Stability at Arsenal's heart, chaos blights Black Cats

Stability at Arsenal's heart, chaos blights Black Cats

Football is sometimes seen as Hollywood with boots on the feet and shorts on the backside. Job security is the first casualty of not giving the audience what they want.

However, the English Premier League (EPL) table at the start of this weekend told another story. At the top was Arsenal, at the bottom Sunderland.

Stan Kroenke, the American billionaire who owns the majority of Arsenal shares, gave a rare endorsement to his club manager when he said that as soon as Arsene Wenger is ready to sign a new contract, the terms and conditions will not get in the way.

Wenger will start his 17th calendar year at Arsenal tomorrow. In that time he has changed the philosophy of the way the team plays, and to a huge degree the way that football is played in England. He has managed the transition, and the cost, of the club's move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.

He has failed, by his own high standards, to win anything in eight seasons. But he has maintained the fluency, beauty, passing and vivacity of style - and crucially the longest unbroken run of qualifying for the £50 million (S$101 million) per season Champions League.

In football, in high finance, and in sustainability, monsieur Wenger is one of a kind now that Alex Ferguson has retired.

Sunderland are something else.

Their owner, Ellis Short is also American and also a billionaire.

But whereas Kroenke is an entrepreneur steeped in running American sports, Short made his pile in the equity markets, and was involved in the controversial takeover of Seoul's Korea Exchange Bank.

Money, of course, has a big stake in football, particularly at EPL level.

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