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Just exactly how could any manager do any better?

By Tony Attwood

The top four clubs in the Premier League have between them three different models of financing.

  • Money from an established world-wide marketing scheme (Manchester United)
  • Money from a very rich owner (Chelsea, Manchester City)
  • Profit made from running the business (Arsenal)

This blatantly obvious fact is easily ignored when the debate rages over money that might be spent on players, but it is worth considering a little further.

Arsenal’s profit is different from the financial sources of the other three clubs, firstly because it is much lower than the money the other clubs have, and because in the case of Chelsea and Manchester City the finances are to all intents and purposes unlimited.  Secondly, Arsenal’s finance is different because it is less assured than the finances of its rivals.

This second point needs some explanation.   Firstly, I mean to say that Chelsea and the Manchester clubs could lose much of their support in terms of those who go to matches, but they would still have their income.  If the threats about non-renewal of season tickets etc at Arsenal were ever to come to pass then the club would suffer in the way that the other three clubs could never suffer, and the collapse of Arsenal would be very rapid.

Mr Abramovich, for example, seems to have no desire other than to win everything including the Champions League – and whether there are people in the stadium or not is probably irrelevant to him.  Manchester United know that their finance comes from world-wide support – they don’t really have to worry about the stadium either.  For Arsenal, however, the matter is different.

In other words, the Anti-Arsenal groupings that want lots of money spent on players all the time until we win the league do have a potential to change Arsenal.  But a change brought about by encouraging people not to attend Arsenal matches would have such a huge impact that Arsenal could very quickly sink to mid-table or lower as a result of their actions.

What makes the position so difficult is that Arsenal is incredibly dependent upon their match day income (£94 million in fact).  Real Mad beat this income as does Manchester United, but no one else does.   Worse, (and this is the key point) is that this is over 40% of Arsenal’s income – far higher than any other club – is match day income.   Affect that, and you affect Arsenal.  Our income, it seems, is fragile.

Put another way, Arsenal might be the most profitable club in the Premier League (in fact one of only four profitable clubs in the EPL) but, there’s a problem.

Aside from match day income, a lot of Arsenal’s profit comes from  property and from selling players at more than they cost.   Take all that lot away, and we are still the most profitable club in the EPL, but we have far less profit (only £7m in fact).  And profit (as opposed to rich owner or world-wide marketing) is what Arsenal needs in order to grow.

Now we can overcome this in the short-term with the property developments, and these have been rather encouraging.  If you have seen the planning proposals for the Hornsey Road Arches development you will know about the 20 storey plus tower block – and that must surely be quite an earner when it is built.

But… there is a group of Arsenal supporters who are strongly against this development.  I don’t live in the area (in fact my round trip for home games is getting on for 200 miles) so it is not for me to comment on the rights and wrongs.  But if the supporters who don’t like the plans do have their way and block the development, then another source of Arsenal income goes away.  That’s what I mean when I speak of our sources of income being fragile.

So, if Arsenal are to develop and put in a real challenge what are we going to do?

Rather than scream “Wenger out” or “he’s get one more year, and if he can’t do it then he must go,” let’s actually try a sensible bit of debate here.

Whether the manager is Mr Wenger or someone else, the same issues apply: on the current business model there ain’t much money around.  True, if you have taken a look at the ground recently you will see all the cranes in place as the Queensland Road development hots up, but property development is not utterly sustainable as a source of income, even when planning permissions are gained.  Eventually you run out of property.

So what else is there to do?

First we could cut the wages bill.  Swiss Ramble recently summarised the top wages bills as…

  • Chelsea £173 million
  • Manchester City £133 million
  • Manchester United £132 million
  • Arsenal £111 million

Already quite a bit less than the rivals.  True the little clubs like Tottenham have lower wages bills, but they are trying to cut back, following the failure to get into the Champions League.  Chances are, if we cut the wages bill, we will drop like a Tottenham.

We could cut transfer fees – but then we are one of the very few larger clubs that already makes a profit on transfer fees, and there must be a doubt whether we can keep this up for much longer.  We might be able to, but the clamour for a trophy no matter what makes experimentation harder to maintain.

If we are to we need to continue to bring in youth players who are sold on, or avoid paying out fees by focussing on the youth team as now.  More of the same in fact.

We could put up the cost of going into the ground – but then there were cries from the Simplistics who led the chant of “6.5% the club was “having a laugh”.  (Of course I know that all chants are simple – one can hardly respond to “What do we want?” with a cry of “A 20 goal a season forward and a couple of defenders all with a wage demand of no more than we are currently paying, and at no cost in terms of transfer fees”.  Doesn’t quite work in a crowd.

So if we need more money to make a bid for honours, what on earth can we do?  Cut salaries – probably not.  Increase prices – up to a point but it gets a lot of flack.  Stop buying new players – not really.  Cut the youth project.  That means no more Jack Wilshere’s coming through.

Only two areas remain.  One is to find a rich owner who will put money into the club.  Yet we have a rich owner – but his history is not of putting money into the club.  So again probably not.

