Thursday, November 30, 2023

Friday bits – The fan-led review : Xhaka : Site issues

Morning all. Some Friday snippets for you.

I’m sure by now everyone has become aware of the publication of the fan-led review into football, carried out by MP Tracy Crouch. It came about in the wake of the Super League drama that took place earlier this year, and it has made some wide-ranging recommendations, including the idea of an independent regulator, golden share, shadow boards, and more.

For a concise breakdown of the key elements, the Twitter thread below does a good job:

The reaction in general from fans, fan groups etc, has been pretty positive, and the head of the Football Supporter’s Association Malcolm Clarke said:

“I set four tests. One, would it make it less likely that we’d see the collapse of clubs. Second, would it improve finances. Third, would it stop a Super League. Four, does it increase fan engagement. I would say it passes all four tests.

“It is a pretty important step. If I could paraphrase Neil Armstrong, it’s a small step for government, a giant leap for football fans.”

While there doesn’t appear to be much in there to stop a nation state purchasing a club, like we’ve seen with Newcastle in recent times, there are recommendations regarding controls over owners pumping in money which, if acted upon, could go some way to leveling the playing field. And there is stuff about more money trickling down the pyramid via transfer taxes etc to ensure the viability of clubs below Premier League level and beyond.

Two things occur to me. The first is that these recommendations have be to implemented with legislation, and without wanting to be too political, this particular British government haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to dealing with issues that, in general, might be considered more important than football.

The second is how the clubs and the owners are going to react. There have already been some rumblings of discontent, and I suspect that the richest clubs – the ones that can afford the best lawyers, will be all over this looking for ways to oppose measures they feel may hinder them in any way. It’s not long ago that Man City were found to have committed serious breaches of FFP by UEFA, and even in their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport it was admitted they had ‘failed to cooperate with UEFA authorities’, but in the end a ban was overturned and the fine handed out was reduced by 60% because City could afford better and more expensive lawyers than UEFA.

Don’t get me wrong, an independent regulator in football, with genuine power and authority, and acting in the best interests of the game and fans would obviously be a good thing. I just don’t think this is something that will be taken lying down by billionaire owners who haven’t spent all this money to be told what they can and can’t do. That is not what they are used to, that is not the way life works for them, so expect some opposition. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out, how quickly things happen (or not), and what the impact on the game will be.

Ultimately, as the protests over the Super League showed, football fans have a voice – especially when rivalries are put aside in opposition to something like that cack-handed plan to destroy the game as it currently exists – and I don’t think anyone should feel sorry for owners who may have to deal with this. In the end, it was their greed, ignorance and hubris which brought this to a head, and if they suffer the consequences, then so be it.

There wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking in Mikel Arteta’s press conference yesterday, but you can find all the stories over on Arseblog News right now. He talked about Arsene Wenger (again), responding to the Liverpool defeat, Lacazette’s contract and more.

There was also some Granit Xhaka chat as it looks like the Swiss midfielder could be back earlier than expected after his knee injury (which he revealed involved a broken bone too). I watched a training video during the week. He was there taking what appeared to be a full part in a warm-up session, and I’m sure I saw him involved in a training game too – although whether he was going at full-pace is unclear.

With Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny going to AFCON at the end of December, midfield was always going to be an issue for what looks like it’s going to be a busy January – especially if we beat Sunderland in the Carabao Cup and have a two legs of a semi-final to contend with. Talk of us going into the market makes some sense, but much will depend on who is available. At best we might do a loan, but I think Xhaka’s return is the most likely way the squad is bolstered for that period.

AFCON runs until Feb 6th for the teams that get to the final/third-fourth place play off, and unless a real opportunity comes along to bring in a player on loan, I suspect we’ll make do with what we have in January. A setback for Xhaka or an injury to someone else might change that of course, but I’m not holding my breath over any transfer activity next month.

Right, that’s just about that. You have probably noticed things are a little different in terms of the home page, and we’ll be finishing off some work this morning at which point the Arses will be available again. Apologies for the slight inconvenience, more details on all this to come in a post later on.

For some extra reading this morning, Tim takes a look at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s data and what that tells us, and later on we’ll have a Newcastle preview podcast over on Patreon.

For now, there’s a brand new Arsecast for you to get your ears around, so I’ll leave you with that for now. Take it easy.


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