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FFP Please, FFS!

 

wheels

Will the wheels of Arsenal’s fortunes finally turn together?

The next stage of the implementation by UEFA of Financial Fair Play is due to play out over the coming weeks and months – and mighty interesting it should prove, too.

It’s taken what feels like an age to come into effect but the Summer of Reckoning may finally be upon us for a number of our favourite clubs – PSG and Manchester City  being at the forefront of everyone’s affections on this front.  Whilst this ‘reckoning’ could fickle out in a damp squib of laughable fines or lengthy delay-inducing appeals, given the recent unprecedented (I think) transfer ban on Barcelona for recent transfer transgressions, I’m actually more hopeful that UEFA are of a mind to finally stamp their authority on the financially reckless and the morally lawless.

As a particularly pleasing side benefit, it should, once and for all, help the penny to finally drop in the minds of all those who have refused to understand how essential self-sustainability in the financial make-up of all clubs actually is.

Hopefully the days of Citeh-style excess will now prove to be finally behind us. And whilst the football playing field may never be perfectly level (especially for the smaller clubs) the era of Sheik/Oligarch hi-jacked clubs jumping in with a modest fanbase but over-loaded with cash, subverting all the player markets as they go, may finally be at an end. Doubtless PSG will have something to say about this – and possibly in the courts – but it is hard to envisage a successful rearguard action by them given the wider economic context the bulk of the football world has to operate in, not to mention the overall moods of governments and governing bodies almost everywhere.

That the timing of this next stage in the unfolding of FFP so neatly dovetails with the turning of the Arsenal commercial wheel should escape nobody.

World Cups aside, this will be the real story of the summer:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-city/10766475/Manchester-City-to-be-made-to-pay-a-high-price-for-spending-spree-under-Uefa-Financial-Fair-Play-rules.html

There may be only a few of us naive enough to have faith in FFP, to be honest, and  its effective resolution is by no means a done deal.

Despite having been politely but firmly put in my place on FFP over the years both here and on ACLF, I’ve still retained my faith in it for two main reasons.

Firstly, given the wealth of our owners and their connections – and remembering also Danny Fizman’s indication that AW had access to £100M if he wanted it – given all that and despite the very real difficulties of the last few years as symbolised by the ‘different directions’ identified by RVP, for one – then the club itself must have had a very real belief in FFP as a process which would either penalise AFC if ignored, or effectively reward it, if observed.

Secondly, the spectre of football clubs failing en masse across Europe was intolerable to a somewhat unholy trinity of European government, UEFA and the clubs themselves. Remember, it’s not just about curbing the worst excesses of the biggest clubs, but any club tempted to spend beyond its means. Small clubs desperate to retain top league status were routinely pre-spending anticipated revenue streams risking disaster in the process. How many more Leeds? How many more Rangers? Two once mighty beasts still struggling to survive as much smaller entities? Portsmouth and QPR are another pair of English clubs – smaller – but now struggling, who once enjoyed their unearned days in the sun.

One question I would like to one day ask of Ivan or Arsene relates to the timing of all this and to what extent, if any, AFC deliberately structured their balances to deliver them a massive transfer warchest comprising spendable assets at a time when all other clubs would be obliged by FFP to rein everything in?

Finally, the very fact that one of the most financially profligate – Jose, not ‘Arry, in this instance – is having to sell (indeed, has already sold) before he can buy suggests to me that to even the once mighty Chelsea, FFP may mata, after all.

That the angry, impatient and seemingly ignorant element of Arsenal’s fanbase appear to have failed to trouble themselves with a consideration of the wider financial horizons should hardly surprise us – we are football fans first and foremost, not economists. But our collective ignorance on this, alongside the failure or willingness to appreciate the devastating impact of injuries on the team is very telling.  Some are trying to blame AW for those injuries in the same breath as they blame the club for not spending more, sooner.

And it’s true, we have access to so much information and ways of sharing it, yet so little insight or wisdom to apply to it all. And if that sounds more than a little pompous I make no apology for it. Sitting through the appalling booing that gripped Wembley on Saturday at the substitution of Podolski – I’ve been repeatedly told it was aimed at Arsene, not the player, but frankly, regardless of its intended victim – I’m in little mood to continue to tolerate the excesses of the club’s own fans.

