Tag Archives: money

Overseas Fixtures Are Stark Warning For Future Of Football

A move from La Liga’s men that matter on the board may not have grabbed the headlines, but it is set to shake football to its core.

A single match between Atletico Madrid and Villareal is all arranged to play this Spanish top-flight fixture at the brand new home of David Beckham-owned Miami Internazionale.

La Liga has requested the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for permission to hold this December’s fixture between the above sides at the Hard Rock Stadium, currently the home of NFL side, the Miami Dolphins.

Both clubs have already agreed that this is a good idea and have signed on the dotted line, which brings the death of the game as an everyman sport, that one step closer.

Conventional, regular, everyday, diehard fans will now miss a game at their home stadium and instead be forced to watch the game at home. This is how the majority of us consume matches, but while it may be a solitary match, this is how the end begins.

No doubt the move to play this is lucrative in two ways.

Firstly, there will surely be bonuses for the sides for agreeing to play the game overseas.

Secondly, the move will strengthen US fanbases and also recruit new members – increasing their global brand.

The game will be lucrative, but with this in the offing, the NFL playing regularly over this side of the pond and more sports investigating methods on capitalising on the popularity of their respective sports – there will be other projects created to catch as much of the spewing cash as possible.

Clubs are now businesses, and the move to play abroad stinks of a business meeting with board members discussing how to increase revenue – paying no heed to the lifeblood of the club.

The fans.

Football without fans

Can we imagine if Arsenal eventually decided that they will play a fixture or three in a neutral venue in order to sup at the teat of the money-men?

The fallout would be spectacular, with social media awash with critique and vitriol.

This is not to decry the fact that as clubs grow and are a brand, the fanbase will be globally represented.

Indeed, Arsenal are the 6th-9th best represented club on social media. This screams of Gooners in all corners of the world.

Laying the groundwork has been each and every clubs decision to go on pre-season tours that are gruelling and serve no purpose in what a pre-season is meant to be – preparation for the coming season. Fitness and conditioning. Regaining as much match sharpness as possible.

While useful, the majority of games are against sides that have been plucked from obscurity and are as likely to fight each other for a shirt swap as they are putting in a shift and making life difficult for their opposition.

These tours maintain the affinity these fans have with the club, despite the miles of distance. They purchase merch, they watch games on streams with kickoff times that are quite frankly ridiculous. These Gooners are perhaps even more dedicated than a lot of us match-going fans or those of us who pay a kings ransom for a football TV subscription or three.

This move from La Liga and the clubs to play abroad, bodes terribly for the future of well-packed stadiums. It will ruin the already weak link between fan and club for a lot of us.

It is critical that club’s tap into markets and optimise their actions so every cent goes into the coffers. Without these shrewd business decisions, then many clubs would simply go under.

Fans around the world get the chance to see their team play live. This is a good thing, but it is what will lead on from this groundbreaking move that concerns us. At the moment it is one match but when these clubs and others see the packed stadium? When they do their maths, they will see that why not do this twice a season? Perhaps a cup game thrown in?

The RFEF have already rejected a move to play an earlier La Liga match this season, between Barcelona and Girona. This was set to kick off in January. This latest move shows that football is a juggernaut that one refusal will be unable to knock them off their desired route.

A route that takes football into the corporate world for good.

Dipping Into Deep Pockets – Spend Some Money!

Time for a game of ‘Spot the Difference.’

Farhad Moshiri.

David Sullivan and David Gold

The Srivaddhanaprabha family.

Stan Kroenke.

 

Any ideas?

They’re all owners of Premier League clubs.

They all enjoy an incredible bank balance.

The difference you’re looking for is that the first three have all invested plenty of their readies into their respective clubs – aside from Stan Kroenke.

In fact, Kroenke has actually taken money out of the club, as payment for consultancy fees.

The result of this lack of spending in comparison to Leicester City, Everton and West Ham is that instead of progressing with our supposed gameplan to haul Arsenal back into the big time, we could instead be battling it out with the above three teams to keep our Europa League status.

Never mind the Champions League for now. With Liverpool and Manchester City going from strength to strength, Manchester United and Chelsea not afraid to spend in the transfer window and Tottenham enjoying lucrative new incomes, Arsenal, now more than ever, have to break free from the restrictive budgets that are shackling our growth, and recognise the shifting landscape.

