Monday 7 February 2011 by Malcolm Everall

Wenger blames 2009 Woolworth’s closure for Arsenal collapse


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit out at football administrators and match officials over the closure of Woolworth’s, claiming that his side are being ‘unfairly penalised’ by the store’s continuing absence from the High Street.

The Arsenal boss hinted at a ‘conspiracy of silence’ in the Football Association’s refusal to comment on the controversial 2009 collapse of the historic retail chain.

Pressed on his side’s inability to hang on to a four-goal lead against a demoralised and injury-hit Newcastle side, Wenger launched an astonishing tirade at football’s ruling elite.

“It is not sufficient to say that [the much loved chain of discount stores] was undercapitalised and unable to generate sufficient revenue in a competitive retail market,” he fumed.

“Every time the referee had an opportunity to disallow the closure of Woolworth’s, he refused.”

And in a furious onslaught, the quietly spoken Frenchman accused the FA of conspiring against his team in the closure of the Longbridge car production plant, the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens in 1803 and the extinction of fifteen types of moth.

Wenger blames others for things

Wenger’s outburst has caused dismay at FA headquarters, still reeling from his fiery broadside over the piecemeal privatisation of the Royal Mail, which came in the wake of Arsenal’s 1-0 Carling Cup defeat by Ipswich.

“Mr Wenger is entitled to hold what views he pleases over the closure of Woolworth,” said an FA spokesman.

“No-one is sadder than us at the disappearance, two years ago, of such an iconic brand. But we did everything in our power to avert the crisis at the time. In fact Ted Croker used to buy all his clothes there.”

But last night the Gunners boss was refusing to soften his aggressive stance, accusing football bosses of ‘mealy-mouthed hypocrisy’ following his side’s second-half collapse at St James’s Park.

“Longbridge was a viable enterprise in the right hands,” he insisted.

“Chance after chance to retain a vital piece of Britain’s industrial heritage was ignored. I asked the fourth official why the Chinese bid was never properly investigated, and he just told me to sit down.”

“The one-eyed shit,” he added.

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