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Arsenal’s foresight leaves others drifting backwards

Arsenal made a profit last year, despite a drop in property sales (because we had already sold most of Highbury Square) and despite buying buy not selling players.

The operating profit (before exceptional costs, depreciation and player trading) in the football business was £45.8 million (2010 – £56.8 million).  The gains made on the commercial side were offset by an increased wage bill (a note to those people who say that we lose players because we have such a silly pay structure) – we are still near the top of the league for salaries and they are getting larger.

The loss from transfers was £14.7 million (compared with a 2010 – profit of £13.6 million) with no significant sales in the year.  Nasri and Cesc are in this year’s figures, so we’ll see them next time around).

The overall level of Group net debt (which is in effect the stadium) was reduced to £97.8 million (from £135.6 million the year before) at the balance sheet date.

In short we have a self-sustaining club which had one of its lesser years, but still made a profit.   This may be compared with last season where only four clubs made a profit, with Arsenal ahead of the rest by a mile.  And one of those profit making clubs was Birmingham whose finances are now under investigation.

So we come back to the argument about success on the field vs money.  Which comes first, the chicken or the egg.   As Mr Gazidis said, “to give the Club the best opportunity to achieve [success on the field], we must drive a virtuous circle of increased revenue, increased investment in the team and a larger engaged fan base and we must do this in a way which is self-sustaining and protects the long-term future of the Club.”

The fact that we can contemplate a future in which the debt is a controlled mortgage and reducing all the time (just like any house mortgage) shows how far we have got.  We have no huge outstanding issues, no dubious legal matters, no problems with the Financial Fair Play League.

Now compare and contrast with what has happened in Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea.

Liverpool’s clubs are stuck.  Liverpool have new owners, but no new ground and no chance of a new ground.  They have been spending money like mad to try and claw their way back up, not just on players but (it would appear) on buying the ref.  (See for example http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/15174, not to mention the obvious issues in the game v Everton on 1 October.)

Not only is there no chance of a new ground but their ex-owners are suing them for over a billion dollars.

Just as the promised new ground at Liverpool was never built, so with Everton.  On 21 January 2009 I reported on this site that Liverpool Council had rejected Everton’s appeal against the rejection of their plan to turn their training ground into flats.

The fiasco cost Everton £10m in fees and consultants and the club then launched an incredible attack on the whole notion of having a democratically elected local council.   Presumably a fascist dictatorship was more in keeping with the style, standards and approach that apply on Merseyside.

So the £78m new ground in Kirkby never happened, even though at the time the club said the development with Tesco would not be affected by the decision on the training ground sale, although “it would probably cost the council money as they would have to put up more to pay for the new ground.”   A nice way of working with a council whose democratic right to exist you have just attacked.

Everton, and Liverpool, in short, are a masterclass in how not to get a new stadium, and redevelop your training ground.  The exact opposite of Arsenal in fact.  But there’s more…

Everton wanted to sell their old training ground and build 74 houses on the site, despite objections from local residents.   Unfortunately by the time the planning permission was turned down Everton had already moved to their new Finch Farm training complex in Halewood, and so the site is useless, and a part of the ever increasing Everton debt is due to the fiasco.

As for Liverpool this is another loss making enterprise who, despite new owners, and a splash of money in the summer, still have their long term problems with no new ground.

Liverpool could try and extending Anfield or they could try and move to a new location in Stanley Park, but the problem with the latter is their old ground isn’t worth much.  Would you want to live in that area?

And what of Tottenham and Chelsea?   Each have crumbling wrecks of a stadium and each would like to move, but both have problems.  Both are financed by overseas business operators – one from the tax havens of the Virgin Islands and the like, and the other from Russia (and in an interesting comparison with Liverpool the owner of Chelsea is currently being sued for $3 billion).

In both cases finances are unclear, although in Chelsea’s financial clout is much bigger and their aim is to win the Champs League and revel in the glory.  Tottenham’s owner’s aim is to get into the Champs League and sell.

Tottenham, as we know, have got a sort of semi-planning permission for redevelopment of WHL, and are fighting legal battles to try and get the rights to the Olympic Stadium in the east end at the same time.

What makes Tottenham’s position murky is that Boris Johnson (our mayor)  offered £17 million to Tottenham to help them build a new stadium.  Barry Hearn, chairman of the Orient said this was a bung.

Boris wanted the Tiny Totts to drop their legal actions about the east end ground and said if they did so he would vote £17m to redevelop the far end of WHL where the Tinies ground is built.

Now we all know that Tottenham High Road is a really dreadful downtrodden area which makes Holloway Road look like an upmarket part of Paris, but even so – to make the offer something that is dependent upon where the Tinies play football is bizarre.   (Not my job to tell people how to vote, but I do hope Arsenal supporters will seriously consider not voting for Boris in the next mayoral elections).

As Mr Hearne said on Talksport, “I come from the real world and I can recognise a bung when I see it.”

Orient are taking action in the High Court later this month against Newham Borough Council and the Olympic Park Legacy Committee on the grounds that West Ham are getting a “state subsidy” in taking over the Olympic Stadium.

He added: “Frankly, West Ham are getting a great deal. David Gold said, and I quote, ‘We know the stadium’s not perfect but this is a £600million stadium and we’re getting it for £30 million, so it’s too good a deal to turn down’.

“The Premier League has got rules they’ve not understood. They’re hoping we’ll go away quietly, but anyone who knows me knows that ‘quiet’ is not a word that features in my vocabulary.”

Chelsea meanwhile are not saying too much on the ground front, and look as if they are set to stay.  Or not as the case may be.  Staying is an option since even when top of the league and winning things they certainly can’t fill their current stadium for all their Euro matches, so why embarrass yourself with a bigger ground that looks even more empty?

