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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arsenal trophy void set to widen

The gap between Arsenal’s 2005 FA Cup triumph and their next taste of silverware appears destined to expand into the foreseeable future after their shareholders’ meeting last week exposed the full extent of the club’s frugal attitude.

Both majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and squad manager Arsene Wenger outlined the need for financial stability as the driving factor for future success, but at a cost – it appears – of present-day glory.

Kroenke, in a statement following the meeting, said: “Arsenal is a tremendous club with a track record of consistent performance at the top level. That is very rare, but we have managed it. I know that will continue as we move forwards. We have an exciting future and our goal is to win trophies.”

Meanwhile Wenger told shareholders at the meeting: “There are five trophies. The first is to win the Premiership, second is to win the Champions League, third is to qualify for the Champions League, fourth is to win the FA Cup, and fifth is to win the League Cup.”

The rhetoric of these two statements must worry Arsenal fans who crave for a trophy like the haul they won a decade ago. While Kroenke outlined ‘consistent performance at the top level,’ Wenger’s statement that Champions League qualification is more important than a domestic cup is very concerning.
Granted, the Frenchman has kept the club in Europe’s elite competition for more than a decade, ensuring the hefty flow of TV money keeps moving, and the latest champions league group stage betting suggests they will make it to the knock-out stages this time around.

Both men have outlined the niggling concern that they see second-best as good enough because financially it keeps the club healthy. Kroenke may say he wants trophies but selling his best players and not giving Wenger the funds to reinvest is not the way about it.

Wenger has kept the club afloat during the paying-off of the new stadium with young talent just about good enough for fourth place. Now, however, there is a distinct rut in the playing squad and Champions League qualification may not even be achieved this year – mostly thanks to the frugal fiscal determination of Kroenke and co.

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