Which leaves just one avenue – increasing marketing revenue while hoping that the property market keeps helping us out for a bit longer.

At present the commercial income of Arsenal is £44 million, which compares poorly with Bayern Munich who get £142 million and Real Madrid who notch up £123 million each year.  Manchester United who have made commercialisation the centre of their world-wide approach are getting over twice what we get.

Arsenal have a problem in this area since most of our marketing deals were sorted some years ago and front loaded, so that we had the money to build the stadium.  I have heard it said that this was clearly a stupid plan developed by people with no marketing experience, but if Arsenal had not done this, then they would not have had the Emirates.  “Fine,” say the Simplistics, “we should have stayed at Highbury”.

That’s ok, but then we would not have had the money from the match day revenue which keeps us going.  We may not have much marketing income, but add marketing income to match day income, and we are better off than we would have been.  So the front loaded deals have worked at that level.

But there is another thought.  The situation can get better.  We might be tied into long term contracts with the Emirates etc, but there are all sorts of new markets opening up.  In fact our lack of penetration in India and the Far East means that we have areas to exploit.  And gradually those front loaded deals are coming to an end.

Indeed it is here that our sheer “Arsenal-ness” is a virtue.  While there are a number of Simplistics who abhor Mr Wenger, the reality is that in much of the world he is seen as a total genius.   The reason is that many people recognise that he has taken a club without the world-wide marketing of Manchester U and the endless finance of Manchester C and Chelsea, and kept Arsenal close to these clubs.  This is something that no other manager is ever likely to have been able to achieve.   Arsenal + Wenger is a highly marketable product in certain parts of the world, and by holding back while Manchester City and Chelsea have tried their luck around the globe, we have learned a huge amount about had club marketing can work.

Of course that is a personal opinion on my part.  But as I look at the problem I wonder more and more what alternative mechanism could have been used to achieve success in the face of the onslaught of finances from these other clubs.  The solution that Mr Wenger brought us – world-wide scouting, which in turn has brought the incredible profits from selling players on, is a miracle in its own right.  (If it were easy, all the other clubs would be making money from player transfers – they are not, and they cannot).  The development of the Ems and the sale of Highbury, financed to a large degree by the marketing deals at the time, gave us a sensational stadium, and the chance of later growth.

But using world-wide scouting comes at a price – some of the players brought in are not going to make it.  Working out who will and who won’t make it is easy with hindsight, but up front is nigh impossible.  Football is littered with players who look like they ought to be brilliant, but who don’t quite get there.  Even more confusing some get there for a year (from Martin Hayes to Chris Wreh from Reyes to Hleb to Flamini) and then don’t go on and build on that achievement, and fade almost as quickly as they rose.

But my piece here is not about who we should have bought or sold, but rather, how we could have raised any further finances in order to bring in more players, without risking bankrupting the club.  If there is a way, please do comment.

The point, “if you can’t see that player X is a total failure, then you know nothing about football” tells us nothing.  The answer, within the context of what Arsenal is, has to be much more complex than that.

How every book and article gets the name of Arsenal’s second manager wrong.

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Untold Arsenal Index

History of Arsenal: how every history book gets the name of Arsenal’s second manager wrong.

Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth

57 comments to Just exactly how could any manager do any better?

  • Naren

    Tony,
    As you correctly and clearly point out, marketing is the only way we can raise more finances. Maybe, this marketing team that has been appointed could have been put together a couple of years earlier. The lack of success has also given us a less powerful bargaining stance.
    I heard a lot about buying out our current contracts and negotiating new ones as a way for increasing our marketing turnover. How much better the new ones would have been is anybody’s guess. It would not have been the ‘Arsenal’ way either, some people felt.
    I am most content to leave the running of the Club to the people who are actually paid to do it. As you say, it is very complex indeed.

  • Nitesh

    This article clearly shows the limitations that wenger had faced in his time here, but unfortunately it can just as easily be shot down by the AAA clan. These people do not care about the finances of football, but will always be there to shoot down the manager if the club puts in a profitable year.
    That said, Arsenal can be held responsible for some factors too. Here in India and other Asian countries that I have gone to, it is very difficult to find an Arsenal jersey, whereas there are umpteen Manure shirts on the streets. even the nike stores dont have an Arsenal jersey. Arsenal can do well by really expanding in the Asian market, which they are looking to do with their tour of China.
    It is inhuman for anyone to come in at the time that Arsene did and turn around the club’s fortunes like that. People dont understand that he still operates on the tightest of budgets possible, and that is a real pity.

  • sahil

    It is true we do not earn much from commercial revenue. We need to improve on this front. I am an Indian and it is true arsenal need to improve their penetration in the Indian market. Manure are way ahead in this department. Not just India but asia in general. The new tour of asia is a good step,wish they included India.If ryo miyachi can turn out to be world class it will surge up the revenue from Japan,the Japanese can be very fanatical about their heroes.More needs to be done on this front

  • willybilly

    AT LAST!! someone telling it like it is. ive said it b4 that only people who cant see wengers genius our the english and our media. why you think madrid offered him a job OVER mourinho!!! the sad thing all these wenger hating spuds in desguise will destroy our beautiful club. THE WHOLE WORLD SEE WENGERS GENIUS! only barca play total football better and considering the cash available that is quite an acievement. thanks mr wenger, muchos respect!