Chelsea’s fans are currently trying to block attempts by the club to buy back the freehold for the land on which Stamford Bridge.  Chelsea Pitch Owners plc was formed in 1993 to stop the ground being sold off to become a coal depot (as it was for a while before Chelsea was created out of nothing to play there). Last week Chelsea revealed an offer to repurchase the pitch, turnstiles and land on which the stadium’s stands are constructed.

Chelsea say no dialogue is under way with developers or potential owners of alternative sites, but then Chelsea, in Russian style, don’t do dialogue.  Chelsea’s chairman, Bruce Buck, did have the grace to say that a move would be dependent on the ability to redevelop their current home.  (Although they could just let it rot, and move somewhere else.  That would leave them exposed to fines for not fulfilling the terms of their planning permission but to overcome that they could play reserve games there).

CPO is has 12,000 shareholders, who bought shares at £100 each between 1993 and 1997 to prevent the ground ever falling into the hands of property developers.   Chelsea are offering shareholders their original money back (hardly generous) and writing off an £8.5m loan initially made to the company (more generous) at a meeting on 27 October.

But the meeting is timed for  11.30am on the morning after the Carling Cup tie at Everton.  Not all those committed to the cause will be able to get back, and take another day off work.  Chelsea’s view is that the safeguards on the land are not needed now they have Roman Abramovich.  Others might argue that they are needed even more now with him, that without.

Chelsea have looked at expanding their ground or moving to Earl’s Court, Battersea Nine Elms, White City (where QPR have played) or Imperial Wharf.

In fact of these clubs: Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, only one is sorted, and that’s Arsenal.   The perseverance and foresight of the club’s officials and the clarity of their vision is why we have a great stadium, and why the club has done so much for the area with its new housing around the ground and at Highbury.

Of course there are many who would prefer to be at Highbury and perhaps losing money, but top of the league.  OK, it is a point of view.  But as I have said before, I want my club to be there for my grandsons to enjoy, just as my father and grandfather enjoyed it before me.

From 1953 to 1970 we went without winning a major trophy, and I was there for quite a part of it.  I don’t welcome such a drought but I would still take that ahead of the models of future management that are unsustainable.

51 comments to Arsenal’s foresight leaves others drifting backwards

  • 037

    Students, scholars, and all literate citizens should all love Arsenal with sustainability being a core value!

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Alex Fynn has had some interesting things to say about how the Arsenal stadium re-development took off.

    Haven’t got his book to hand, so can’t give chapter and verse, but I seem to recall that mooted sites included:

    1) Finsbury Park. Inside the actual park. (How unpopular would that have been with local residents and park users? If that option had gone ahead, I believe I would have stopped supporting the club – stripping public space for private purpose, even a football club, would have been intolerable. Could it have ever got permission though? The local backlash surely would have scuppered it.)

    2) On the Dome site at Greenwich. At least it would have been a vaguely sensible use of NuLabor’s millennial nightmare of a wasted opportunity. But would the Arsenal fanbase have survived another deracination, albeit one back south of the river, towards the club’s original home?

    3) And Dein, it is rumoured, wanted to go to Wembley.

    However, it was the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, in the person of Antony Spencer, which identified, and fought for, use of the current Ashburton Grove site. Props to Arsenal’s board of directors for finally coming to see the wisdom of AST’s proposal.

    Props too, to the architect, HOK Sport (as was), engineer Buro Happold, and contractor McAlpine.

    Because if any of these elements – site selection, design, engineering, construction (plus financing, of course) – had gone awry, we could have been left with a Wembley stadium/FA-style debacle, with everyone suing everyone into infinity and beyond. Even with a major architect such as Norman Foster involved.

    The stadium is indeed an amazing achievement, and the “Arsenalisation” of the exterior and the internal concourses, where the history of the club is being inscribed on its walls, improves it with each passing season.

  • john

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Sustainability has a tendency to look silly in the short run because its value is not visible to the naked eye. I admire how Arsenal is managed as a club (and so do the tots) but i still feel they’re elementary mistakes Arsene makes that would have drawn less negative publicity on the club. I think we all know what I’m talking about. However, my gut feeling tells me that this club is destined for greatness on many fronts.

  • Goon in 60 Seconds

    Wow, A very informative piece. I feel all clever now!

    What’s the feeling on here about non European survival? Would it effect us long term? and if not, how will we get around it?. I guess our rep for good football will survive, and therefore still attract some young top talent.

    I suppose the ticket prices would have to come down, resulting in a sting in the matchday revs. Tis an interesting, if not surprising topic!

  • chris from Cambridge

    I agree, the club’s finances are in excellent shape. Now all we need is a successful approach to playing football … not one that is handicapped by the Manager’s purist, intellectual obsessions – on which the senior players eventually gave up … ie. in 2011. On the field we are in a hell of a mess and the Directors have not the slightest clue what can be done about it.

  • critic

    Yes, arsenal are great off the pitch but it’s same old same old arsenal on it.

    The mistake that clichy committed against birmingham in eduardo fiasco match which resulted in penalty (although it wasn’t) is still being repeated all over the pitch.

    Who’s to blame?

    It’s been 2 season, i guess, in which arsenal been literally shit in set pieces both in their and opposition box. The trend is continuing.

    Who’s to blame?

    The thing is every team has figured out how to play arsenal but arsenal haven’t figured out how to change plans if one is not working.

  • FunGunner

    Thanks for this. It’s a timely reminder.

    Regarding this: “Of course there are many who would prefer to be at Highbury and perhaps losing money, but top of the league.”

