Slowly But Surely For AOC & Agents Are Paid For What?
As Arsenal head to Dortmund with a carefully packed suitcase €34,916,427, all in freshly printed mixed denomination notes, hoping to return with a sparkling new Mario Göetze in their duty free bag, an equally young starlet is moving centre stage. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been praised all over the shop, emanating from the words of his manager after the defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night.
Not that the player is complaining, nor should he. Compared to the career paths trodden by younger players than he, AOC is being afforded the rare luxury of growing up in private. Or relative privacy. Wenger believes he has seen a massive improvement from the player on the training pitch. In matches, he has played well but, for example, was better against Manchester City than his cameo in the previous round.
That consistency will come. His England form has been scintillating and after every Under-21 international there is a desire for him to be included in the senior squad. It is not my choice but having seen the Theo debacle in 2006, to take Chamberlain would be Capello’s folly. The player is not worried about this and that bodes well. Interviews with him and his father suggest that like Walcott, he is well-grounded. Anyone who is utterly focussed on the club is taking one step at a time. Anyone who believes signing for Arsenal is a better career move than Manchester City is always going to win friends…
Performances such as those against City will hopefully put him more into the manager’s mind. Gervinho has shown how a direct player can influence proceedings when brought into the fray; ‘impact substitute‘ is the fad. AOC seems to fit that bill nicely.
Red and White Holdings are, I should imagine, an irritant that Stan Kroenke wishes would go away. They won’t just yet, like KSE insisting that they are in for the long haul. As they edge toward the 30% shareholding that will allow them access to Arsenal’s books, they seem to want to talk to Stan but he’s being evasive.
The 30% threshold is getting everyone all very excited. Once he crosses the rubicon, what wonders will Highbury House hold for him. Nobody quite knows since the Premier League rule that is triggered – not a law – has not been triggered before with such a hostile intent. Cubic did at United and there is more on that in a minute.
But will Usmanov find. You sense that his search will be the footballing equivalent of the ‘smoking gun’ and equally fruitless. Any transactions with sister companies in the KSE empire are declared in accordance with law. Salaries are entirely confidential and I doubt that the Premier League rule would allow him to see those of the playing staff individually. Certainly to make that public is a breach of confidentiality which is inherent in his shareholding.
The crux of the matter is that whilst Usmanov wants the club, Cubic wanted Ferguson; it was personal. Anything that happens will take place so long as there is a real or perceived benefit toward that aim. There is no altruism at stake here. He is a very generous suitor but that is easy when you know that the options will be rebuffed.
Crucially though as United made it clear, you can ask your 99 questions but we are not going to answer. Whether the Arsenal board or owners are going to cede on the point of inviting him into the boardroom remains to be seen but I would not bank on it.
Part of the United contention concerned payments to Agents. The new transparency engulfing football showed Arsenal paid £4.6m to agents in 2010/11. That does not seem to be an excessive amount considering the headlines and reputations. Not inconsiderable not big though compared to the £10m City paid.
Which is where it does not make sense given their level of spending. So how have Arsenal incurred half of their level of cost when the spend is roughly a tenth? Perhaps Arsenal pay Agents for contract renewals which is simply bizarre; “Yes, I know my client who is injured for half a season at a time has taken you for an extra £25k each week plus other costs on top of that but here’s my bill for £500k“. Or may be Arsenal are just really bad at negotiating fees with Agents and other clubs?
The spend for 2011/12 will be interesting when the amount will be significantly higher given the transfer activity. Perhaps the Premier League could make the clubs go further and identify the amount paid for each transfer or at the very least make them split between signings, sales and renewals? Or is this transparency just lip-service to make Fifa look even worse…