  • realistic tony

    why are anti-wenger(or more specifically non-believers in AW)labelled as “simplistics”?…a strange word in any case!
    Wenger as a business manager may be a genius, although it is generally easier and safer to be tight-fisted than to spend and gamble.
    However i hardly think The purchase of squillacci (£5 million?????)(and the shocking centre-backs prior to him) represents genius.
    Wenger has a fantastic image abroad, and indeed he has transformed our club with its top-quality infrastructure, but he is a FOOTBALL manager and as such i expect a lot more from Arsenal FC than unbelievably feeble performances from non-arsenal quality players that we witnessed (for example) away at newcastle.Your queation of who would do better???can be considered by remembering that he (AW)came from grampus8 in Japan, so therefore it’s not much of a significant question is it!!!!

  • Waleed

    The only other approach would be to take on a lot of debt. The Swiss Ramble also mentioned that there is a bit of room to maneuver since we paid off a lot of our debt. So that remains one path we can go down, albeit a desperate one.

    What I don’t understand about our current approach is why the club have exaggerated the financial security and the money available all these years? That is partly why some fans think that the club is all about making money. That isn’t true but I can see why people would think that if you said you have a lot of money but didn’t spend much on players.

    Another approach could be to approach Kroenke and ask him to fund some of our debt payments. But I don’t know if that’s possible.

    The fans who are complaining about higher ticket prices wouldn’t be so sure about their stance had they gave it an ounce of thought. Does it make sense for the club to not take advantage of the high demand in pursuing more success? And if we lower ticket prices and the quality of football drops, the same fans will certainly find a new club to support.
    So I think the club have got it right. Keep the prices high for now until the commercial side of the club is more developed. And from what Gazidis has said that is exactly what the plan is.

    As for our wage bill, I have read that Arsenal, unlike other clubs, include the coaching staff in the wage bill? If that is true our total should be lower than 111m.
    But even then there are some players who are bound to leave this summer and free up space for more signings.

    We are, when on form, one of the two or three best teams in the world. We don’t need big changes, Arsene just needs to figure out how to produce that form on a more consistent basis.

  • Wrenny

    Great article. Our commercial income is clearly the weakest part of the business, but the poor value of the front-loaded deals was an absolute necessity. Without them we’d still be at Highbury and languishing in mid-table, as there would be no way in hell we could afford the explosion in wages to keep (or sign) our top players like Cesc, RVP, Nasri, Arshavin, etc.

    Hopefully the commercial aspects can improve soon. Gazidis has said that we should see a difference in the next accounts, Kroenke could add much power and expertise to our business dealings, and the club is already beginning to exploit opportunities in the Far East this summer with games in China and Malaysia.

    I too read the new SwissRamble article, and there’s a lot of very interesting information there. What I found intriguing is that he has estimated our ‘transfer kitty’ for this summer at £50m, and if I remember correctly his estimate for this figure last summer was around £45m. Now, as last summer we only spent around £6m on transfers (Koscielny £9m and Squillaci £3m offset by Eduardo £6m), it’s fair to assume that going by those figures there would have been a £39m ‘rollover’ from last summer to this one. And so in 12 months the club has only managed to produce around £11m of transfer funds.

    If this figure is likely to replicated next season, and the season after that, etc., then clearly Arsenal are not free to spend that alleged £50m kitty in one go as it could leave the cupboards bare for years. It must be rationed carefully, and the bulk of our spending must still come from player sales, with that kitty used carefully to supplement spending when required.

  • Fredbridg

    Spot on man, you blog is one of the very few i even read on the arsenalnews.net site, if only people would take time to read this here article, then many will not open their mouth to chant ‘GO wenger Go’. Wenger has shown that he is still the best manager of all time, with limited resources he has carved out a team that even the mighty fear in Europe, imagine what he will do with the kind of money these other top clubs have mostly Manc, unbeatable,unstopable and an invincible time, even Barca dear not touch, with limited fundings Barca still fears to play Arsenal. carry go (as we say here in Nigeria)we are with you.

  • Waleed

    Realistic Tony,
    Wenger’s genius is not in businesss management. He is not responsible for keeping the club solvent, but he is responsible for keeping us competitive and playing brilliant football while keeping the club solvent.
    So he is a genius football manager.

    It is not easier to remain tight fisted. What a manager wants is money to spend and to be able to keep all of his best players. You have seen how fast managers like Redknapp and O’Neill have jumped ship because there wasn’t enough money available.
    Wenger has stayed at Arsenal despite the limitations and kept us in the Champions League and fighting for the title.

    Trophies haven’t materialized but it’s wrong to sum up his contribution as feeble football. Did you watch Arsenal through the whole season or only the last few weeks? If you watch Arsenal games regularly you will see that we are capable of producing amazing football on the pitch.

