Welcome to a wet and rainy London Monday!
I’ll start with something off topic today, then power onto Arsenal news.
I took in a Brookyln Nets basketball game last week. I was struck by the similarities in their set up when compared to ours. Now, they’re a relatively new franchise, I think this year is their first ever in Brooklyn. They 80% owned by a Russian billionaire, the rest is owned by various other people including this chap called Ratner who was the brains and charisma behind the project. They’ve also managed to land rap superstar Jay-Z who joined the project. He’s a Brooklyn rags to riches story and the new team have used him to great benefit, especially when cajouling the local community into backing the new stadium.
What was interesting about the Brooklyn project is the clear parallels you can draw when comparing their struggle with that of Arsenal’s. They built a brand new billion dollar stadium called the Barclay Center The capacity is only 20,000. You can’t quite believe how spectacular an indoor centre can be until you go. Inside… well, my gosh. If you thought club level was fancy, this place takes things to a whole new level. All the corridors feel like club level. They have every brand under the sun around the ring of the stadium, they have a buffet section, they have boxes. They even have a super special corporate area called The Vault that costs $550,o00 dollars a year! Quite amazing. Quite vulgar when you consider how poor some of the surrounding areas are. That said, they do supply 2,000 $15 tickets per match.
With regards to branding, they’re looking to turn the club into a lifestyle brand. I think America’s fascination with streetwear lends itself to that type of ambition. That’s where they use Jay-Z and his youth following to gain traction. He helped design the logo and the team strip. His Rocawear brand is on sale at the centre and he helped to further push the cool factor by opening the centre with 8 back to back gigs in September. It doesn’t stop their with Jay-Z, who seems to act like the director of football we don’t have. The rapper gets involved in player trades when he needs to, which is crazy. He’s also helped lure big artists to play the venue in down times. 200 gigs are already booked! How often is the Arsenal ground filled for a gig? His involvement for a mere 1 percent stake has sky rocketed to the franchise into the top 5 revenue generators in the league. An incredible achievement in such a short space of time.
They’ve also invested in affordable housing in the same way Arsenal have, they’ve created 20,000 jobs and they’ve built a whole new fanbase from very little. The main difference between them and us is players. Whilst we do whatever we can to scrape by not spending, the Nets have assembled a team that contains superstars and looks capable of competing this year. I don’t like the whole franchise model, but whatever I think, it matters little, Arsenal are the first club to copy the American model. Whilst we don’t have it totally right at the moment, it’s the future and I expect other clubs to follow suit.
… and yes, the atmosphere was about as inspiring as the one we have at The Emirates.
Onto Arsenal news…
So Jack Wilshere sat out the game at the weekend?
“He had a little bit of inflammation of scar tissue (in the ankle) but it’s nothing. It’s very minor.
“The rest (against Villa) will help him get rid of it. Apart from that, he has done very well.
“He has not played for 17 months. People forget what that mean. Seventeen months in a career is massive.
People do forget Arsene. You included. If Jack has been out for 17 months and he’s an injury risk, which lets be honest… we knew was the case, why was the back up plan to this Abou Diaby? Who is also an injury disaster.
Wenger spends the whole summer talking about returning players as the reason we can’t sign new ones, then when these guys come back, he talks about how we shouldn’t expect too much of them.
Arsene, these are our first team players. We’re dropping points because they’re not back to match fitness. We do every year. It’s a joke. Our success is dependent on far too many players who aren’t dependable. They say you don’t win trophies with kids, you could debate that one, you can’t debate the fact that you don’t win trophies with a squad decimated by injuries every year. It’s an all too familiar issue. It’s also further compounded by the injuries always assigning themselves to the first team players.
I’d take on the David Seaman quotes doing the rounds last night, but if he can’t be bothered to research the facts surrounding the club and their financial position, then why should I bother correcting his inaccurate statements? The irritating point about false statements from ex-pros is people believe he’ll have some sort of inside line on what’s going on. He doesn’t. He’s probably got less interest in the club than you or I and he certainly doesn’t have an interest in commercials.
On the transfer front. Stuart Downing was mentioned to me. Are you f*cking kidding?
In other, more tasteful news, word has it that contract rebel Huntelaar of Schalke is interested in making the move to Arsenal this January. He’d be a very sound signing considering the lack of depth we have up top. He suffers from a lack of pace, but that’s offset by the fact his movement on and off that ball is outrageous, plus his finishing is sharp. He has that fox in box mentality we’ve craved for a while. He’s also plied his trade all around Europe. If we snapped him up with a young pacy striker in reserve we’d have quite the forward line. At the moment, we’re an injury away from a very dry spell in front of goal.
Above is a headline you never want to read when your club has aspirations of being the best. Everton should never be a six pointer, it’s a real shame that it is at the moment. They’re playing really well this season, they have some top players and a wage bill they consistently out perform. If David Moyes was French, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d be considered for grander jobs. When people talk about how well we do from so little spend, they always forget wage spend. Spurs finished a point behind us last year but spent £50m a year less than we did. If we had the same wage bill as Spurs, we’d have a pretty healthy cash surplus. For me, Spurs had a better squad than us last year. The fact they bombed out is not the point, they won the 4th place trophy but were ousted by a flukey Chelsea. Our wage bill should be lower, or it should represent better value.
Right, I’m still getting into the swing of things, I’ll be back with more tomorrow!