Reasons to be cheerful



By Ian Grant

Gunners are gloomy – maybe – but no more gloomy that other Premiership fans, at the thought of the Premiership title and domestic cups potentially becoming meaningless, as Abramovich plans to speculate to accumulate to potentially keep Chelsea there ad infinitum.

In fact, there’s been positive news this week both short and long term, in some respects.

Ashburton Grove passed the final hurdle in the High Court, with no more obstacles ahead.

Arsenal are in discussions with the Royal of Bank of Scotland to convert the Ashburton debt into a 30-year bond.

Keith Edelman said Arsenal hoped to get £20m from fans through advance payments for seats at the new stadium, well ahead of its scheduled opening next year. This will be mainly from the 6,700 “club level” seats which sell for between £2,500 and £4,750 per season, which he said were currently oversubscribed, and from normal season tickets. This, it is thought will go partially towards transfers.

Campbell and Lauren both agreed two year extensions to their contracts. Freddie Ljungberg wants to sign another deal. Ashley Cole has pledged to stay.

And Arsenal, according to The Journal, are reportedly set to make a surprise swoop for Roma’s Greek Euro 2004 star Traianos Dellas, with a £1m offer for the ex-Sheffield United defender.

And there was a very perceptive article on Wenger and Ferguson written by Professor Mark Van Vugt at the Social Psychology Department at Kent University in the Daily Telegraph. It urges Wenger and Ferguson and Arsenal and Manchester United to form a coalition.

“It is a fact that in chimpanzee and human groupings, the second in rank picks fights to see how strong the alpha male is. Normally, the dominant individual will not respond, because he feels superior. It is only when he is under threat he responds.

“What Ferguson and Wenger are actually fighting over is the second rank. I’m sure they don’t realise it, but by increasing the conflict between themselves, the consequence is that Chelsea’s position is strengthened.

“My advice is this: if their aim is really to challenge for the league, they are employing the worst possible tactic and their strategy deflects them from being Premier League contenders. If they want to really challenge for the league my advice is to bury their conflict, form a great coalition of two clubs pursuing Chelsea and use combined tactical ingenuity by using the media to create conflict and dissent within Mourinho’s team.”

And the Premier League has formed a working party to look at, among other things – financial disparity between clubs.

The bigger the points gap between Chelsea and the rest, the more danger they are under from the regulators, be it the FA, Premier League or UEFA to reduce their £100m-£200m advantage over the majority of their “competitors”.

Reasons to be cheerful



By Ian Grant

Arsenal today sealed a £6m club record sponsorship deal with mobile phone company O2. It is a two-year extension to the existing deal, which is believed to be worth around £5m.

Meanwhile, Arsenal md, Keith Edelman, writing in Management Today said: “The money from the 9,000 premium seats [at Ashburton Grove] alone will be close to the total revenue that we currently take out of 38,500 seats at Highbury.”

And added: “The remaining seats will all be additional revenue. It’s a historic decision to move, as we’ve been at Highbury for 90 years. Yet the new stadium, which should be completed in August 2006, will position Arsenal as a substantial European power in football.”

And: Arsenal are launching their own TV service for fans abroad, called Arsenal TV. Fifteen countries in Asia and the Middle East have already signed deals to carry a three-hour weekly show of club news, action and interviews when the season starts in a fortnight. It will be produced in London and distributed by broadcaster TWI

But wait; there’s more:

Asia Pacific Breweries have signed a sponsorship deal with Arsenal. APB’s Tiger Beer is appointed the official beer of Arsenal in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Fans from the three countries can win trips that money cannot buy to visit the Arsenal Training Facility and win trips to Europe on the Arsenal official supporters’ plane to watch the club play.

Arsenal is looking at developing local soccer schools, supporters’ clubs, websites, mobile services and magazines in the three countries and is prepared to take on a Southeast Asian company as a bigger partner, even as a main sponsor.

On the football side, which is what the business is all about Wenger has confirmed he wants to sign West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick.

Wenger said: “He has always been a player that I loved. If we sign Michael Carrick, it could happen even if Patrick stays.”

Vieira basically has to decide to be the heart of a community, or a selfish second rate galactico.

Meanwhile, here’s a weekly news review:

PLAYERS

Jose Reyes was awarded player of the tournament at the Amsterdam Tournament, although Arsenal finished bottom of the group on points, with two 0-0 draws.