Arsene, in the eyes of many, appears to be on the brink of walking away rather than re-signing.

If true, given all of the above plus so much more, it would in many ways represent the greatest tragedy in the whole history of the club.

The fans, in my view, would very much deserve whatever it is they think they are wishing for. The ultimate irony is the legacy Arsene eventually passes on will do more to avoid an extended period of change and uncertainty of the kind currently gripping Manchester United, than many possibly realise.

And whilst Ferguson’s reputation may be judged on his history, the future will be all Arsene’s as AFC sit, deservedly and indefinitely, at the top table in world football.

The tragedy – the sadness – could come in the form of Arsene Wenger being prevented by the reaction and behaviour of the club’s own fans, from driving us to the very top of the summit himself.

It’s been a long time coming.  And as is currently the fashion on reality tv to never fail to mention – one hell of a ‘journey’.

I know I’m not alone in hoping the final leg of the trip will be undertaken with all still very much on board.

But the question for Arsene may ultimately prove to be, however – do enough of us still share that hope?

About ArsenalAndrew

Annoying, perennial optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen. My support for the club manager and every single player is non-negotiable, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Retain all options on fellow fans.

47 comments on “FFP Please, FFS!

  1. ARSENAL ANDREW
    EXCELLENT, as per your usual standards. All we can do is hope,pray and wait. Don’t forget many of our players are here in large part due to the managment at the helm. If AW does decide to leave ( very very small chance) we might see an exodus of some of these beloved players. Specialy the likes of CARL, AARON & some more of our youth. In that instance our climb to the top of the football world, as you mentioned, will be a bit more rocky and might take longer to achieve.
    And please don’t forget Birmingham amongst the troubled club that are paying the price for spending beyond their means . The vultures are gathering and it won’t be long they will be sold again. Or relegated and might be administered.
    I do agree with you that THE ARSENAL is very well positioned to take our place at the top of the competitions we will be entering and that the future looks very bright indeed.
    HAIL HAIL THE ARSENAL JUGGERNAUT !!!!!!!!

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  2. Could not agree with you more my friend!
    COYG

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  3. “And it’s true, we have access to so much information and ways of sharing it, yet so little insight or wisdom to apply to it all.”

    Very wise words in a post full of them. This is an outstanding read Andrew and I really hope you are right. The fact that Roman has stopped spending to excess and is very much supportive of FFP, suggests that he knows something is coming. He also knows it’s not sustainable now that there is more than 1 pig at the trough.

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  4. Excellent Andrew. So true. The old saying of “Be very careful what you wish for, you may get it” springs to mind. AW has been and still is the best thing ever to have happened to this club…and despite the fact that I’ve cursed him on occasion, (but praised him more) doesn’t detract from that.

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  5. Brilliant post AA, FFP would benefit us so much that we can’t quite believe it can really happen. I am more than sceptical mainly because football is big business and big business is corrupt almost by its very nature.
    While I can see the reasoning that the associations will initially not like to lose members that has to be tempered with the fact that avenues of business streamline and when they do big companies get bigger and small companies die. If there is a European league the money will go with it and the smaller leagues will disappear. Owners and chairmen all over Europe are scared crapless of missing the boat. A reason I am even more grateful to our insightful manager, it may be his greatest achievement and history may finally recognise this.

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  6. I don’t know much about finance, thanks be to the football furies, but I do know that video replays and stuff will help with fair play. Diving, cheating, all of it. The lack of any aid for the tough job the officials have upon the pitch in the modern game is not an encouraging precedent.

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  7. What a fantastic read AA!

    I’m on annual leave today, relaxed having already enjoyed watching the Arsenal second half performance against the Hammers again this morning. I’m feeling quite positive about the team whilst also a little frustrated that injuries have snatched the EPL title from us. This team, with two or three good signings, will be even stronger next season – title winning stronger. Add to this our emerging supply of top quality youth coming through to supplement the 1st team then get ready for a great ride…..

    Last night was totally unexpected and wanted to gloat at my Citeh supporting neighbour but he was actually at Eastlands. Poor soul. I am guilty of schadenfreude….

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  8. Great title, Andrew.

    One thing that has sustained my faith in FFP having teeth is the backing of Chelsea. This is welcome news.

