As high oil prices threaten world-wide financial stability, another energy crisis is unfolding closer to home.
With Arsenal's top players 'running on empty', according to Manager Arsene Wenger, the Gunners' Chief has been forced to implement another first in British football, the hiring of professional bottom-wipers for his exhausted players.
As November ends, it seems that the Gunners top stars have run out of gas and the French chief's move to instal the colo-rectal cleaning specialists is one of a number of moves designed to help see them through the long season;
- wheelchairs to move the players from their cars to the dressing rooms and then to and from the training pitches
- eating assistants to help players cut their food, get it into their mouths and massage their jaws so they don't even have to chew during meals after training and matches
- toilets moved to the edge of the training pitches at London Colney in case they 'need to go' (bottom-wipers will be at the ready, of course)
- substitute players bought in from satelite overseas clubs to run for the stars in training, thereby saving their fragile legs and lungs
- gymnasts on hand at matches to perform the players' ingenious and often brilliantly crafted goal celebrations where such complicated tasks like showing a baby being rocked back and forth has proved to damage shoulders and affect core strength
Always a big Eddie Murphy fan, Wenger got the idea for the bottom-wipers from the early scenes in 'Coming to America'. But the ex Monaco defender railed at a suggestion from one of his 243 scouts that he should also copy another practice from the film; the sprinkling of rose petals in the path of players as they walk around the training complex - this move would have been literally, a step too far, it seems.
Players from the late 1970's who played through 60-70 games a season on muddy pitches and without the benefit of squad rotation have marvelled at Wenger's leading edge strategies.
One former Nottingham Forest player remarked, 'We would beg Cloughy to give us a rest. But he'd just tell us to drink a few more pints of Theakstons, shovel down another pie (or bacon sandwich in the case of John Robertson) and to get on with it.
Against criticisms that many of his initiatives are nothing more than myth and a modern football equivalent of the King's new clothes, Wenger has fought back.
'The reverse is true', replied an Arsenal spokesman bought in so Wenger can save his own energy by speaking to other people less, 'We now appreciate that training for just 2 hours a day, on only 4 days a week and playing just one match can start to induce sloth-like tendencies in even the most committed pro'.
'Usually, the players are exhausted by the end of the pre-season friendlies. At least this year, we've got them through to the end of November before calling in the 'arse-wipes'', he continued, using the affectionate term given to the bottom-wipers at London Colney.
Dulux have denied rumours that they have submitted a bid for naming rights at the Emirates.