Boardroom Battle: Arsenal v Hull City

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 10 February 2017, 11:23

Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) takes a sideways look at the boardrooms of Arsenal and Hull City ahead of Saturday's clash at the Emirates.

First it was foreign players, then foreign managers and now it’s foreign chairmen beating the English at their own game.

When Arsenal kick off against Hull City at lunchtime on Saturday you’ll see Arsene Wenger in the stands serving the fourth and final game of his FA ban, and Marco Silva down in the technical area.

Victory should be a foregone conclusion for The Gunners against a team sitting third from bottom in the Premier League. But it’s not so easy to predict at the moment with City on the up and Arsenal performing their usual dying moth routine as they slip quietly away out of the title race.

Whatever happens on the field of play is just one aspect of the whole back story being played out at a much higher level at both clubs.

For in recent weeks, City’s Egyptian chairman Assem Allam seems to have got one decision brilliantly right while Arsenal have got it spectacularly wrong.

Just a couple of weeks ago City fans did their best to mount a stay-away protest against Allam over his general madcap way of running of the town’s local football team and incredible ability to score own goals.

The EFL Cup semi final second leg at The KC Stadium was dotted with empty seats - though not enough to make it look like a proper, down tools walkout.

The appointment of manager Marco Silva has struck the refusniks (and myself) dumb on a tide of surprising results which include victories over Manchester United and Liverpool.

Silva has come to English football from the dole queue on January 5. A badly-lit out of focus shot of him in an office next to a plastic tub full of Bic biros on the club website was their way of trumpeting his first arrival.

He faced a daunting run of games to kick off his reign and many ‘experts’ (including me) predicted a disaster.

It’s early days but morale is now firmly on the up showing people like me yet again that we don’t know it all, all of the time.

Confidence on the pitch is spreading to the stands and there’ll be a full away end at the Emirates today with around 3,000 travelling Tigers paying £30 to see their team take on a fragile Arsenal side against whom anything can happen.

Sitting just a few yards away will the Arsenal supporters who only last week were told that top of the range season tickets are going up by a whopping 3% next season.

Platinum membership at the state-of-the-art Arsenal football ground is already £2,425 plus VAT. Eating food there costs an extra £1,600. Ouch.

It must be noted that these are the poshest of the posh fans or ‘customers’ as they are no doubt called these days. Not your average Gooner who has enjoyed a couple of years of frozen ticket prices - although that is about all they have enjoyed it must be said.

So yes, these punters can afford it, but Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick could not have timed his announcement any worse had he been Thierry Henry and Robert Pires trying to take a penalty kick together.

The price hike is to pay for ‘continuous upgrades and reinvestment’ at the stadium. Fair enough but that is not what Arsenal fans want to hear.

Just 24 hours after the bad news it got even worse. Arsenal lost 3-1 at Chelsea and effectively raised the white flag in the title race yet again.

Old Etonian Mr Keswick has had his chips for this year.

It may escape most people’s attention when Arsenal play Hull that in the directors’ lounge, where money is no object to anyone, there might be an old Egyptian man having a little laugh to himself at having outsmarted one of English football’s establishment clubs.

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