Sol Campbell is set to miss the opening six weeks of the season. And Arsenal may even seek compensation from the FA. Wenger said: “It is a big, big blow to us. Had Sol been treated earlier he would have a better chance of starting this season.”

VIEIRA

Chantal Stanley – David Ginola’s former agent, told the Observer: “If he (Vieira) goes, it is not because he has asked to go. If he wanted to, he would have gone already. I do not believe it is his wish to leave the UK. I know Patrick very well.

She added: “I know the good life he has here and the esteem in which he holds Arsene Wenger. I know the kind of person he is and the type of passion he has for Arsenal. He is captain of the team and he has a special relationship with the fans. He told me once that if he was rich enough he’d love to buy Arsenal one day. I just don’t think he will go.”

Dennis Bergkamp said: “I don’t know if he will stay or go but I bet he is still talking to our board. When Patrick does not want anyone to know something, then he can hide it. That is what he is doing. It’s his decision and we’ll have to see. I respect him for that. We, as players, have been telling him to stay. No one wants to see him go. He is training. It does not help him saying nothing but neither do all the stories. It is up to him.”

Chelsea’s William Gallas said: “They will not be in a good state [if he goes] because Patrick is the player they look to in difficult moments. He’s the captain and he does everything, he’s the player they want to give the ball to. It’s an advantage for Chelsea, if he goes, that’s for sure.”

However Roy Keane said: “Arsenal are still the team to beat. They have proved over the past year that they are the best team. They are up there to be shot at now and we will give it a good go.”

Dr Richard Crowther said in the Guardian, Arsene Wenger’s squad does have the depth to adapt to the loss of Vieira and would find the departure of the unique talent of Thierry Henry from Highbury much more damaging.

Erik Edman joined Spurs after taking advice from fellow Swede, Freddie Ljungberg. Edman said: “I spoke to Freddie about life in London and the Premiership, although I wasn’t aware of the big rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs.”

Robin van Persie came under attack again in Amsterdam at the weekend when two men spat at and kicked a car he was in.

Ronald Koeman said; “van Persie is a great talent. After what happened here a couple of months ago, he deserved a different reception. That [the boos etc;] was appalling.”

Still, looks like he’s got a lot of character, by the way he played. And he has been rewarded for a good start to his Arsenal career, by being called into the senior Dutch side for the friendly against Sweden on 18 August.

Van Persie told the Express: “I want to learn English quickly. That’s why I do not only stick with Dennis. I want to learn about the English way of life and also the English humour. I want to feel at home in London. That is also why I quickly rented a place.”

And added: “I really enjoy being at Arsenal. I feel respect from all the players, as I respect them. The atmosphere in the team is great. We have already formed a small cards-playing team, with Francis Jeffers and two others. I was in a hotel room with Thierry Henry. He is a world-class player, but also a regular guy. You can just sit down and have a normal chat. That is what I enjoy in the Arsenal team.”

And: “I have never trained as hard as we have for the past two weeks. I lost four kilograms off my weight. I have never been as fit as I am now. Arsene Wenger has responded positively about me. I feel like he has a plan with me, that he cares about me.”

Wenger said of van Persie: “He’s done surprisingly well. I didn’t always get the best news about him and there were reservations from the representatives of the Dutch federation.”

He added: “It depends on how motivated he is about his career, but he is one of the five or six young Dutch players who are really at the international level in terms of talent.”

TEAM

According to the Mirror’s Premiership supplement: only four teams have won more than 200 Premiership matches – Manchester United (292), Arsenal (244), Liverpool (223) and Chelsea (203).

It also says the only two Premiership records which are current are Arsenal’s unbeaten run (40 games so far) and their unbeaten run away (23 games so far).

It adds Arsenal’s goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has played the most Premiership matches without experiencing a defeat (38 games).

With a week to go the Premiership odds are: Arsenal 5/4, Chelsea 15/8, Man Utd 5/2, Liverpool 14/1, Newcastle 50/1.

George Graham said: “Personally, I don’t think he [Mourinho] can do it. But I don’t think Abramovich and Chelsea will consider that a failure because they have now got the man they wanted. I think he will be given time and he will win the Premiership – just not straight away.” [Sorry George BUY is the word. You should know that!]

Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports News there may be one or two more players coming in, depending on who goes out.

TRANSFER/RUMOURS

Wenger was reported in the Observer to have rejected an Atletico Madrid offer for Jermaine Pennant for a player plus cash.

The paper also reported that St Etienne were interested in Jeremie Aliadiere.