Arsene Wenger and the future of the EU
Some people think football is a matter of life and death, said legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, adding: “I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” And we can see today just how important it is, by focusing on the impact of football, and of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in particular, on the very future of the European Union. For all the nonsense that was spouted by politicians in both camps of the in/out debate in the EU referendum, if we’d just listened to Arsenal fans we’d have had a much clearer picture of what the debate was really about. And we can still spot clues for what might happen in Europe over the next 12 months or so, with forthcoming elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands, by paying heed to Gunners’ supporters.
The big question amongst the red half of North London is, of course, whether Arsene Wenger should stay or go. On paper, his record with Arsenal looks exemplary: 21 years at the helm during which time the club has won the Premier League three times, the FA Cup six times, and has finished in the top four of every Premier League season that Wenger has been in charge, securing continuous UEFA Champions League football for the north London team. I can think of many supporters of other teams who would be green with envy.
But while a top four finish keeps the revenues coming in, top four doesn’t win anything, and the failings of Arsenal in Europe to progress in the world’s most prestigious club football tournament have become a source of constant frustration for fans who want and expect more. So is it time for the club to sever its ties with the man who became the Premier League’s current longest serving manager when Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season? Let’s look at both sides of the debate that you can regularly hear in any north London pub, on sofas up and down the land, and among radio and TV pundits galore.
Arsenal football club needs the revenues that being in Europe bring. Supporters want to be in Europe trading banter other nations. In that respect, sticking with Arsene Wenger means assured safety. Things are by no means perfect, but all the time you’re there, you have the chance to compete, even if you’re never quite at the pinnacle of achievement. So dispensing with the services of Arsene Wenger is a huge risk. Arsenal could end up dropping out of Europe altogether, and the impact financially could be catastrophic. A downward spiral could follow, with reduced revenues meaning reduced investment, leading to reduced success and further reduced revenues. On the other hand, away from Arsene Wenger, could Arsenal achieve a better deal that will bring greater success in Europe, driving the club to a new high?
The UK’s exit negotiations are expected to run for two years. If Arsenal dispense with the services of Arsene Wenger at the end of this season, then well before the UK’s exit terms are agreed, we may get a hint of just what life outside the EU is going to look like.
Mark Simms Editor
Industrial Technology - NEWS