    Losing money and success on the pitch seem to be inextricably linked in some people’s eyes. There is no guarantee that we would have done any better if we’d stayed at Highbury. Lots of clubs lose money, only three clubs at most ever do better than we do.

  • Marcus

    The problem for Arsenal is that Arsene seems to have a lot of enemies.

    Why is that?
    I won’t even speculate….

    But it seems to create a lot of problems.

    In fact it is the elephant in the castle here.

    However theoretically correct Tony’s arguments are, there is something wrong…something that won’t work for the club.

    We all know that Arsenal have been the best team in the prem in at least 2 seasons in the last 8 years…but

    it seems like as far as Arsenal and AW goes these days

    “the face doesn’t fit”

  • FinnGooner

    Great article. More reason to be really proud of the club

  • @critic,
    You’ve got a point there. When teams set out to attack us at full throttle with the ball on the deck. we seem much more comfortable, be they Blackburn or Barcelona.
    When teams sit back and park the bus, using balls over the top to find runners, then setting up free kicks from our last ditch defending, we go to pieces.

    Here’s a theory:
    Arsenal don’t play long ball naturally. It’s very hard for our players in eleven versus eleven games to dig deep and find their inner Stoke. Consequently if you come at us on the deck, trying to hold onto the ball, we’re ready for you. Else, we’re clueless.

    Where does our possession game go wrong?
    Forwards are “allowed” to foul defenders in possession. In Spain this isn’t the case and Pique and go striding upfield having swept up a long ball. In the EPL he’d be robustly challenged and have to pick himself up and chase after a striker.

    What’s the answer? No idea. Change the “rules” of the EPL to harmonise them with the rest of Europe probably, it would do our national team a whole world of good.

  • Mike Collins

    well from my lofty perch in Canada and as a retired economic historian I have no stake in the clubs finance through match day tickets but a huge stake in my emotional well being. This site attracts me because it is almost the only one that talks finance and surely apart from a few idiots we all realise that that is where the future is nailed. All these high flying clubs relying on oil money or Russian autocrat finance or still playing in decrepid stadiums are quite frankly mortgaging their futures for very short term gains. Like any Arsenal fanatic I hate us not being at the top and shudder at our defensive mistakes but that is short term and the future of the club as a force is long term. Perhaps it is my detached situation now but I think the club is doing exactly the right thing in making sure its financial base is secure.
    Now having said that I do dislike all these conspiracy theories abour refereees and bribes etc. With any conspiracy theory where is the real proof. Be very careful of statistics gathered with no random inspection of method and as far as conspiracies how come nobody blows the whistle. Its a bit like Alien Abduction until you realise that Aliens must be stupid as they ignore Eastern European Nobel prize winners in favour of rednecks with no teeth from trailor parks in the Southern USA.
    Great financial management has not always brought us great teams but it has brought us great stadiums and a team that has never been relegated.
    Mike C

  • Shard

    You don’t get it. The whole point of a football club is success. Give me success now! This so called golden future will never materialise. It isn’t success to build a new stadium. It isn’t success to ensure the continued survival of a club. It isn’t success to have a youth policy. It isn’t success to be competing at the top level and being within touching distance of all the trophies. It is only success if you rake in those trophies. So what if you need to push the boundaries of good sense, and perhaps even the law, to get it. Demanding that success as a matter of course, every single year, proves that I am a winner. This is just loser talk. Who cares about the future. Life is short isn’t it? The board is miserly, Wenger’s gone mad with his penny pinching. After all, the size of the wallet decides the worth of a team. Just like the price of the ticket decides the worth of the fan. You can disagree all you want, but there are many others who have the same logic as me, and hence you are wrong. Wenger out.

  • Shard

    Oh and I forgot.. The above message should be entirely in Block letters. Because I am ANGRY!!!!!!!

  • Howard Webb for Sunday…

  • Shard

    @Mike Collins

    “Now having said that I do dislike all these conspiracy theories abour refereees and bribes etc. With any conspiracy theory where is the real proof. Be very careful of statistics gathered with no random inspection of method and as far as conspiracies how come nobody blows the whistle. Its a bit like Alien Abduction until you realise that Aliens must be stupid as they ignore Eastern European Nobel prize winners in favour of rednecks with no teeth from trailor parks in the Southern USA.”

    Ok. I’ll bite.. Who called it a ‘conspiracy theory’? It’s a theory. A working theory, and the whole point is gathering of empirical data which might, or might not (even you don’t think it won’t, I bet) suggest that something doesn’t work properly. Of course the refs are human (not aliens) and make mistakes. But cover a large enough number of incidents, and statistically, the mistakes should even out. Hence the saying that they even out over the course of a season (which should be a large enough data sample). It disregards any ‘corrupting’ influence, any other factors.

    The comparison with alien abduction is baffling. There have been cases of referee and match fixing in Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Greece and I’m sure places I’m forgetting. If people in your neighbourhood were disappearing regularly, regardless of whether you believe in aliens or not, I bet you’d want to be careful and take some action to possibly prevent it happening to you. Unless of course your belief in the absence of alien life, (or in this case, belief in the absolute honesty and incorruptibility of English referees, and officials )is dogmatic enough to discount the idea of it ever happening, while ignoring the growing missing persons list in your locality as just a ‘conspiracy theory’.