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  9. Greetings from Phuket! A fantastic write up from Andrew,just heard about the Crystal Pullis result,told you lot We’ll be alright didn’t i?

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  10. Enjoy your holiday Mel, it’s a fair spring here in London for the moment.

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  11. Slight tangent.

    Anyone else notice how the consistent Groaning Redzone Experts and unemployed genius physios are not commenting upon Bunga Bunga Barcelona continuing to play Messi when he is clearly not 100%? Not terrible when this happens for the odd game, Rosicky wasn’t ready for the start against the Hammers but he had to play. But if players are forced to play game after game when the are not fully up for it then that is not very wise. It’s what Liverpool did with Torres before and after the last World Cup when he was niggled and I don’t think he recovered. Conversely the two traitors were given months off for rehab after the World Cup. The bile that has been manipulated and directed towards AFC will not reflect this.

    I suppose this matches the coverage of the bungs? Bungs so big that they put the small/part-time hobbies of GG* and El Tel into context.

    *which cost him his job at AFC but hey, let’s not remind the chief Groaners who cannot or will not disassociate themselves from red and white holdings of that

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  12. I think you’re right to have a little faith in FFP Andrew, just not too much, loopholes – both financial and legal will always be found, and allowed by powers behind the scenes. But it is understood that the cash cow is in danger without a degree of regulation (for the money people) and football clubs themselves are in danger (by the football types).

    City are under investigation for incurring a trading loss of 147m, whereas 32.5m or so seems the maximum allowed. FFP regulators also seem interested in how City accounted for 350m invested by owners, the loss could be (obviously is) larger.

    Depending how much clout City has, it could start to get interesting, if FFP regulators decide a good opening gambit for EPL is to sanction one sizeable club (but not too large or influential), just the once, and draw a line. That being the case Everton and Arsenal might find themselves both playing CL next season anyway.

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  13. Just posted this on the last thread and it is indirectly related to AA’s post:
    “As for the plundits and our own useful idiots who said injuries to our best players was no explanation for our recent dip in results, what say them as the Oilers of Manchester begin to fall away with Yaya injured vs Liverpool and Silva unable to play yesterday? This is a team which spent £120 million on players last summer for fuck’s sake.”

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  14. I’m in awe that the elderly bear with a male menopause is able to write so well and with such erudition on a daily basis. It truly is remarkable. Today however, I think he has recycled some nonsense about the top 4 target and purported lack of ambition that AFC has to qualify beyond the group stages. Sorry, old bear, that is utter nonsense….

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  15. i dotn who or when but im sure i readit here somewhere an admission by radio journalists that they all have huge respect for wenger but arsenal collapsing is a prime news theme for them? can we find that chief scout george?

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  16. So, the tone of the daily missive sets the tone. They all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Is it true here too? Are we unable to have a mature debate? I prefer to be optimistic….I don’t agree with the doomers….I have plausible explanations for our performances during the trophy-less years…..I expect much better next season…

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  17. you dont agree with the doomers ??????????????? thats it !…youre clearly deluded

    how dare you trust a professional manager and not payton and the dm? how dare you indeed….

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  18. A fine piece Andrew though I suspect when the final sanctions are announced, and the inevitable appeals triggered, there will be a bit of a sigh.

    One thing occurs to me though. Given the profile that Platini and UEFA have given FFP it really had better work and be seen to work.

    Or it will be the end of Platini and perhaps even UEFA !

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  19. We all hope for FFP to work. That would give our hard work and self-generated revenue a chance. Considering how the 2022 world cup was bought by Qatar and considering the ridiculous levels of money some men in the middle east have and the sucking of **** by officials in charge to get their grubby hands on that money, I am being cynical. I hope it works though. It is always sweet when even some measure of justice is achieved in this world.

    I hope Arsene doesnt leave this season. We still need him. I hope he doesnt do that. Sign a new contract soon after the season gets over Arsene, no matter what happens. Dont listen to the noise being generated. Stay for many many years to come. Let us dominate the premier league and europe!

    In other news, Arsene has talked about the possibility of clubs having connections with Sky, et.al and influencing the fixtures. Like the time we played Man City on Saturday lunchtime after playing Napoli away. Unless I am mistaken, City didnt play any mid-week champions league game that week and would have massively benefited from pushing their fixture with us as close as possible to our Napoli fixture.

