Category Archives: World Football

Players need to sue to stop tackles like the one that broke Luke Shaw’s leg

Here’s the article I’d much rather be writing this morning: Arsenal face a tough test in Zagreb to kick off their 16th consecutive Champions League campaign . But events yesterday forced my hand and now here I am writing about yet another young player who had his leg broken playing football.

When I woke up yesterday the news was starting to spread that Jack Wilshere required surgery to fix a hairline fracture in his “good” ankle. This was the ankle which was nearly broken last year by a poorly timed and aggressive challenge by Manchester United defender Paddy McNair.

Football fans on Twitter reacted to the news in typical fashion, “taking the mickey” and calling Jack Wilshere, Jack Wheelchair. The hashtag trended enough to make the Independent report on it and that means that fans of all clubs (including Arsenal) participated.

It’s an unedifying sight to see football fans act like this and I’m sure the vast majority of the people who love the game would agree with me that people who laugh at player injuries are the human equivalent of that guy from Karate Kid who yells out “get him a body bag”. This behavior masquerades as “club tribalism” and to a certain extent that’s true. Because just a few hours later, the same Man United fans who were mocking Wilshere’s injury were sending out heartfelt “prayers” for their player, Luke Shaw.

For those who don’t know, Luke Shaw, Man United fullback, had his leg broken by an absurd tackle made by PSV’s Hector Moreno in last night’s Champions League opening match between the two teams. It was the 15th minute of the game and Shaw was dribbling into the box, he split his markers, and Moreno, seeing the danger, slid in recklessly and with his trailing leg snapped Shaw’s standing leg in two.

Incredibly, the referee didn’t even call a foul on the play and this, for me, is the real failure.

This isn’t Moreno’s first ride, folks. He broke his own leg making the exact same type of tackle on Arjen Robben at the 2014 Brazil World Cup (en Español). And he made the exact same type of tackle on Ashley Young, in the very game he broke Luke Shaw’s leg:

Football has made progress on tackling down the years. The tackle from behind was outlawed, the two-footed tackle was outlawed, stud’s-up tackles were outlawed, and high tackling has been outlawed. But what still isn’t illegal are the scissors tackle and the idea that the amount of force used is irrelevant as long as the defender wins the ball.

The scissors tackle is what it looks like Moreno did. He lunged at the ball with one leg and followed through with his trailing leg. This trailing leg tackle is never going to win a ball and is always only going to take a player down. It also requires that the defender goes THROUGH the man, this means that by definition, the defender must use enough force to break a standing leg. The defender cannot complete this tackle without using enough force to break his opponent’s leg. It’s just not physically possible.

According to the current laws of the game, this tackle should be outlawed: by going through the man the defender uses excessive force to win the ball. That is and always should be a red card.

But oddly, it’s not seen as a red card offense. Not only did the referee (and his various and sundry assistants) not see a foul, but UEFA ruled out using replays to retroactively punish Moreno.

This is where the players need to step in and do something about the laws of the game. I think the players need to sue FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League and force them to do something about player safety. The players in the NFL did just that and forced the NFL to change their rules in order to limit concussions . Concussions in the NFL are far more numerous than broken legs in football but the very types of tackles and formations that were most likely to produce concussions were outlawed.

I’m not suggesting that the NFL fixed their concussion problems after the lawsuit and I don’t think that Football players suing FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League will prevent all future broken legs. But it’s very clear that the laws of the game are there to protect players from exactly the kind of tackle that broke Luke Shaw’s leg. And it’s also clear that UEFA, FIFA, and the Premier League are refusing to use retroactive punishment and video punishment in order to penalize players like Moreno who commit these acts of violence and thus to reduce the number of these tackles in the future.

It’s going to take a career ending injury and a player who is brave enough to sue to change these rules and truly protect these players. Until then, unless FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League choose to crack down on these plays, we will see more broken legs, more players in wheelchairs, and more young careers threatened.


Financial data proves Arsenal not in the top top tier of world football

By Tim Todd, Fairly Funny Person

Just a quick follow up to a tweet yesterday.

