So, this is my first blog since Robin van Persie’s website published that statement. I’m not going to go into the statement any further, you all know what it said and you will all have your own interpretations of what it means for Arsenal Football Club. I have, by and large this summer, taken a view that I’m not going to get too stressed about anything until it happens. Nor am I going to get too excited about anything good that happens to the team in pre season, e.g. Gervinho’s bewildering goal at the weekend. Let’s see if he can produce that kind of quality when it counts. When I say stressed, or excited, what I mean is that I’m not going to spend hours and hours blogging on possibilities. What would be the point of that?
However, since we last spoke a few things have happened, so I thought it might be worth having a look at them. First of all, Arsenal released an away kit that almost defies belief. A “regal” purple and black hooped shirt. Apparently, the purple is a call back, in this jubilee year, to the origins of a side that was once known as the Royal Arsenal, having exploded out of John Hurt’s chest some time in the 1880′s. Ok, so I’m talking rubbish, but then, that’s the point. Purple. Really, Arsenal? In all honesty, I could have almost lived with this shirt, had it been- I don’t know, a purple body, with black sleeves (as shit as that would have looked)- but since when have hoops ever been part of the Arsenal shirt?
Ok, so just because it’s not part of our history, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be part of our present, or future. But then, this is Arsenal and our history and traditions are supposed to be important to us. I suppose the fact that Nike’s very first away kit for us was the dark and light blue zigzaggy one tells you how interested Nike are in our traditions. We are told that the reason we get more blue kits than yellow and blue is because the blue sells more units. Ok, whatever you might think of blue as an Arsenal colour, or not as the case may be, you can probably accept some sort of logic there. But do Nike, or Arsenal, really expect us to believe that purple and black hoops are going to sell more units than a classic looking yellow and blue shirt? Surely not. Anyway, the point here is do Arsenal actually have any kind of say in what they will be making the players wear next season? Or are Gazidis and company spending all our money on high class narcotics? No wonder van Persie wants out…
We also saw Arsenal announce a change to their ticketing policy and, by extension, their prices for next season. For me this was a long time coming and, after six seasons in a 60,000 seat stadium, also something that would have averted a lot of ill feeling a long time ago- if only it had been brought in sooner. I’ve always maintained that no sane football fan in the world would mind paying top dollar to watch the likes of Vieira, Pires, Bergkamp and Henry in full cry. However, the Arsenal board gravely and, to my mind, inexplicably misjudged the willingess of the average Arsenal fan to watch the likes of Eboue, Denilson, Walcott and Adebayor. So, what we have now is an extra category, “C”, where the cheapest ticket in the stadium is a tenner cheaper than previously (£25 instead of £35). So, the next time Arsenal lose to relegation fodder, you may be properly embarrassed but (at an average 28% reduction in the price of a match ticket) at least you won’t be totally out of pocket. Sunderland, Southampton, Swansea and West Brom are 4 of the teams announced so far who will be included in this category. Ticket prices for A and B matches have gone up to compensate for this reduction- and the cat A increase seems a bit harsh- a £52 ticket last season will now be £61. Despite a headline I spotted in a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, only 1% of supporters will be paying £126 for a cat A match next season. And, my guess is, not that it makes it right, but if you are paying that for a match ticket, you can probably afford it.
And then we have Theo. Theo, Theo, Theooooooohhhh. The young England winger has one year left on his contract. A contract which probably remunerates him quite handsomely to be as ineffectual one week as he is devastating the next. He has apparently shown no great willingness to renew with us. I don’t know what to make of it all really. Earlier this year I heard, as I’m sure you all did, tales of how Walcott was asking for £80,000 a week which seems ludicrous for a player who doesn’t seem anywhere close to the finished article. The question is now, having invested six years into his (slow) development, do we really want to lose a player who should be close to maturing? To be honest, I don’t know how close he is to maturing, he may be another couple of years away. It could be that we are waiting for something that’s never going to happen. If it is true that Liverpool are flashing their undergarments at Walcott in a manner most provocative (hold that image. Please.) then, if they are really going to offer us £15m for him, then that offer must merit serious consideration. Particularly with Podolski presumably brought in for one flank and Gervinho on the other.
And I’m not saying I want Theo to be sold, but nor do I want Arsenal to be held to ransom by Theo Walcott. Just repeat that last sentence, it’s an absurd scenario. More than anything, 8 years after our last league title, (yes, I watched Premiership years 2003/04 yesterday), perhaps it’s the most telling indicator of how far we have fallen.------------
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