As always, there is a lot going on in the World of Arsenal – today saw members day take place at the Emirates – a large crowd went down and Cesc returned to the club for the first time since the media speculation has been so strongly linking him with a move to Barcelona. And as I watched parts of the buffering Arsenal TV Online, watching the players run around and do some training, it dawned across me what a unique club Arsenal are.
Every football club needs money to survive, and we’ve all seen the likes of Sp*rs and Man United go on gruelling far away trips to cash in on lucrative money spinning pre-season tournaments. We, on the other hand go to Austria, where we can get ready for the season in a relatively quiet and focused atmosphere. You can see that ‘Arry Redknapp and Roberto Mancini were struggling to motivate players for meaningless friendlies half way around the world, with both teams losing most of their friendlies so far. Meanwhile, our team were training in Austria and focused on getting their fitness back, playing a few friendlies when they were out there.
When they all arrived, we kicked off the annual Emirates Cup – and I have to say, what an excellent tournament it is – it’s been designed in the style of the club and in the manner of the ethos of attacking football. For me, it’s a mainstay, it will happen every season, and the attendances are absolutely amazing – to see 120,000 tickets sold over two days for what are in effect, two pre-season friendlies is amazing. The revenue generated by those two days and the fact that the fans of the club can go down and get some game time in is amazing. The fans come first, and the club finds other ways to make money. When Sp*rs and Man City are playing in America, I doubt they have a whole load of fans there at all.
Looking around the stadium, it’s beautiful, it’s an excellent stadium and it’s just simply brilliant to review what we have now and where we’ve come from. The Emirates is simply an excellent football stadium. In contrast to Wembley, our pitch is solid, and we’ve won awards for it. But for me, it’s the little touches – the ability to add your name to your seat if you’re a season ticket holder – the ability to have a stone with your name planted just outside the stadium – yes, they generate revenue for the club – but I’d prefer that we did it this way then sell out to America or the Far East and knacker our players out.
But it’s not just that – it’s the whole community aspect to the club – something that we’ve been proud of ever since we moved into North London – and we give back a lot to the community around the club. And this summer, we announced that we reached an amazing total of £818,897 for the Great Ormand Street Hospital last year. Reading Arsene’s statement about our efforts, it does put a smile on your face doesn’t it?
“It is absolutely fantastic and we are delighted to smash our target of raising half a million pounds for this hospital. The dedication of everyone involved with the Charity and the hospital has been phenomenal and all should be proud of the amazing delivery of fundraising initiatives Great Ormond Street Hospital have introduced to our supporters over the course of the partnership. The fans have been superb with their generosity yet again for our Charity of the Season, and it is thanks to them that Great Ormond Street Hospital patients will have this state-of-the-art Arsenal Lung Function Unit once built.”
You’ll be glad to know that through the site, WOA has raised £203 towards GOSH – through banners, ads etc – it’s a small amount, but it all adds up – so thanks for being part of the community of the site helping to raise money.
Another thing which is extraordinary is the way we blood our youth and bring them into the first team – a whole crop of players, such as Clichy, Djourou, Cesc, Song, Denilson, Carlos Vela, Ramsey, Walcott were bought in their mid-teens, some as young at 14, some brought in at 17/18. In addition, the likes JET, Frimpong, Wilshere are the next crop of players to come into the first team – I don’t think you can really say that about any other team… Yes Man United has a few good players come in about 10 years agi, but that was more down to luck than anything else – whereas down at the Grove, we’ve got a system in place from the under 14’s upwards.
The financial situation, even considering the fact that we’ve bought a brand new £400m stadium, is excellent and the projections for the future of Arsenal in terms of finances will eventually see us as the richest club in the world. It’s amazing to see considering so many clubs are in huge debt and / or invested in heavily, without having had the burden of such an expensive stadium.
And finally, the style of football we play is second to none. We’ve got a brand – “the Arsenal way” – and it’s a delight to see football played the way it’s meant to be played. Quick passing and movement, on and off the ball – when the players are on song, there really is no better team to watch.
Arsenal – we’re a unique club.