I posted an image showing the total turnover for the top clubs in world football. It was a side-track for this project/proposal I am working on but an interesting one none-the-less. I created the graphic because I’ve made the statement several times that Arsenal are simply not at the level of a club like Man U, Chelsea, City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich. And because we are in that second bracket, it is very difficult to attract the “world claaaaas” players that would improve the club. This is, ultimately, why a player like Schneiderlin chooses a club like Man U over Arsenal: he stands to make more not just in salary but in the even more important area of product endorsements and image rights. So, even if Arsenal were to offer Schneiderlin a similar wage package, we can’t compete with the huge clubs in terms of the endorsement packages they offer. Not even close.

Here’s the data:



As you can see, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich basically have as much money as they want. Man U is a close fourth and again have a license to print money. They have used that license in the last few years as they have burned through hundreds of millions in the transfer market.

Chelsea and City don’t have very high turnover and the supplement that with losses. This is what Wenger means when he refers to “financial doping”. This is also what Financial Fair Play (FFP) was supposed to end. Judging by the fact that Man City spent £82m this summer, after having their hands slapped last summer, FFP looks like it stands for “Foreseeable Failure of Policing” rather than “Financial Fair Play”.

Arsenal’s line is there in red¹. Our turnover has been rather stagnant for seven of the last nine years, since the stadium was built. I expect that 2014/15 and 2015/16 will probably see an increase in turnover at Arsenal but we have to wait for the financial reports.

I also ran the numbers for Chelsea and Arsenal in terms of wages plus transfers, in order to show the gap there.

Cheslea v

As you can see, up to 2013 (financial year), Arsenal were significantly (£50m+) behind Chelsea almost every season since Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2005.²  The gap closed to about £7m in 2014 and Arsenal might even have outspent Chelsea last season.

The reason for that incroyable result is that Chelsea managed to convince PSG to pay £34m for David Lulz and Wolfsburg to pay £22 for Andre Unshurrle.

Anyway, I’m sure if we look at Real Madrid’s salary and transfer combined spend or Man U or any of the other teams that were in that top group it will only further prove my point that Arsenal are simply not in the very top group that can attract the very top players. And Arsenal certainly can’t afford to pay £60m for a 19 year old striker with 15 goals to his name.

And with that I leave you to enjoy your transfer deadline day of doom.


¹Turnover data from Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finances. Annual losses data gathered from various sources.
²Transfer and wage data culled from Arsenal’s annual reports,, and a site called “The Chels” which has surprisingly accurate financial data on Chelsea.

I bet they would sell the naming rights on the back stand too!

7 reasons why Tottenham’s new stadium deal is bad for them and bad for football

7. Taxpayer subsidies

This is not a partisan issue. When football teams threaten their local council that they will either move or refuse to upgrade in order to force those councils to give them millions of pounds in subsidies then English Football is in danger of being flushed down the bowl of American sports.

Make no mistake, Spurs threatened to leave North London for Stratford. This is an old school strong-arm tactic here in America where team owners threaten local governments: build me a new stadium or I will take my team to another town.  Spurs did the exact same thing American sports teams do when they pursued a move to the Olympic stadium in Stratford.

But the worst part for me is that Tottenham threatened a deprived area.  As one Spurs fan put it, “Tottenham is quite a deprived area and by (the club threatening to pull) out, the long-term outlook for that area is relatively bleak.” Joe Lewis, one of the owners of Tottenham, is one of the wealthiest men on the planet and he successfully strong-armed £27m out of Haringey and London (from their riot recovery fund!!!) to help fund their football club.

This is the worst kind of robber barron politics, the wealthy taking from the poor, and the council and city giving in set a horrible example for other cities. I’m not one to make the “slippery slope argument” but teams in the USA often cite precedent when using this tactic to force taxpayers to give them money.

And wait to see what happens if the whole project starts to go pear shaped. The cry from Tottenham will be “we will have to close this project down” or “we will have to play our games at Wembley from now on” and that will “take thousands of jobs away from the people in your council” unless you “give us ________________ tax break/subsidy/write-off/land/etc/etc.”

6. Increased competition

I keep seeing people say that Tottenham will have it easier than Arsenal did because of the new TV deals, the increase in sponsorship money, and the higher profile of the Premier League. All of those things are true.

The only problem is that all of that increased money is going toward player salaries and transfers. And all of that money is being used to bring in top players to traditionally mediocre clubs: Crystal Palace signed Cabaye from PSG, Payet signed for West Ham, and Shaqiri just signed with Stoke City other upper-level named players will sign for clubs we never thought possible before. The level of competition in the Premier League is taking a huge jump forward as all of these clubs spend their money on bringing in talent that would normally have been reserved for bigger clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City.