More clubs than ever can break the bank and land a superstar, and with West Ham signing Pablo Fornals, this is another piece of evidence to support the warning.

For just £24m, the Hammers have a Spanish international that has years ahead of him. Fornals has been a target of ours for some time, and to see him ship off to East London sticks in the craw a tad.

They also reportedly have another +£20m target in their sights from Celta Vigo, and are also after one of our other targets, Alexis Claude-Maurice from Lorient. Let’s say both of our bids are accepted – can we honestly say that we will offer more money than the Hammers?

So we will rely on our allure – the third biggest club in England, a host of domestic trophies and an attractive brand of football with a global fanbase.

Is that enough for the modern day footballer? Will it be enough to continue to snare the top talent? When they are well aware they can earn far more elsewhere – where the expectation will be lower? So they can enjoy the adulation for performing well within themselves?

How long can we continue to trade off the back of our reputation? Are we in danger of becoming a former glory – one that slumbers in the comfort of midtable as our owner cashes in and our rivals enjoy the spoils?

Kroenke 2

 

That may be an overreaction after our last season saw us miss out narrowly on both a lucrative Champions League spot and a European trophy, but you can’t deny that you’re alarmed when you see teams that don’t share our illustrious history or potential, spending shameful amounts of money that we can only dream of.

The self-sustaining model that Vinai Venkatesham and Raul Sanllehi are keen for us to follow keeps us on the straight and narrow and crucially – without any dependency on our owner who could give two shiny pennies whether we win trophies or not. As long as our cash udders are ripe and producing the goods, he’ll be more than happy for the status quo to continue.

Which means we stay in limbo – not quite good enough for the Champions League, but with teams all around closing the gap.

Financial Fair Play made a mockery of our frugal approach a while back, and it will continue to ignore those teams that are spending well beyond their means – which means we will not be rewarded for our mindful approach when it comes to our balance.

We were told that whatever profit we make can be reinvested into our team. Fair enough, but with us needing a big step up from our current position in order to catch up to the rest, that requires more than what we are making right now. We need to go wild in the aisles and buy the players that makes this squad Emery’s men – rather than the majority being leftovers from the Wenger era.

We don’t want Kroenke dipping in his pockets endlessly, but we do want a fighting chance to regain our standing – and we need a bit of help for that to happen.

 

 

Champions League Or Bust?

Can you lose your European pedigree?

 

Decades of dining at the top table of European competition, duking it out with the zenith of club football. It gives a club a credence, an allure. It allows a club to build a brand, something the business that football has become makes mandatory.

 

Constant presence at the top also makes them far more palatable to talent, talent that makes it far easier for clubs to extend their reservation at the most exclusive tournament.

 

Why would a player choose to join a club not taking part where the best of the best are represented? Players themselves are becoming brands, and while money talks – so clubs not currently plying their trade in Europe always have a slim chance of snaring a big name – the majority of the time when a star becomes available, the club that is battling in the Champions League is predominantly the more attractive option.

 

Arsenal have not been in the Champions League for two seasons now, and the fight to avoid a third season hangs on a knife-edge. The Europa League offers arguably the more enjoyable campaign, as the Gunners have a real chance of holding aloft the trophy come May. But the Champions League talks big, and players want to hear that famous anthem on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, rather than watching on TV.

 

Arsenal took part in the Champions League for twenty consecutive seasons. We were mainstays in the competition, and for a long time we belonged in the first pot of seeds. Our decline from contention in the Premier League also coincided with our fall from grace on the biggest stage, and the last eight or so seasons of taking part in the top competition in football was more about taking the cheque rather than having any serious notion of winning it.

 

Consecutive Last-16 exits cemented Arsenal’s label as an attractive option for ballers, but far from the cream of the crop. Embarrassing exits to Bayern Munich and Barcelona only served to underline us as 2nd class, watching on as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Chelsea, Atletico and Juve all fought it out for the grand prize.

 

Now, we are on the verge of re-joining the competition. Would most of us not want to remain in the Europa League? The excitement of reaching the business end of the tournament, knowing that each time our name pops out of the hat means we have a real chance of lifting the thing?

