St Totteringham's Day has come late this season. Based on what happens on Sunday, and with a lot more than just the bragging rights of North London at stake, it might not come at all.
For the uninitiated, St Totteringham's Day is celebrated by gloating Arsenal fans to mark the point they move beyond the reach of great rivals Tottenham in the Premier League table.
Such has been Arsenal's dominance over Spurs recently that the Gunners have indulged this celebration for the last 17 years in a row. Not since the 1994-95 season—when Arsenal fired George Graham and were in pre-Arsene Wenger turmoil—have Tottenham finished above them in the league.
Imagine how hard that must be for long-suffering Spurs fans. Imagine the perennial glee of Arsenal supporters, whose every retort to mockery from the enemy begins with a reference to the last time Spurs finished above them in the table.
How will you celebrate St Totteringham's Day on Sunday?5/15/2013, 3:56:29 PM
Should Arsenal beat Newcastle on Sunday, the run will stretch to 18 years. St Totteringham's Day will be indulged heartily, along with Arsenal's qualification for the Champions League and the knowledge that the Gunners can attract big-name players in the transfer window this summer.
Meanwhile, Spurs fans will be left clutching at a Europa League spot and mourning another anticlimax. What's more, there will be very real fears they will lose their best player, Gareth Bale, without being able to offer him a stage in Europe's elite club competition.
Even if Bale stays, Spurs' ability to attract players to join him will diminish without Champions League football on offer. Just as Andre Villas-Boas has grand visions, so do his potential transfer targets. The world's best will not be thrilled at the prospect of an underwhelming Europa League jaunt.
Those are the footballing implications. The financial implications are equally as worrying. Miss out on the Champions League and you miss out on a giant UEFA cash cow, per their revenue distribution plan for the current season:
The 32 clubs featuring in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage can anticipate a minimum €8.6m—and the team that goes on to win the trophy next spring could collect €37.4m, not counting the market pool share.
That's just the start of it. Being in the Champions League has far-reaching implications for global brand-building, attracting sponsors and leveraging just about every commercial facet of a working football club. Miss out and you lose considerable ground.
Spurs will already be planning for disappointment. But there remains a chance that they could pip Arsenal at the last moment, make the Champions League themselves and inflict a bitter disappointment on the Gunners in the process.
The prospect is as sweet as they come for Spurs fans.
If Newcastle deny Arsenal victory and Tottenham see their way to a win at home against Sunderland, the Spurs will finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal will be left to trudge unnoticed through the Europa League, and St Totteringham's Day, for once, won't happen.
If things go that way, Arsenal's transfer pull would be considerably weakened. They don't have a player like Bale to appease (they sold him to Manchester United last season), but a few within their squad may consider an exit strategy without the carrot of Champions League football.
The Premier League title race and relegation battle are all sewn up, but there is still much in play on Premier League final day. Depending on what happens, we could see Arsenal and Chelsea qualify for the Champions League, Arsenal and Chelsea play off for third and fourth or Arsenal miss out altogether and Tottenham move forward into the Big Cup with Chelsea.
Not until end of play on Sunday will we know whether St Totteringham's Day will once again be celebrated. In the event it doesn't arrive, Arsenal fans might want to turn off their phones and find somewhere quiet to hide.
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