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PeopleTalk

Time out
Ooh to be a... Gooner
The month of July is a period of famine for football fans. Starved of competitive domestic football, the quintessential fan is left with nothing but a gaping void to fill. Weekends take on a whole new meaning. No longer dictated by a fixture list; one can now go on holiday or even visit that great-aunt of yours in some distant city with no Premier League team. Emotions are no longer affected by events completely out of your control. Unless of course, like me, it was divinely ordained that you should be an Arsenal fan. You see the one uniting factor between football fans in July is the common sense of optimism and hope for what can only be more successful times ahead. The beauty of football is that regardless of what has happened in the past, there is always another game. For Arsenal fans however, the sense of optimism in the wake of June is quashed as soon as July arrives. 55,000 a week offer from Arsenal, left his boyhood club to join the emerging Chelsea (and Abramovich's billions). This was followed by the loss of Thierry Henry in July 2007. A player that no doubt needs little introduction even to those few of you non-football fans who have for reasons unbeknown to me, persisted with this article. Arsenal's record goal scorer and arguably the best player to have ever graced the English game went to FC Barcelona in pursuit of the one trophy that had eluded him the European Cup. July 2008 resulted in the departures of both Alexsander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini. July 2009 brought about a new powerhouse in Manchester City who quickly snatched up Kolo Toure and the less lamented, Emmanuel Adebayor. Last summer saw Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy flee. Their frustration at no trophies had grown with each passing season.

"The Dark Knight Rises: Alisher Usmanov - estimated personal wealth of $16bn" "It was the best of times...." "....it was the worst of times"

So we jump forward to July 2012 and the declaration on the player's own website that Robin Van Persie would not be renewing his contract and would be in search of another club. The next day, a somewhat untimely open letter from Alisher Usmanov, the near 30% shareholder in the club, was unleashed into the public domain. It is clear that this was an opportunistic attempt to stoke the flames that were becoming prevalent within the Arsenal fan base. However, the letter did address a concern with which there can be little argument: "As a consequence of this policy [to run the club without any investment], it is down to our managerto have to deal with the Club's tight finances, carry the burden of repaying the stadium debt by selling his best players and having to find cheaper replacements."

It started in July 2005 with one of Arsenal's greatest players, Patrick Vieira leaving the club he had spearheaded for 9 years. His final game was the FA Cup final victory over Manchester United. That was the last trophy Arsenal won. The departure of Vieira, coupled with a move to a new stadium, signalled a change of course for a team used to winning trophies at a canter. Although the stadium has been an undoubted success and stands as a pillar of envy across Europe, it allowed the Board to load the Club with debt and pursue a policy of increasing ticket prices in the belief that fans would continue to flood the 60,000 seat arena regardless of performances. Unfortunately, with Arsenal fans paying the highest prices for tickets in world football, the Board's pockets have become deeper but the lack of reinvestment in the playing staff lead to the loss of our best players, often to our main competitors. In July 2006 a young Ashley Cole, incensed at the 'derisory'

November 2012

PeopleTalk

Time out
July 2012 confirmed to most Arsenal fans that their beloved club has been cut adrift from the real footballing superpowers, a coterie which we had occupied comfortably for so long. That Arsenal were recently valued by Forbes as the fourth most valuable club in world football stands testament to the fans anger as to why this hasn't translated into the retention and acquisition of quality players. None of this anger should be directed at Arsne Wenger, the Arsenal manager. Despite the financial prudence of the Board, Wenger has kept Arsenal within touching distance of the superpowers and maintained our presence in the European Cup for 16 years. But Arsenal fans want and deserve more. Not just because of the money that we each lay out but because of the traditions that this bastion of a club upholds. If July 2013 proves to be another period of uncertainty and untimely
it was the season of Darkness"

"It was the season of Light...."

departures, the frustrations of the fans will only increase. From winning the league after an unbeaten season in 2004 to a team that is satisfied with finishing fourth, the club is witnessing a significant period of uncertainty. But even in times of 'darkness', there IS one certainty - Tottenham will forever be in our shadow! Mind the gap

Jeremy Livingston

November 2012