 

The Champions League though, is mandatory for progress. Like it or not, the beast that it has become means that the money generated from even a group stage exit means more than winning the entire Europa League trophy.

UCL18-21_PressKit_KeyVisual_Starball_Trophy

This means little to us in the stands and watching at home. The problem is however, that the longer we continue to stand outside, pressed up to the window but not involved means we drift further from the pack.

 

It means finding rough diamonds like Matteo Guendouzi becomes imperative, as the real big names want what we can’t provide.

 

A third season outside the Champions League won’t harm us too badly. Our profit margins will remain healthy and we can concentrate on a real push for a better position in the Premier League. should we prioritise that over the Europa League? Perhaps, but our squad is deep and talented enough to be able to fight on more than one front. We can focus on both. We should put a real push for the top four at the front of every season, it is far from beyond us.

 

Arsene Wenger once said that the top four is almost like a trophy, and the majority of us scoffed. With football as cutthroat as it is right now, his words have never been truer.

 

Our recent FA Cup wins meant the world to us, but a failure to reach the Champions League in the near future would mean that trophies would become even more scarce.

Replacing Rambo

Aaron Ramsey has shown his hand.

The discussion surrounding the Welshman and his long-running contract saga centres on the alleged contract offer being rescinded by the club. There are scant details available, other than David Ornstein declaring this via Twitter.

aaron-ramsey-unai-emery-arsenal-2018-19_1bjj9nl2255cd17ydtboag4tm0

All we are left with is knowing that Aaron Ramsey will almost definitely be in another jersey in the summer. Possibly even in December if our club want a transfer fee.

So, where does that leave us? Much depends on where Ramsey is best utilised.

The Welshman is most often listed as a central midfielder, but it is quite obvious that Unai Emery doesn’t see him that way. Every selection has seen Rambo slotting into the attacking three behind our sole striker.

Ramsey’s main strength is probably his late runs into the box to snaffle goals. To maximise this, he is better utilised further up the field. Sure, he can tackle and track runners, but Ramsey gets goals, so attack is his best option.

Now that he is departing the club though, do we need to recruit again? Will the Rambo-shaped hole we have derail any progress that Emery is forging? Does the Spaniard need to get on the phone to Sven Mislintat to find a suitable replacement?

No. Our squad is stronger than we think – and Ramsey leaving doesn’t have to impact us at all.

Since Emery has taken over, we have seen very little of the Ramsey we have adored. The attacking midfielder has been sorely lacking in the end product department, but someone has stepped forward and can plug the gap left by Ramsey. How do we know?

Because he has been doing it this season already.

Alex Iwobi has seemingly found his feet again after a shaky season in Wenger’s last campaign. The Nigerian has been fleet of foot, but crucially, his decision-making has not let his other talents down. He has been quite excellent, and would easily deserve  a starting spot ahead of Ramsey.

With Henrikh Mkhitaryan already waiting for an attacking spot to call his own, we have a fair amount of depth. Plus, Emery is known to chop and change his tactics, so we may opt for three central men – in that case, bargain find Matteo Guendouzi has shown that even inexperience can’t dim blazing hot talent on the pitch.

Ramsey will always hold a special place in our memories. His heroic fightback from his horror injury, his epic season of 2013/14, his two winning FA Cup goals – Ramsey has given ten years service.

Yes, it is mystifying what Ramsey must be demanding, but we must concentrate on the surface view, and how Rambo will be leaving us – and whether we will suffer.

It seems like we are well covered. If Emery has the faith in both Iwobi and Guendouzi, then the game time accrued will push them both on leaps and bounds.

Thanks for the memories Rambo.

Sponsor Or Soul?

Originally published in the Gooner Fanzine.

The decision to incorporate sleeve sponsors came in last season, and it was a decision that had every club licking their lips.

 

Yet another opportunity to rake in the readies, this small logo on each sleeve of a jersey would not affect the design of a kit, but it would affect the bank balance.

 

The ramifications of this separate sponsor really came into tangible form though, thanks to Everton.

 

Last season, they sported a rather conspicuous brand on their sleeves, and while it may have swelled the coffers, ‘Angry Birds’ took some of the gleam off of the shining money for the Toffees. While it isn’t nefarious, it is quite an embarrassing brand to have on your kit.

