RTK’s TGIF: Ivan Gazidis is a nice man after all…

This week sees the return of Thierry Henry to the Emirates and his training with our squad will be wonderful experience. Plus the continuing goal streak of the reliant Robin van Persie who is not a car with three wheels, but a luxury turbo charged supercar. Robin has now scored 38 goals and trails only Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the best striker in Europe. But given the pathetic opposition served up to Cristiano and Lionel in La Liga, Robin’s efforts in the most exciting and difficult football league in the world is by far the best stat. So Thank Gooner it’s Friday guys and let’s dive in!

This week Ivan Gazidis joined in a discussion on Sky Sports News after Manchester City announced a loss of £194.9m which is 22 times over the UEFA Financial Fair play rules. Clubs will be forced to balance their expenditure over three years. The limit is €45m or £39m over three seasons and after 2018 each annual loss must be below £8.5m From 2014, in order to be eligible for the Champions League. Manchester United made a profit of £53m mainly due to lucrative sponsorship deals. Arsenal made a profit of £58m Chelsea made a loss of £53m. This season is the first before the initial assessment in 2013/14. Michel Platini’s challenge is to defeat the expensive lawyers who will find legal loopholes. The sanctions had included penalties on being able to make transfers, and with the ultimate sanction will perhaps exclusion from the Champions League.

Ivan looked smug as he announced that Arsenal’s model was not based upon adhering to UEFA rules. He maintains that Arsenal will continue to be in a powerful position as they are able to stand on their own feet. The impact of the UEFA FFP will start at the end of the 2012/3 which is the first monitoring period of two prior to the assessment year 2013/4. The fear is that UEFA will not want to make an example of an Icon club, for fear of hitting the potential sponsorship revenues to the Champions League competition. The FFP will benefit clubs with high turnovers and so smaller clubs wishing to speculate to accumulate by temporarily living beyond their means will not have the Champions League as an aspiration.

Essentially break even is on spending your profit plus an overdraft of €45m or £39 million. In Arsenal’s case revenues from broadcasting (85m), Commercial income(46) and gate receipts (93m) plus player sales (-14m) and the property revenues (12m) will be the income.  plus £39m overdraft. The wages (124m) plus club running costs (54m) plus other costs create the profit of £58m but from the FFP point of view Arsenal could spend up to £97m for each season (58m + 39m) on players and remain within the deviation from the break even point for the two year initial assessment. After this the “overdraft” would fall to €30m.

UEFA FFP is already flawed because of the European Unions far reaching laws based on human rights. The right to work, the right to travel, the right to compete fairly, the right not to be punished unfairly, and the right to pursue a trade or business mean that any decent lawyer will be able to challenge the FFP. Already the signs are there as UEFA have moved to drop the transfer ban which it’s lawyers have realised is legally unenforceable before the Court of Arbitration in Switzerland would be involved. This is music to the ears of the Mansoor family, for Manchester City would not now be punished by the imposition of a transfer ban.

The other fly in the ointment is the euro crisis. The FFP is built around the €uro and all licensed clubs have to trade in this currency for the purposes of the FFP mechanism. Clubs outside the €urozone will have to factor the costs of exchange rates and if the banking crisis leads to some countries defaulting and dropping out of the €uro, then these costs could escalate as the value of the new €uro would be much higher. If the €uro disappeared as a currency altogether, then the FFP would effectively cease to exist. Arsene Wenger’s prediction of Football having a financial meltdown thus applies mainly to poor €urozone countries, of which fascinatingly Spain and Italy have become because their massive fiscal deficits.

If the Spanish banking system were to go under, then Barcelona and Real Madrid would suddenly find themselves knocking at the door of administration. As smug as Arsenal would feel under those circumstances, what would be the pleasure of winning the Champions league composing of only 10 clubs? So the smart money is that nothing will change, because UEFA’s grand scheme will have been undermined by the legislation designed to protect ordinary European companies and citizens but the lawyers have simply argued that those rights apply equally to the mega Billionaire rich spending clubs like Manchester City. The solution? Well, whilst a imposed salary cap has it’s weaknesses, the best chance for UEFA is to declare itself a private organisation, where being a member of a club implies acceptance of it’s rules. Breaching such a salary cap under that model would become much more difficult in the short term.

“Risk is part of the game and enjoyment demands risk. You have to just play full through it and that’s life. That’s part of sport.”

Referring of course to the nightmare scenario of Robin van Persie getting injured. This would be a major disaster, and I have doubts that the remaining strikers would rise to the challenge. The reason is because Robin’s midfield and defensive play is something that many have ignored. At most corners faced by Arsenal against their opponents, one will often see RvP clearing the ball as the first player  with a powerful header. Robin will also come back into midfield and he uses his skills of excellent ball retention to enable other players to get into challenging positions. His recent partnership with Theo Walcott is providing Arsenal with the confidence they need, and long may it continue.

