Tottenham fans vow to ‘walk away’ over Qatar deal; Potter needs Arsenal patience

Tottenham fans protest against owners ENIC and Daniel Levy. Credit: Alamy
Tottenham fans protest against owners ENIC and Daniel Levy. Credit: Alamy

Graham Potter could do with some Arsenal-like patience at Chelsea while Tottenham fans respond to reports of Qatari investment…

 

Potter patience
Looking at all the hate Potter is receiving and banter on Chelsea.. It appears everyone has forgotten how Arteta fared a couple of years ago. In his first year he was close to sack with terrible results and everyone including Arsenal fans were baying for his head.

Since then and after being backed by Arsenal board plus recruitment with his vision plus getting rid of players who don’t fit either in style or attitude with his vision… They are now top of the table with one hand on the title cup.

I think we should allow Potter to grow. Improve our recruitment of players with focus on Potter’s vision.  There is no reason to think Potter cannot do what Arteta is doing after being backed for 3 years. However, it’s different whether Chelsea fans and owners have patience akin to Arsenal. I was myself thinking who we will bring in next.. before realizing maybe Potter is the rite man.

As for Felix, I thought he was the best player on the pitch against Fulham even with 60 odd mins. And I don’t mind his Red card for two reasons..1. It happens 2. It may spur Chelsea to buy 1-2 more players hopefully of top pedigree.

I do believe the performance of the team generally needs to improve. Unable to put a finger on the issue.. maybe it’s the new playing style, Injuries, constant change of personnel, or players not yet completely aligned with Potter’s mould.
B CFC

 

Tyldesley love
I threw Villa vs Leeds on Talksport this evening onto the Sonos setup while wandering from room to room around the house doing laundry, intending to settle down and watch the second half.

But Clive Tyldesley was on commentary, and he’s just so much better than everyone else that I instead kept the radio commentary on.

What were ITV thinking replacing him? Nothing against Sam Matterface, though he had a bad breakup with a friend of mine, but he’s nowhere near Clives level when it comes to genuinely adding to a game.

Tyldesley is possibly even better on the radio than the TV as you get more of that treacle gravel voice with its fabulous light and dark, quiet and shrieking added to an gentle elegance of phrasing and insightful pointed questions to his co-comentator teasing out information.

He’s.. I think he’s the best around.

I’m aware he occasionally reads the site, if he sees this I would just like to express my sincere admiration for him and how he makes such a difficult job sound so effortless.

I wish he were one of BTs or Sky’s lead commentators.
Tim Sutton (Chelsea really did deserve to beat us)

 

Bra-vo
I like Tim’s suggestion in the last mailbox about the offside law, think it makes sense. But if you want an instant decision then why don’t you simply use the microchip in this bikini vests that each player wears. i.e. when the ball is played, if the forwards microchip is behind the defender’s it is onside. Better experience for the fans in the stadium as it is quicker and let’s be honest, they are the ones who suffer the most with the current application of VAR.

All the officials would need to do is verify that the vest is on the right way, the chip is positioned correctly and away we go. Advantage to attackers especially if the defender is running away from goal and trying to play offside with the forward running in the other direction. The only flaw might be that the rules for offside in VAR games are minutely different to Tim’s suggestion that could be applied everywhere else.

I reckon this is worth more than a tenner.
Rob (no, not that one)

 

Keys’ vendetta
In many ways, we all become obsolete. It is part of ageing. You cannot stay young at heart forever, slowly we all calcify into reflections of our eras. It’s why marketers are confident of lumping people together into Gen X, Or Z, or Millennials or whatever. Which brings me to the subject of this email, Richard Keys.

His single focused pursuit of Arteta and Arsenal seems very strange. What is it about this young manager that annoys the hairy handed one so much? When Mourinho, or heaven forbid Alex Ferguson, shouted and screamed and demonstrated on the touchline, Keys got a chub on. It showed passion. But when Arteta does it, it is some transgressive sin, some form of insult to football as a whole. Wenger got sent to the stands on more than one occasion, and surely we’d all like a manager who is in the trenches with his players rather than some mute statue on the touchline.

I can see why Arteta would wind up other fans, but really, that is part of a manager’s job. In the years when Wenger was everybody’s venerable old uncle, just being nice and polite, we went into an almost terminal decline as a club. We needed this passion. But to wind up a BeIn pundit as such seems excessive.

I think All or Nothing didn’t help either. I think Keys has been exposed to a modern football, where it is about nutrition, and ideas as laughable as lightbulbs. To Keys, a textbook Proper Football Man, he just sees own obsolescence and irrelevance. The years of putting your boot in, they don’t like it up em, fackin’ run around a bit is over. His ability to analyse the game to the level and depth of Arteta is simply not there. Arteta in his short life knows more about football than Keys ever will, and that hurts him. It is about the low block, xG, stats, tactics and metrics on another level to his era of football. And Arteta in many ways embodies all of it. In Key’s mind, Arteta shouldn’t be in the job he is. He is too young. It should be someone like Allardyce who’s paid his dues and deserves a big job. Instead this young upstart has one of the biggest jobs in the Prem based on being Pep’s cone boy (as opposition fans are want to call him).