 

Now Arsenal have joined in and have their sleeves adorned for the first time – but it has caused somewhat of a stir.

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We now have ‘Visit Rwanda’ on our kit, and while it may sound like a harmless push to bring some much needed tourism and funds to a country that could do with a boost, connections with the country are not exactly wholesome.

 

Rwanda is synonymous with corruption and tyrannical regimes, coups and human rights atrocities in the past. The African country may be far removed from this these days, there are still things to raise an eyebrow to when it comes to our association with such a country.

 

Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, is thought to have used intimidation tactics in the last election, and placed restrictions on freedom of speech to suppress opposition movements. He has now been in power for 18 years.

 

There is also the small matter of the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi people by the majority Hutu government in 1994.

 

The country is on the road to recovery now, and is ranked amongst the least corrupt countries in Africa.

 

So, shouldn’t this sponsorship be a shot in the arm for a country aiming to do things the right way, to establish a proper income via tourism, rather than rely on the coffers of others?

 

At what point does the club have a responsibility to choose the right sponsor?

Just imagine if we were to appropriate another one on the different sleeve, but this one was for The Daily Mail?

 

Does the club have a role of advocacy in things? Could Arsenal have chosen differently? Or was it simply the sleeve goes to the highest bidder?

 

We hardly need the money, we could have quite easily have promoted a charity, perhaps our own in The Arsenal Foundation, or another one close to home, the Willow Foundation?

 

It wouldn’t benefit us fiscally, but it would be a fantastic PR exercise.

 

We could be sponsored by Toilet Duck. We could have the logo for Cillit Bang and a massive picture of Barry Scott salivating on the chest of our shirt. There comes a moment that no amount of money covers the utter shame you would have on pulling on the shirt.

 

It is a worrying development though. There will come a crossroads though, when sense is asked to take a back seat by a big wad of cash. The fallout from that would be kit sales – would that equate to another juicy sponsorship, or would it hit the pockets of the club harder?

 

What next? While this is a nice little money spinner right now, we could have collar sponsors, sock sponsors, shirt sponsors, boot sponsors. There is a wealth of blank canvas for companies looking to spill their cash all over a club.

 

Just look at a snooker player’s waistcoat, or an F1 car.

 

It’s clear that money talks, and it is a vulgar language when written on fabric.

Chelsea and spurs Money Woes is Deja Vu for Gunners

The current situations of Tottenham and Chelsea are, first and foremost, hilarious.

Chelsea owe billionaire owner Roman Abramovich over a billion pounds in unpaid, interest free loans that the Russian has forked out since his time as Oligarch of West London.

The money has seemingly dried up at Stamford Bridge. Case in point was last season’s curb on spending that led to Conte having an unhappy attempt at regaining the title with an ageing and limited squad.

Now, plans for a lavish new stadium to replace the decrepit Bridge have been canned, with Chelsea accountants having kittens and waylaying any plans for growth in an attempt to get out of the red and back in black.

Chelsea and their plans for a new stadium

Then there is Tottenham.

Our neighbours in North London are currently way over budget for constructing their new home, as they seek to complete it in time for the 2018/19 season.

At this moment in time, this is looking unlikely, and an option to retain Wembley as their home ground next season is looking more and more likely to be taken.

The money situation is not healthy either for spurs. With the new stadium causing Daniel Levy to dig deep and the playing staff failing yet again to win a trophy, tottenham are on the precipice.

Do they spend what available loot they have to keep their key men? Or do they put it toward strengthening, and cash in on one of their big players?

The likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli both know that if they were to talk to interested parties, they would be hearing figures that absolutely dwarf their current deals. They know they can get far more elsewhere, so a contract extension must be a lucrative one for both of them.

Then there is the likes of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Danny Rose and Eric Dier. All are wanted elsewhere, and all would command far more than they currently earn at spurs.

Levy knows this, but if he pumps all of the available cash into keeping them, then the status quo remains, and they can’t significantly strengthen. Pochettino has worked wonders at the club, but the bottom line is that even with their current squad, they are still potless.

So something must give.

Meanwhile, Gooners are sitting back and enjoying the cash crises that both clubs are embroiled in.

You see, we’ve been there, and we had to make those tough calls, we had to shed our leading lights, we had to endure the cheap purchases that risked much. We had to pay back the bills – and yet we managed to do so whilst maintaining a Champions League place.