    We have the fourth highest wage bill. So you would expect us to finish somewhere around 4th, which we did. To another coach that would be a decent season, where we met expectations. But because of Wenger’s high standards, finishing 4th is a failure.
    Yes, the worst we can do under Wenger is finish about where we should. That is not so bad is it?
    Considering how young this team is, and how Wenger’s tactics for this team are still developing, I would say the future is still bright.

  • J

    Im split on this article… I agree with you on the whole – except you come across as quite pro price of ticket increases which was not only a massive PR blunder but also unnecessary. A 4% price hike on top of the already extortionate ticket prices added with a 2.5% vat jump aswell is simply putting to much of a burden on the fan base and seriously alienating a very large number of fans.

    But then thing is everyone knows that merchandising and the growth of our global reach/ fan base is the way forward… in fact we are not far off our rivals in most respects, its just the revenues from commercial income are ridiculously low. I seem to recall the person who made the deal for arsenal was let go a couple of seasons ago and commercial revenues was on of S Kroenke’s main targets to develop.

    Talking about property development – i cannot see how you group those unhappy with the ticket increases with this imaginary group who are supposedly complaining about property development? Sorry, but where is the placard in the stand arguing against the development of the surrounding area? It seems you are grouping all dissenters into the same stand however this could not be further from the case. The vast majority, if not every fan is unhappy with the price increases however the majority of that number want wenger to stay – and im quite sure the overall majority would be happy for us to make a profit independent of ‘sugar daddies’ which ever form that takes.

    We do not have the money of city and chelsea – well done for pointing that out btw – but that does not excuse wenger for failing to make the appropriate buys over the last 6 years! a defender who is not squilaci, or a striker who prefers to shoot rather than are not unimaginable targets as many clubs ‘beneath’ us have paid little and go the results. For someone as talented as wenger to argue for denison and co for years only to now get rid of them hardly argues his case in good light – either he knows he was wrong or fan pressure is finally winning the day.

  • Amr

    All this is all well and good with good points made..it seems to me that in the end of the day you are saying Man U et al. are all bigger clubs than we are but we have the potential to grow to be as big as them….still doesn’t change the fact that I, as a dedicated gooner already have to pay the highest prices in all of world football to watch my “almost as big” wannabe club try and scrape and battle the giants of football….and the fact that the only reason they are the “giants” of football is because they win trophies consistently year in year out.

  • Amr you don’t have to pay the highest prices in the world. That’s just a myth. I will give you one simple example of a higher price. QPR v Arsenal next season will cost more than Arsenal v QPR

  • I created the word Simplistics as a short hand way of designating people who think that complex issues can be reduced to something simple. That’s all – I like making up words and phrases. Just something I enjoy.

  • Richard B

    Not to put up ticket prices to meet an increased VAT bill and to match general inflation (not done in most of the last few years) would have met with howls of derision from those who want commercial revenues maximised.
    Giving away ATVO ‘free’ within the season ticket price negates much, if not all, of the increase for many people anyway. I know, I’m one of them.
    This ‘freebee’ may also point to where the biggest revenues are going to come from in future. Arsenal Broadband is where Stan Kroenke got his first foothold in Arsenal and where the biggest expansions are going to happen in the years to come.
    As I understand it you now can’t get access to ATVO without being a memeber of the club i.e. at least at Red Level.
    This is far more expensive than the previous access cost of just £4 per month and which (as far as I know) required no membership at all.
    I have no idea of the breakdown of previous ATVO users but I would imagine that many were from abroad – exactly where Tony has stated we should be generating more income.
    If the deal also increases audiences to live games (such as pre-season) then advertising on it would be made more attractive and rates for it can be pushed up. I can’t remember the name of the sports club in the US that was quoted a while ago but I can remember that their broadband ‘rights’ were worth more than the rest of the club put together.
    When it comes to raising revenues from new places in the future everything else pales into insignificance when examined alongside broadband. After all it won’t be too long before TV screens and computer screens merge into one and all domestic communication (in and out) will be carried out through them. If you control the access to part of what appears on that screen then the revenues could be simply enormous.

  • bob

    @Richard B: ah, all chips on Broadbend. Brave New World, anyone?

  • Shard

    I think the change of ATVO is a smart move. Yes, it’ll mean that the club earns more money, as fans will be paying more. But it also gives fans more for their money. For ATVO I was paying a rolling monthly subscription of 4 pounds, which I would discontinue in the off season. Now for 36 pounds I get an Arsenal membership and an yearly subscription for ATVO. The membership will mean that if I travel to the UK, I can try and buy a ticket directly, rather than pay the 30 pounds for a membership before guaranteeing that I’ll get a ticket. So all in all, it is a good deal for me.

    Regarding commercial deals. AT the time I think they were good deals, and we cannot complain about it with hindsight (even though Edelman was probably let go for those deals. Probably)Our merchandising should revert back to the club’s control sometime next season, which should help. The shirt deal in a few years, which should see us push the record deals close. I mean if Liverpool can manage 20 million pounds per season. we should be at around 25.

