Football News Roundup – Chelsea vs Bates, Manchester United vs FA, Arsenal vs Ashley Cole

Three stories that deserve being highlighted today – the Chelsea vs Ken Bates saga, Manchester United vs the FA (again) and Ashley Cole trying to get back into Arsenal’s squad.

Chelsea vs Bates

Now that the Guardian has claimed to have called up Leeds and confirmed Mr. Bates’ recent remarks, I can finally relax, sit back and laugh at the whole situation.

No doubt that this is a serious matter. The tapping-up accusations, if true, would have serious repercussions for Chelsea. Soliciting legal-age players is bad enough; if a club is tapping-up young kids with the promise of money and glamour, that is a dangerous precedent.

However, while we are still waiting for the FA to fully investigate the matter, it would seem prudent to realise that the truth is not always clear in such situations. Is Bates lying? A lot of people will say he is – that he is pursuing a vendetta against Abramovich and what not. Is Chelsea guilty of tapping-up the youngsters? Again, a lot of Chelsea-haters will say that they are. Emotions will muddy the facts (even as they come out in the news).

So, since the truth is still not clear, at least we can laugh at the ridiculousness of Chelsea’s complaint that Bates made insulting and racist remarks about their owner.

I mean – come on. Why would you jump in the mud with a man who thrives in the spotlight, no matter how dirty he gets? Bates’ reaction to the complaint confirms this – he’s loving the conflict, and while Chelsea may feel a moral right to defend their honour this is not a matter that should be bouncing around in the media at the start of a season.

Hopefully Chelsea will have enough sense to resolve this quietly. The FA sure has hell don’t have much sense, while Bates wins no matter what happens.

Manchester United vs FA

One thing I clearly believe in – the FA has a tendency to try and play a higher moral authority through setting ‘examples’ in punishing players when it makes absolutely no sense to do so. Manchester United’s gripe about the FA being ‘against them’ may be a bit far-fetched, but there are clear precendents that in recent years Manchester United have been hard done by the authorities.

Ferguson has said that the FA misled Manchester United on Rooney’s case:

“I am not so much disappointed as surprised.

The FA told us nothing was going to happen to Wayne and they were actually briefing people the same thing.

I do not know what has happened in between them telling us that and reaching the decision.”

A 3-match ban for a non-offence – something that would have received a yellow card at worst and a warning at best – is ridiculous. The Dutch FA didn’t do anything about it, our FA didnt do anything about it either, despite having the luxury of reviewing video evidence.

In reaction, Ferguson has said that Manchester United won’t be returning to the Amsterdam tournament in the future.

Update: See this article on United Rant for a clearer perspective of what’s going on.

Ashley Cole vs Arsenal

In a move that borders on the incredibly stupid and absurd, Ashley Cole has made himself available for Arsenal’s match against Aston Villa, stating that he has no problems with the fans, the team or the manager. Will be interesting to see how Arsenal reacts to this one…

Update: BBC Sport reports that Cole is out of Arsenal’s squad for tomorrow’s match against Aston Villa.

Arsenal still haven’t wrapped up deals with Chelsea and Real Madrid for Cole and Reyes, and while it is fair to think that Arsenal should milk the transfers for what they are worth, I hope that they actually sell the players instead of hanging on to them (unhappy players are never good for the team spirit) and that Wenger has players lined as replacements to join Arsenal. They have 12-13 days.

More? The first round of matches start tomorrow – should be interesting (will try bringing you predictions).

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