  • Mandy dodd

    Agree with many points on here. The finances look relatively good, however the club now has to show more ambition to keep fans and some players happy. We all know there are many knives out for wenger, the richest club in the world seem intent on destroying us, yes we give them good players, but is there something else, and I fear they are not finished yet. The club has not come out well from this summer, I cannot believe we spent ten million on a player with a history of injury without giving him a medical. Some are blaming wenger, some the board but the club should not be where they are now and need to improve, especially given our finances, this just gives our critics more ammunition. If our project is to survive, more ambition must be shown on the pitch, our frankly woeful player retention must be looked into, as does our appalling injury situation. We are far from the situation in which the media place us but this club needs to get it’s mojo back in the very near future. Upwards and onwards!

  • Mandy dodd

    Webb again , cannot believe that. That is Webb twice as well as dowd and Dean in the first few games, incredible. We will prob get kicked all over the place if he is true to form, or will he let us be thinking we are no threat to his lord and master?

  • RedGooner

    I agree with almost everything we are in great in shape in many ways and there is a lot to be proud of when it comes to supporting the Arsenal. Excellent article by the way.

    One thing I cant agree with is the following

    The operating profit (before exceptional costs, depreciation and player trading) in the football business was £45.8 million (2010 – £56.8 million). The gains made on the commercial side were offset by an increased wage bill (a note to those people who say that we lose players because we have such a silly pay structure) – we are still near the top of the league for salaries and they are getting larger.

    Sorry we do have a silly pay structure and to gloss over or fob off the obvious in a time where we have to sort probably one of the most important issues at AFC out, especially as we are competing against some of the super rich clubs of europe in Mancity and Chelsea isnt good enough.

    We have to stop over paying the youngsters when other clubs are paying their proven stars and keeping them.
    The youth talent will still come because we are the only ones who will give them a real chance.

    If we be balance the wages better and stop paying silly salaries to those who do not deserve them ala bendtner, vela, denilson and start paying the likes of the nasris rvps cescs etc closer to their true value their will be less heart ache and change ensuring more stability to the first team squad.

    We cant continue to be blind to probably what is the biggest issue at the club currently and continue to have summers like last summer.

  • Mike Collins

    Shard
    it is all to do with proof. I would be stupid not to think that bribes do not exist but we are talking about systematic deception targeting one club. I just do not believe it for one moment.
    Supportinga football team unfortunately is nothing to do with success as it is an addiction. My local club was West Ham so how did I support Arsenal for years with no success except lack of relegation. (Stupidity, tribal following?) Only one team can win the league every season so success will always be random and today has great correlation with money. Unfortunately we are very close to a number of clubs having huge financial difficulties. Until a few years ago I moaned at the price of my season ticket, moaned at the inept defending or under George Graham almost no attack, and swore blind I would never do it again. But like everyone around me supporting the team was nothing to do with success, that was an infrequent cherry on the cake.
    Mike C

  • John L

    We have a very good structure at the club. We have new sponsorship deals coming up, the debt is very manageable, we have very good youth with more than a few ‘homegrown’ players coming through to help fill the team. The club can support itself through a crisis (no champions league) These are all very good things that we should be proud of. Having said that, all these things should mean we can afford top wages, and reinvest every year in the squad with out losing other top players. This would make our top guns more likely to stay and give the fans excitement. The most irritating thing to me is that every year we just need a little extra and dont seem to get it. Its been going on for so long i feel as if we now have to spend really big on multiple players. Take this summer for instance, it appears to me that we lost out on jones, mata, mvila, cahill, samba, and possibly more, quibbling over a couple million in transfer fee or wages! I think there needs to be some changes in the board room. We need to be more aggressive and ambitious in the market. Maybe it makes the fiances a bit tight, but we are miles ahead of alot of other clubs in that regard. I dont think it would jeopardize the long term future of the club to ‘break’ the bank a little when a player is really special. Something needs to happen in regards to the board, im not saying sack the lot of them, but maybe some new faces to shake things up a bit. Im not a huge fan, but could dien and usamov liven things up a bit? I get the impression that gazidis is more of a business man than a football man, could wenger use a director of football type to help him push deals through and negotiate contracts?

  • John L

    @ Redgooner,

    I agree. I would have like to see a few more sales last summer. sometimes a cut price sale is a good thing if it clears up money for wages. Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Vela, Diaby, Rosicky, Bendtner should all have been sold even for a cut price, as it would have cleared up alot of room for wages elsewhere. Im not saying all those players are rubbish. I just think they dont offer enough to the first team to be on the wages they are on. I also feel that coquelin, frimpong, AOC, miguel, ryo, afobe etc offer more potential and would benefit greatly for more playing time. Especially as this season seems to be one for rebuilding.

  • Notoverthehill

    To comment on the paucity of civilization on Tottenham High Road and then condemn a person for attempting to ensure a viable future for the underclass, is breathtaking in the complacency of the person writing that sentence! This underclass believes that Murdoch the devil-man taps everyone’s phone. They believe that every shop and the contents therein, is theirs by right of exploitation by the British of the Empire and Commonwealth. If “that” team decamps to another part of London, how long will it take the area vacated to be redeveloped?

    That is BTW, until that “underclass” decides that Highbury Square and The Emirates belongs to them!

    There are still writers out there who have not realised that ALL the names quoted as transfer targets, may not want to live in or near London. Certainly Jones preferred staying up north and the others were never in the mix.

    As for the salary structure Arsenal Holdings had 416 full-time staff with 902 temporary staff for matchdays. for the full time staff per capita the average is £232,000 per annum. ManIOU on the other hand had 592 full time staff and 1,869 part-time. The per capita for ManIOU is £197,000 per annum.

    Even the Tinies at £204,000 per annum, surpass the ManIOU. That is London Weighting for you?

