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.

Qq

collar

Campo Retro Sanchez Shirt

The fine folks over at Campo Retro sent me a shirt the other day and as soon as I opened the package I was impressed.

The first thing that struck me is that the shirt feels soft and luxurious. I had to look at the label to make sure it was actually cotton and not some kind of polyester blend. Sure enough, 100% cotton.

collar

 

As I turned the shirt around in my hands, I noticed all of the attention to details: extra little patches of fabric under the arms for added strength, a subdued little logo on the sleeve, and there’s even a special little patch where you can put your favorite pin(s) so you won’t ruin the shirt with little holes everywhere!

pins

When I put it on, it felt like I was slipping into a comfortable old tee shirt. Now, this is a long sleeve home shirt and it has been unbearably hot here in Washington. So instinctively I went to roll up the sleeves and of course, they have thought of that as well! Inside the sleeves is a hoop red and white pattern, yet another example of their fine attention to details.

sleeveNeedless to say, I love this shirt.

Campo Retro have an entire line of Arsenal shirts and all of them look fantastic. It looks like all of the Arsenal gear is on sale and they are having a special where you can get your favorite player’s name on the back for free. This particular shirt is the Arsenal Empire Jersey and costs just £15!

I got mine with my favorite current player on the back.

Sanchez

Follow Campo Retro and me on twitter for a chance to win your very own Sanchez shirt. Hopefully later this afternoon we will tweet out a competition.

Qq

 

arteta

Arsenal Sign Backup DM: Mikel Arteta

By Tim Todd, the Deemist

Arsene has just signed Mikel Arteta to a contract extension and for some reason this piece of business has been met with much consternation. I took a peek at some of the fan sentiment around this signing and there is a lot of hyperbole around Arteta. As usual I land somewhere square in the middle, somewhere near the eye of the hurricane.

First, ignore the headlines that Wenger is going to “ditch the hunt for a DM”, Arteta was always going to sign an extension, this changes nothing. Wenger and Arteta have a very strong relationship built on great mutual respect and it would have been a shock to see Arteta stripped of his club captaincy and fired this summer.

Second, Wenger sees Arteta as a mentor for his young players, “[Arteta] is very influential and he’s a leader – one of the leaders of the team and he’s a technical leader as well.” Arteta is one of the best passing midfielders in the world. His long ball percentages have reached Pirlo-esque numbers for almost every year he’s been at Arsenal. And more than any other player on the team, Arteta personifies the sacrifice necessary to play at the DM position. This is a man who went from star playmaker on Everton, to the main playmaker at Arsenal, and then who graciously stepped aside when Cazorla was signed, and assumed a much more humble role deep in the Arsenal midfield. If Jack Wilshere wants to learn how to be a world class defensive midfielder, he couldn’t have a better teacher than Mikel Arteta.

Third, Arteta can still play in a number of roles in midfield. I know that the vox populi scream “his legs have gone” but older players make up for lack of mobility with intelligent play and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more intelligent, experienced, midfielder in the top five leagues. He is certainly not as fast as Coquelin, but he will surprise you with his timely tackles this season, I guarantee it. And I don’t think Wenger signed him to play 38 games. This is a utility signing. He will play 15-20 games and help keep players like Ramsey and Coquelin fresh.

Fourth, Arsenal fans are all over the map. One year you want Wenger to keep older players because of their experience, the next year you want him to dump the club captain and most experienced central midfielder on the team because “his legs have gone” (read: he’s too old). This is very good signing for exactly the reasons many have pointed out before, it’s about continuity, it’s about keeping intelligent, hardworking professionals around to teach the younger crew.

Fifth, the anguish over this signing mostly stems from a fear that Wenger won’t “buy buy buy” in a position which the most hyperbolic of voices say that “Arsenal have been crying out for for a decade”. Arsenal have not been crying out for a DM for a decade. Arsenal had a plethora of DMs in 2007 when they should have won the title, but which slipped through our fingers when the goal scoring dried up. Arsenal similarly had a DM in Alex Song for several years and again the reason Arsenal didn’t properly challenge for the title isn’t because of a lack of DM, it was a lack of goal scoring.

It’s also important to note that Wenger has never really carried more than one water carrier at any one time. Who was Song’s backup? Denilson’s backup? Arteta’s backup? There haven’t been any. The exception to that rule is the 07-08 season when Arsenal had, and lost, three DMs in the same season. But there’s a good reason why Wenger doesn’t carry three DMs or even two: this isn’t a position which gets injured that often. DMs aren’t making a lot of sprints, they aren’t dribbling into the teeth of the defense, and they aren’t often on the end of opposition tackles. They are the tacklers, the aggressors, not the ones who are going to get kicked up and down the pitch.

 

The other reason why Wenger doesn’t carry multiple specialist DMs is because almost any midfielder can play in the role, as long as they have a modicum of humility. As far back as Herbie Roberts, playing for Herbert Chapman’s WM formation Arsenal, a team have always needed an intelligent player who was content to remain on the defensive, who intercepted plays down the middle, and most importantly did what he was told.

At Arsenal there are a number of players who would, I suspect, willingly sacrifice their attacking play for the benefit of the team. Aaron Ramsey is the most likely candidate as a backup to Coquelin. He is intelligent, he can pass and move, and he’s one of the best tacklers on the team. Yes, he would have to sacrifice his attack and he would have to pour water on his desire to get forward on every play. But he can do it.

Wenger might also be looking at Calum Chambers to groom him into that position. Chambers is a very talented player who I suspect has the makings of a top defensive midfielder. He’s tall, he’s a great passer, and he’s already shown himself to be an excellent crosser of the ball. He’s also been pushed out of his main position as a right back both because of the form of Hector Bellerin and the fact that Chambers’ couldn’t match the footspeed of the trickiest wingers. But again, your DM doesn’t have to be the fastest player (Coquelin isn’t Arsenal’s fastest player either) he just needs to learn to read the danger and be in the right areas more often than not.

Let me be crystal clear: I would love it if Wenger signed a world class midfielder for Arsenal. With the money we have now available to the manager, if a player like a younger Xabi Alonso is on the market I think Arsenal should buy him. But signing Arteta doesn’t stand in the way of Wenger doing that.

The defensive midfield position at Arsenal is not the crisis that so many are painting it to be. In fact, it’s starting to feel like the phrases “defensive midfielder” and “Arsenal” have now entered into the clickbait territory. The press are whipping this non-issue up into a frenzy and there is so much hyperbole out there right now it’s hard to even have a discussion. But the truth is that Wenger has plenty of options and that’s probably a major reason why he’s waiting to see who becomes available.

In the mean time, re-siging Arteta, and keeping an experienced mentor at the club is exactly the kind of signing that big clubs make when they are challenging for the League Title.  If it helps, think of him as Arsenal’s Paul Scholes — Arsenal’s a lot less obnoxious, better tackling, more even tempered, Paul Scholes.

So, relax.

Qq