What Arsene Wenger managed to do in the years that followed the completion of The Emirates is nothing short of miraculous, and should be seen as one of his finest achievements. He managed to keep a side that contained the likes of Philippe Senderos, Manuel Almunia and Andre Santos, and kept them on the straight and narrow, instilled the same attacking values that he had done throughout his tenure.

Chelsea enjoyed the fruits of Abramovich’s deep pockets unhindered for nearly fifteen years, spending lasciviously and flagrantly ignoring the concept of a healthy balance and an independent outlook to club ownership that didn’t involve relying so heavily on one man.

Now the piper is knocking on the door and wants to collect.

Chelsea, in order to truly keep their place amongst the elite, NEED to move to a new stadium, to build that complex. The longer they stay at The Bridge, the worse their situation will get, and the risks become ever greater.

Spurs need to ride out 3-5 years of cost-cutting and balancing the books. These years will either see them maintain their position as one of the perma-Champions League clubs, or they will slip and find it much harder to find their way back.

What about us though?

Well, we’ve got our new home, and we’re raking it in – but with our new owner almost invisible and minding the pennies, it isn’t as if we are out of the woods. It means that the positions that our London cohorts find themselves in is a leveller – and the next few seasons will be us duking it out for the supremacy of the capital.

Should be a real slugfest.

Money strangling football – what can be done?

The football transfer window in recent years has ascended on the crest of a cash-infused wave, looming large over the sport.

It now stands so tall, that it is reaching the point of inevitability when all waves must crash, where the sheer weight cannot be supported. When this particular wave crashes, the ramifications will ripple throughout football.

We now stand at a point where singular transfers outweigh most clubs annual income. The select few continue to dip their reluctant toes in the market, but the top talents that would benefit any team are being purchased for fees that would crush the majority of top flight outfits.

Paris Saint Germain in the summer stepped into the market and made everyone notice. Their jewel-adorned cane pointed toward Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, and the crowd could only watch on as the French club made it rain. No other club could enter the fray once PSG came calling, and they made the Neymar transfer possible only because they could pay money that equals most countries deficits.

The shockwaves created by PSG are being felt in the Premier League too. Before the Paris club were backed by bottomless pockets, the current TV deal in place for the Premiership meant we were bullying the lion’s share of Europe by chucking money at players. Now, prices are jacked up further whenever PSG or Man City are interested.

Simply because the selling club know whatever the price, they will get the fee.

The point where things become untenable is soon approaching though. Transfer fees on average are on the rise, and when it hits a certain level, the rules are going to have to change.

There are options to stop this. Transfer limits on each club, wage caps. These are all processes that have been bandied around for years. Maybe we have already seen the future and not been aware?

Kia Joorabchian was one of the money men who organised the ludicrous transfer of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez to West Ham. Joorabchian owned the economic rights to both players, and perhaps something along this line may be the answer?

If players in the future had their interests represented in the form of shares, and interested parties purchased shares in the player so they could draft them in for the season? Perhaps loan deals up to a maximum of three years could solve the ongoing money problem?

Whatever the answer, the transfer window arrangement hasn’t helped. It induces panic in clubs and an itchy trigger finger is not the most valued asset when it comes to engineering transfers. The window is universally hated by all managers and for good reason.

Transfers need to change for the good of the game. The level of competitiveness is a healthy one in the Premiership right now, but if City and the big boys continue to spend and subsequently force other clubs to have to spend beyond their means, then that very competitiveness that makes the PL so special will soon wilt.

Virgil Van Dijk for £75m is just another sign that the massive wave is getting bigger. Plans need to be investigated so the future of our game can be guaranteed.

Arsenal Board Must Act

Arsenal’s ownership is an oxymoron.

The Premier League is awash with money, in fact, it has never been more affluent. Thanks to the TV rights deal that dwarves the other big domestic leagues, all Premier League clubs have larger fiscal muscles than their European brethren.


Our club are part-owned by Alisher Usmanov – an oligarch who is ranked amongst the richest people in the world, and Stan Kroenke – an American whose portfolio is amongst the largest in terms of sports teams. We also have Ivan Gazidis who was awarded a bonus for a season which is the worst placing in over two decades. 




