Tag Archives: FA Cup

Reading vs Arsenal: Visualising the Gap

In some quarters, this weekend’s FA Cup semi-final between Reading and Arsenal is being billed as your proverbial David and Goliath encounter.

That might seem a little over the top. Arsenal’s preening millionaires will not exactly be meeting a bunch of part-time postmen. The Royals are only one division below the favourites, having only lost their top-flight status two years ago. They also have a canny manager in Steve Clarke, who’s worked with some of the country’s biggest clubs.

However, even a well-established club like Reading can pale in comparison to a money-spinning megalith like the Gunners, who are not only of English football’s most storied sides, but also one its richest.

Here are some visual representations of just how huge the gap is between the two sides.

TrophiesArsenal have won 13 Premier League titles and 11 FA Cups. Reading have never won either competition. Their highest finish is 8th in the Premier League in 2006/07. They reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1927.

Whereas Arsenal’s all-time haul of competitive honours makes them the country’s third-most successful club of all time, Reading are some way off that mark.

The Royals’ semi-final appearance this weeekend will equal their best ever finish in the competition, which came all the way back in 1927.


An image showing the relative finances of Arsenal and Reading. Arsenal have a turnover of £303.3m and a wage budget of £163m. They spend 56.8% of their turnover on wages. Reading have a turnover of £38.1m and they spend £34.1m on wages, that's 90.2%.

Arsenal’s income stood at £303.3m last season, more than any other English club. This allows them to spend a staggering £163m on wages every year without a sweat.

Reading, meanwhile, can claim to have financial figure larger than their semi-finals rivals. It’s not one they want. The management at the Madjeski Stadium spend a worrying 90.2 per cent of their income on wages, something that they should seek to correct sooner rather than later.


An image showing the record transfers of Arsenal and Reading. Arsenal spent £42.5m on Mesut Ozil and received £29.8m for Cesc Feabregas. Reading spent £3m on Adrian Mariappa and received £7m for Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Arsenal broke their transfer record two years ago when Mesut Özil joined the club for £42.5m from Real Madrid and went close again the following summer, when they shelled out £31.7m for Alexis Sanchez.

Reading, on the other hand, can’t quite compete. Their transfer record stands at £3m, following the signing of Jamaican international Adrian Mariappa from Watford in 2012.


An image showing the relative capacities of Arsenal and Reading stadiums. Arsenal can fit 60,081 into the Emirates Stadium, whereas Reading can fit 24,161 into the Madjeski Stadium.

Both clubs have moved into ultra-modern stadiums in the recent past. Reading moved into the Madjeski Stadium, named after their owner John, by their owner John, in 1998. The ground is shared with London Irish, who the football club earn around £600,000 in commission from every year.

Arsenal’s protracted move from Highbury to the Emirates was undoubtedly worth the wait. The stadium has taken the club to the next level and established them at European football’s top table. Attendances are never too far off the capacity of 60,272, which is the second biggest in the league behind Old Trafford.

Social MediaAn image showing the social media followings of Reading and Arsenal. Arsenal have 32 million Facebook likes, whereas Reading have 250,000.

Arsenal can boast a huge following on Facebook, with around 35m fans having ‘liked’ the club online. The Gunners will, however, want to bring a few more of these fans onto Twitter, where they have only 5m followers.

Reading, meanwhile, are doing relatively well. Their 250,000 likes are backed up by a 150,000 followers, suggesting a hard-core of support across both social networks.


Leeds United: Why Spurs success cannot be a one-off

I am not afraid to admit that on Sunday afternoon, I almost cried. In fact, I had to stop myself doing so.

Before I explain why, it is worth saying that during the summer I was lucky enough to attend El Clasico at the Camp Nou. We entered the stadium, and given the blazing heat and my plasticy Barcelona shirt, water was a necessary purchase. As we queued behind those purchasing their sausages in bread, something happened. I heard a noise unlike any other I’d ever heard. The Real Madrid side had clearly just come onto the pitch for their pre-match warm-up, and the boos were incredible. As we walked out onto the stand, we were greeted by the site of the Barcelona team exiting the tunnel, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta et al,. That noise, the flags, the sight of a full Camp Nou – that will live with me forever.

