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Talkin' Bout An Evolution

Whilst Arsenal`s form has wilted somewhat in the brighter months, a great many have been appealing for the winds of change to blow through the Marble Halls. Frustrated by our genuine ignorance of matters behind the closed doors of London Colney and within the oak panelled boardrooms of Highbury House, many a suggestion has been put forward is the bona fide answer to our travails. New defensive coaches (even though we have about a billion ex-defenders in our coaching repertoire already), new medical staff, a new board, a different captain, a new philosophy, some even want a new manager. There is even a supporter march (or "walk" as the group responsible are insisting it be called) prior to the Aston Villa home game. Amongst the rather diffuse and sometimes mawkish aims of the "walk" is to challenge the club`s commercial strategies.

In my opinion, the "walk" is merely impotent willy waving. Though the group responsible insist it`s not a "Wenger out" march, one has to wonder if it`d be going ahead were we still in the title race, or even if we had the Carling Cup tucked snugly under our arms. Don`t get me wrong, all forms of affirmative action should be encouraged when necessary, members of my family and I (though in truth, I was too young to genuinely understand the issue) chanted "We love Arsenal you don`t" with thousands of others at Arsenal`s white knight David Dein when the Bond Scheme was foisted upon us in the early 90s. But I do wonder if we are the first ever football club to march on the stadium because of front loaded sponsorship contracts.

But the Black Scarf walk is by the by, it seems without their intervention, the cool breeze of evolution is blowing through the club anyway. Ownership of the club has changed hands so recently that the official documentation is still in transit. It rather beggars belief to protest on an owner who hasn`t even snagged a neat arse grove in his Governor`s chair. This morning, the line up for this summer`s Emirates Cup was announced. The attraction of seeing the return of Thierry Henry in a New York Red Bulls shirt will doubtless get tickets selling quite nicely, with Gazidis and Kroenke`s MLS connections; I`m sure the invitational phone call was a quick and easy one. But within the announcement was the slightly less eye catching statement;

"Coinciding with the announcement of the line-up for this year`s tournament, Arsenal Football Club is also delighted to announce that a three year extension has been signed with Emirates Airline, as title sponsor of the Emirates Cup until 2013.

As well as the contract extension with Emirates Airline, Arsenal has also signed a five year agreement with MP & Silva to distribute the broadcast rights to the tournament. These two new arrangements reflect the rapid growth of the Emirates Cup which is now considered the world`s leading pre-season tournament."

It seems Stan has wasted no time! Given his connections with media and broadband, such developments were always likely. But that`s effectively two commercial contracts updated and he`s not officially in situ yet. Word on the grapevine from the Arsenal Supporters Trust is also that Arsenal TV Online will undergo a long overdue upgrade this summer (and the club are considering giving free subscription to season ticket holders). Since Kroenke owns 50% of Arsenal Broadband Ltd, it`s again, probably not a huge surprise that this is one of the first areas to be addressed in expanding our commercial revenues. In thisexcellent piece by Swiss Ramble on Kroenke, it is pointed out that when he takes ownership of a sports team, the media revenues are usually the first to swell.

As well as boardroom changes, it seems the coaching staff will likely undergo some change this summer. It`s the worst kept secret at the club at the moment that Pat Rice will probably retire at the end of the season, with his contract at an end and, at the age of 62 with a knee nack, he won`t take the option to extend. The whisper in the corridor is that ex Arsenal defender Gilles Grimandi has impressed with his work as a scout for the club in the French leagues and is already being groomed as Arsene`s Dr. Watson. Others suggest that Steve Bould`s work as under-18s Manager may have earned him a promotion. Outside bets include Martin Keown. (Well, he`s an ex Arsenal centre half; which seems to be marked "essential" in the capability framework). Boro Primorac is already said to be semi-retired too. All top clubs undergo gentle evolution; those that find themselves ripping up and starting again completely have either fallen from grace or are about to. It seems Arsenal`s inevitable cycle is about to change its tyres. As Bob Dylan once crooned; "don't speak too soon/ For the wheel's still in spin/ And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'." LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday April 28 2011

Time: 12:06PM

Your Comments

Our biggest improvement this season has been on the injuries-front. Next season we need to tackle the end of season slumps we tend to have. And by the way aren't we playing Man United on Sunday? I can't remember such lack of buzz, around a game of this size, in ages.
Good stuff. Gives us some hope.
It seems ironic that this summer when it's likely we will do the most buying, when compared with the last 4 summers we've least needed it - in theory at least. All our young players are older and stronger, we've not lost any players, except maybe a meek GK and a chronicly hobbled midfielder. Yet because Arsene has no excuses for our failures, the squad will finally get the older heads it could have done with over the last 4 years.
We've hardly signed anything other than older players in the last 4 years. Squillaci, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Chamakh, Arshavin, Nasri, Sagna. Players like Diarra, Campbell and Silvestre have also come and gone in that time. Ramsey is the only young player we've signed in that time to threaten a first team place. We're unlikely to sign more than a couple of players this summer either but they'll be players with some experience just as they've tended to be for sometime now. Nothing has changed or should change in terms of basic transfer policy unless we're forced to replace key players.
"replace key players" = yup.
Can you guys please beat Man U ? we will be forever grateful ^.^
It is a thing of pride to see as the club can undergo key changes without making such a big buzz in the press; just as we don't conduct transfer business on the pages of papers. Usually, it is easy to pick out the 'true' transfer rumours. I am waiting to see how the horde of "I told you so" and "Sack Wenger!" brigade will look to take credit for the positive changes, including the routine signing of a couple of players (something we have come to expect) and if these are "big" names, well, Voila! I do hope that 'walk' doesn't turn ugly. I can understand if some go on to express their disagreement with the walk/protest march using physical means.
The commercial strategy clearly needs a boost, as Arsenal has not fully exploited its potential. However, there was a reason to that, as funds were needed while building the stadium. There has to be an understanding of the situation at that time, and the Board did really well to secure funding for the stadium. It meant that the club would take a short term hit to the revenues. Now, with those contracts nearing expiry AND Kroenke taking over, I fully expect that to change. Arsenal need to rake in more money from overseas, and even a staunch opponent of overseas pre-season tours like Wenger now sees there is no other way.
Hang on, there are actual Arsenal fans who are asking for Wenger to be sacked ? lol
Incremental change - in the squad as well as the coaching staff will build on our strengths. Going back to the drawing board is the tabloid solution - playing to the gallery to some people who love seeing heads roll.
I'm sure these Black Scarf 'protesters' would also rather have Englishman Gary Cahill for 20m than any of the dozens available across Europe for half that amount. Because, you know, English spine is what makes winners, right?
Gronedrone: ' Our biggest improvement this season has been on the injuries-front. ' ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! Vermaelen out for the whole season after an outrageous guesitmation of 1 week out? Not to mention at one point being with out 1st 2nd and 3rd choice keeper, 1st 2nd and 3rd choice Centre backs, song, fabregas and nasari or walcott ALL AT THE SAME TIME. HUMMMM i think your wrong on that statement!!

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