On their own, Kroenke and Usmanov could financially back any team to the zenith of sporting achievement. They could completely transform the outlook of the league should they choose to.


Instead, with a backdrop of torrents of currency, they both choose to stand idly by as other clubs push on.

It is ironic that these ridiculously rich men who spent ludicrous amounts to garner our shares, now do nothing more than lasciviously eye each others stash of our club.


Perhaps our current problems in the Boardroom are magnified in part due to our past ownership?


The setup was always led by Arsenal-DNA. Although the loyal Ken Friars is still part of the makeup, decisions are now not made with Arsenal at heart.


Our club no longer have a hand on the tiller that is primarily concerned with the progress of our club, and it has now come to a point where it is harmful.


The good work that was put in during the late 90’s and early 2000’s gave us a headstart, one which was vital to capitalise on. The chasing pack was closing in, but we didn’t stretch our gap, we simply treaded water.


Now we stand on the precipice, caught between the ignominy of being just another member of the flock that grasp towards the top, and rekindling our groove and making ground on the distance we lost.


Manchester united may be saddled with debt, but they have crucially continued investment in recruitment. They have also shown little patience for mediocrity.


Manchester City have embraced the funds of their owners and player purchases continue unabated.


Chelsea too have dug deep in their pockets and regular silverware has been the produce from their spending.


Then there is tottenham and Everton.


Our North London neighbours have spent well and have a new stadium to look forward to. This new home has the capacity to propel them to regular contention for honours. They have not had the income of their more illustrious rivals but it has not stopped them. Of course there are many variables that may yet take them off course, but they are primed to continue their rise from where they were a decade ago.


Everton are under the stewardship of new owners. They now have the resources necessary to take them higher than erstwhile European place challengers. Ronald Koeman lost his way, but their spending spree in the summer is just a signal of what they are now capable of.


This is now the time for us to act. We have the potential in our sponsorship deals and our gate receipts to muscle in on the show that is seemingly going on without us of late. We could also overtake all and sundry if our owners acted like owners should.


At this moment we are merely a trophy on a wall, a conversation starter in auspicious surroundings whilst swilling brandy amongst the hoi-polloi.


Our previous Board members who are long since departed from the club showed how it should be done. Hell, even the dubious roubles of Roman Abramovich are evidence that not all takeovers have to be negative.


We need Usmanov and especially Kroenke to put their pennies into their new shiny piggy bank. The trouble is, they have not invested a brass farthing since becoming involved.


And it has worked in a business sense. Share prices have nearly doubled since 2007.


Maybe it is a nostalgia that blinds us. Football is a business now, but surely owners want their toys to be bigger and better than everyone else’s?


Right now, Kroenke has left his new plaything out in the rain to gather rust. We have a Chief Executive that received a bonus for a fifth placed finish so there is no incentive for improvement, which only adds to our woes.


Competition should see the strongest survive, and we are now limping behind. 

An Incredible Challenge, An Inspiring Story, An Amazing Charity

Charity events need to push the boundaries further each time in order to gain the deserved level of publicity.

This unfortunately means the person performing the boundary pushing needs to go through some sort of ordeal. One that has most onlookers donating through sheer pity for the poor guy or girl suffering.

Suffering for a worthy cause though. One of those causes is particularly close to Gooners hearts.

The Willow Foundation was created by Arsenal legend Sir Bob Wilson and his wife Megs. They started Willow to help people aged between 16-40 going through horrendous illness and punishing treatments.

Willow gives people a perfect day just when they need it most. A VIP day at their beloved club. A holiday to forget about the debilitating and sapping disease and remember who they are, even for a short time.

Or, the perfect moment could be renewing their wedding vows, just like Luke James.

Luke was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma on the 3rd December, 2006. It was his one year wedding anniversary. This particular strain affects the immune system, and Luke soon began to struggle. This meant his family struggled too.

Worse was yet to come,if that was possible. Luke was given just 40% chance to live. His new wife and their two young children were looking at a future without him.

It’s obvious that Luke survived these insurmountable odds, as he is the subject of this story. He survived thanks to more than six months of chemotherapy that left him unable to stand on his own at times. His family were on their proverbial knees, Luke was literally on his.

