The FA Fancy Fining Everyone, Gilberto Fancies An Old Lady, Rosicky Fancies A Beer And Everyone Fancies Arsenal
It seems that the Football Association are preparing for the fact that England won’t qualify for Euro2008. According to reports yesterday, they stand to lose £100m when England fail; not anymore though as the target is down to £99,800,000 with Chelsea and Arsenal both copping a £100k fine for the Cardiff Fracas. Flint’s observation in yesterday’s comments about the size of the fine in comparison to those handed to Tottenham and Middlesbrough, namely that those handed out to Arsenal and Chelsea are disproportionate to the incident. Below is an extract from the statement on the FA’s site
The Commission stated that it viewed the incident as serious, unacceptable and damaging to the image of the game. However, it bore into account the guilty pleas and the mitigation put forward by both clubs. It found that Arsenal players had been marginally more involved in the Carling Cup Final incident, but that Chelsea FC had past proven cases in recent years regarding the general behaviour of their players where warnings had been issued.
In itself the statement is provocative; they need to elaborate on the statement that “Arsenal players had been marginally more involved“. Looking at it objectively, the only marginal element was that Toure started it all. In the melee, it was evident that both sets of players were grappling left, right and centre. It would interesting to see the rationale of the Committee on this one because it makes little sense. But the wider issue here is how do the FA deal with the next incident in a televised Premiership match and what is the knock-on effect for both Arsenal and Chelsea.
In the first instance, the FA appear to have backed themselves into a corner. They may argue that as it was a Cup Final, there was a global television audience yet it was only the Carling Cup, not the the flagship FA Cup Final. It is likely, although I do not know the figures involved, that the audience for that game was no more than will watch Saturday’s clash at Anfield. Having handed out a fine of this magnitude, it is difficult to see how the FA can levy a smaller fine next time it happens without losing credibility. That they could not deduct points will no doubt have had some bearing on the levity with which they viewed the incident as well. However, it is difficult to see that a three point deduction will have a similar impact upon Clubs. If it is Arsenal or Liverpool on the receiving end, perhaps the difference in Premiership Prize Money would have such an impact. If it is further down the table, it may well be that it will not unless of course, the teams involved can be relegated by such a deduction.
The subjectivity of the punishment is such that it is impossible for an onlooker to take the FA seriously on this matter. Whilst the criteria is set down, i.e. the type of punishment handed down, there is no scale applicable. It is a fair point that this type of incident is unprecedented in a Final yet the punishments still smack of panic stricken men in suits trying to look tough. When dealing with Premiership clubs, the Revenues generated are such that this type of fine will not have much impact on their weekly cashflows, barely registering a blip on an Accountants spreadsheet compared to the millions generated on the day through direct and indirect means.
For both Chelsea and Arsenal though it serves as a warning. The FA appear to have taken into account the fact that in recent times, Chelsea have previous in this type of event. Arsenal are no Angels but it has been a number of years since the team were involved in a mass contretemps. The question that needs to be answered though is whether or not the FA will carry this episode forward over the next season. Any repeat in a Premiership match will surely result in a points deduction; if either of the London clubs is daft enough to be involved, three points removed from their tally may well seem like a lenient sentence. It will be interesting to see how the FA approach the next such case.
One thing is for certain. When Arsene is up before the Committee regarding his ill-advised comments about the Assistant Referee, I would suggest that he is wearing a brown suit and one with deep pockets to enable him to carry the large donation to the missing millions from the FA Coffers for I am pretty certain that asking if the FA accept American Express for payment may well constitute bringing the Game into disrepute.
Onto lighter matters. Gilberto Silva seems all hither and tither if quotes are to be believed. Juventus seem to be upping their interest in him via the media with the Italian press in particular pushing him into saying that he wants a move this summer. Channel Four’s Italian Football pages carried a large chunk of the interview with him,
“I like Juventus, they are a great club who immediately wants to win and return to the highest levels… Furthermore, it is Emerson’s former club and there are many Brazilians starring in the Italian championship…I am an Arsenal player and I am contracted until 2009. The club will have the last word on this issue.”
Gilberto’s Mr 15% sensed that his client’s words may be misinterpreted in the English media and promptly piped up,
“He likes it at Arsenal and there is a contract in place for another two years…This is the current situation, but as you know anything can change in life and football is part of life.”
Not quite the unequivocal denial that one would have hoped for but containing a certain realism. In two years time, Gilberto will be over thirty and unless he is renegotiating his contract now, he will probably only be offered a one year rolling deal as is the norm under Wenger’s rule. This summer however, unless a suitable replacement is deemed to exist within or from without, it seems unlikely that he would be sold, subject to Luca Brasi delivering an offer that cannot be refused. Apparently, under the new FIFA Regulations it would cost Gilberto £1.7m (€2.5m) to buy himself out of his current contract, a not overly taxing amount for any potential employer to pay him as a signing-on fee should he opt to move.
Tomas Rosicky meanwhile has found his popularity on the wain as the reported drinking binge – see Monday’s comments – has cost the National Team as a group a total of £24k, roughly £1k each. Great Leadership skills by Rosicky and Bruckner, the former annoying the you-know-what out of those not involved and the latter making everyone think, “A grand for their night out? Sod it, next time, count me in“.
Meanwhile, a couple of players have hinted that they would like a shot at getting a starting line-up place at The Emirates, namely Florent Malouda and Robert Pires. Now I have to confess that if Bobby P were five years younger, I would be clamouring for him to return but as it is, I prefer the memories to what might be in his case. It is a relief though to see he has recovered from the knee injury which had blighted his stay in Spain. Malouda meanwhile notes that “Arsenal are in pole position” which has brought forth some pretty disturbing images about Arsene and DD being in seedy Soho joints so perhaps I am not so keen on him joining after all.
It seems to me that the media are intent on seeing Arsenal as the subject of a takeover bid, their agenda presumably to bemoan the fact that the last of the Big Four has fallen, the footballing aristocracy has collapsed, or as Serious Drinking once put it, “The Pillars of Society are crumbling down”. However, there is one other party that seems to have an awful lot to say on the matter, as it appears that on Monday and Tuesday they had a different spokesman commenting on how Arsenal were ripe for a takeover. The City firm, Brewer Dolphin, have occupied numerous column inches imparting their wisdom and stoking the fires. It would be interesting to know if they have any vested interest in the matter, perhaps as an advisor to any parties buying or selling, directly or otherwise, or is it just a good opportunity for them to tout for trade?