Arsene, UEFA Are The Dopes If They Think New Rules Change Anything
In the aftermath of Bolton’s defeat, the referee Stuart Atwell has been roundly – and rightly – criticised for not being on top of his game at the weekend. Most of the fingers are pointing towards Alex Song’s foul in the move which led to Gary Cahill’s red card.
That Bolton were only complaining about Song’s indiscretion at the time suggests that those who claim Cahill should only have received a yellow are wide of the mark. Equally, why is little attention being focussed on Paul Robinson’s assault on Diaby. Fifa point to the infallibility of the officials, an edict which is enforced with such vigour that even Pope’s cast envious glances, refusing to allow post-match video punishment as a part of the disciplinary regulations. This has to stop now, it should the rule rather than the exception. The extent to which Diaby will be missing is not yet known but the inital prognosis seems bad. Robinson? He will be there when Bolton play next, something which the authorities should be able to rectify.
As the Champions League gets into full swing this week and while the media eulogise over a certain other club’s return to Europe’s premier competition – it feels like they are the footballing equivalent of people who run into a significant event just to have their photo taken with someone important – Arsene spoke of the ‘financial doping’ (as he likes to call it).
Before the Bolton game, he observed:
It will be a massive advantage to Arsenal Football Club as soon as it’s applied if it’s well introduced. I don’t want to go into excuses but you want a business to be run properly and I believe that to lose £150 million a year you don’t deserve a lot of credit to win a competition. [Meanwhile] we have balanced our books. Maybe some people think it’s right because they don’t care but if they had to run a business I don’t think it’s right.
As ‘virtuous’ as the club has been in running the club properly whilst investing heavily, it is naive to think that the new Uefa rules will make any changes to the old guard. Last week is a case in point. Real Madrid posted record revenues and made a profit which would be enough to retain their Uefa Licence under the new rules.
Madrid has cast money to the wind and were very nearly rewarded last season with the league title, borrowed heavily to finance the unbalanced squad that they have. Corrective action may have been taken to compensate for interest payments and the like but at the end of the day, the club was able to meet Uefa’s new requirements with relative ease.
It should be a significant warning that the rules are going to have minimal impact at the top level. Whilst it fills column inches, the level of Manchester United’s debt and its subsequent servicing, will never be permitted to prevent their participation in the Champions League. They are too important in terms of sponsors to Uefa for the governing body to bar them from entry.
Clubs have wangled a ‘transitional’ phase for the introduction of the rules. Three seasons is more than long enough to learn how to balance the books without actually doing so. For clubs reliant upon a sugar daddy, Chelsea has shown how it can be done; convert the owners loans to capital and interest charges disappear. A significant cost line to the club vanishes in an instant, leaving them with the problem then of other ‘loss’ contributors. They will quickly divest the club of any loss-making activities, separating them out from football, to continue to fund their wage structures.
In short, the rules will have marginal impact and they won’t as Arsene seemed to be giving the impression, put Arsenal at a major advantage. That comes from the players on the pitch and you have to admit, they are doing a good job so far this season.