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Penny for your thoughts Arsene

Hope to find you well this Friday. Just another day to go before the next game for Arsenal. The past week has been very trying, what with the consecutive defeats. First to a team that, to be fair, we should be beating if we were to improve on our finish in the league this season compared to last. Second, to a team who are much better than Norwich but one you would expect us to beat because there’s a reason why we not lost a home Champions League tie against non English opposition for so long.

When you take all that into context, the scheduling of the Annual General Meeting between the shareholders of Arsenal Football Club, couldn’t have come in a more inopportune time. Fair enough that the date was set a long time back and no one could’ve given a guarantee that the attendees would be present on the back on those 2 defeats. It was set for a very feisty meeting what with the mood from the game the night before still lingering in everyone’s mind. You can read all about it, without the censor and without the cutting of stories into pieces, at the excellent Arseblognews.

The format of the meeting could have been better. It does feel a little bit staged when questions are vetted beforehand. As in many other meetings elsewhere when it comes to the answers, you will find that more often than not, there is a sense of avoiding from answering the question. Perhaps it’s a little different with other types of businesses and there’s a need for secrecy in certain dealings. Personally, for a football club, I do feel that transparency is vital, especially when interacting with fans. If it requires attendees to sign Non Disclosure Agreements for the boards to be frank with the minority shareholders, then so be it. I don’t need to know every single detail about what was discussed because I’m sure there will be some in the crowd who will ensure that the right questions are asked and answered.

Just two things to pick up from the meeting yesterday. First is the Arsene Wenger comment. The one where he stated that in the list of priorities for Arsenal, qualification for the Champions League comes before that of the FA Cup and League Cup. A lot of sections, Arsenal or otherwise, are focussing way too much on the word that Wenger used to classify the list. Yes, “trophies” might not be the best word to be used for that particular statement but the underlying truth cannot be more transparent.

In the way we run the club, the whole self reliance aspect, it is imperative that we qualify for the Champions League every season. One could argue, that it’s not in the best interest of the fans that football headed towards that direction, but that’s the way it is right now. Arsenal, as a single club, will not and would not capable of changing that fact alone. There’s a lot of money coming out of that competition and if we are not reaping the benefits or not milking that cash cow, then we will only suffer more.

It is not about beating around the bush. For a club our size, to have gone on the barren trophy run that we have, even winning the League Cup would have been a welcomed sight for the fans. Only if it is seen in the context of the cup alone. However, if it were to come at the expense of a place in the Champions League, then I’m sorry but there is only one possible solution. That is as per what Wenger said, prioritization is needed and the Premier League final standings will always win.

We are already struggling as it is, to match the other wealthy clubs in terms of salary and transfers fees that such clubs could afford to fork out. Without the prize money or the distribution of the commercial power of the Champions League, that gap would be even bigger between us and them. Them here are of course referring to the like of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea, among others. Of course there are other areas to generate revenue that can be used in the team. The magical year of 2014 is one on everyone’s mind and that’s where the second point of interest comes in.

The pot of gold at the end of the 2013 rainbow. Could this possible shirt deal with Adidas be a sign of things to come? If the deal reported is true and more importantly, if the figure reported is true, then I’ll be delighted. My disdain for Nike notwithstanding, the figure will significantly bridge the gap to what the giants in the commercial department (Manchester United) are doing. £25 million a year will take us on par with Liverpool’s deal with United having retail sales to add to their £23 million a year deal with Nike.

It would be better for us, if we are able to incorporate that retail sales clause into our own contract, be it if we stay with Nike or if we switch over to any other company. With the tours (and this pre season thing is likely to continue), we might not be getting a rainfall but certainly a sizeable amount of money would be added to our coffers. More than most, what is earned out of this new deals or improvement of deals with existing partners, is that the money is made available for the strengthening of the playing squad. Increase of wage and transfers fees, and all that sort.

Still, from an even wider perspective, what’s more important at this period of the season is to bounce back from our slump. It starts with QPR tomorrow.

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