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I wonder if they still hate Russians


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And there was me thinking Wenger disliked the idea:

Asked whether he could envisage a day when Arsenal was sold into foreign hands, Wenger replied: "I don't know, I hope not. The value of the clubs and the traditions of English football. It's not the manager, because I have to be on line with the values and example set. It is the club and the club is the owners.

Arsene Wenger last night questioned the motives of foreign investors buying into the Premiership, insisting the influx of cash from abroad could kill off the traditional values of the English game.

In the week that Alan Pardew was fired by new West Ham's Icelandic new owner Eggert Magnusson, Wenger warned that the days of a supporter fulfilling the dream of buying his boyhood club are long gone.

And the Arsenal chief insisted if should more clubs fall into the hands of owners from overseas, those without that level of financial clout would simple cease to be competitive.

Questioned whether the trend towards foreign ownership concerned him, Wenger replied: "It depends on the reasons of the investment. What was traditionally true in England is that the people who were the owners were the supporters. "The biggest example was at Blackburn where a guy (Jack Walker) who was a deep supporter of the club was in charge. Wigan, who we play next, are a similar club.

"What happened chronologically was the guy who bought the club (Dave Whelan) was a supporter. He becomes wealthy and he fulfils his dream and buys the club of his dreams.

"But that looks to be a period of the past. That was really reassuring for the fans because the heart of the owner was like their heart.

"It looks that that period has gone because of the implication of the financial investment is too high. This tradition has gone. It looks as if we have gone from one period to a new one with more people who look at it as an investment where, of course, they want to be paid back quickly."

Liverpool, barring any last minute hitches, will come under the control of Sheikh Mohammed when his ?450m takeover is completed early in the new year.

The Middle east money will see Rafa Benitez be able to compete with Chelsea for the signatures of the world top stars, and Wenger admitted should the likes of Newcastle and Manchester City, both of whom are being lined up for overseas takeovers, follow suit then Arsenal will no longer be able to compete.

He said: "What is dangerous for us is once the financial potential of the club goes above their natural resources by far, we will be in trouble because we don't have that. At the moment the income basically is the gate, television and sponsorship.

"If the income is gates, television, sponsorship plus private gifts then we cannot compete. At the moment we can do it because only one club has those resources.

"But once three or four have that, are you dead? The pressure on the salaries will be too big. Today the player says I earn less than at Chelsea, and its only one club. But once that becomes the price of the market then you are in trouble because you cannot compete.

Asked whether he could envisage a day when Arsenal was sold into foreign hands, Wenger replied: "I don't know, I hope not. The value of the clubs and the traditions of English football. It's not the manager, because I have to be on line with the values and example set. It is the club and the club is the owners.

"It depends how foreign owners see it and what sort of values they have. If today, you go into football and think I have ?100m available, I'll put that into Arsenal and want to make ?200m, it looks to me very dangerous for football and for the club.

"But to find people who put ?100m, ?200m, ?800m into a club and are prepared to lose their money, you must be lucky."

Magnusson's decision to sack Pardew just three weeks into his reign at West Ham, despite previously backing the former West ham chief to steer the his club away from relegation, would seem to place the Icelandic millionaire in the category of those looking for a return on their investment.

And despite their touchline spat following West Ham's 1-0 win over Arsenal last month, Wenger insisted Magnusson had acted too swiftly by dismissing Pardew.

He said: "I had differences with Pardew but that doesn't mean I wanted him to be sacked. I find it very sad because, for me, he's a good manager, he's done well. He has paid the price for the fact that West Ham have struggled a little bit but if he was given time he would have got them out of there.

"I think he paid an even bigger price for the fact that the ownership has changed and sometimes when new people come in, when you're the manager, most of the time you are the first on the list to be changed. Most of the time when you are 'part of the future', you have to prepare your luggage."

Such managerial courtesy was not extend to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho however, after the Chelsea boss questioned Arsenal's will to win on Sunday.

And Wenger even chose to poke fun at Andriy Shevchenko's inauspicious start to his Premiership career, comparing the under-performing Chelsea striker to a clapped out Ferrari.

He said: "If you buy a super machine, if you buy a Ferrari, from the first day it goes well - unless it's a Russian who buys it and it breaks in two."

Discussing Mourinho's jibe, he added: "I am very surprised by that. They usually put the result first. Frankly those comments are not of any real interest to me. I don't mind."

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Well, this is awkward!

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