This is bananas

Regrets, I've had a few...

Crazy day yesterday in the Kickoff house, it had everything; my child being mauled by another child*, an email from the editor of NewsNow, a sell out of all but two of the old tee-shirts (an XXL and a Medium), some team financials were leaked, and Sol Campbell “pulled a Sol” and left Notts County high and dry. Strange stuff, except the Sol Campbell thing, who didn’t see THAT coming?

Leaving out the bit about the mauling, it turns out that NewsNow dropped us due to a little bit of news aggregator, erm, copyright violation? Anyway, it’s all been settled and now England’s favorite Yankee Arsenal blog with whacky, nonsensical headlines and rabid, mumbling gibberish for content is back in the NewsNow fold. The hits are already pouring in!

The tee-shirt sell out was, frankly, really surprising. Not because you all bought a $5 shirt, that I expected, but because the spread of sizes that you all ordered was pretty much exactly what I had left in the box. I didn’t have to refund anyone any money and they all sold in just one day. Wow. Thanks to everyone who bought a shirt, I’ll be shipping them all tomorrow afternoon.  If you want the XXL or the Medium that’s left send an email to 7amkickoff at gmail dot com, $10 shipped USA, $15 shipped internationally.

That's Thierry Henry, FOOL!

New Shirt Contest

There was some confusion over the new shirt contest so let me just make this as clear as possible:

  1. You are coming up with a phrase to replace “Some Gooners Do It In The Dark” in the image above.
  2. No need to use photoshop, just words will do
  3. Go to this article and input your genius idea.
  4. All entries will be judged by me, harshly, and I will select the winner on Sunday and announce the winner on Monday’s blog.
  5. The winner receives a free tee shirt with the new design on it.
  6. Contest ends Sunday at 5pm PST.

I’m sure I’m leaving something out…

Debt in the Premier League

My regular reader knows that I have long warned of the impending financial difficulty that Liverpool will suffer. In fact, my boldest prediction is that of the “top four” Liverpool’s debt position is the most debilitating, with £300m in debts needing re-financing and a massive interest package due every year, they look shaky. Manchester United’s debt is bigger and they have a one-time payment of over £100m (and growing) due here fairly soon but I think United will make that payment (or refinance) because, to use a phrase that we heard a lot over the last year “they’re too big to fail.”

Liverpool, on the other hand, it has been revealed, has a £20m cap on annual spending which is what is limiting them from bringing in new talent. I don’t think it’s as dire as the fans who lofted “We are the new Leeds” banners would like to make out, but there should be concern there. Thankfully, we’re not Liverpool fans, supporting some uber rich guys like Hicks and Gillette.

Meanwhile, it’s looking like Arsenal aren’t escaping the credit crunch either and while the Highbury Square apartments are finally finished there’s dark clouds on the horizon and the “B” word has been bandied about by some members of the press.

Kevin Whitcher who wrote Arsènal: The Making of a Modern Superclub speculates rather heavily that the lack of transfer spending on the part of the board over the last five years (a fact documented ad nausuem on this blog) is a direct result of the Highbury Square project. Talking to sport.co.uk, he said

The problem is that the club have either got to push through the Highbury Square development or cut their losses and effectively declare that part of the organisation is bankrupt and walk away from it.

They’ve got a £120m debt repayment to find for next April. The club have always maintained that the football and the property business are completely separate, and legally that is true, however, if they are going to see it through they do need to find money from somewhere.

What I can foresee is that the club will pay back as much of the debt as they can by next April, but I heavily suspect they will re-negotiate the loan of what is left and this situation will drag on as long as Wenger is prepared to tolerate it.

He goes on to talk about how Wenger is basically in collusion with the board to see this project through to the end. That Wenger’s transfer dealings, re-signing players rather than buying new, selling players for huge profits, etc are all part of a bigger plan to finish the Highbury Square project.

Ivan Gazidis corroborated Whitcher’s speculation to a degree when he said yesterday that

We believe transfer spending is the last resort. That’s a sensible view to have. Re-signing existing players is a far more efficient system. What Arsene will not do is spend money on players that do not add something of real value.

That makes sense, Arsenal are going to only buy players who are worth it. We don’t spend £30m on washed up has-beens like Shevchenko just because the owner liked his Serie A YouTube highlight reels.

I also understand, emotionally, why rebuilding Highbury is so important. I mean, there are fans’ ashes spread on that pitch, there’s nearly 100 years of Arsenal in those old halls, this board and Arsene Wenger could no sooner walk away from that development than they could forget about their grandmother. Highbury was our life-blood from 1913 to 2006, it sustained this club, it grew this club, and while it was certainly time to move on we need to honor what Highbury did for the club.

So, I understand why they would do everything possible in order to see this project through to the end. What I don’t understand is all the subterfuge if that is the case. Why not just come out and admit it? I think most Arsenal fans are adult enough and connected enough to the old stadium to want to sacrifice a bit and see this project completed.

Either way, we should get a clearer picture of what’s actually going on when Arsenal release their year end financial report, soon.

Sol

Since it turns out that FIFA won’t let him register with a new club until January, it’s possible that we just witnessed the end of Sol Campbell’s career. I just don’t understand how a man with the mental strength to leave Spurs and come to Arsenal could have fallen so quickly and so dramatically.

