Emirates Fixed It For Arsenal – The Gunners’ FA Cup Sponsorship Bias Must Stop
Bad refereeing calls and easy or home (Emirates Stadium) routes to the (Emirates) FA Cup Final, Arsenal’s FA Cup wins – attended by Emirates customers with 15,000 Emirates air-miles not Arsenal fans – are as dodgy as their FA Cup’s Winner’s watches.
If Prime Minister-elect Jeremy Corbyn is serious about smashing corporate fraud and injustice across British society, he could start by doing it at the football club he supports, Arsenal, who play their football at The Emirates’ stadium and now seemingly part-own ‘The Emirates’ FA Cup.
Early Saturday evening – the traditional 3pm kick-off time was long ago sold by The FA to the highest television bidder, Premier League Champions Chelsea succumbed 2-1 to an Arsenal side that had looked demoralised during much of the season.
True, in what could have been Arsene Wenger’s final match of a fantastic football club reign, The Gunners looked more up for it than they have all season yet, crucially, the game’s first goal was mired in controversy right in front of referee Anthony Taylor’s nose.
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez forced the ball forwards with both hands in what Gary Lineker described on the BBC as “basketball” and then there was a controversy over whether Arsenal were offside as Aaron Ramsey was about to score from an offside position putting Chelsea’s keeper off before Sanchez finished. Offside? Possibly not. Handball? Definitely.
Emirates who sponsor Arsenal happen to also sponsor The Emirates FA Cup following a 3-year sponsorship of The FA Cup in 2015 that is thought to be worth £10M per season to the Football Association – and is clearly worth a lot more via the coffers of Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger signed a 2-year contract extension this week but only if Emirates are planning to take over ‘sponsorship’ of The Premier League rather than the FA Cup will his dream of lifting the title again before he retires become a reality.
For the reality is that an aging Wenger, whose Gunners’ team relinquished their 20-year stay in The Champions League with a 5th place top flight finish this year, is being propped up by bought favouritism in England’s oldest domestic competition.
Surely it is a total conflict of interests that the Dubai-airline Emirates sponsor both Arsenal, since 2004 when The Gunners moved to The Emirates stadium, and The FA Cup, which became The Emirates-sponsored FA Cup in 2015?
Its no coincidence since that cosy dual-sponsorship arrangement was announced in 2015 – and work on the deal would have been arranged behind-the-scenes for a long time prior – Arsenal have won the FA Cup twice with some very strange refereeing calls.
On the 19th April, 2015, just a month before the Emirates FA Cup deal was announced, this perfectly good Mario Balotelli goal in the Semi-Final was ruled out ensuring The Gunners had an easy ride against Aston Villa, who finished 17th place in The Premier League that year instead of a tough game against high-flying Liverpool in 6th spot.
Like his Italian compatriot Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, the Italian international player himself was astounded at the call and took to Instagram to express his disgust:
That offside goal denied a perfectly good equalizer by Liverpool, who beat Arsenal in the 2001 Final and would have certainly given Arsenal a better game in the 2015 Final than the struggling Villa side that is now languishing in Championship mid-table obscurity.
As well as benefitting from their fixtures being made easier by calls in preceding matches, Arsenal benefitted directly from big – and importantly, wrong – calls in their own matches notably this opening goal that was wrongly disallowed in the FA Cup Semi-Final on April 23rd when The Sky Blues, unlike The Gunners, did not get the advantage with either Raheem Sterling’s goal or a penalty that could have been given to Sergei Aguero.
Yet the conspiracy theory doesn’t just end with bad refereeing calls benefitting Arsenal – it begins with the very FA Cup draw itself that appears fixed in The Gunners’ favour.
This season it was Arsenal’s ludicrously easy back-to-back Sutton United and Lincoln City draws in the traditionally more difficult 5th Round and Quarter-Final stages while Chelsea faced Manchester United. (The fact that all 8 Premier League teams remaining in the Last 16 draw conveniently avoided each other is material for another article…)
Before this season, when clearly the FA were responding to accusations of bias, it was the 11 home ties in the previous 13 draws which fans of rival clubs have long-railed at as a sign of favouritism and the clearing of a path of Arsenal to Wembley.
Sure, Arsene Wenger is a good man and and manager who doesn’t deserve the vitriol he receives from Piers Morgan and the Arsenal Fan TV idiots yet to have a competition – the world’s original and most-loved football competition no less, the pride and joy of English football – fixed by corporate forces is utter sacrilege of the beautiful game.
Wenger would have done well to bow out on the artificial high of his Chelsea victory after his most torrid season since he took England by storm yet this false victory convincing him to stay on might be setting the Frenchman up for an even greater future fall.
English football must be better than this FArsenal.