    One way of looking at it is that our commercial deals mean we lag behind. The other is that that in itself is an opportunity to grow. ManU’s deals are pretty much maximised. I’m sure they’ll try and find newer ways to flog themselves as a brand, but this is where I think we differ as clubs. I think the sheer weight that ManU put into their marketing will in the long run prove counter productive. Our approach seems to be more a softly softly approach. But make no mistake, Arsenal are scoping the Indian market. We just do it in a way that seeks to build a longer term relationship with some basis rather than just ‘We are the best so follow us’ line.

    As an example, ManU once offered to ‘help’ us build a national academy at Goa. The AIFF (equivalent of the English FA) was interested. But there were calls from our star player and others, to look at the proposal carefully and ascertain whether it really was going to help us. I believe the proposal was concerned more with the branding and committed very little with the amount of time the coaches would spend training people here. It was finally rejected. Arsenal meanwhile have tied up with the TATA group (who also run India’s most successful football academy) to run ‘soccer schools’ with some, but really not much fanfare. It seems fairly low key. However there are coaches coming over fairly often, and some 12-15 year olds have been taken over to the Emirates and to some youth tournaments.

    In my view, manU have already captured much of the market. But the market is ever growing, and I believe it is probably better marketing strategy to not compete directly with ManU in that regard, but rather build a base for the future. A lot more can be done, but if I’m honest, India isn’t as mature a market as some other countries, and as such will be a lower priority for the EPL clubs.

    My prediction is that we’ll see a growth in commercial income from next year with some secondary deals being announced, perhaps in the US. I would expect that once the shirt sponsorship comes up for renewal in 2 years, is when we can expect a real boost. Also FFP should make its effects felt by then, if it is ever going to of course, plus a lot of our academy products should be coming of age by then. I maintain that the future is bright. But this summer is huge, if nothing else then to stem some of the bad vibes going around (which can impact on sponsorships too).

  • Shard

    Regarding in-your-face marketing. Laughably, Chelsea show some of their channel programming here with the tag line that the club is synonymous with Strength, Honour and Class (Or pride). I mean here I thought it was a symbol of Greed, Avarice and Bullying. I guess I know nothing and will buy all the products they tell me to.

  • damian

    You are not going to believe it. The Sport, BArcelona’s web page have an article where they state that “Cesc Fabregas, FC Barcelona’s midfielder” is at present enjoying his well deserved holidays in the USA.
    How do they have the nerve to call him a Barcelona player in an official website when he is under contract in Arsenal. Surely they are in breach of a few FIFA regulations????

  • Shard

    @damian

    But you see, Sport isn’t an official Barca paper. It’s just an editorial mistake they’ll say. I went there thinking they might have said ‘de barcelona’ about Cesc, which can just mean he is from Barcelona rather than plays for them. But they quite clearly said midfielder of FC Barcelona. Weird.

    As an aside, it’s interesting that Cesc is at the Mets ground. ManU have (or had) a tie up with the NY Yankees, so while in New York Cesc goes to the NY Mets. Heh..

  • truegooner

    Your noyt seeing the obvious. If Wenger had made the most of his title winning teams commercialy then the global marketing of the Arsenal brand would be a hell of alot bigger by now. He has refused untill now on taking the team on pre season tours. we have worldwide acclaim for our acadamy so why cant they go on tour and showcase the whole ethos of Arsenal. In many asspects wenger is one of the greatest managers to have ever graced football but he is let down by the very thing that sets him apart more most. His single minded approach to success his vision of how the game should be played. The only one in football that surpass’ Wenger in how football should be played is Cruyff. (not Guadiola)

  • merakis

    its not a few signing here and there that wil make us winners. the loser mentality driven in this team is so bad it should be tattood on them. wenger is the problem. even the most avid wneger follower will not argue his policy on defending set peices and long balls is to cross fingers and hope for the best. besides nasir and cesc are going this year. in steps the talented yet not as good wilshere and ramsey. and so the never ending cycle begins. wneger cant get it together quick enough before the better players get frustrated. 7 seasons he has had to win a trophy aorund a cesc fabregas built team – he failed. failure is imbeded in arsene wneger. he is french so therefore naturally surrenders and accepts defeat. we must sack him before he can do more work to help arsenal. we know he wants do to well. but you wantlet the one armed man moving your grand piano out of your house – cause you know his gonna drop it.

  • Jas777

    I have lived in Asia and I can tell you that Manchester United’s revenue streams there if anything are going to get higher and higher. Everyone supports them and when you ask them why you get 2 standard answers.

    One along the lines of ‘I don’t really know but I do, my friends do etc etc’. Or because ‘They win all the time’ or the two answers together.

    Getting into this action will be a hard nut to crack

  • ak47

    fantastic read, cheers everyone.