During his treatment, Luke was introduced to The Willow Foundation, and he used their inspirational stories to get off the ropes. They gave him the hope he needed, when all seemed to be slipping away.

Willow vowed to do something special for him in order to help him fight through. Luke and his wife Kathryn didn’t want their wedding date to be forever paired with the misery that has followed them around. So Willow offered to help them renew their wedding vows, give them the day they deserve.

Now, Luke wants to pay them back for helping him get his life back – and countless others.

Last year, Luke ran two marathons within a week. This would be gruelling for a pro, but Luke is as regular a fellow as you’re likely to meet. Yet, he pushed himself to do it for the charity that gave him so much.

Now, for some crazy reason, Luke is doing it again – but doubling his efforts.

Luke is planning to run 4 marathons in a month. Manchester, Brighton, Milton Keynes and London are the roads his poor limbs will be running on.

He needs your help. Not to run all those miles – he is firmly on his own there – but he needs your donations.

If his story has struck a chord, then just click here. It is Luke’s Just Giving page. Whatever you can spare is gratefully received.

We all want to donate more, but money and so many choices of charity leave us either confused or just broke. We all want to do more, and this is the perfect situation.

Let Luke run the miles, tear his feet to shreds and suffer ice baths and aching limbs. All we have to do is give a little bit of cash – and we can get the warm glow knowing we’ve made a difference to someone’s life.

Luke is doing something incredible, both physically and selflessly. Let us give him the support he will need when he is on his own running on empty. 

Dick Law’s Transfer Window Deadline Diary

Posted on Goonersphere.

31/08/17 – 0430hrs

I thought this would be a good idea. The Transfer Window has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, and anything from behind the scenes could make a small fortune. Just imagine, there could be a movie – The Diary of a Football Transfer Guru!

Anyways, the reason I’m up so early is it’s the last day of the window before it slams shut and doesn’t open back up until January. That means everyone will be up and at ‘em today. If it’s anything like the last few years, it’ll be frantic and relentless. Perhaps not a patch on the famous window of 2012, but who knows?


I’m at my breakfast table and I’ve got my bowl of Coco Pops and have Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on the TV. Their spirit and faith towards Master Splinter never fails to inspire me before a big day. My phone is already ringing. It’s Ivan……




31/08/17 – 0515hrs

Ivan has given me the list of targets for me to meet up with and work my charm. There are three, and they could be huge signings for Arsenal! I’ve finished my Coco Pops and I’ve had a shower, now it’s time to dress the part.


No transfer mogul is complete without the obligatory power suit. One that says “I’m all about the details, you won’t get anything past me,” but also “I also own a subscription to National Geographic Magazine.”


I don’t. I buy Wordsearch books.


So, my suit is on and my Peter Griffin tie completes this amazing business ensemble. The tie sprinkles in a bit of the unknown you see, it puts them off-kilter a bit.


Now, just to call my PA, Maurice, to book the flights to Paris, Southampton and Monaco, then I’m ready!


I’ve thought of everything. Let’s go and make some deals!















31/08/17 – 0620hrs

I’ve seen every airport lounge, sampled every Toblerone you can imagine – did you know they do a mint one? – but Heathrow is always the beginning of every journey. It’s special, and the staff there are great to me. They know me now, and they often help me to carry my things. They have a quick turnaround of staff though, they often forget to come back with my stuff!


Queues are the enemy of any passenger at the airport, but not for Dick Law! Thanks to my high position at Arsenal, I get Business Class everywhere I go! The plushest of seats, extra legroom, all the Fanta I can drink! It is the fact I don’t have to queue though, that really makes the difference. This is vital, being the jetset, business-type that I am. Hold that thought, Ivan is on the phone again…..




31/08/17 – 0630hrs

Just ended the call from Ivan, and that is the end of my mammoth Haribo scoffing session. Apparently, if I want to eat sweets, I’ve got to do it on my own bank card, rather than the club’s dosh. Stan has been watching the club accounts you see….


Anyway, there’s been a slight mishap. Maurice didn’t actually book the flights to Monaco. So, now I’ve got to queue up with the rest of the plebs. I’ve told Maurice to contact the Chairman of Monaco to let them know I’ll be delayed a little, but it shouldn’t make too much difference.


Once they meet me and listen to the words I spin, they will be entranced. Then, they’ll be a Gunner!