I hope Arteta continues to wind up Keys, because as someone who has knowledge of creating toxic environments, I’d rather be with Arteta who clears them up instead.
John Matrix AFC

Renaming Hillsborough
Sheffield Wednesday could revert to the old name for the stadium – Owlerton. Seems a more fitting name as it’s probably where their nickname comes from.

Probably wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference though – I always knew West Ham’s old Boleyn Ground as Upton Park and my own club’s previous stadium as Highbury – even though its official name was Arsenal stadium.

Personally, I think Owly McOwlface would be a better name for Wednesday’s ground – but what do I know?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

If Qatar come for Spurs, we walk
Great letter from Father Dave on Thursday which summed up my feelings to this potential blood money injection (and my condolences for his father passing). I will also walk away from Spurs and find a nice non-league team to support if this Qatar deal goes ahead (and yes I also imagine I won’t be noticed going).

I’d like to add one further point to the mix which is that I’ve enjoyed having the slight moral high ground over the clubs who had already sold their soul, be that through naming and sponsorship deals with countries with poor human rights records or indeed outright ownership by said nation states, even if it did mean that we couldn’t compete at the very highest level all the time. We appeared to be doing things “the right way” financially, trying to expand but within our means.

However that measly crumb of comfort has all but been destroyed. The first gut punch was the European Super League debacle ™ which Daniel Levy seemed to jump at without a second thought to what it would do to the greater game (thankfully that didn’t come to pass thanks to the vociferous English fans) but a deal with Qatar would be the final nail in the coffin for me.

Best Wishes and keep up the good work.
Matt L, London.

Read more: Spurs fans may have no choice over Qatar money but they do have a voice

 

Sportswashing does work
Hi Chris, Birmingham. Sports washing does work. Example number one is Roman Abramovich. Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the US government for ties to a regime that is current invading another country and committing a range of war crimes in the process. It is no small thing to be sanctioned by the UK government. It really is very hard to get yourself sanctioned. Chelsea fans wrote in in their droves to defend him. Would Chelsea fans be writing in to defend him if he hadn’t sport washed himself through the bankrolling of a very successful and transformative period for their football club? Only they can answer that.

Ultimately, he didn’t do it for the money as he didn’t get his loan back to the benefit of Chelsea FC. What commercial benefit might Gazprom, the Russian owned state energy giant, have from sponsoring the Champions League? Are they more likely to sell more gas if the energy ministers have seen their name on the Juventus versus Porto game?

There is probably a very good reason why totalitarian governments such as East Germany and Russia create state policies of doping their athletes. If it isn’t for reputation laundering then I would be very interested to understand your views on why that is but first perhaps you can explain why your sports washing examples didn’t include Russia? Could you have been successfully sport washed so as to no longer consider Russia as one who sport washes?
Alex, South London

 

…Thanks to the Editor for publishing my last missive about the need to walk away from my beloved Tottenham if Qatari money pours in. Thanks also to Chris for reading and responding. Even if he thinks Sportswashing doesn’t exist.

Fairly, he asks whose mind is being changed? Non-football fans don’t notice, and fans of rival teams hate the nouveau-riche even more than they already did. Indeed they do. You’re not wrong there, Chris.

But sportwashing is not about us, Chris. It never was. The actual football doesn’t matter. Neither do football fans matter. It’s not even about money. You can’t tell me that oil-rich nations with sovereign wealth in the bajillions give a flying f*ck about making the odd billion from a sports investment. It’s chump change for them. It’s not even really about reputations. I’m not 100% convinced they even care what other nations think of them.

Chris, my fellow Lilywhite, it’s all about power. That’s the currency that matters. It’s about governments and it’s about politics. There’s a reason that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several Arab nations have bought guns, tanks and fighter jets from Great Britain for decades. They don’t need them. They certainly don’t use them. They purchase them, park them in the desert and let them turn to rust. But in buying those things, they know it buys them influence. The fact is our Government needs to sell that hardware, because without it, we don’t have a sustainable defence industry for our own troops. You need a certain critical mass to make it all affordable. I raised the question of Sportswashing with my local Tory MP and in a candid, and perhaps unguarded, response, that’s precisely what he told me. Nothing would be done about Newcastle United or any of the others, even though everyone in Government knows it stinks, because our defence industry needs to sell those weapons to these countries and we can’t afford to piss them off.

So it is that nothing gets said when journalists are abducted and carved into pieces, or when morality police decide to beat women. Thousands of people from desperately poor nations are sold a lie, transported with promises of wealth in return for a few years work on some stadia, but are then indentured, enslaved and, in at least 6,500 cases, killed. Their families are left behind to fight for justice or some form of reparations from global leaders who make positive noises but will ultimately turn a blind eye. Why do they turn a blind eye? Because their own houses are under the influence of this sport washing soft-power and they can’t afford to upset them.