  • Gooner S

    It is nice to read something that is an alternative to the Wenger Must Go stuff that is proliferating the blogosphere. The argument seems to go that we are ‘The Arsenal’ and we should be winning something every year. Now, I agree that seems to be a fine and admireable aim but Arsenal don’t have a history of winning something every season and going without a trophy for a number of seasons is not uncommon if you have been supporting the club for a while (before 1996 or even before 1986). There are also other clubs that have that aim. Ah but you are settling for second (or 3rd or 4th) best will be the cry from AMG camp. Again admireable sentiments (if put the right way) but are they realistic? I don’t think so. Arsene Wenger is not perfect, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything on this site saying he is. I certainly don’t think that he is perfect or that “AKB”, but he is still an excellent manager and I wonder who else, given the circumstances at Arsenal, which lets face it most of us don’t know, could do a better job. I am as frustrated as some of those from the “AMG” side of the argument, especially with our performances and final placings this season but for me it is amplified because we are so close and do have talented players and we can see what they should have achieved this season. Unfortunately they didn’t achieve what they should have and in the final analysis Mr Wenger knows this and for some players, this season just gone, will be their last at the club. Can anybody guarantee a trophy next year? No! But with Mr Wenger leading the club we will be challenging for honours. That’s enough for me.

  • ak47

    merakis-ive heard the french actually have one of, if not the best war record. i feel sorry for you i really do.

  • Wrenny

    “He is french so therefore naturally surrenders and accepts defeat.”

    Priceless. Sooner or later the ‘Arsene must go’ types always show their true colours.

  • Busch

    This is not meant to be a wind-up, but the article seems to put out the proposition that we are, in fact, just a medium sized club that due to good business practices has created a high value company/corporation that is just lucky to be able to “get in” with the big boys.

    Since we must live within our means it unfortunately means, to paraphrase a ___ of a Manc player, we are just the training ground of the big clubs.
    We must take talented players from a low value, turn them into a high value to sell them to sustain our profitability and hope that before we have to sell them on (before they demand comparable wages to other top stars or lose their value), they achieve something for us.

    I’m not arguing the point, but it is slightly depressing if the case.

  • walter

    Merakis, I think Wenger will do what he can within the budget that he has at his disposal. And buying a player is not as simple as it is on some playstation game where all players are sold and bought in a few clicks of the mouse. And also there is not 100% succes for any player you bring in. Ask how much Chelsea have won with their 70M spent in january? Nothing.
    Oh, but wait their manager was Italian so they will be used to accept defeat I guess….

  • David O'Carroll

    he can realise 3 years ago like the rest of us that bendtner is not god enough and van persie is injury prone, therefore we need another striker…

    He can realise in january that with vermalen injured we are very weak at the back…

    he can realise that clichy is too soft

    he should have realised that

    he should realise that we need another defensive midfielder for when song is absent

    he should realise squillachi, eboue, rosiky, vela are too poor for the club……

    he should realise that no one is asking him to buy 50 million pound players, just players that are ready for the fight, not like clichy or roisky who avoid tackles…

    we all knew 4 years ago almunia was no good. It is an insult to the fans that pay more money than anyone else in the WORLD that he would sign someone like silvestre instead of cahil/samba/jageilka for 8 – 15 million, which by the way would not bankrupt the club

    Tony, i would love to hear your/anyones argument on the points laid out above.

  • Charlie

    Very interesting article. I wasn’t aware of the very poor marketing income. I’m a Londoner and Arsenal fan living in China and i have to say this “tour of Asia” is a joke. As far as i’ve read it consists of one game in Malaysia and a game in an obscure part of China. It’s just a token attempt to claim that they’re exploiting the Asian market when they’re barely here. Seems to me that the current marketing team are no better than the previous ones and they have so much to work with.

  • And_Arsene_Said...

    @realistic tony aka realisTHICK tony.
    ahh… to see things so simply, is to be so THICK, is to be a
    Simplistic.

  • Kentetsu

    Interesting that Bayern Munich’s commercial income is more than triple Arsenal’s and almost double of what ManU get. Arsenal can learn a lesson from them. Any idea how they manage to amass GBP 142 million?

    I think this year’s tour of Asia is a bit of a test case. Instead of going full-out playing six, seven matches in three weeks, the club first wants to see how it turns out on a small scale, with a match each in two lucrative markets. Wenger will also worry how such a trip will impact on the physical levels of his players. If the outcome is satisfactory then we can expect a bigger tour – probably SE Asia, China, Japan – next year. It is unfortunate though that they play in Yiwu, China. If it would have been Guangzhou or Hong Kong I would have gone for sure.

    As a brand, I think Arsenal is gaining popularity in China. Most telling is probably the fact that quite a lot of matches are broadcast on Guangdong Sports. And every now and then I see people wearing Arsenal merchandise. Only ManU I see more, Chelsea about the same while the other EPL clubs seem not to exist.

  • Dark Prince

    Wow!!!! Is this the first time that Tony has admitted that there might be a problem with Arsenal’s finances??
    Wow!! Suddenly, we’re the ones who could be in trouble rather than the likes of ManU, Chelsea or Man City, or even Liverpool…

    Finally Tony realises the depth of Arsenal’s doom.

