31 October 2012

Capital One Cup

Everything has to be sponsored now. You can hardly turn the TV on without advertising as programmes are sponsored by some product or company. Mostly nothing to do with the program or the product?

Maybe it's cheaper than simply paying for an advert slot?

And so it is with football.  Long after shirt sponsorship became the norm the stadiums themselves started getting new names.

My Arsenal are currently playing at "The Emirates Stadium" in Islington, North London. Sponsored by the airline of the same name. 

I suspect the trend came from the US, and has taken over all across Europe. Schalke, where we go next week in the UEFA Champion's League, have the Veltin's Arena. Many German clubs have modern stadia built for the 2006 World Cup, where sponsorship was the business plan.

The Football League Cup has been sponsored for years, by the betting company Littlewoods, by the Milk Board, by Coca-Cola and now by a bank - The Capital One Cup.

The bigger clubs that have commitments in European competition have fewer games to play and generally get lucky with a lower league team or if they are unlucky, a fellow Premier League team.

Arsenal got lucky with League 1 Coventry.  A changed side to give some youth and no-goods a game conquered the lower league visitors 6-1, earning a trip to Premiership strugglers Reading.

My brother and I were supposed to go on a mini-Wild-Hogs ride over there. I have been ill recently and even had a day care of the NHS for tests in hospital. So I bottled out.  He still went.

I watched the game on TV.

My seat was kept warm by my brother's bag.
The game was roller coaster.  Arsenal made 11 changes from the game on the weekend.  And after 35 minutes were 4-0 down. Admittedly one of the Reading goals was scored in his own goal by an Arsenal defender, and another was helped into his own net by the 4th or maybe 5th choice goal keeper with a feeble punch!!

Then they fought back, 4-1 on 45, 4-2 on 64, then 4-3 on 88 and almost unbelievably drew level on 90 minutes.

The game went into extra time. Two further 15 minutes halves.

Then they went ahead 5-4 on 103 only for Reading to make it 5-5 on 118.

Then in a mad last two minutes Arsenal scored twice more in the 120th and final minute to win 7-5.

Arsenal Manager, Arsène Wenger said it was a tennis score rather than football.


Although I watched on TV I am disappointed I wasn't there. You cannot beat the experience of being there. It's why we have live sport. No matter who we are we can live our lives through the players we idolise. I don't believe this can be said for movies or TV.

Supporting Arsenal is a roller coaster of emotion each and every game. We have a billionaire majority shareholder. He doesn't spend much money. His teams are relatively unsuccessful.

As evidenced by his St Louis Rams being ritually slaughtered by the New England Patriots in an NFL game at Wembley on Sunday.

Other clubs have been bought by Russian oligarchs, or Arab oil barons. They've all spent millions and millions, and proved you can actually buy success.

There are other games tonight and then some worthies will make the draw for the next round.  Please let us get Bradford City from League 2 at home.

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