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The FA is to reward the Gunners for reaching Europe's most lucrative competition for 16 consecutive seasons, while Ivan Gazidis promises to increase ticket prices by 10 per cent

EXCLUSIVE
By Rolf Piola

Arsenal are set to be rewarded with a special trophy if they are successful in their attempt to qualify for the Champions League for the 16th season in a row.

The Football Association, concerned about the public image of English football, fears that continued and ever-more-vocal unrest among Gunners fans over eight years without silverware could boil over, and aims to calm those supporters by offering an end to their wait.

"First and foremost, if Arsenal do indeed finish in the top four this season then they really will have earned this trophy," an FA spokesman, Fi O'Paroll, told Goal.com.

HOW THE TROPHY WAS WON

ARSENAL'S QUALIFICATION RUN
Season
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
Finish
First
Second
Second
Second
First
Second
First
Second
Season
2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
2009-10
2010-11
2011-12
2012-13
Finish
Fourth
Fourth
Third
Fourth
Third
Fourth
Third
TBC
"Sixteen consecutive qualifications to represent this country at the top level of European football is a truly exceptional achievement and we are sure that every fan in England will congratulate them on their well-earned prize.

"Obviously, as this is a decision made late in the season, there has not been time to commission a bespoke trophy, so Arsenal will be given the Capital One Cup.

"Swansea City will, of course, be issued with individual silver ribbons as compensation, which is probably about right for the level of that competition anyway."

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger welcomed the news, insisting that the reward was merited by his team's achievements.

"I have said for many years that being in the Champions League is the most important thing for the club so this is very pleasing to see," the Frenchman observed.

"Sometimes the team have lacked a little bit of confidence but, overall, you have to say that 16 seasons is a long time to be successful. I am very proud of all my players who have contributed a part to this victory, even Sebastien Squillaci.

"We still have work to do, of course, but honestly, I don't expect too many problems to qualify. We always do."

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis was similarly thrilled. "This is a vindication of all of our efforts here at the club," he enthused. "The fans asked us for glory and it is an honour to repay them.

"We are sure that this silverware will bring in even more fans to Emirates Stadium to watch trophy-winning football, so we will of course be raising ticket prices by 10 per cent to celebrate in fitting style."

Reports that Tottenham will petition the FA for a trophy of their own, rewarding a potential fourth consecutive year of doubling Gareth Bale's wages, are as yet unconfirmed.

Happy April Fool's Day from Goal.com!

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