  • Shard

    Trust a Dark Prince to talk of doom 😛 It is an opportunity to grow as I see it. Our property business is propping up our finances until we can renew our shirt sponsorship deals. I think it is a well thought out plan really. Not perfect, but nothing ever is.

    Regarding the tour, I would guess the same as Kentetsu. That it is a test case. Gauging the response and probably building contacts with some corporates there.

    @Busch
    If you consider ManU’s financial might which they built during the 90’s by becoming a PLC (ironically that is what let the Glazers in) then we have been a smaller club (financially) for quite some time. Even when we were winning things. Part of Wenger’s ‘job’; one that he took on; has been to bridge that divide rather than just win on the football field and then call it a day. We are not a ‘superclub’ yet. But we are among the top clubs now. We are part of the elite. Something we weren’t before, despite our very proud history. It is not depressing because we are actually improving. To become a superclub we need 2 things. Increase our commercial revenue to the level of ManU, Real madrid etc. And to win the Champions League. For both, I would guess (only a guess mind you) that it will happen in the next 5 years.

  • I feel the best option for raising money is through fresh equity. The previous owners could and should have done that. They pocketed hundreds of millions but could have diluted some of their holdings and channeled funds into the club instead of their bank accounts.

    Even now Kroenke can do that as Usmanov has shown his willingness to contribute. It is a completely legitimate way of generating funds.

  • Shard

    @DesiGunner

    Usmanov suggested that didn’t he? But I would guess he suggested that simply to increase his stake. It might bring in more money, but it might also decrease stability. While it is an option the club should consider, I doubt that they will think allowing Usmanov a way in, will in any way be good for the club.

  • David O’Carroll. The answer to the issues you and others pose is very simple. No manager actually gets it right with every transfer and every player. We certainly have seen that with failures at the other top four clubs this season. But when an error is made other clubs can then afford to dump the expensive player on expensive wages in the back seat, and buy another (witness chelsea’s way out of their slump). He might well have felt any of the points you had, but the club has limited resources, and thus had to do something different. So, take Almunia, if Mr Wenger thought he was no good, he might well also have realised that he had sitting in the club two or three quality youngsters, all of whom would opt to leave if he bought in another keeper. Since he does not have that much money he uses it carefully and keeps his young players coming through.

  • Dark Prince, I have written along similar lines before. I have always praised our unique approach to financing a club, but have noted that it comes with problems when other teams have much greater sums to splash around. That is why I was so pleased to see the new financial regulations from Uefa, and so worried that they are being watered down.

  • Andrew Snowdon

    I agree with many of the points made regarding the need to create a self-sustaining model and build on commercial income. Until the world changes and the restrictions imposed by both EPL and UEFA really kick in, we will always be second best to overspending billionaire backed clubs.

    However, it still misses the point – Wenger has hung on to under-performing players for too long – almunia, Denilson, Bendtner, Diaby, Rosicky plus a squad load of nver-get-in-the team younger palyers such as Randall. He then spends reported figures of around €11m for Koscielny and 3-6m for Squillacci. He knew we had major defensive problems – he refused to buy an experienced goalkeeper and EPL experienced centre backs but instead wastes massive sums on these two players., and more massive sums on the above salaries (who have all been locked into ever increasing contracts).

    We could have had a very successful team last year without breaking the bank. We should have bought Cahill a year ago at least. I canot accept the AKB theory that nothing could have been done without breaking the bank.

    Occasionally he still gets it right in the transfer market- eg Vermaelen (subject to not being replaced last year when it must have been known his injury was more srious) Wenger’s touch, tactics and innovation is now long past his sell-by date and if we again buy cheap untried imports we will not finish in the top 4 next season.

    finally on matter of injuries how is it that Barcelona can field almost a full team at the end of the season while Arsenal once again limp home after Feb with so many key players missing? Please dont start rambling on about how much easier La Liga is – it might have a bearing but not like the methods of training and treatment do.

  • benji

    im a gooner and i dnt want arsene to spend money on massive signing but i do want him to sort out the areas needed instead of being cheap we all knw nasri shld play center but because he dnt knw wot he will get from either theo or arshavin its safer to play 1 in the wide position with nasri on the other jus buy a decent winger for godsake. lets have nasri were he is more effective any1 disagree

  • Chowdhury

    @Dark Prince –> Have you ever taken an IQ test? If yes, do you mind sharing with us what your score is? I am just curious.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    A good article but the point that has been totally missed is that Wenger massively over-acheived in his first eight years. Which was in hindsight a huge mistake on his part. Anyone who started supporting Arsenal before Wenger should appreciate that we were not a top club when he joined, Blackburn and Newcastle were seen as the primary challengers to MUFC.
    I concede it’s frustrating that we appear to have signed a few too many technically gifted but physically and/or mentally weak players. I don’t see how that could be avoided since a player being evaluated can only be examined superficially.

