Tag Archives: Reading

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.


Summer Reading

You’re sat on the toilet, clutching a bottle of hair conditioner. You’ve read all of these instructions before, you know exactly how long it should be applied to your hair for. But you need to read it again. You’ve finished all of Harry Potter. You’re now a Hairy Pooper. You need something to read, but no one has bought anything for you for a while. So you turn back to the conditioner bottle. But then again, you’ve heard about something that exists somewhere in the world. Book shops. Someone opens the door and shouts at you, “Book shops don’t exist anymore! Go on Amazon you daft bastard!”. Seeing as you have little concern for the plight of the bookseller, you decide to follow the command. You need something to read, after all. But there’s lots of books on there. If you’re not careful, you may end up buying mummy porn.

So you’re on this blog aren’t you? That means you probably like football. Barring a few exceptions, we’ve tended to avoid other sports like the plague, not that there is anything wrong with them. We’re genuinely not suggesting Tennis will give you Buboes. None of us have the requisite medical training to say that. Although, we also don’t have the requisite medical training to say it won’t give you bubonic plague. Maybe don’t risk it.

Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes, football. And reading. Any Reading fans that have accidentally stumbled onto this page expecting to hear about Brian McDermott, look away now. There’s too many yokes to be had about his eggsellently shaped head. But onto the topic at hand, reading. Over the last year, I’ve read several excellent books about football and feel they need to be recommended. I clearly think my opinion is worth sharing, even if it might not be. You’ve chosen to read this though. Sucks to be you.

The books! Yes! I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic by…Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Lagercrantz is, not only, the most entertaining football related read I’ve had, but arguably one of the most unintentionally hilarious books I’ve ever had the luck of laying my eyes on. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, clearly heavily quoted word for word by the likely ghostwriter, manages to paint the life of a modern football with great success. He unravels the reality behind his movements in the transfer market, the importance of signing-on clauses and the general nature of ‘player power’ in today’s market. The segment on his signing for and departure from Barcelona is incredible. If you are interested in the contrasting management styles of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, this book is also right up your alley.

Aside from that, you get to look inside the brain of a man who is, undoubtedly, a genius at the game. Ibra, as he is called around the world, has never really received the respect he deserves for his immense ability. When reading the book, those of us who genuinely don’t have the ability to even conceive of the thought process behind those spectacular strikes are allowed a glimpse at the manner in which the synapses fire. You can finally pretend you understand what it feels like to score a wondertonk before running off and screaming your own name.

Not only this, but I Am Zlatan covers the actual nature of his upbringing, and reveals much about him as a person. It turns out, in the words of Alan Partridge, that Zlatan has spent much of his life being a “mentalist”. His childhood is punctuated by poverty and a kleptomania that is almost impressive. His proclivity towards violence is at times, stunning, and his beliefs regarding head-butting people need to read to be believed. Reading between the lines, one can paint a picture of a man who would be avoided like the plague were he not a footballer. If you want a snappy read that is incredibly entertaining, this is certainly worth picking up.

Also of note is Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics, a history of tactics that is very interesting. Interesting is the word to describe it. This is not to say that it is not worth reading, but do not expect the sheer EPW (entertainment per word) rate of Zlatan. I particularly found the explanation of squad numbers in various nations interesting, but that’s probably because I’m quite weird. Discussions about the myriad evolutions of tactics across the world, and the manner in which English football has managed to fall behind are great, and have managed to inspire a dislike of Graham Taylor in me that belies my age and football watching experience. Wilson’s exploration of Eastern European football is also incredibly fascinating, as a segment of football that is rarely covered in the western world. If you view yourself as a mini-Guardiola or, more accurately, Bielsa, this is also certainly worth a purchase and read. You’ll be able to bore your friends for hours with the difference between an English and European number 6.

Finally, as an aside, The Blizzard, also edited by Jonathan Wilson, is probably the premiere football magazine on the market at this point. Available both in hardcopy and as a digital download, The Blizzard features writers being allowed to explore any aspect of football that they choose. This frees them and leads to exceptional pieces of writing, such as comparisons between Don Revie and Richard Nixon, and a personal favourite, The Ballad of Bobby Manager from Iain Macintosh. Available on a pay what you like basis from the Blizzard website, go buy it now.

Purchase the above books on Amazon.co.uk or other websites:

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1) to hear about other books he reads and less boring things.