  • John L

    Wewnger is a genuis, he has done much and more for our club. He is recognized through out the world as a great coach, from players and managers. He has helped Arsenal to some of its greatest moments. We should all be thankful and respectful to this man. There will come a time when he leaves and he will and should be remembered as an Arsenal hero. However, he needs to shake things up. He needs to bring in some new coaches, needs to be more tactically versatile, to change his approach with the media a little, he needs to be more demanding with the board, particularly in regards to the players that he wants. I dont think its a matter of the current structure at arsenal being sub par, i think its more a matter of fresh faces, new ideas, techniques, and experience being important for continued progression.

    I think that the attacking movement off the ball needs to be more creative and directed. It seems strange to say this about arsenal. However our fluidity is predictable. I want to see more diagonal runs starting deep, more triangular runs (such as moving from central positions forward out wide, into the center and back again). I would like to see walcott for example make more runs across the backline, on the defenders shoulders making him harder to mark and be aware of. The timing of late runs into the box from the midfield and wide players to coincide with the cross and run from out wide needs to be vastly improved! I want to see players breaking a lung to get in there at the proper time. with the possesion we generally enjoy just inside the opponents half, making positive, creative and well timed movement/runs should be possible and devastating.

    Defensively i want to see the midfeilders and wide men with a burr up there ass. we lose out alot in the transitional phase when possesion changes, before our defenders make mistakes under pressure. as soon as the ball is lost i want to see all the creative players in the team immediately hassling the opposition players. This takes alot of energy, heart and determination but is essential to the type of football we play. it total football all the players should be defending, therefore someone like say arshavin should be spending more time and energy defending since gibbs will be hustling to help him offensively.
    If the players arent doing this, i want to see others on the field and in the technical area putting the fear of god into those individuals.
    the same goes for defending corners and freekicks. everyone gets a man, with players on the posts, and if you let your man slip or are sleeping on the posts, i want to see the others and the coaches give a serious bollocking to the individual. im not saying break their spirit, but when you make the same mistakes repeatedly, you need to get it pounded into sometimes. i dont think djourou for example is a bad player i just think he needs a martin keown or such to kick his ass every now and then…

    i would hate to see wenger leave, but surely there needs to be some significant changes and progression in our tactics, fighting spirit, coaching etc….

  • Sammy The Snake

    Agreed, Arsenal are in great financial shape. But the core competency of a football club is playing football! If Arsenal are thinking of turning the club into a financial institution, then we’re on the right track.

    Fans have learnt to put up with being happy with 4th place, with all the senseless money pumped into the likes of Chelsea and ManC. But why do we keep losing to teams with a fraction of our football budget?

    The first step to solving a problem is accepting and understanding it. There’s little way to sugarcoat the current situation, and it won’t help anyone. Neither will protesting against Wenger (I really hope they come to their senses before embarrassing all of us).

    Win, Lose or Draw, Gooner till I die.

  • Mandy dodd

    The money we have available will never worry city or Chelsea but we are doing ok. Now let’s see a bit more ambition and proactivity on football matters and all will be well. If really are losing out on silverware or worse on a million or two here or there on wages and transfers, that is a bit of a false economy if we have a global marketing strategy, so a bit of recalibration on that front? I do not know if it is wenger or other management who set wages and fees but this last summer has highlighted a few issues which will need resolving to move this club forward in the environment they are competing in.
    I suspect wenger sees real value next summer as euro clubs falter and may make his true moves then. But does not want to leave it to long.

  • bjtgooner

    It is good to know that the club is financially in good shape; that should give us all a lot of confidence. It is also good to see the young talent coming through from the youth setup.

    Last season, we were very close to silverware. I believe with one or two more quality players in the squad (or fewer injuries) we would have won silver – despite the “men in black”.

    This season, following squad changes, we seem to be a little further away from silverware. I don’t think we are too far from being a top team but my feeling is that if we find a quality player or two in January we should buy. Yes, there would be a cost penalty, but if it helps us win a trophy or ensures a top 4 finish there will be an even greater cost benefit; directly from prize money and indirectly from being more attractive for marketing and player retention.

    We may not be able to compete with Man Oil etc on money terms, but it is not impossible to build a better team – Wenger has done that more than once – that must continue to be the aim – be the best in the EPL – we must never settle for less!

  • Weslee

    FOR YOU SHARD, FROM THE TOP DOG AT CHELSEA,
    “Even before [Financial Fair Play] we were of the view we couldn’t rely on Mr Abramovich for ever,” Buck told the Daily Mail.

    “We had to figure out a way over the medium term to stand on our own two feet. Maybe Financial Fair Play is making us do that a little bit quicker.

    “We have to up our sponsorship income. We have to reduce our transfer fees, reduce our payroll and up our match-day revenues if we can. Naming rights could also be important.

    “An academy costs maybe £5m a year to run, so if you can get maybe one player every year or 18 months into the first team, look at the transfer fees you’ve saved. The economics are pretty clear. Implementing it is much more difficult.”

    SOUNDS LIKE HE BORROWED A SPEECH FROM WENGER !!! It is not only about winning, it is also about how you become a winner. I am from Canada and I can tell you, Canada is in great economic health. Why? Because they took, before Wenger came on the scene at Arsenal, the current Arsenal approach. Canada took the hard choice to try and live within its means. Before it did this, our debt was heading into the trillion dollar range. Today it is less than half a trillion and the economy is buzzing along. We are probably going to hit a rough patch but we will still come out on top. Why, because we have stopped being 100 percent reliant on the United States and have Asia to help pick up the slack. Sounds like how Arsenal is now operating, Asia bound for new markets.