Dodgy regimes exercising soft-power in the West is not new, Chris. It’s been going on for decades, Chris. Historians will probably tell us it’s gone on even longer than that. It’s just now they have an extra lever to pull – sportswashing. Unfortunately for us football fans, we are irrelevant collateral in this global chess match.

You might think it doesn’t exist because it’s not changing your opinions, or burnishing reputations amongst football fans. Chris, it was never intended to change your mind, or mine.
Father Dave, Maidstone (THFC)

 

…I completely see the point Chris is making in the Friday morning mailbox, and he is absolutely right that the impact of for example, Newcastle’s anticipated rise will change the view of the person on the street beyond their fanbase (if it even does).

However, I think Chris is missing one key point. Sportswashing isn’t, as far as I understand it, aimed at the person in the street, it’s more a projection of so-called ‘soft power’ that can be useful at a larger international level. The Qatar World Cup is a prime example – they used it effectively to elevate their national reputation/visibility far above anything that could be achieved with other types of business, human rights reform or democratic progress (sadly). It’s an easy win for them to get Governments and corporations to have to pay attention to them.

For example, heads of state attending the World cup or major corporations such as Anheuser-Busch or Coca Cola, all being forced to interact with them at a high level. The image of Putin sitting with the head of FIFA at the World Cup in 2018 is a hugely important thing for them to shape how they want to be perceived by the rest of the World – as culturally and politically important.

To a lesser extent this applies to ownership of clubs – it’s all part of a portfolio of building sports connections, getting their foot under the table until, eventually, they are so significant that they can’t be ignored.

Not much of a football email, sorry. But this is how I see it. Would love to hear from someone who knows more about the tangible benefits of this. But I would be very surprised if the economic and political dealings of each of these nations doesn’t receive a boost from their efforts.

Cheers,
Marc

 

…Sounds like sportwashing has worked exactly as intended on Chris, Birmingham!
Martin, BRFC

 

…Chris in Birmingham has fallen into the trap of thinking that the opinions of us peasants matter. Sportswashing isn’t about making us think more positively of the hideous theocratic regimes in the Middle East. It’s about changing how the Western (white) ruling capitalist class thinks of them. Unfortunately in that respect it’s all been a great success because money talks in a corrupted world.

Now shut up and let’s all look forward to the World Cup in Saudi Arabia 2034.
Hulmy, Stoke

 

…Chris, Birmingham: Are you REALLY going to confidently open your mail with “Sportswashing. Is not. A thing” and then later go on to talk about how the Arab states only buy clubs like “City (before they got good!)”??

That’s kind of the point. City got good. City now have millions more worldwide followers than they did before, and every one of them knows the name of City’s ground. They are also very familiar with City’s shirt sponsors. It isn’t necessarily about altering the perception of people now, it’s about younger and future generations associating these states with the footy teams and players they love when they hear them mentioned, and not the abhorrent human rights violations.
Dave (the term “Sportswashing” is a bit crap, though) Allen, IOM

 

I just want to address Chris, Birmingham’s mail on sportswashing because he (and many others) seem to be labouring under the impressions that sportswashing is about improving reputations and that financial gain is somehow separate from it.

Sportswashing isn’t about making people like despotic regimes, though a cursory glance at any criticism of it on twitter will show that hey, for some folks it is working that way.

It works by integrating these regimes into the culture in a way that is difficult to remove. It works not by making masses of people think “hey being evil is great” but by making them think “oh well there’s so much evil how am I supposed to pick what to support and what not to”

It gives people an excuse to not care, to throw their hands up, and then back down into their wallets as they buy another ticket because I’ve been going here for years why should I not now that we’re good just because of the owners, I mean psg have bad owners, man city have bad owners but their fans still go.

It also works financially. Many of these countries are dependent on natural resources for wealth. The popularity and ethics of which are almost certainly going to dwindle as new more viable technologies gain popularity.

Politically many of these despots have benefited, for generations, from other nations being quite happy to let the status quo go on in their countries. Hell we’ve even helped to create some of them, quashing dissent for others. We still sell em guns.

Theyre using sports to diversify. Yes for financial gain, to maintain fortunes. But, also, cos sports are incredibly popular. They can make themselves culturally important (if not respected) in other nations. In a way that might make them safer from removal. Or at least from the dangerous idea that maybe one day one of our politicians decides they’ll get more cred from not helping them quash a rebellion or selling them weapons.

They don’t care if people like them more. They care about maintaining power and wealth. That’s what sportswashing is doing.

Think about whitewashing, does that work to improve the image of white people? A bit, sure. But mainly it works to remove the idea that non-white people can be heroes, protagonists. It affects cultures in ways that simply having a black character in star wars in 2023 leaves people frothing at the mouth.

Sportswashing is about achieving a state of cultural dominance. In which the idea that they shouldn’t own football clubs is as offensive to some as a black woman with a lightsaber. And that’s got nothing to do with whether or not most people like or agree with that opinion.

With all their money and power, and the advice they can buy with it, these countries have identified buying football clubs as the best way to ensure political, cultural and economic power – and I think we all need to think harder about if we’re happy with that.
Geraint, Swansea 

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