Stick or Twist Interlull Edition

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Welcome back to Stick or Twist – a new regular Tuesday blog from #ABW Chief Blogger, the Other Geoff.  The concept is simple – OG will pick a few topics each week and give his thoughts followed by a verdict using the terms STICK or TWIST.  Then you get the chance to vote and let us know if you agree.

stick (stĭk): stand; hold the course. The state or condition of adhering.

twist (twist): hit; make a change. A variation in approach.

On Player Salary Demands:

There’s been a lot of talk over contract renewals as is often the case at this point in the season. For those players with contracts expiring in the summer of 2016, this likely represents one of the last big pushes to re-sign with their current club before either being sold on for a reduced fee in the summer or eventually moving on a free in the subsequent summer transfer window.

Both club and player are always looking out for themselves in these matters and historically, there have been some awkwardly sticky situations where club power has eroded to the point where the player holds all the bargaining chips.

As Arsenal fans, we like to pour over every financial detail – it seems to be a part of our DNA.  Contracts and wages are constantly scrutinized for value and when the perception is that we aren’t getting what we pay for, we’re not ashamed to let folks know.  Podolski on a reported £100K a week certainly seems like poor value for money and whatever we are paying Diaby also seems unfortunately open to some questions.

Historically we haven’t helped ourselves as a club with our ‘socialist’ wage structure which saw high performers rewarded similarly to the ‘dead wood.’  Thankfully, that model seems to be changing as it has proved to not be entirely successful.  The question is now, how quickly can it change?

In a closed and stable financial system, we wouldn’t need to ask that question as we would adjust contracts as they come up for renewal as necessary on an annual basis – but the Premier League is anything but a stable eco-system.  In fact, there is a rather large variable that is about to enter play.

The new Premier League TV deal is set to start in 2016 and is reportedly worth £10.19m per game to each of the 20 teams in the League.  Even without the additional funds that will be made from the overseas rights (the above is domestic only), that is a mammoth amount of money and players and agents currently negotiating deals know it.

For a club struggling to come to grips with paying anyone over £100K a week, this will represent a monumental change.  Put simply, it’s going to cost us more than the current system allows to keep our best players – in fact, even our average players are going to cost more in wages.

I have no doubt that this is going to lead to more uncomfortable conversations and I’d hazard a guess that if the Theo wage demands are true (£130K up from £100K), then the influence of the new TV deal is already being felt.

When everyone else wins the lottery, now isn’t the time to haggle over perceived market value from an antiquated market.  Let’s be clear – I’m not advocating going hog wild in the spending department either but certainly we have to agree that a change in approach is likely necessary.

Verdict: TWIST – Our approach to contract negotiations will have to change given the effects of the massive injection of cash from the new TV deal.

Stick or Twist on changing our approach to contract negotiations

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On the 2022 World Cup Final:

In a move that will surprise precisely no one, FIFA – that pillar of sanctity that is the world’s football governing body, decided that the 2022 World Cup Final will be played on December 18th in erm….2022.

Keep in mind that this decision will mean that the likelihood of someone keeling over from heat stroke is dramatically diminished by avoiding the hot summer in Qatar. Unfortunately though, the reality is that for the majority of European leagues, a mid-season break will be the reality.  As someone who cares very little for the world game – and in particular for this World Cup due to the high number of worker casualties expected from the building of infrastructure to support it – I hate this plan.

Even more so, the fact that there was blatantly something fishy in the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar in the first place, and FIFA gets precisely none of my sympathy if the European clubs decide to forego the whole dirty affair.

Sure FIFA are reportedly upping their compensation to clubs releasing players, and yes, this will represent a welcome change to those leagues outside Europe who normally have to break to accommodate a June/July tournament, but I’m an Arsenal fan – for too long I’ve watched as our players have gone off on International duty in red hot form only to comeback more crocked than a Diaby in a glue factory.

Imagine being top of the league in 2022 as we head into the World Cup break only to have all of our key players injured or fatigued upon return and eventually finish fifth.  Cheers Sepp, but it’s not for me.

Verdict: TWIST – It isn’t going to happen but I’d love the European Clubs to stick up for themselves and boycott the 2022 World Cup.

Stick or Twist on boycotting the World Cup in 2022

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On Greg Dyke and the FA:

Poor old Greg Dyke.

Every time there is any focus on the England team, the FA Chairman gets to talk about his archaic proposals with the media.

I have to believe that this is some sort of deflection from the actual dire performances by England in major tournaments, rather than some sort of misguided plan to actually improve the production of English players playing top flight football.

For those unfamiliar, Mr. Dyke’s latest proposal focuses on increasing the number of homegrown players from 8-12 in the 25 man first team squad.  It also looks at lowering the age from 21 to 18 for the three-year previous in an academy to be homegrown rule.  In essence, the ruling will make it harder for English clubs to bring in more technically gifted foreign players in favour of local lads.

Personally, I find it completely baffling as to why Mr Dyke didn’t focus on the reason why other countries are producing more technically gifted youngsters (hint – it isn’t the water). It’s even more perplexing when you consider countries like Germany already have a blueprint for success in place that can be studied and emulated.

The simple fact of the matter is that the proposals made by the FA focus on the output of a grass roots system and are therefore doomed to fail in their intended goals of producing more top quality English footballers.

The answer is not to be more restrictive at the tail end of development, but rather to invest in development itself – including more and higher quality coaches that focus primarily on technique at younger ages.  This is just one of the proposals the Germans implemented and guess what – they have noticed a steady increase in the number of Germans playing in their top flight and they um…. won a World Cup.

This isn’t rocket science folks – it’s two goals and a ball.

Verdict: TWIST – The FA need to stop running out the old restricting foreign players line and start focusing on the actual problem.

Stick or Twist on the FA being more restrictive on foreign players

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Here’s to hoping this edition of Stick or Twist helped you at least part of the way through the Interlull.  Bring on Liverpool!

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The Other Geoff

Other Geoff is the ‘#ABW Chief Blogger’ and can be found on Twitter here: @Hollefreund.

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