  • Shard

    @Mike Collins

    The first two postings weren’t meant for you. I wasn’t indicating that you support the club for success. It was just a sarcastic generalisation of the sort of comment that usually follows any article which emphasises the positives about Arsenal.

    As for your talk of proof. What would count as proof to you? Nothing short of recorded phone conversations of the referees or the owners? Isn’t what is happening in front of us, a part of the proof? Is demanding more transparency something that we shouldn’t do because we don’t have some level of proof that is submissable in court? An investigation starts with the idea that something is wrong, and is sustained by empirical data that suggests that the hypothesis may be correct.

    Besides, people keep bringing up the red herring of Untold talking about all of this ‘conspiracy’ is to target Arsenal. It is NOT to target Arsenal specifically. Any other club is also vulnerable to it, and in fact I am sure, suffers from it as well. But based on what we see, I (and others) have been forced to think of reasons why Arsenal is being targeted at the moment. That isn’t out of some desire to excuse away the team’s and the club’s failings. just a logical conclusion based on what we have been seeing over the past few years.

    So once again. We are NOT talking about systematic deception targeting one club. That isn’t the purpose of this ‘systematic deception’. That is merely the outcome at the moment, probably because Arsenal in some way threatens either the existence, or the success of this ‘deception’.

    A closed coterie of men run football. They entertain no notion of transparency in their dealings. They play down any mistakes that are made, and refuse to accept the tools that might help reduce those mistakes, hiding behind rubbish reasons of 100% accuracy, or football being the same at all levels. There is huge money in football, and all the administrators, owners, players, referees, media earn off of that. Which begs the question why anyone will be willing and able to upset the applecart. So, in a situation where the leaders have no accountability, have control directly, and indirectly over huge sums of money, take arbitrary, even suspicious decisions, none of which are highlighted by the media (which in any case thrives on it all), what to you suggests that football does not have corruption? Because it has all the conditions that corruption thrives on. We know this, and we can see it happening. Yet it’s easier (and more comforting in a way) to believe it isn’t happening because there is no ‘proof’.

  • Micko

    @Mike Collins
    “Shard it is all to do with proof. I would be stupid not to think that bribes do not exist but we are talking about systematic deception targeting one club. I just do not believe it for one moment”. – The fact that people refuse to believe it, is exactly why it is allowed to happen.

  • FunGunner

    @ JohnL and Mandy Dodd
    We aren’t losing out because of a million here or there. That’s a stubborn myth. We scout and make inquiries about lots of players whom we don’t end up offering for. Deals don’t fall through for relatively small amounts. In the case of Jones, we matched the highest offer, for Smalling we offered less than ManU but our offer was acceptable to the club. In both cases, the player chose ManU for personal reasons. Cahill and Jagielka were overpriced, in Jagielka’s case because Everton did not want to sell him and in Bolton’s case because they are idiots. They did want to sell him but they messed up the negotiation and we walked away.

  • Mandy dodd

    An interesting read and possibly, inadvertent backing of some of wengers policies in this mornings le grove. To summarise it, without player sales and property, there would have been no profits lately, in the opinion of the researchers at least. Also, they say stan borrowed all the monies for his purchases of shares , and could put this back on the club at any moment. Then, the importance of maintaining a place in the cl to stay with the elite. Finally our wage bill which should put us fourth, they advocate a more meritocratic wage system, which I tend to agree with. Nothing earth shattering here but maybe an opportunity for a bit of perspective
    What this does show is that wenger has a very fine balancing act, especially with who we are competing with. I get frustrated and baffled at some of the issues with the team, but it looks clear the owner will not be putting anything extra into the team, which has no option but to be self sustaining. A place in the cl is threatened by differently funded teams, though how long this funding will be sustained is another matter. I have no faith at all in the FTP but just hope, maybe against hope our model will come to fruition one way of another, because like it or not we are stuck with it for now. and I for one believe we have a manager who like all of us has some faults but in our situation is by far the best man for the job

  • Mandy Dodd

    dont disagree with any of that Fungunner. Just frustration really, I do not believe everything I hear but not sure we are the most proative when it comes to big transfers, and yes I do not doubt there may be very good reasons for this. But hearing we signed Arteta , without a medical, if that is true, well that is one big risk and maybe we should have wrapped things up sooner. Guess the one that got me was Mata, yes we do not know the full facts, maybe we were being played off against another club, maybe he just did not want to come,maybe we were never really interested or maybe as erm…Guilleme Balague reported, we missed a deadline for a lower transfer price. I think we could have done with a player like that to replace Cesc. Another one that upset me – at least was Alonso, but guess that was a long time ago and no point crying over spilt milk
    Glad we missed out on another reported target…Alvarez… though, apparently he has been complete pants on rare appearances for Inter this season!

  • Shard

    I actually agree with people who think our wage structure needs to change. Actually I think it will. But it isn’t something that can be done overnight. It’ll take a few years or at least until we offload the likes of Almunia, Bendtner, Denilson etc. (by the way, what is the status of Diaby? I’m worried about him ever coming back) Having said that, with the sale of Cesc and Nasri, we should have some room to maneuver in terms of the overall wage bill. I would expect the likes of RVP, Walcott, Song and Vermaelen to be offered bigger contracts. Hopefully, it’ll be enough.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Not sure on Diaby, he should be back soon, but it keeps getting put back. We could do with Diaby if he can play to his potential after all his injury problems.
    We do need to get some of those players off the wage bill, not sure why some of them are on that sort of money but one for another article.
    Hope they do sign, can see RVP being offered something along the lines of what Cesc was on. Maybe he will make sure we are playing CL football next year? The Citeh link is strange, even without Teves, they just do not need him if reports are true. Worryingly, think Utd could come in for him.
    As for TV, I would be amazed, and very disappointed if he did not sign as long as we give him a decent offer. Liverpool rumoured to be suitors of Theo – but again, do they really need him? How many MFs / strikers / wingers or wherever he wants to play do they have already?