It seems like one minute he’s scoring the go-ahead goal in the Champions League final and then the next he’s wandering the streets. I really hope he sorts this out, he was easily one of my favorite players from the invincibles era.

ustv DOT arsenal DOT com

I might need a section of daily news just for American Gooners! Anyway, for those of you who subscribe to Arsenal TV Online (ATVO) it looks like there’s a separate, and cheaper, option for us Americans at usatv.arsenal.com. I’ve emailed Arsenal TV Online <arsenaltvonline@level3.com> to see how (or if) we can make the switch.

This shit is bananas

And finally, I am the first person to loudly rail against racism. No one wants England to be tarred with the brush that Russia currently holds proudly. So, when the FA decides to investigate claims of racism at any pitch, whether it’s fans singing a song about elephants, or fans throwing bananas at El Haji Diouf, I am fully behind the action.

I am even behind the FA’s investigation into what Diouf called some white ball boy, despite the fact that, historically, power relationships ran the other way. What I can’t get behind, and what needs to be stamped out with extreme prejudice, is false accusations. If El Hadji Diouf’s claims that Everton fans threw bananas at him are proved false, I think he should be banned for a minimum of 5 matches, in addition to whatever ban he’ll get if proved to have called the ball boy “white shiat” or whatever he supposedly said.

That’s it for today, have at me…

*slight hyperbole

Out with the old shirts, in with the new

That's Thierry Henry, FOOL!

Exciting news, kickers, here’s your chance to get an old7amkickoff shirt for just $5 (plus shipping) and your chance to comment on the new shirt design.

First off, the old shirts are being blown out. I have a half box of inventory on my bedroom floor that Mrs. Kickoff is sick of looking at so it’s either going to the homeless shelter or to you. For a mere $10, you can have one of these 100% cotton shirts shipped to your house in the USA and for a mere $15, I’ll ship it to your house in Siberia. I really can’t think of a better deal, can you? No? Then what are you waiting for? Get stuck in, sons!

Second, you might have noticed the big hurking JPEG at the top of the page, well, that’s the newest design! This design will be printed on white, American Apparel, 100% jersey cotton tees; that shirt alone is $17 in a store, folks.

What I need from you is a little creative copy. That phrase at the bottom is just something I came up with off the top of my head, do you think you could do better? Well, if you can, then there’s a free shirt in it for you. The only rules are no profanity and try to keep in mind I have a global audience.

Get those thinking caps on you lot.

USA dot Arsenal dot Com

Great news for American Gooners today, Arsenal has officially made a foray into our market with an American fan focused dot com. The site is usa.arsenal.com and though it’s a little light on content and is clearly geared towards new fans it is exciting that the club is taking a keen interest on growing the brand here in the States.

There are some really great features on here for the novice fan. For example, to this day I have American friends who confuse the  League Cup, the FA Cup, and the Premiership, and thankfully the usa dot com has a feature which helps explain a bit about the tournament that is currently called the Carling Cup.  Or how about a thumbnail sketch of Arsenal’s history? Imagine some guy goes to his local pub for a sandwhich at lunch and there I am screaming about what a genius Eduardo is. He gets interested in the sport and decides to check out this “Arsenal.” That guy doesn’t need to read Rebels for the Cause, just yet, but a nice introduction to the club might just bring him on board.

Now, before you American fans who have been around the block a few years get too critical about the focus of the site and the amount of content, think about it for a second: it takes time to develop content, they have to get American correspondents (ahem, AHEM, must still have a little bit of that cold from last week, sorry about that) or at the very least divert resources from their London offices to fill pages that are geared specifically for Americans. And before you get up on your high horses, I know you guys, about how the site leans too much toward new fans, that too will surely change as time goes on and our fellow fans become more mature and demand different content.

One other thing that I absoultely must mention is that they got an interview with Freddy Ljungberg. I am so absolutely green with envy that they got to interview Freddie because when I spoke to the Sounders media relations department they treated me like I am some kind of Sounders fanboy who just wanted a chance to meet one of my heroes. I tried to make it clear that I am actually an ARSENAL fanboy who wanted to catch up all my readers on what Arsenal’s #11 Greatest Ever Gooner was doing over here in the States but they were having none of it. Oh well, congrats to Kevin Mooney for the interview, it’s very well done and all Gooners, even my English readers, should check it out.

As for other features, there’s a link to Arsenal’s official partner club in the US (the Colorado Rapids), there’s a competition guide to all of the competitions that Arsenal and Arsenal Ladies play in,  the Arsenal Ladies are featured prominently to capture some of that key soccer demographic in the States, and Arsenal’s schedule is even listed in Eastern Standard Time. There’s plenty of content there to keep even my most jaded reader poking around for a bit and more, no doubt, is on its way.

When Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis talked about increasing brand awareness earlier this year, people speculated that the club would look to penetrate Asia first and might neglect the American market. This new endeavor puts that rubbish out to the curb; Arsenal are here in America, they are targeting us as fans, and that means that right now it’s not only goo goo good to be a Goonah with the team’s sparkling on-pitch performances it’s a good time to be an American Goonah.

Who knows, we might even get a pre-season American tour one day.