Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who is the second-biggest shareholder at Arsenal, says that the club are set for a trophy laden decade after finally ending the trophy drought by winning the FA Cup last season. Arsenal went without a trophy for a period of nine years from 2005 to 2014. The drought that started with the FA Cup was eventually brought to an end by the same trophy. Usmanov has been trying to gain control of Arsenal for the last few years. American billionaire Stan Kroenke owns the biggest portion and as a result directly controls the club.
Kroenke and Usmanov have not spoken to each other until now despite being the two biggest shareholders at the club. The cold war between the duo, though, has not prevented Arsenal from finally lifting a major title. Arsene Wenger was extremely prudent during the last 10 years, as he attempted to establish the club financially following their move to the Emirates stadium. Even though main sponsor Emirates paid £ 150 million to the construction of the stadium, it put Arsenal under a lot of pressure. After having finally secured self-sufficiency, Arsenal have been spending big money in the last few years.
This has ultimately led them to a title and Usmanov believes that could be more in the future.
“I think we begin a new era for Arsenal where we win trophies. That is most important for football. The club is very well placed to succeed. The board and main shareholders chose the debt option at the time, which led to Arsenal going almost 10 years without winning a domestic title or the Champions League. The acquisition was financed with debt, which would be repaid through match-day revenues among other sources. I have not had any contact with Mr Kroenke,” said the Russian billionaire.
Sky Italia has managed to win half of the rights for the Italian Serie A matches by agreeing to pay a whopping figure of €572 million for the next three seasons. The television company will be spending this figure for 380 matches during this period. This will provide the Italian Serie A clubs with a massive boost considering that they will receive a slightly higher income from the TV money. Previously, it was closer to the € 700 million mark. However, the starting price for the Italian Serie A matches was put in at a total of more than € 1 billion.
Even though this is a massive deal, it still is peanuts compared to the Premier League. The English league receives close to £ 3 billion over the next three years as part of the TV money. This has been seen as the reason behind clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea dominating European football in the last few years. It is the case with the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona as well. Unlike England and Italy, Spanish teams will be able to negotiate their own TV rights. This gives the duo a massive advantage over the other clubs.
Sky Italia will be showing the Italian Serie A matches along with Mediaset. This TV rival is owned by AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, who has decided to part away with close to € 400 million in order to get the remainder of the contract. The new figure is a substantial increment over the previous three-year deal. The entire pool of € 945 million will be shared equally by the 20 teams of the Italian Serie A. Mediaset will specifically be focusing on the likes of AC Milan, Juventus, Roma, and Napoli.
It was initially thought that the Italian clubs were aiming at a combined € 5 billion.
England striker Wayne Rooney has declared that he is ready for the World Cup 2014 amidst a lot of talk about his contribution to the national team over the years. Rooney has been subject to intense debate in the last few weeks with many claiming that the striker was past his best. This was also the opinion of Rooney’s former Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes. Rooney, however, has hit back at those comments in recent days and he has also stated that he is very much looking forward to the start of the World Cup 2014.
England will be taking on Italy this Saturday looking to go beyond the quarter-final stage which has been a nemesis for the team in the last two decades. The 28-year-old’s place in the team has been threatened in the last few matches. The likes of Ricki Lambert, Raheem Sterling, and Adam Lallana are all fighting for this position. Rooney is expected to play just behind the central striker Daniel Sturridge. Speaking ahead of the opening match, Rooney stated that he is confident and ready to go. He is also not concerned about what his critics say about him, as he has delivered the trophies that will speak for him.
Rooney may not have won many individual accolades but he has a lot of trophies. “I don’t care about what anyone says. I’m ready for this World Cup. I’m focused and I feel I’ve still got a massive role to play in this team. Of course there is competition for places, there always is playing for your country, but I’m ready for that and I’m not worried about anything. There is so much ability and it’s a joy to be a part of. I feel great. I feel 100% fit and ready for the tournament,” said Rooney.
Ex-Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese has stated that the club should not consider selling their young players like Luke Shaw if they are to remain in the Premier league. Southampton are widely expected to sell number of players like Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, who were instrumental in this campaign’s success. For much of the season, Southampton were in contention for a European spot. They finished the season in the top 10 of the table, which is a brilliant achievement considering that they were promoted from the Championship only a few years ago.
The club, though, they are ready to sell players like Shaw and Lallana. Manchester United are thought to have agreed a £ 27 million fee with Shaw, while Liverpool have already tabled a £ 25 million offer for Lallana. The two England internationals will be able to bring in more than £ 50 million in combined, but former chairman Cortese says that the club should consider keeping them in favour of taking the offer. Southampton’s youth academy is one of the famous in England. They have produced stars like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the past.
Shaw represents the latest generation of those players and Cortese has spoken about the need to keep them in order to nurture further talent.
“We created those talents. It was key to keep them. You don’t produce them just to sell, otherwise you give away your ambition. I can tell you that I didn’t have that fear to the last day I was at the club. I was confident about plenty of conversations I had with the players. I knew the players themselves wanted to stick together because this vision was something they believed in, too. I didn’t see any reason for them to go,” said the former chairman to the BBC.
Aston Villa and the Belgian national team have suffered a major blow with the news that striker Christian Benteke has been ruled out for the next six months due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. He has now been ruled out of the World Cup, where he was expected to compete with Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea for a first-team spot. Benteke has been one of the enormous success stories for Villa’s recruitment division, as he was signed for just £ 7 million from Genk. He was last valued at £ 25 million with clubs like Tottenham and Chelsea showing interest.
Even though an official offer did not come for him last summer, it was expected that both Chelsea and Tottenham were expected to make huge money offers for the player who still has four years left on his contract. He scored 23 goals in all competitions in his debut season. This current campaign has seen much more struggles from the player, as he has gone through drought spells that have extended to several matches. Still, he has scored significantly better than the likes of Roberto Soldado and Fernando Torres, who struggle for form at Tottenham and Chelsea respectively.
Villa manager Paul Lambert lamented this injury to the star striker, which could end the positive season for Villa.
“It’s a terrible blow both for Christian and for the club. But he’ll work hard because that’s what he does and he’ll come back for us stronger than ever next season,” said Lambert. Benteke’s international teammate Vincent Kompany expressed his support through a message on Twitter. “Wishing you all the strength you need Christian Benteke and I hope you will recover quickly! We’re all with you together!” said Kompany. Despite this supposed poor form, Benteke has scored 10 league goals and remains as one of the top strikers in the league.