  • FunGunner

    Hi, again Mandy – I’m not having a go, honestly, but..

    1. Arteta
    He said that Everton were unwilling to release him, so that’s why we couldn’t wrap it up. (Arteta was on a list of four “unsellable” Everton players which was leaked to the Independent newspaper a few weeks earlier, so that’s confirmation.) It was pressure from Arteta himself, when he heard abotu the bid, which forced them to give in eventually.
    2. Mata
    Chelsea hijacked the deal. We walked away, so my guess is that we couldn’t compete on wages or transfer fee, or we thought the player wanted Chelsea/any top 4 PL club, not Arsenal particularly. The Balague clause claim is of dubious veracity and might not have been enforceable outside his league anyway.
    3. Alonso
    Liverpool would not sell because they could not persuade Villa to sell them Gareth Barry to replace Alonso.
    4. Alvarez
    I know you aren’t that bothered but just thought I’d mention that we didn’t bid for him – my source is James Olley (journalist) when he appeared on the Fans Forum. He claimed his source was AFC.

    Basically, the stories about missing out on Alonso and Alvarez for the sake of £200,000 and £2 million respectively are not true. But because they fit the “Wenger is a skinflint” perception, many people believe them.

    Just to cheer you up, we did definitely bid for Goetze, Martin, Hazard, Gourcuff Jovetic and M’Vila (confirmed by their clubs), but none of their clubs would sell for any money. Or maybe that has upset you – anyway, just putting it out there! 🙂

  • Shard

    The rule of thumb with Balague is to take whatever he says, and believe that the opposite is true.

  • Shard

    Slightly off topic, but this is a story about Leeds’ ownership.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/15241344.stm

  • Shard

    Oh and did anyone catch this quote by Joey Barton?

    “Financially, they have put themselves in a great position but I don’t know what’s happening there. I don’t understand. You look at Arsenal and you think, ‘Well, they obviously have an abundance of money’.

    “Their stadium is almost paid for. I would say, financially, they are the most well-run club in the league, barring Manchester City.”

  • Mandy dodd

    Thanks for the info fungunner. The last bit did cheer me up a bit, I am glad we are at least trying for players of that calibre and hope we do again if we need to, tho I guess many others will be onto them.
    Sounds like you have a good source

  • RedGooner

    FunGunner I have to totaly disagree with you regarding the its not about a mill here and there finances are everything.

    Its not the fact we lost out just on siginings it is also the fact that we cant keep our team together.

    If the following players are on 60k a week

    Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Vela, Diaby, Rosicky, Bendtner

    thats 21,840,000 per year for f#ck sakes on wages alone.

    Vela bedtner denilson even if we sold them all for a mill each with a 50% sell on clause we would be better off and use the saved cash to keep the nasris rvps cescs and our better players.

    I could go on but wont enough said there I think when you look at our financial reports this year without the sales of appartments things are tight.

  • Richard B

    Re the wage structure.
    Anyone watching the interviews that Bob Wilson did with ex players on Arsenal TV (when it was going) will remember the number of times that the name of Alan Ball came up with reference to him ‘leaving his payslip on the table in the middle of the dressing room to make sure that everyone knew that he was paid a lot more than anyone else’. It made him very unpopular, undermined team spirit and may have contributed the a period in the middle seventies when we were truly appalling on the pitch (despite having some good players in the team).
    Arsenal ‘fans’ deserted the Club in droves and attendance figures were often below 20,000.
    It was actually George Graham who created a more even pay structure (specifically raising the pay of the full backs) – Wenger merely carried on the same policy and extended it to younger players in order to bring in some rising stars. Even their fees were largely met by selling off those (eg Bentley) who weren’t making it.

  • Walter

    If I may add that today in the Belgium press the manager of Hazard has confirmed that Arsenal had made a £35.000.000 bid to Lille to get Hazard. Lille didn’t want to let him go.

    If you can believe the press in Belgium of course 😉 As they also made us believe we could go and win in Germany. LOL 🙂 🙂

  • Walter

    we=belgium still 🙂

  • FunGunner

    @ Richard B

    I think you’ve misunderstood me. I realise that wages have an impact on transfer fees because it all comes out of the same pot. What I was saying is that in a situation in which Club A wants £11 million and we have offered £10 million, a way would be found to bridge the gap, perhaps by structuring the payments differently, reducing the amoint the player will get in wages etc. And also the stories about Alvarez and Alonso are simply not true. We haven’t lost out on people for the sake of relatively small amounts – that is what I was tryign to get across.

    Regarding the fact that we are paying the wages of the fringe players or some of those on loan, that’s life, I’m afraid. No way around it. In every club there will be some players on the fringe or under-performing. You don’t know in advance who those players will be. The people you list were offered contracts or extensions because, *at the time*, AW thought they would do well. It hasn’t worked out like that in every case. Moreover moving players on, just like buying players in, is not a straightforward matter.

    We know that as it is, we had enough money for bids on big players this last summer – all those bids on players I mentioned were publicly verified by officials at their clubs. (I don’t have a special source, btw, Mandy – just quotes from interviews I’ve read myself.)

    That Alan Ball anecdote is a good example of the value of a wage structure. Interesting that it was Grahan’s idea as well. Thanks fror the info.

  • Ben

    Good article, but I have a question. Your saying about Arsenal’s foresight, but with a bit more of a forward thinking attitude and ambition from the board could Arsenal have moved to the emirates Stadium much earlier?