Friday’s Press conference was more of a showcase for the Save the Children CEO an Arsenal supporter and season ticket holder, fund raising on Saturday with money from supporters, and a wrist band. Values of Arsenal.

Team news: same squad from the last game against Borussia Dortmund all available

We need to win home games…

Jack Wilshere is progressing well, working hard in the gym. Target will be end of January…

Robin van Persie ranks highly and hopefully he can keep going. Ahead of him in Opta is Ronaldo and Messi…

We are Reliant on Robin, but other players will provide goals…

What turned around the season was the excellent attitude and mentality of the players we have. He was always optimistic that there would be a turn around…

We are still to far away to say that we are in the title race. We need to get closer…

One game at a time. We want to win our next game…

I’m a big fan of technology and he wants as much as possible to right the wrongs in the game, the sooner the better. Penalty calls, offsides at the demands of the Referee. It will not detract far the fluidity of the game…

Andre Arshavin is not a back up player, maybe he will play tomorrow…

I care for every player, and I am sorry for those cannot play. It is difficult to find a balance. We have a big squad, we have competition between players, we can only play eleven players…

Fulham is a good side, going foward they are creative. They are well organised. Martin Jol plays football…

Carling Cup against Manchester City, will he play his youngsters? He will wait until after the Fulham game to decide. He will play some of his senior players in order to have a chance to win the game…

Next up Fulham… The Cottagers are very much an unknown quantity and despite the London derby billing, Arsenal will be looking to cement their unbeaten run with a good home performance in the late kick off. Martin Jol’s men intend to come out of the traps quickly and get an early goal  as stated by the Dutchman

 

“If we can do the same as we did against Wigan and score a few goals from three or four attempts then we can get a result. We have to exploit our chances – especially in the first 30 minutes of a game. If you score the first goal it gives you a nice cushion for the rest of the game.”

Despite this intent I expect the Gunners will be too strong for our South West London rivals.

Form guide: Arsenal: WWWWWL Fulham: DLWLLW

Fulham’s regular right back is out due to injury and Chris Baird retains his place. Expect Theo Walcott to switch flanks and give him some hell. John Arne Riise makes a return after the birth of his son and there may also be consideration of bringing in Steve Sidwell into the fray in line with many opposition teams who have ex Arsenal players. This tactic of playing old Gunners against us and expecting a vengeful raising of their game can sometimes backfire. Anyway well done to Steve for continuing to believe in himself after leaving Highbury.

My prediction for tomorrow Arsenal 3 Fulham 1

French club Lille’s President Michel Seydoux who has put a price of £43m on the head of Eden Hazard, who was the subject of transfer speculation for the next window. It was rumoured that the player would be coming to the Emirates, but at that price there is no way that Arsene Wenger will even contemplate making an offer.

Hats off this week to Arsenal Football Club’s seniors and players. Namely Ivan Gazidis, Ken Friar and Arsene Wenger and the players. Long term regular readers of this blog will have noticed the absence of Vic Crescit aka Steve Powell of the FSF. Vic used to blog three times weekly, and he hit the headlines this spring by openly protesting and writing a letter to Ivan Gazidis about the hike in season ticket prices. To our surprise Ivan penned a reply. The tension rose still further when Vic carried through his threat to condemn Gazidis when the rise was finally confirmed.

Yet recently our Vic has been seriously ill in hospital, having suffered a serious clot on his lung. The condition of deep vein thrombosis is a silent killer, often contracted by dehydration, muscle injuries, pelvic surgery and prolonged recumbence or long haul flights where it is called Economy class syndrome due to the cramped seating and reduced leg movements. The clots formed in the lower calf can break off and block the blood flowing through the heart and lungs during what is called a massive pulmonary embolism. Happily though, the mighty Deity of Football decided that Vic’s work in promoting safe standing at football stadia and infectious love for all things Arsenal should continue. So the clot was deviated right at the last second and with that Vic cheated the grim reaper of death.

Now Ivan Gazidis has personally gone to Vic’s bedside and spent genuine time wishing him well, as did Ken Friar just recently too. But clutching as get well momento signed by Arsene Wenger and all the players. A really wonderful touch. So well done Ivan, Ken and Arsene and the players. I would also thank the Arsenal Supporters Trust who has Vic as one of their officers. Well done for these kind gestures during his time of ill health. I hope those reading this will join with me also and send our good wishes and hopes for a recovery, because Vic still has some serious surgery to undergo and is not yet out of the woods. I dedicate this blog to our big fella Vic Crescit aka Steve Powell!

Titi Henry is back training at the Emirates, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have him as cover for RvP? Anyway, all connoisseurs of Arsenal golden goals will relish seeing this video when the Emirates rose and lifted the roof (are you listening Andy Emery?) when Thierry buried his header in the closing seconds of the match against Manchester United in January 2007.

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