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Europol confirms what we all knew: Match fixing is rife across Europe.

By Tony Attwood

It is one of the central themes of Untold.  A theme that the Premier League in England refuses to look at or address.  A theme which is backed up by more and more evidence day after day.

A theme that simply says: match fixing is rife.  So rife in fact that in October 2011 in desperation Untold even put forward the notion that maybe Arsenal ought to get themselves involved in match fixing since everyone else seemed to be doing it.  We also provided evidence for one of the most blatantly fixed matches in the Champions League in November 2010

Now support for that theme has come from Europol.  Because it is Europol they focus, as always, on match fixing for gambling purposes, rather than match fixing by clubs who seek to influence referees.  So it is not the same as what we look at, but the outcome is the same.  Results are not safe, matches are fixed.

A Europol spokesperson has said that Europol has uncovered an crime syndicate (amusing called in the UK press, an “organised crime syndicate” – which begs the question, what would a disorganised crime syndicate look like?) which is based in Asia (they are always based in Asia) that has influenced over 400 refs and assistant refs, club officials, and players.

Europol said matches affected include World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties plus games in 15 countries, including “several top football matches in European leagues”.  However Interpol says they have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

One interesting fact is that for the first time ever they have discussed the profit margin of match fixing.  Apparently it is around 40% of the level of investment.  Quite a nifty return.

So Interpol is saying that it has uncovered a major international network, but only seen about 10% of what is going on.  Officials have admitted that they have been taken by surprise at the scale of the criminal activity.  And one spokesperson said that it would be naive to assume that what goes on across Europe is not also happening in England.

They also say that a Champions League game in England is one of 380 matches that they have found to be fixed.  Which means that one of Arsenal, Man C, Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool are most likely to have played in the game – although of course they might not have been party to the fixing.

Judicial proceedings are said to be “ongoing” which is why no individual matches are being cited.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said that in Germany £1.73m is believed to have paid to those involved in match fixing.  He said also that 50 people arrested so far.

UEFA has said that they would co-operate with the investigation; but then the could hardly have said anything else.  But every competition that has been affected will now be seen as less reliable than it was seen previously.    If several dozen Champions League ties are being tampered with a season, as seems likely based on the information in the report, then the Champions League is meaningless.

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What is really going on inside Arsenal? It’s not so hard to work out.

By  Anonymous At Arsenal

What is really going on inside Arsenal? It is a question often put, but for anyone who observes what is said by Arsenal officials, and who attends meetings at which senior Arsenal staff are present, it is quite clear what is going on.

First, it is a fact that the club itself is not happy with the way things are for the moment. That is because we are not achieving the goals that the senior members of the club have set out for the club.

Going out of the Carling cup was a big blow.  Such things happen in football and every club has suffered defeats to lower league opposition, and Arsenal has suffered such defeats in the past.  But even so, this really hurt.

Bradford seem to be a team that can rise to the occasion as others have found out.  Arsenal and Arsene Wenger really wanted to win that game, but it wasn’t to be.  Maybe the wrong players were rested for that game – and with hindsight it is clear that the influence of Arteta on the field was under-estimated.

But overall the situation Arsenal find itself in is similar to last season. The club was in a similar place last season as this season although the goal scoring has been easier without RVP and the defence has let in fewer.

Last year we still managed to finish third, and defensive errors are what has prevented us moving up higher.  But the latest acquisition should help solve that.

But perhaps the fact that we finished third last season is something that was not really given credit for by the media.  Man City won the league in the last seconds of the campaign, and that is celebrated by the media.  Arsenal gained third spot in the last match, and that is considered lucky.

Thus the media keep writing about Arsenal as if we had been relegated.   The only headline is doom and gloom. Arsenal buy a new full back, and the headlines are “fans will be disappointed”.

In reality the second half of last season we were almost competing at the same level as Manchester City and United. That is something people didn’t mention and certainly the media didn’t speak about it and didn’t gave Arsenal the credit it deserved.

But despite all that doom and gloom in the media Arsenal are still competing with the top in the PL and in Europe. I admit that we have fallen too much away from the top in the PL in this season. This is not good enough and below what was aimed for.

The new players now are coming good but it has taken a while for all of them to get up to the standard required and understand their role within the team.  But this is a natural process and bringing in 3 new players, and fitting in two long term injured players (who can be seen as new signings) has been difficult.