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  20. http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/arsenals-mikel-arteta-the-pressure-in-football-is-so-great-that-i-struggle-to-enjoy-being-a-player-9267183.html

    Mikel Arteta’s wife is stunning!

    He says he talks football with her. Isnt that the dream guys? To talk football with a wife who looks like that! Lucky bastard.

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  21. Thanks as ever for a great and interesting read – and to all the positive comments that always make me feel better about stuff. I was feeling very chipper this morning after our two consecutive wins and Everton’s slip up, especially as I was lucky enough to take my boy to an Arsenal Football School today. What a great event: an hour’s coaching for 7-14 year olds, lots of sideshows (kicking balls into targets etc), and a video of the palyers training etc. Really nicely organised, lots of decent young men and women in charge, and all for free. It was great to see so many youngsters all in their Arsenal kit, and it made me feel ever so proud (as Aaron Ramsey would say) to be part of the Arsenal family. And then I had to go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like click through a tweet to read an article in the Daily Mail penned by our very own Peter Wood explaining why good players get worse at Arsenal. While I remain just about a supporter of free speech I think few would blame the club if they revoked his ticket for spreading such vile and seditious nonsense.

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  22. Mikel Arteta’s wife is stunning!

    go to google ..select images .. press sagna’s wife

    contract NOW!

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  23. “So, the tone of the daily missive sets the tone. They all seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet.”

    Heh. You must at least see the irony in that sentence, GP 😉

    Good piece btw, Andrew. Despite my utter cynicism over FFP, you have to live in hope.

    Now where did I leave that black scarf….

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  24. Just checking back in-great to see my old mucker Flowers back.

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  25. Hunter, for me, Sagna’s wife is meh compared to Arteta’s. Now….which other Arsenal player has a stunning wife/girfriend…Google!

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  26. I’m just glad the last, huge, cash soaked purchases of the crazy era of football spending were for two of the most hyped players in football history, Bale and Neymar. Bale for all his athleticism can be marked out of the game very easily. Neymar is just a Nike marketing project who can play a bit. I’m also glad the money Spuds received from the sale of Bale was squandered on players like Soldado, Capoue and Paulinho.

    As far as Roman being for FFP, no shit. The dude is rich, but he doesn’t have unlimited funds. Personally, I’m going to enjoy watching Mourinho have to build a proper squad without splashing the cash. If he wins nothing this season, he’ll have won only one Copa Del Rey in the last four or so seasons. No wonder that fear of failure comment by Arsene rattled him so much. Everyone is starting to see that the great Mourinho is actually not a very good manager.

    Shotta, I was thinking the same thing as I watched the City game yesterday. Without Yaya and Silva in the team, they are nothing. Nasri was never good enough to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and win it for his team. And without the midfield solidity Yaya provides, they have to rely on a defensive formation which has to include James Milner at the expense of Navas. Personally, after watching City struggle away from home early in the season, I didn’t think they would win the league. They may have Negredo, Dzeko and Jovetic on the bench, but they can’t all play together at the same time.

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  27. I think Sagna’s wife is absolutely gorgeous.

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  28. The hottest WAG of them all is Hugo Lloris’s wife. I love French girls.

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  29. To each his own Gains.

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  30. irina..

    10′

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  31. Very interesting piece AA. Funny how 2 years ago the Bear and his acolytes were consistently dismissive of your observation that FFP marked a significant attempt to restrain excesses of sugar daddy clubs because it posed a danger to the whole edifice of professional football. Of course there were loopholes and weaknesses but his arrogance and presumptiveness simply refused to acknowledge that there was something there. Any alternative viewpoint was to be dismissed and negated. Sitting behind a computer lecturing other people does not change reality especially when there are better qualified professionals who must daily confront reality. At least give them the benefit of the doubt than being an egotistic twat. Two years later nothing has changed, it seems.

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  32. Cheers Mel! Hope you’re well, mate. You should pop in on “the other place” a bit more yourself y’know, even though these days it’s only frequented by terrible old doomers like myself 😉

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  33. Hit a raw nerve Harry? Sorry mate, you are not a spokesperson for them surely? Besides, you certainly are not a doomer as far as I’m concerned. You have been missed by me for sure, but that lot over there are a bit too gloomy for me nowadays. I would be more understanding of that position if they could supply hard evidence. Alas, it’s still all supposition. Bouldy not holding Arsene’s hand is not proof that there is no love lost between the two in my books. However, I cannot but marvel at Yogi’s tremendous talent and consistency.