All around them the competition is growing stronger, buying better players, and threatening Tottenham’s place in the middle of the table. This stadium could hamstring this club.

5. Increased Ticket Prices

Did you know that Tottenham supporters already pay the second highest ticket prices in the land? This is because unlike the Tank Shed in Fulham and the Oil Well in Manchester, Spurs are run like a business and the owners of the Spurs business don’t subsidize ticket prices.

Building a stadium ain’t cheap and even with taxpayer subsidies Spurs are going to have massive loans and massive repayment structures. Combined with the fact that they won’t be in the Champions League, will have to spend to attract new players, and can’t grow their commercial revenue, they will almost certainly eclipse Arsenal in terms of ticket prices when those loan markers come due.

Their fans are going to be paying some of the highest ticket prices in world sports to watch a team that can’t even make the Champions League? How long will that last?

4. Football is in a bubble

One of the hallmarks of a bubble is that no one ever notices that they are in the bubble; they just think the growth will go on forever. You think commercial sponsorships are just going to keep growing? That foreign television revenue will keep growing? That player salaries and transfer fees can keep growing unabated? This is a bubble. It’s going to burst soon.

And I suspect it may have already burst a bit. Many fans are expecting Tottenham to get a record deal for Naming Rights stadium. But do you think the major corporate sponsors are going to be eager to put their name on a stadium that isn’t even going to be featured in the Champions League? I actually think the sponsors have Spurs over the barrel a bit here and will be looking for value for their money. Without the leverage of a winning history, without Champions League football, and located in a depressed area, Tottenham might find the bride lacks suitors.

3. No history

Tottenham haven’t won a trophy in 7 years, haven’t won a major (FA Cup) trophy in 24 years, haven’t won the League in 54 years, and have only played ONE season in the Champions League since 1962. Unlike Arsenal, who built their stadium on the back of the Invincibles, Tottenham have no such foundation of recent winning for new fans to latch onto.

Many writers are lauding Tottenham’s deal to play a whopping 20 NFL games at the new stadium and saying that this will open the lucrative American market but I completely disagree. I can’t see many Americans adopting a club with no history just because their stadium was used to host an NFL game.

Fans who aren’t born into a club tend to be band-wagon fans. This isn’t a criticism — I love the band wagon fans when they pick my team — it’s just a fact that when you have no reason to pick a team, you tend to pick winners.

Most of the new football fans I meet in the States support Man U, Chelsea, Man City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. In fact, many of them support more than one of those big teams at a time!

So, unless Tottenham can work miracles and win something with little to no spend, or break into the Champions League, then if anything, this NFL deal might end up benefiting rivals who have won trophies and are in the Champions League: like Arsenal.

2. They are terrible in the transfer market

Without Champions League football, and the tens of millions of pounds (plus prestige) it brings to clubs, Tottenham will continue to struggle to keep their best players and will continue to struggle to buy top quality players. This leads to increased costs and diminishing returns.

Look at the clear out they had to do this season, Holtby, Capoue, and Paulinho have all been sold this summer. Soldado cost them €30m and they are currently flogging him for a packet of crisps. Huerelo Gomes was on their books until his free transfer to Watford last season, a loss of over €9m in transfer fees alone.  This list of transfer failures in the last four years is longer than the list of honors the club has won in its entire history. Tottenham have proved time and again that they are terrible in the transfer market.

1. There’s only one Arsene Wenger

It took Arsenal nearly a decade of austerity into their stadium project before they were able to spend freely again. In that time, Arsene Wenger was able to put together a football squad which perennially qualified for the Champions League, on a shoe-string budget, while being forced to sell off a star player (or more) every season.

Tactically, and by being astute in the transfer market, it was Wenger somehow keeping Arsenal in the Champions League with a ragtag bunch of misfits (Denilson and Song played midfield while Andrei Arshavin played center forward), that, more than any other factor, kept Arsenal in consideration for these top of the table sponsorships which eventually led to signing big name players.

Who will be their Arsene Wenger?

Oh and also, how great has Wenger been for Arsenal? I guess we will find out if Tottenham ever get their stadium built.