Certainly Wilshere is a player who would cost an enormous amount of money in the transfer window now – but it has taken time for him to get back to his best, and for the club to be able to work the team around his particular skill.

But we are once again in the knock-out stages of the CL – and it is worth asking  Chelsea and Man City with all their finances how difficult this is.   The fact that Man City, the champions of the Premier League, had a more difficult group is a rather poor excuse for a club that has spend what seems like billions on players over the last few years.

Chelsea had a rather easy group and also has spent millions in the summer and couldn’t make it to the knock out stages.   One could brush this matter of reaching the knock out stages aside as not important but I think in the Chelsea and Man City boardroom there will the teeth gnashing when we play Bayern Munich and they sit at home.

And we still are in the FA cup of course. And we also had a few PL clubs going out of that competition in the previous rounds. We had two difficult away games in the FA cup but we managed to get further.

In fact Arsenal is the only club in the PL who have stayed near the top, and in the top four, while having to compete with all the other clubs who are able (or not able but doing it anyway) to spend big.

Arsenal has built an amazing stadium and financed it and it is paying for itself. Still paying in fact. No other team in England has achieved such a thing. In fact do a search for all the clubs that have built a new stadium and look what happened afterwards. It all ended in relegation, relegation, relegation,… Arsenal stayed in the top 4 during that period.

I know that Arsenal have kept on trying to buy players in each transfer window and I am sure Arsenal would have preferred to add one more player. But the January transfer window is a difficult transfer window. If you look around you will see that the biggest story outside Arsenal in the PL was the arrival of Samba at QPR. I think this should tell you the whole story. The really good players are not that willing to leave their clubs. And the clubs are not that willing to sell their players in January.

And that is the biggest problem Arsenal faced. Let me give an example (and the names in this are only given as an example and are not about what happened in reality).

Of course I know that if we could have gone to Everton and offered them £50M for Fellaini they would sell him. He is good, he is great but surely £50M…..  We have to understand both teams in this. Arsenal not willing to pay ridiculous money and Everton does not want to lose their best player unless a really mad offer came along. And we know that mad offers and Arsenal don’t fit in the same sentence.

In fact I know for sure that what Arsenal is doing is not about fixing the short time problems. You may argue that buying a left back when your first choice left back gets injured is a short term fix.   But Monreal was on the Arsenal radar as a replacement for Santos and as a player who would fight for the left back spot with Gibbs.    What is more, both players can fit in the team further up the pitch too.   Gibbs was in fact originally, a midfielder.  Monreal can also play left midfield.  So they fit perfectly together and Arsenal would have gone for Monreal in the next summer but moved in now because of Gibbs, even though  he is cup tied in the CL.

The people within the club to whom Untold has spoken have said that the club will have a better platform to do their business in the near future. New marketing deals will start to come in and thus more money will be available to fund transfers. But we will not step in the lunatic treadmill of other clubs. So those dreaming of doing that can forget it. As long as the current board is there it will not happen.

Arsenal now has a core of rather young British players who they believe are rather loyal to Arsenal (as far as loyalty can exist in the modern football world). And in the future they will build on that core and add players from elsewhere; that is the Arsenal plan.

And despite a lot of pressure form the media and from one part of the fanbase Arsenal will not damage their long term progression by signing players who are not good enough and who are a burden to the club.

I think this shows that first of all the club is aware that mistakes have been made. Not all signings have been the success as was hoped at first. But this is true in every club.  It matters less to Man U, Man C and Chelsea because they each have much more money than we do, but mistakes are made there too.

So the message that comes out of Arsenal can be summarized in a few sentences. Arsenal is at the beginning of a new era. The core of the team is in place. Quality will be added as happened this season, but not at crazy prices. It’s not been an easy ride. But those who supported the club in this difficult period will be rewarded for their patience and their faith.

Quite what those who say, “I want my Arsenal back” actually mean by this is unclear.  If it means lower ticket prices, then that would mean less money to buy new players.  If it means returning to the past, what era?  The early Wenger era, before Chelsea and Man C came along with their huge amounts of cash?  That is not possible until we get Financial Fair Play both in Europe, and in the Premier League, and that is what Arsenal is working towards.

Let us close the ranks amongst supporters and support our team for the rest of this season. And very shortly indeed the next step will be made.

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