Not much Arsenal news of note this week except the dismissal of Thomas Vermaelen’s appeal against his red card and sending off against West Ham United last Saturday . This was always a long, hopeful ball into the box.
News broke late on Monday that FA chief executive Ian Watmore, an Arsenal season ticket holder, had resigned. He is the governing body’s fifth top knob to either walk or be sacked in just over a decade, following Graham Kelly, Adam Crozier, Mark Palios and Brian Barwick out of the FA’s revolving door. The top management job at the FA has all the stability of the manager’s office at Real Madrid.
The FA isn’t going to get anywhere whilst it’s paralysed by its arcane internal structures and a board dominated by vested interests. The job of chief executive is all but impossible at the moment. You couldn’t make up some of the stories I’m hearing from inside the FA bunker at Wembley. This one will run and run.
We’re all focussed of course on our vital League game at St Andrew’s on Saturday afternoon. Our central defensive pairing is a worry with the Verminator’s suspension, Big Bad Gallas being out injured and the concern about Sol Campbell’s ability to play two games in a week. I can see Alex Song dropping back to partner Mikaël Silvestre against the Brummies. Song I have no qualms about. He performed very well dropping back after Vermaelen was sent off last Saturday. We’ll miss him in midfield though if he does play at centre-back. He and Javier Mascherano at Liverpool are the outstanding holding midfielders in the League at the moment for my money.
Silvestre gives me the shudders. That said all we can do is get behind him if he is selected. There’s no point whatsoever in living in his ear. It won’t make him play any better.
On the subject of central defenders, one who has popped up on my radar recently is Sebastián Coates of Uruguayan giants Nacional (of which I am a socio or voting member, having lived and worked in Montevideo in the late 1980s when they became my team. I spent many happy afternoons and evenings at Parque Central and the Estadio Centenario then and since on subsequent visits following el bolso). Coates is just 19 and has been sensational in Nacional’s current Copa Libertadores campaign. He’s tall, good in the air, has good positional sense, is a great tackler and is very mature for his years. Tim Vickery, a British football journalist based in Rio de Janeiro and an expert on South American football has mentioned him in his blog on the BBC website recently.
From the recordings I’ve seen he’s right to be raving about Coates. He would seem to fit the Wenger bill to a tee. I have no evidence that we’re interested in him (Juventus are apparently). I’d be thrilled if we were. He looks the business to me. He’s expected to be selected in the Uruguayan squad for the World Cup this summer.
It looks like we’ll be significantly better off (as will all Premier League teams) following the conclusion of the overseas Premier League broadcasting rights from 2010/11-2012/13. They’re expected to raise £1.4 billion compared to the current £625 million. Domestic rights are also marginally up. The fee paid by Barclays Bank for title sponsorship of the competition is also up a quarter to £82.8 million over three years. Domestic radio rights are also up considerably to around £36 million with Absolute Radio winning one of the packages along with BBC Radio 5 Live and TalkSport. This should give us some headway in continuing to offer competitive wages to compensate for the fall in Sterling against the Euro and the US Dollar and the increase in the top earners’ rate of PAYE income tax.
Next season will also see the introduction of squad restrictions in the Premier League similar to those in the already in force by UEFA in the Champions League and Europa League. The maximum number of senior professionals per club will be “capped” at 25, with a minimum of eight of those players having to have been developed by professional clubs in England & Wales. An unlimited number of youth players developed by the club and under the age of 21 can also be registered. The new UEFA financial fair play regulations will also start to “bite” running up to full implementation in 2015. Finally the game is making some progress towards curbing its madder financial excesses. About time too.
Keep the faith!

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