  • hariwool

    Why is it that when big players are at United and Chelsea they don’t seem to want to move on? (Ronaldo the exception and Rooney’s threat was all played out to get more money). Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Rooney, Vidic etc have all been speculated about with big money moves abroad for the last few years yet never materialise. Any time there’s any remote hint of interest from a bigger club abroad for an Arsenal player, said player seemingly can’t wait to leave. Flamini, Hleb, Adebayor, Cesc, Nasri. Where does it end? This is all down to ambition of the club. The way I see it, the only ambition of our club is to remain a solid business model to clear our debts and worry about the football aspect later, as long as Wenger manages to keep us in the top 4. If we made more marquee signings the likes of Nasri and Cesc would see we mean business and wouldn’t be so keen to leave as they believe the club wants success. God knows the fans do.

  • livestrong

    Dont expect any miracles in the transfer window

  • walter

    Andrew,
    Barcelona had only Puyol missing with a knee injury. That is right. But maybe this is due to the fact that Spanish refs are instructed to PROTECT technically gifted players.
    I used to see a lot of games in La Liga and in most of them a player only had to make two fouls on Messi (or even attempts of fouls) and they were booked. And when they go hard on him they get red cards (even Madrid players get red carded for having a wild tackle on Messi). In the EPL half of the refs would have waved played on. In Spain the refs give the foul and give a red card.

    I take Messi but this is the same for other gifted players like Xavi and Iniesta, Ronaldo, ….

    And yes on occasion they are injured but they almost never get assaulted like our players are (and sometimes even without a foul being given…)

  • hariwool

    @Walter- but what will it change? The refs will continue their bias

  • Dark Prince

    Tony- For the uefa financial fair play rules, you still think that uefa is goin to disallow Chelsea or ManU or Liverpool or even City?? Haven’t you noticed that the only club will not be able to spend heavily is Arsenal bcoz their revenues hav dried up for a 3yrs atleast?? Rest all of them will be able to spend bcoz their revenues are growing… Heck even City earn more commercial revenue than Arsenal!!

  • Dark Prince

    @chowdhury – i can assure you one thing, my IQ score is atleast more than the number of points Arsenal wins every season. And also, my IQ number isn’t declining like the points we win every season.

  • Wrenny

    I thought Tony was being rather harsh in labelling certain fans as ‘simplistics’, but looking at some of the arguments put forward here (Buy better players, DUHH!) I was the one giving them too much credit.

  • Wrenny

    @Woolwich
    That’s very true, Wenger massively overachieved when he arrived. Arsenal were the David to Man Utd’s Goliath at that time, to have won 3 Premier Leagues and 4 FA Cups under the circumstances was simply phenomenal. And now he’s punished not because he’s doing badly, but because he isn’t pulling rabbits out of hats year after year. And of course we now have 3 financial Goliaths to contend with rather than one!

  • bob

    @Tony: I take on your points and the reality is not joyous. What does bother me, and I’m for Arsene, is that the business model – to keep functioning by attracting/retaining skilled enough players depends, it seems to me, an intermittent message stream to all that “money is available” “Arsene has money to spend” etc. etc. The authors of these public statements are Arsene in his business capacity and Gadzikis (spelling?) and they have occurred at several junctures that have raised hopes. I’m willing to accept it as “necessary propaganda” on behalf of our staying afloat, but I find a stench about it as well. Perhaps the best way ahead, and it deserves an analysis in response, is Desi Gunner’s view that more equity is in order. Your thoughts?

  • bob

    p.s. I also have money to spend. Don’t most of us?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Hariwool,
    maybe we over here are just the start of an internet revolution?
    I believe that we can change things. Not today, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow. Not next week, next month, next year… but one day they will have to change.

    And I just want to help the change that we need in football to make it a sport where people can go home and say: won or lost, the final result was fair.

    And sometimes thing start very small and then become big. Look at Tunisia and how one young person woke up an entire nation… (Not that I intend to burn myself because of the corruption that could exist in football…)

  • well-endowed gooner

    Just a simple thing, but maybe Wenger could do better by having a greater focus in training on defence, set-pieces, and less 5-a-side matches? And maybe trying to motivate players for the smaller matches as well as big ones?

    I don’t think that’ll take too much out of the wage bill, the transfer income, the property development, or necessitate Stan Kroenke to inject money into the club.

  • shuks

    I believe all the rotten apples can go support chealsea we do not need your negativity

  • Bob, I think it is unwise to take anything reported as being said by anyone in the club as the actual words they have said. Remember 18 months ago it was reported that Wenger said he wanted to sign some six foot nine Tottenham “striker”.

  • goonergerry

    If Arsenal is ever to become a marketing force to rival United,-and we have the potential to-we have to convince the world that we can be successful on the football field-retaining as well as developing star players-and we are not going to do that without achieving a better balance between experience and emerging talent than we have achieved in recent seasons. On the basis of the last 3 seasons, there is not a hope in hell that we will be able to more than double our commercial revenue without major changes to our player investment strategy.

    However-we start to ask what is the point of raising revenue-if as last year, we highlight areas that need player investment-then don’t spend the money we do have in bringing players in.

    The danger we face now is not over-spending-Arsenal have never been in danger of letting that happen. No the danger is under-investment-on players we need-to maintain our market position (4th place).