    In Janurary 1990 when the Taylor report said all grounds must be all seater the Arsenal board must have known this would severely reduce Highbury’s capacity (to 38,500) & surrounded by houses there would be little chance of ever expansion. Also just as importantly Arsenal at Highbury were well behind other teams in terms of revenue from executive boxes and the corporate side of things. Yet even though they new all this information the Arsenal board went ahead with building a new North Bank and addidng seats to other standing areas in the ground coming to a total cost of £22 million a huge amount of money in 1992.

    At the time in 1990 we were league champions and were getting 50,000+ attendance very often so the board would have been aware 38,500 wouldnt be big enough for a club the size of Arsenal.

    Rupurt Murchoch’s Sky television had launched Feb 1989 and David Dein was put in charge of the Television negotiations by the Football league in 1988, so he must have been aware of the huge money Satellite TV was about to put into English Football. So there was defiantly enough money coming in to football at the time for Arsenal to have taken the financial risk of a new stadium.

    Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, but you saying about Arsenal’s Foresight when maybe they should have moved stadiums a lot earlier.

  • Limestonegunner

    I think there are always ways of rationalizing why we missed out on our top transfer targets. The case of Phil Jones is interesting. Forget about this summer when every club was going in for him and he chose United. Last January we made an offer apparently to Blackburn but were apart by a million or two and didn’t nab him. That is when it would have been worth it. How about replacing Adebayor the next summer. We were in for Chamakh but wouldn’t pay Bordeaux’s price–fair enough. Why didn’t we find someone else? Instead we waited and had Arshavin playing up top and then didn’t try again that January because we were waiting to sign Chamakh on a free. Why didn’t we try to replace Adebayor that same summer in fact? How about Almunia? Couldn’t we have gone in for Brad Friedel when he moved to Aston Villa. It wouldn’t have cost more that 3 million. Some say we couldn’t get Alonso because Barry wasn’t acquired. If we had payed more perhaps Liverpool would have made it happen. Instead, we lost Gilberto, Flamini, and Diarra that summer and played Denilson and Song before they were ready.

    I support that we are self-sustaining but during the last three years we have had healthy profits that should have been more aggressively reinvested into strengthening the team and not just used for higher wages and longer contracts for players. More could have been done because there are opportunity costs to falling short. If we had managed a couple cups or one league title since 2006, we would have been in a much healthier financial position even if it meant spending more of the money we had. We would be able to renew commercial sponsorships at a higher level, we would have attracted more fans, we would have sold more merchandise and we would have probably kept some players. There are no guarantees in sport but we were close and had some clear areas where we could strengthen to give ourselves a better chance. Would we have collapsed last year if our players had won a cup before or the league a couple years earlier? I think we would have been tougher to the very end with that experience of winning already. So we are in transition again and having to rebuild the side but not having an easy time recruiting the right players. Hopefully we’ll try again for Gotze, Martin, Hazard, M’Vila and so on in January and next summer. Happily we have Chesney in goal, Wilshere in midfield to come back, Song (now a very good player after playing too much too early perhaps) in midfield–players who have come through. We didn’t have to pay much for these quality players–hopefully we can hang onto them as well when the time comes.

  • Limestonegunner

    I think Mandy Dodd and John L made some fair points. Of course, FG, we stick with our club and hope things will improve. I believe AW is a genius. But is does get frustrating and it seems we have been just a little too cautious and just a little too conservative at times. That’s why we talk so much about finances. It is our salve. I think the Swiss Ramble had some good suggestions as well. Also it is the international break–that always brings out dark thoughts for me!

  • Limestonegunner

    Interesting Ben, but then we would have had years of austerity at the start of Wenger’s era and likely no Invincibles! We would never have bought Bergkamp, for example.

  • Tony Attwood

    Ben: of course I can’t answer completely as I am not a board member, but two things spring to mind. One is that Dein saw Wembley as an option, and had us playing Euro games at Wembley for a couple of seasons. The other was that I don’t think anyone saw the rise in worldwide interest in the EPL at that time.

    Some time in the mid 1980s I went to Arsenal and bought a season ticket – being given a wide choice of seats to choose from. No waiting list. Who could have imagined that we would be able to fill a 60,000 stadium and have a 10 year waiting list?

    Yes, we were getting big crowds before going all seater, but we had experienced ups and downs, and no one could have imagined 14 years of playing in the top Euro league every season.

  • Ben

    Yes I suppose your right in saying it was hard to predict the rise in worldwide interest in the EPL at that time. I was just suprised to read the board managed to raise £22 million to build the new North Bank in 1992. When you think Sunderland’s £50,000 stadium only cost £15 million in 1997 & Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium only cost £16 million in 1995, the board defiantly had the funds to finance a new stadium back then.

    Obvisouly those grounds arent in the same league as the structure of the emirates stadium, and buying land for a new stadium in London would still have cost a lot of money back then, but id be interested to no if the board did consider moving grounds when the Taylor report came out in 1990.

    Theres a good video on Arsenal tv with Ken Frair telling the story of Emirates Stadium while walking from Highbury, and at one point he says we should have moved here a lot earlier.

  • John L

    @ FunGunner,

    I realize that I dont really have any facts or inside knowledge of these transfers. I also realize that transfers involve a lot of different parties with differing incentives, are very complex and its not quite like champ man. so perhaps im a bit out of line to have a go at the club, frustration is a motherf@ker, and it does appear that arsenal did bid for some very good players and were refused. I appreciate the highroad we take in dealing with other clubs, but sometimes it appears from the outside that arsenal could be a little more bullish, while staying within the rules.