/19 and the stadium naming will run  till 2028. The deal worth £30m a season, second only to Manchester United’s tie up with General Motors/Chevrolet.  Here it is worth noting that Mr Joel Ewanick the chief global marketing officer at GM/Chevrolet resigned from the company after it was questioned that the deal with United was a waste of money. Jim Edwards of Business Insider questioned  that Man Utd were said to have 659 million fans worldwide. Jim said “Man Utd might be popular, but do they have 659m fans?” “That is one tenth of the world’s population, does 10% of everyone you know support United?”

Who actually comes up with these figures?

The smarts is on the new kit deal being with Adidas which could be worth upwards of £20m+ a season.  This is what Ivan Gazidis is employed at Arsenal for. We all know Arsenal have many supporters who know how to pick the team, what players to buy, get rid of and how to make the team play better.  However, today’s football they also have an army of accountants who know how to run a professional football club best and how to raise and spend money.

This blog is not about having a dig at those supporters as this is what football is about “opinions” people thinking they could do it better, not a new phenomenon. I wouldn’t have a Scooby Doo how to run a professional football club/business, or how to run a professional football team. I’m not an accountant. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes on contact talks with players/agents.  I don’t want to either, I want to turn up, see the team play well, show passion/fight. I’ll leave the rest to the experts.

By the end of January 2013, Arsenal could be looking at having signed new deals bringing in £55m+ a season for the next five years. Add to this the new TV money and maybe Ivan and Co have not been as bad as thought? These things take time and some supporters really don’t have patience.

I also hear that Arsenal are currently looking at many other smaller sponsorship deals that over time will increase the amount of sponsors the club has. Ten-twenty smaller deals at anything from £500k per season will bring in another trench of money. This will mean that when Arsene is interviewed after the match a lot more company logo’s will be on show on the board behind him.

Groundhog day will occur though as when the deal gets to say three years in, other clubs have renewed their deals and most probably with higher sums to reflect the time. I have no doubt that this is when the doomsters will be back having a go at how we did not get enough for our deal three years back.

I don’t see the cloud of doom that hovers over the club from some sections of our support. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is rosy either. I just feel that there have been mitigating circumstances that put Arsenal into a position from within and outside the club and some supporters, media and so-called experts have taken every opportunity to knock the club.

You can’t watch a an Arsenal match today on TV, where it is mentioned that we have not won anything for, insert years here “………” or that the match or the next one is a test for Arsenal.

My opinion is that Arsenal have a decent board/financial team working at getting the club to be one of the biggest and best. Maybe PHW has over-stayed his welcome and should retire from the scene gracefully. Let’s not forget his family has been part of the club for decades. Maybe some others are a little to long in the tooth and need a fresh injection of youth on the board to go along with the times.

Football is big business today. The sums involved are huge, you can’t have just any old Tom, Dick or Harry in charge. Ivan Gazidis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, might not say what some supporters want to hear, but he is their to do a job on the business side of Arsenal Football Club.

I do wonder if the people in the positions the likes of Gazidis holds should have the passion and support of the club the way we supporters do? For me it could lead to trouble making decisions based on passion for the club. Would a person who loves the club make the right decisions based on head or heart??

I don’t want Arsenal to be like other clubs. I personally think  Arsenal have class about them, they try to do things the right way. Would United, City, Chelsea or Spurs have given Sheffield United a replay? I don’t think the board are silly enough to give a journeyman manager an eight-year contract and then probably sack him in 18 months. See Newcastle.

I’m not a short-term sort of guy, I can wait, be patient. I’ve seen it all before, years without winning things. I have accepted that football today is nothing like it used to be. It’s all sensationalism, right here right now, big headlines, 24 hours Sky News coverage, Talk Sport good cop/bad cop routine, Twitter takeovers where the ITK’s know it all.

I’ve lived through times when the fans were not happy with Billy Wright and Terry Neill. Not happy that Bertie Mee broke up the 1971 Double winning side too soon. George Graham going from winning and signing Alan Smith, Steve Bould, Lee Dixon, David Seaman and Ander Limpar to signing Kiwomya and John Hartson and the football becoming boring in extreme.  I saw Frank Stapleton and my hero Chippy Brady leave for Juventus. No fun being at the 1980 Arsenal Dinner Dance in Tottenham Court Road and standing five feet away as Liam said he was leaving for Juventus. The first time a real hero of mine was leaving and thinking I’ll never see him in a red & white shirt again. No live TV all over our screens in those days or Italian football on Channel 4 where I could still watch him play.

Seven years! That’s it. During this time we have finished in the top four each year, been in the Champions League for 15 seasons and just reached the last 16 for the 13th season running. Also reached a couple of League Cup finals – lost both. Blimey I used to dream of Arsenal finishing in the top four and playing in Europe every season.

I can’t say we are going to win trophies, but I do have a good feeling that the club are being run correctly and will make a better fist of challenging in the coming seasons. If the FFP rules the Premier league and UEFA are looking to implement come and in and work then the playing field is going to be levelled.

Then we’ll see just what Arsenal are made of. Hopefully Ivan and his crew will end up doing what they set out to do.



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