It’s difficult to look back at the season in any meaningful way when we have an FA Cup final to look forward to this weekend.
Whether people think it’s a diminished competition, or one that is insignificant compared to the Premier League or the Champions League, does not matter. For many of us who grew up with the cup as a big deal it’s still an important part of the season – and like it or not it’s a trophy.
If the complaint is that Arsenal don’t win enough trophies, you can’t dismiss the chance to win an actual trophy. I mean, I get why it’s viewed in a different light by some, but [old bloke alert] back in my day the FA Cup final was about the only live football on TV and thus it was a competition that meant a lot.
The plastic showiness of the Premier League and Champions League, and the money on offer have seen the cup lose its lustre down the years. If managers are forced to prioritise, they’ll choose avoiding relegation, or keeping players fresh for a two-legged European encounter, over winning a trophy, and while it’s understandable it’s still a bit of a shame.
We’ll have plenty of FA Cup coverage this week, starting with Tim Stillman looking back at some classic encounters between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Meanwhile, the first consequences of Europa League football next season have been felt, with the club emailing season ticket holders about a discount to their tickets for next season:
We have previously announced that there will be no increase to GA pricing for Premier League, Emirates FA Cup and League Cup games in Season 2017/18. The club has always considered that pricing for the Europa League would be different from the Champions League so we have reviewed our approach for next season and have applied a discount on your season ticket for the Europa League element.
Your season ticket will continue to include admission to all 19 home Premier League matches and the first seven home cup matches in European competitions and the Emirates FA Cup, subject to match categorisation held at Emirates Stadium.
My Arseblog News colleague Andrew Allen will see his ticket reduced by £175, I’ve seen others talk about a £150-£200 discount, so that’s something, and fair play to the club for reacting to it so quickly. It speaks to an awareness and preparedness that you couldn’t always be confident about, but it’s still going to leave the Europa League nights as something of a challenge.
If you have a look at the group stages from this season’s tournament, there are teams that just won’t excite people. That is the reality of the situation, and while I understand how complicated it is to implement a whole new ticketing structure, it’s a shame there’s no way of making the games more attractive to fans by Carling Cup style ticket prices, for example.
I know the AST have long championed the idea of home credits, so that those who turn up are rewarded, but hopefully those who don’t go to Europa League matches will make use of the Ticket Exchange etc to ensure their seats are filled. Anyway, something to ponder and comment on next season when we’ve got 30,000 in the ground for FC Fúçköv of Libelenstein.
There was also a communication from Stan Kroenke who, in the wake of reports of a bid from Alisher Usmanov, deemed a response necessary. What shone through in this heartfelt statement was his genuine love for the club, how much it means to him, and how ambitious he is for Arsenal to win the biggest trophies in football. He said:
KSE UK, Inc notes the recent media speculation concerning its shareholding in Arsenal Holdings PLC and confirms its shares are not, and never have been, for sale. KSE is a committed, long term investor in Arsenal and will remain so.
Well, consider me a convert. How anyone can look at that and not feel the emotion dripping from it is beyond me. I am going to go into town this morning to get an Arsenal tattoo on one arm, and a KSE UK Inc one on the other. It’s long been my dream that we’d be owned by an Inc of some kind. Not a bog-standing Ltd or anything lame like that, but a true to life, dyed in the wool, bleeding red and white, true Gunner Inc.
Isn’t it every kid’s dream to be an INVESTOR in the football club they love? Forget pulling on that shirt and scoring the winner in a final, but earning enough cash to invest in the equity is what it’s all about. Stan is living the dream folks, you’re just jealous.
In seriousness though, what a crock of rancid badger shite. A one sentence statement – that says nothing at all about what’s going on at this club beyond his own shareholding – is typical of the man and the way he’s operated since he took over. Perhaps nobody would be convinced by him saying anything that might touch on the manager, the football, his hopes and wishes for the club, but if anything sums up his interest in Arsenal that statement does it perfectly.
It’s an investment, it’s shares, it’s financial, and nothing else. Kroenke and Gazidis have presided over an off-the-pitch shambles this season, and the only time we’ve heard a thing from him is when someone else has poked the hornets nest with a bid for his stake in the club. You don’t need me to tell you how pathetic that is, or what we need to read into it. We already understand that to Kroenke Arsenal is nothing more than another part of his asset portfolio, a franchise, a thing he just has but that means nothing to him beyond the balance sheets.
For us, of course, it’s a lot more, and that’s why people want somebody else. For more discussion of Kroenke, Usmanov, and everything else surrounding the bid and what might happen, check out this week’s Arsecast Extra. It’s a bit of an epic this week because there’s so much going on, so take the dog for an extra long walk, he’ll thank you for it because he’s a dog and he loves you.
There’s not enough love in the world 🙁
Right, that’s that. News throughout the day on Arseblog News. More from me tomorrow.