From the Comments beneath an article on The Guardian following Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal on 28th August 2017.
“A word to Silent Stan. Support your manager and put some bloody money in. The way its going in the market, for a team aspiring to finish in the top 3/4 let alone winning the league, you have to invest.”
Now you might think as a Liverpool supporter I would be ‘over the moon’ about this result, but the truth is, it made be smile briefly but I wasn’t really that bothered. It was nice but it didn’t make my day any better or worse. I actually feel sorry for the Arsenal fan berating Stan Kroenke, the club’s majority shareholder.
Why should he ‘put some bloody money in’? It surprises me that English fans haven’t woken up yet to the fact that whilst all of them would love to win trophies, for the suits that actually own the club, it’s no longer necessary or even desirable. Players tend to get big headed when they’ve won something. It rocks the boat. That’s not good for business.
Wenger is the ultimate safe pair of hands. He doesn’t play fast and loose with transfer budgets. Arsenal are pretty much guaranteed to be in the Premier League and there or thereabouts in the CL mixup. But even if they no longer end up being considered top four, for Kroenke et al, that’s not really the point any more. Unless you’re willing to pay half a billion dollars for two players, as PSG have done, the CL is an arms race you can only lose. If you are a fixture in the EPL with the TV rights, merchandising and commercial revenues, and with Amazon and Netflix now sniffing around Sky and BT, then simply finishing tenth every year will generate more money than your wildest dreams. And not trying to compete with Barcelona or PSG saves you a fortune on transfers, salaries and agents fees. Spend just enough, bank as much as you can.
Face it. Premier League clubs are a profit centre on a balance sheet, an asset to be maximised. I honestly think modern fans should be paid to attend games, not pay themselves for the privilege of spectating. They provide the one thing that money cannot buy: atmosphere and the illusion of authenticity, (although after watching that Sky advert where they paint in the crowd after a spectacular goal is scored even that may be soon be unnecessary).
It’s really sad but I don’t think the game in its current form has more than a decade left. In ten years time, international football will be dead, the governing bodies will be neutralised or defunct and top flight leagues will consolidate into a completely independent industry resembling FIFA 17 Ultimate Teams, in which super club franchises owned by moguls and sheikhs compete against each other to win the World Series of Soccer. That’s what Silent Sam is interested in, not whether Wenger can get his troops to battle for an early season away point at Anfield.
No doubt I will have forgotten my ennui when we (still we, always we, how hard the habit to break) are eight points clear on Boxing Day, but for now, it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.