Arsene will be so pleased, if I get even one of these deals over the line, then I’m sure to get more coupons for the skateboard I’ve had my eye on for ages! Arsene makes sure I get coupons for my good work, and I want that skateboard!


Let’s do this!



31/08/17 – 1200hrs

After queueing, then the delay on the runway, then waiting to get off the plane, then passport control, then stopping to get Toblerone, then the cab to meet the Monaco chairman, I was four hours late.


The Chairman wasn’t there when I got to the meeting point. He had left a message with a member of staff though, telling me that the player has joined elsewhere.


Darn it! I had some great lines stored up to woo these guys! I have to phone Maurice and reinforce how important the next two meetings are. Before I do though, Ivan is on the phone….





31/08/17 – 1300hrs

I’m back at Monaco airport, and I’m just about to go in for my Business Class flight to Paris. Ivan wasn’t pleased about the missed meeting. I told him that it was down to Maurice that I missed everything, but he didn’t let me speak. He just kept shouting at me. It was only when I started to cry that he stopped.


Anyway, this next meeting is maybe more important than the last. We’ve sold a few players recently that means we need new ones – the Szczesny deal was all down to me! – so Paris needs the finest Dick Law that I can be! Mum always says that appearance is just as important as words, so I’ve got toItomake sure I rinse out the jam stain on my Peter Griffin tie when I get into the Executive Bathroom!


Paris here I come, I don’t think you’re ready for the Dick whirlwind!





31/08/17 – 1304hrs

Maurice didn’t book my tickets – again. It means I’ve got to queue up again and get in with the rest of the cattle. I’ve got ten minutes before I do all that, so I’m in the bathroom getting rid of the jam stain and I’m doing my mouth exercises in the big mirrors. Annunciation is a big thing, and I want to impress the big cheese’s at the Parc Des Princes with my big words. 


Annunciation is one of them, I’ll slip it in there somehow!


Now, I’ve got to go, my flight is near and the town that was inspired by Blackpool and their Tower is calling!





31/08/17 – 1605hrs

The flight was bumpy, they didn’t serve up any Babybel, Maurice never booked the transfer from the airport to the stadium offices – and I was mega late again.


The staff at the club tried to find the Chairman, but we eventually found out they had flown back to Qatar and said they won’t be doing business with people who can’t grace them with proper timekeeping! Charming!


Their loss, they didn’t even see my Foghorn Leghorn impression! That was the dealmaker for sure!


Ivan is ringing again, this might take a while…..





31/08/17 – 1700hrs

Ivan threatened me. He said if I don’t get this last deal done, then I can kiss goodbye to that skateboard I want.


I’ve got to get cracking. I’ve got all the talk, all the skills, I just need to get to Southampton. Best call Maurice and make sure the flight is booked, as well as the transfers. I’m not going to miss this one. This deal will go down in history, and it will be all down to Dick Law, transfer expert extraordinaire!





31/08/17 – 2300hrs

I missed the flight. I missed the meeting. According to Maurice, it’s because he’s invisible and can’t touch the keys on the keyboard. It never stopped him when we were kids though…..


Anyway, that means the three players have moved to other clubs, and Arsenal have missed out.


Worse still, the skateboard is gone. Ivan has sent me a Whatsapp with it sawn in half. I cried a little, so I ate one of my toblerone’s to cheer myself up. I suppose I best get to bed, It’s been a long…..


Wait a minute!


I’ve just got a text saying a player has stated his interest in joining The Arsenal! All I have to do is get back to Southampton, and we can talk!


I’m going to get a cab, this could change everything!





01/09/17 – 0002hrs

I got to the meeting, I did my impression, used my big-boy words, my tie sparked a conversation – it went perfectly!


We quickly progressed to negotiations, and this is when my intellect comes into play. They wanted £25million – I hit straight back with £3.


Boom!


They didn’t like that! After a long argument, they then came back with their second figure.


£25m.


I smashed it straight back with £1.50 and a slice of Millionaire Shortbread.


Kapow!


That was when I was asked to leave.


I’ve asked Maurice to ring me a cab, but that was a while ago.


It’s getting quite cold and I forgot to bring my mittens that my mum knitted me.


Ivan is calling my phone….