MCFC - A cheating club with no history

By Prestwich_Blue, Thu 22 December 2011 12:16

MCFC - A cheating club with no history

I don't like negative articles like this particularly but I also don't like cant and hypocrisy. Bluemoon regulars will know of my determination to educate them and others on financial & political issues in the game so I thought this blog article was more than justified. I certainly wouldn't want to imply that my criticisms extended to all Arsenal fans but certainly some need putting firmly in their places.

The game against the Gunners has long been one of my most eagerly anticipated and last Sunday was certainly a spectacle worthy of the Premier League. Two great football teams showed just how the game should be played at the highest level and while it won't win Goal of the Month, Silva's tap-in gave us a vital three points for a win I thought we deserved. The thing that made it sweeter was the fact that, in the days leading up to it, there had been a stream of bile & drivel aimed at us from Arsenal fans on Twitter. Naturally there were the usual taunts that, unlike them, we are a club with no history and had cheated by having our rich benefactor buy success for us, unlike their model of doing it through their own efforts.

So let's examine their claims a little more closely. The two clubs were formed in their current incarnations a year apart, them in 1893 and us in 1894. We progressed slightly more rapidly, gaining promotion from the Second to the First Division in 1899. They followed five years later. So the "club with no history" actually reached the top flight before the "club with history". In the 1903/04 season, they achieved promotion to the top flight in the same season we won our first FA Cup. They failed to set the league on fire though and were relegated in 1913. The war intervened in 1915, when Arsenal finished 5th in the Second Division. On the resumption of the league in 1919, the top division was expanded by two clubs so bottom placed Spurs expected to keep their place while the top two teams in the Second Division joined them. However, in circumstances still unexplained, Arsenal chairman Henry Norris somehow engineered Spurs' relegation at the expense of his club. This clearly didn't endear Arsenal to Spurs fans, a deep enmity that still exists today. So if we "cheated" to get where we are, we certainly weren't the first.

Since then, Arsenal has achieved an unbroken spell in the top flight but was close to relinquishing that in the mid-1920's before the remarkable Herbert Chapman became their manager. He led them to success in the pre-war years winning their first trophy (the FA Cup) in 1930, a whole 26 years after "the club with no history". Their first European trophy came in 1970 with the Fairs Cup, which was of course the same year we won the Cup Winners Cup (they won this one 6 years later). The pinnacle of their modern success came the next season with the League & Cup double.

George Graham saw them through the early Premiership years with cup wins but no titles then Bruce Rioch stepped in after Graham became a victim of the bungs scandal. These weren't great years for them as their ageing team were largely mid-table fodder and the money wasn't there to replace them. However new investor Danny Fiszman, a wealthy diamond merchant, put in about £50m, which enabled Rioch and his successor, Arsene Wenger, to rebuild the squad with some high quality players. Our very own David Platt & Patrick Vieira, Bergkamp, Petit. Overmars, Hartson, Anelka to add to Keown, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams and others. Some astute dealing by Wenger ensured he made huge profits on players like Overmars, Anelka & Henry and these were re-invested. This shot them into the top four and to their three Premier League titles between 1998 & 2004. £5m may not seem like a lot of money to fund a transfer pot today but in the mid-1990's, fees were much smaller with even that astounding player Bergkamp only costing £7.5m then. You can probably multiply that £50m by 8 to get the equivalent fund in today's values so that's pretty close to our net spend over the last 3 seasons.

That, in turn, brought them revenues from the Champions League, as well as the demand for tickets that enabled them to finance and build a 60,000-seater stadium that produces nearly £100m a year in ticket income. Whether because of restrictions due to the requirement to finance the stadium or for other reasons, their net transfer spend over the last 5 years has been negative and the lowest of all the current Premiership teams. They feel that's something to be proud of but their relative lack of strength in depth and current position outside the top four (with the risk of losing CL income next year) has shown that to be a dangerous path to tread.

Without that £50m from Fiszman it's entirely possible they'd have still been in mid-table; maybe another Fulham or possibly over-performing like Everton or Newcastle. So the supporters of the "club with history" can hardly justify the claim of "doing it on their own". Once this was pointed out to them, they went very quiet.