………as Johny Mathis and Denise Williams sang in 1978. For us the season is now over until next August. Oh how we’d have lived to have another week to enjoy with trips to Rome and Wembley.
The season ended for us with a 4-1 stroll in the Islington sunshine against Stoke City. The game was almost over before it started. Although the Potters were the only one of the two sides with something to play for, with a possible move up the table one place and £750,000 extra prize money, it became very quickly clear there was only ever going to be one winner yesterday
Vito Mannone, making his debut in the Arsenal goal, was hardly troubled. Difficult to make a judgement on him in this one game as for most of it he could have seated himself in a deckchair with a tall, frosty drink, so little did Stoke threaten – on the park at least.
Off the park, I received two eye-witness reports of fairly serious disorder outside the ground, including an attack on the Herbert Chapman pub on Holloway Road before the match. I have to say those Stoke fans I saw were fine, in fancy dress and in party mood. Those who indulged themselves in unprovoked attacks on Arsenal supporters before the match should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Pond-life, every one of them.
Still, now we have to look forward. Arsčne Wenger definitely felt the love from the Gooner Nation yesterday afternoon. I read some comments he made about the infamous shareholders’ meeting a couple of weeks ago. Assuming the what he said was quoted accurately, he appeared baffled as to why some of those shareholders were critical, given that Arsenal shares were around £400 a pop when he arrived and have reached as high as £10,000 a share during his period (£6,850 a share at the close of the PLUS market last Friday).
Arsčne doesn’t seem to have fully grasped that small shareholders like myself are primarily investors in the club because we love it and wish to see it thrive on the field. We haven’t bought Arsenal shares as a financial investment. The only circumstance I would sell my share would be if it became compulsory to sell if one shareholder or group of shareholders working together got to ninety percent of the shares. This would allow them to trigger a compulsory offer for the remaining ten percent if they wished.
Nobody spoke at the shareholders’ meeting who was interested in the share price as an investment. All spoke from the perspective of being supporters. I have a feeling, which I hope I’m wrong about, that the second annual manager’s Q & A might have been the last.  As a fellow season ticket holder who sits in my row said,  the management can’t expect uncritical support at the prices that are now charged for tickets. Quite right. We expect top quality on the field in return for the stratospheric price of admission these days. Arsenal has a long way to go in the openness and transparency stakes. This was again evidenced by the decision of the club’s own television channel to censor its coverage of the shareholders’ Q & A session. Daft. The whole thing was already out in the public domain. Why not let supporters judge for themselves?
Anyway, we now need to build for next season. Let’s get the outward transfers sorted ASAP so Arsčne knows exactly how much he has to spend on fees and salaries in the transfer markets. On the subject of money, apparently Andrey Arshavin is surprised at the amount of tax he’s paying on his salary in Britain. The Mail on Sunday is reporting that’s he’s asking for a big pay rise to compensate for the amount of tax he’s paying here compared to what he was paying in Russia.
I’m stunned by this. Arshavin should be having a VERY serious word with his agent Dennis Lachter. His representative is responsible for fully investigating all these issues and explaining to him exactly what’s what in terms of gross and net income, taxation, and so on. If Lachter hasn’t done his homework on tax rates, he hasn’t been looking after his client’s interests as he should.
Arshavin has looked like a fine, fine player in his first half-season with us. Assuming the Mail on Sunday is accurate, a very big if, then Arsenal shouldn’t entertain any approach for a wage rise. Arshavin should be told to take it up with his agent. I remember reading the autobiography of the great John Charles, the finest player ever produced by my native Wales. When he was contemplating his move from Leeds United to Juventus in 1957, he got his representative to check out the entire contractual and tax situation in Italy before deciding to sign. That was over fifty years ago when you couldn’t check out these things in a few minutes with a Google search on the internet.
If Arshavin really is surprised about this, he needs to knock on his agent’s door, not Arsenal’s. We don’t want to lose a really fine addition to the squad but neither can we be held responsible for lapses by his representatives.  I hope all this blows over like so many stories about Arshavin, but if there’s any substance to it, this could spell trouble. The club needs to bottom this out with the player and his agent as soon as possible. We don’t need to be faced with a player cutting up rough just before the summer transfer window closes. I hope Arshavin has a long and mutually productive career with us, but these reports have alarm bells ringing in my head.
We shall see. On Wednesday night I shall be cheering on Barcelona in Rome and shall be a Toffee for the day in the FA Cup Final next weekend. I’m hoping that Burnley will join Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League this afternoon in the Championship play-off at Wembley. Not that I have anything in particular against Sheffield United, but Burnley was a side that was more often than not in the old First Division in my youth. It would be nice to see the East Lancastrians reach the big time again. We’ll have only one League trip to the North-East next season instead of three which will ease the strain on travelling Gooners’ wallets a little.
Keep the faith!