Arsenal Ladies - couldn't care less
I had given some thought to writing a piece that went in to some detail on Chelsea's performance in Barcelona on Tuesday evening. I've decided against it but I will say that it was a superb defensive display. Barcelona's play was reminiscent of the worst of Arsenal's football, where there was little clue as to how to break down a massed defence. From a Chelsea point of view it merely served to show what is possible with tactical nous and defensive organisation. The fact that they were missing their centre-halves before half-time was virtually without consequence in the context of the match, simply due to their players' willingness to stick to a very good plan. I didn't want Chelsea to win, and I hope they lose in the final, but credit where it is due.
On to (only sightly) more important matters and I want to briefly write about the Arsenal Ladies. I wrote a similar piece last Spring, I recall, whereby I bemoaned the idea of Arsenal Ladies and, more particularly, the fact that they cost Arsenal Football Club more money than they can make. That was at the beginning of the FA Womens Super League last year. Nothing has changed, apart from the fact that, tonight, Arsenal Ladies are taking to the pitch at Ashburton Grove. This has really annoyed me.
As part of the new semi-professional league some players (up to four per club, I believe) are earning at least £20,000 per year to masquerade as footballers. You can be fairly certain that Arsenal, being the pre-eminent force in English female football, will be doing just that. This is a far bigger waste of money than paying large wages to the likes of Bendtner and Denilson. At least those two might have actually produced something that was of benefit to Arsenal Football Club in some way. On top of that outlay is the money paid to the rest of the squad, the coaches and physios etc as well as the sundry costs of running a football team and various youth sides. On top of all that is a hire fee paid to Borehamwood FC to use their pitch in order for games to take place. There is simply no way that this is a good business move for Arsenal.
When you bear in mind that Arsenal has a wage structure and won't pay out big transfer fees, much to the frustration of its paying supporters, how can the Club justify spending money that can't be recouped on Arsenal Ladies? I know the player wages for these women are a drop in the ocean compared to the real Arsenal footballers but, to coin a popular advertising slogan, every little helps. I'm sure every Gooner in the land would rather see the money wasted on Arsenal Ladies being put towards keeping Robin Van Persie. Now they are playing at the stadium, under floodlights. I suspect the gate receipts might not even cover the cost of the electricity used in the ground tonight.
I realise I will probably get accused of being a "dinosaur" and other such nonsense for writing this piece. I have no problem with women playing football. Good luck to them if that's what they want to do. But from the point of view of Arsenal Football Club it must be recognised that this is a waste of important funds. If you consider that the professional league in the USA, where women's "soccer" is huge, has collapsed, what chance does female professional football have in England? Ultimately it's about quality, and the standard of a game of women's football is simply not what people are going to part with big money to watch. It does nothing for Arsenal and I implore the powers that be to end this gravy train and focus on what's important - the winning of real trophies.