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  34. SA

    “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife/Ox”

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  35. For those near a tv tonight the second leg of the Youth cup is on from the Emirates 7.45 itv 4

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  36. Talent at what ? Peter Wood is talented too.

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  37. Your comment raised a wry smile is all, GP. Trust me, no raw nerves were hit. And if anyone was looking for a spokesperson on their behalf, they’d hardly want me doing it….

    Gloomy? don’t see much of that. Unlike me, you might strongly disagree with the sentiment/consensus these days, but the tone is mostly good natured. Popular comments threads are generally of a cyclical nature, ACLF is the same. Occasionally get’s a bit dreary sometimes, at least for a butterfly mind like myself, but as long as they’re happy.

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  38. And I remember you as a caterpillar Harry

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  39. PG, neither of them are qualified to manage or coach a football club in the EPL. Would any football club employ either of them?

    As for FFP, consider this:

    “Any club which exceeds the transitional deficit amounts will automatically be in breach of the ‘‘break-even’’ rule, irrespective of any equity contributions. However, for the first two monitoring periods only (i.e. 2013/14 and 2014/15) UEFA will also consider (1) if the quantum and trend of losses is improving; (2) if the over-spend is caused by the deficit in 2011/12 which in turn is due to wages of players that were contracted before June 2010 (when the fair-play rules were approved); and (3) impact of changes in exchange rates.”

    I would suggest there are any number of solicitors who will deploy all necessary case histories, to prove – non proven!

    At the moment the Arsenal are only contracted to pay Mr Wenger, upcoming April, May and June 2014, salaries. All payments subject to the new tax year, starting 6th April 2014.

    This will be beyond you all, Tax Code ‘K’, meaning all the salary is subject to top-rate tax.

    That is why, I would recommend “consultancy”, rather than “employee” status.

    IF, Mr Wenger listens to Anicoll5 on tactics, why does he ignore my advice?

    .

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  40. Watching the FA Youth Cup second leg on ITV – we are 1-2 down from the first leg. 10,000 tickets sold at the Emirates.
    I am really nervous, I so want them to get through. I remember watching the class of 2009 (featuring one J Wilshere) beat Liverpool 4-0 in the first leg of a two-legged final. Fantastic match, wonderful atmosphere.

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  41. Fulham await the winner of this semifinal.

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  42. Great to see Harry around again.

    Him and Hunter really set the place alight at times!

    Disappointed not to see some broken towers on the back pages of the sports rags today.

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  43. What’s with all the coveting of players wives all of a sudden.. Stop right away. Haven’t you heard of the fourth or fifth amendment. thou shall NOT COVET thy neighbors wife , or house or his ass. Something like that.
    😉
    Well i suppose if they don’t live exactly next doors it should be ok talking about it. Hugo, MIKEL & SAGNA you say..
    I shall Bing. Them.

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  44. Thanks for the kind comments people – guess it’s a question of watch this Uefa space over the coming weeks.

    Great to hear from Mel on his annual hols and ‘arry, sorry, Harry always welcome round these parts, goes without saying.

    Disappointing night at the Emirates this evening – Wenger out, blame Girooo etc.

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  45. I see Arsene is getting the blame for the under 18s loss last night….the man has total control of a all matters Arsenal…..but then he is a God to us….

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  46. This mornings post is up.

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  47. Whatever the outcome of FFP, you can bet your bottom dollar that the next few months will be dominated by transfer blogs and tweets. You know the kind of thing. “Five signings Arsenal must make this summer.” “Arsenal poised to land record-breaking striker.” Why, even that beacon of financial prudence, Tim Payton, is already on record as saying that Arsenal will have to make eight new signings this year (easy given that he has already gained assurances that there will be no ticket price increases), because he already knows which positions need filling. Now I know that smiley-type things are banned, so this is probably out of order too, but I wondered if we might be allowed a bit of bank holiday fun and submit the two or three players we genuinely think might grace the emirates next season.

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