Sunday, therefore…why did I nearly cry? Obviously there was the result, and the fact that we managed to deservedly beat a Premier League side. From my perch in the Kop, all seats (apart from a handful in the West Stand) seemed covered by fans. Then there was the reaction when we scored, both times. The atmosphere, in all honesty, wasn’t as good as the Chelsea game, but combined, all of those aspects meant that I was affected emotionally. As someone who feels we are currently at the lowest point in our recent history, despite the league standing when compared to the League One days, the Spurs game brought about a feeling inside. The same sort of feeling I got at the Camp Nou, a purely emotional response. How can I describe the feeling? The thought that possibly, we were on the first step to having our Leeds back.

It’s a bit of an overreaction, but Sunday felt like it could be the beginning of a slow climb, if we build up a head of steam on the back of this fuse-lighting moment. Yes, given that I’ve said that, we’ll probably get destroyed by Cardiff at the weekend. But when David Haigh and Salem Patel looked out on Elland Road, they will possibly have been able to understand truly for the first time what they have bought into, what potential their new purchase has. They’ll have looked at the figures and thought about the raw numbers, but when it is displayed before them, the potential becomes all the more clear. They’ll have been disappointed that they didn’t sell out, but victories like that are the first step to bringing fans back onside. We no longer trust in Leeds United as a city, after 8 years of lies and failure under a tyrannous rule, but after Sunday, 10,000 fans will be thinking a hell of a lot more about Leeds United.

This is why Sunday cannot just be a one-off. It cannot just be seen as a successful event that occurred, and that we just move on casually from it, back into the doldrums of mediocrity. We played better football than we have in what seems like eons. Keep it up on the pitch, and success will surely come. This is what is imperative to filling out Elland Road weekly – a belief that we’re driving towards something. I remember a game against Norwich (at that juncture, who were they?) when we were pushing for automatic promotion from the Championship in the ultimately unsuccessful season of 2010/11, Elland Road seemingly as full as Sunday. It turns out it was more so – 31,601 (2,000 more than Sunday) turning up during snowy conditions for a game against a fellow Championship side, at ticket prices higher than that for the Champions League challengers. A basically full Elland Road (considering the East Stand Upper was closed at this point), the last time Leeds truly felt like Leeds to me. The image that I hold in my head when I think of Leeds.

It is probably a symbol of how bad the last 8 years have been that one of the highlights was a 2-2 draw against Norwich, purely because Elland Road felt real. Some may try to point to it as a one-off. Yet 2 weeks prior, we brought 27,033 in for a game against Coventry City. 26,289 for a game against Barnsley on a Tuesday night. 27,027 for a game against Doncaster Rovers. Success on the pitch breeds success in the stands, and success in the stands breeds more success, because the entire experience is enjoyable. Sarcasm does not descend and even the worst gets encouraged. Think of the contrasting treatment of Paynter and Varney.

So Sunday cannot be a one-off, because without a continuation, there’ll be no long run benefits. I think of the number of fans in the stands because it impacts how I enjoy Elland Road. No one goes “fucking mental” when there’s swathes of rows empty beside you. Sunday was a success. Today plans need to be afoot to sustain the success. We need our Leeds back.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Mansfield devote unused seats to names of Hillsborough victims ahead of 3rd round tie against Liverpool

Mansfield devote unused seats to names of Hillsborough victims ahead of 3rd round tie against Liverpool

Mansfield have decided to place the names of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy onto 96 unused seats ahead of tomorrow’s third round tie against Liverpool.

Given the symbolism of this act, Mansfield must be applauded for their actions, especially over an event that has been reassessed and rethought of so greatly in the year 2012.

A fitting tribute to give a space to those who lost their lives trying to enjoy the sport they loved.