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Football finance: a look at the AST’s financial analysis of Arsenal (part one of many)

By Phil Gregory

Recently the Arsenal Supporters Trust issued a three page document in which they took a look at Arsenal’s books and posed a few questions based on their analysis. I’d advise readers to have a look at that document before continuing, seeing as my article is looking at parts of their work, though what follows will be a multi-part series of articles as I discuss various issues that have been thrown up by their report as I progress. Come the end of the series however, I will collate my ramblings into a single article that will critically assess their report, for clarity.

The document and analysis from the AST is very good, as would be expected from an organisation that has some very experienced and qualified people involved in it. However, from what I know of the AST from news reports derived from angry twittering, occasional columns and from knowing that certain shall we say “discontented” bloggers are part of their organisation, I felt it would be pertinent to have a look at what they did. To be frank, the AST aren’t very happy with the current Arsenal model –as is their right – and I wanted to have a look at their analysis to see whether they were simply confirming their bias – picking numbers and assumptions that prove the club is in jeopardy – or whether what they wrote was a fair and balanced analysis. Naturally they will argue it is, but if that is true then my conclusions should bear that out.

My general impression was that their document was generally excellent, but there were a few issues and conclusions that I would like to take issue with. Because it is pointless reproducing their article and writing “I agree”, the rest of this series of articles will be focusing on my disagreements with the AST’s work and the issues arising from that, but do not take that to mean that I disagree with everything they wrote: as I said, their base analysis is perfectly sound and I applaud the undoubted time that their members put into the report.

They start off by looking at player sales, which is perfectly logical for a report seeking to look at whether Arsène has money to spend. Analysis in this area is naturally tricky business, as the figures for transfers and wages aren’t disclosed so any analysis is based on an educated guess. In general I would agree that their figures are reasonable and a fine basis to analyse from. I’ve reproduced those figures below as they appeared in the AST’s document, though with a slight amendment so that Miyaichi’s name is spelt correctly:

Player Transfer fee Wages Player Transfer fee Wage
Fabregas £29m £110k Arteta £10m £65k
Nasri £25m £35k Gervinho £11m £50k
Clichy £7m £35k Chamberlain £12m £15K
Eboue £4m £40k Mertesacker £9m £80k
Traore £1m. £10k Santos £6m £50k
      Jenkinson £1m £2.5k
      Park £3m £20k
      Campbell £1m £5k
      Miyaichi £1m £5k

£230k per week left the wage bill…     while £292.5k was added on.

The bolded transfer fees are the numbers provided in the AST document. They also drew the conclusion that the new arrivals’ wages would be greater than the departures, so I added approximate wage figures to check this assumption, as I initially disagreed with it. After some hunting around for data, I actually agreed with them and this is very surprising if you consider the calibre of departures. I’ll briefly justify my wage figures in the following paragraph: if you have any basis for arguing they are hugely unrealistic please do leave a comment with a link to some information; this is an ongoing process, and wage data will form a big part of a future article I plan on writing.

To briefly justify my wage figures: Cesc earns more than an equally good player such as Van Persie due to the latter’s frequent injury problems keeping other clubs from sniffing around. Barcelona’s interest likely meant Cesc was on big money, which is reflected. For the others (bar Traore), as they were all considered first eleven players, they earn similar wages. While not a first eleven player by the time he left, Eboue certainly was when he arrived and I doubt we wanted to try and cut his wages as his career developed as he was a solid professional and a well-respected member of the squad. Nasri’s wage is low relative to his “star” status when he left as he never got a new contract after upping his game, as we all well know. Hence bar the Cesc wage, the average level of the departure wages is actually relatively low, and indeed this surprised me. These numbers would generally fit the idea of a wage structure at Arsenal, a subject that I will come back to in the future.

As I said earlier, I initially disagreed with the AST that the incoming player wages would exceed the outgoing player wages. In fact, it seems probable that some of the new arrivals are on far more money than people actually anticipated, myself included. Even though Arteta took a wage cut to join us (my guesstimate is from £75kish at Everton to the given £65k), his wage is still high – likely he got fantastic money from Everton as he was the crux of their side, and given our need for a midfielder, we didn’t want to risk his transfer over saving of say 25k a week. Gervinho was a somewhat protracted transfer deal, with others interested, so we didn’t have much scope to offer a lower wage despite his relatively low salary at Lille. Chamberlain probably got a bigger wage than any of our academy prospects due to him being a much sought—after prospect, though recent performances probably justified the initial indulgence. Mertesacker’s hefty salary in Germany means he came in on a very high wage too, most likely. Santos is in a similar boat, given the high wages on offer from the top Turkish sides, though Park will have been relatively lowly paid due to being a “diamond in the rough” style signing. Kids such as Jenkinson, Miyaichi and Campbell will all have come relatively cheap, due to being largely unknown and us not facing much competition in general.

Now while I agree with the AST in how they envisage that last summer will raise the wage bill going forward – not to mention a new contract for Vermaelen and deals hopefully to be signed for Theo, Van Persie and Alex Song – it does make an interesting point: it’s generally bloody expensive to buy “established” players. Some players such as Arshavin are amongst our top earners, yet can barely get a game when a kid like Chamberlain is on a fraction of the money and performing brilliantly. Or take a Wilshere: granted, since he started playing week in week out, Jack got a pay rise to circa £50k per week if reports are to be believed, but if Wenger had taken advice from the terraces and bought an established, Premier League player capable of playing in midfield like Wilshere was prior to his injury, I imagine we’d be looking at a salary of at least £80k, more if the player was English.

The myth of the ease of “just buy a bloody defender” becomes further complicated, given this. As we all know, Wenger has said many times something along the lines of “it isn’t like going into a supermarket for a tin of beans” and if top players from the very best leagues are earning high wages, they become much less appealing. In wage terms, I bet we could get a Vermaelen and a Koscielny for the same money Mertesacker is earning – which means that the squad as a whole benefits from Wenger’s “diamond in the rough” style dealings. We do, after all, have a finite amount of money to spend, so buying undervalued unknown players and kids will mean that the money will go further than giving in to demand and splashing a fortune on the “obvious” (but expensive) option. Food for thought, certainly.

As an additional thought, buying players generally is probably a very expensive business. Leaving aside all the “X factors” at play that make signing any player a very hit-and-miss business in general (will he settle in the squad, will he adapt to the country/league/language etc) it’s also quite an inefficient way of doing business from a purely monetary point of view. In general, if you sign a player they want a raise, so an already well-paid player such as Per becomes even more expensive. I imagine this relative expense that results from the transfer market explains we often look within the club rather than using the market at the drop of a hat like everyone else.

Even if our youngsters like Ramsey and Chamberlain are relatively well paid for their age, buying a player of similar quality who was 24-28 (and thus didn’t have as much future resale value and scope for improvement) would cost you more in wages in my view: players at their peak will be more demanding over salary than a kid who is still cutting their teeth. Granted, as a player such a Jack breaks through they get salary increases, but if Wilshere played for Chelsea and we bought him on the open market, we’d be paying him more than £50kish per week, I am sure of it. In this regard then, a small part of the AST’s document that forecasts costs going forward actually vindicates the Wenger approach of buying rough diamonds and developing kids. This will be a theme that I will come back to later in this series of articles: namely, how much financial room is there for Arsenal to sustainably spend more on wages?

I’ll leave this article there for now. Unfortunately I’ve only scratched the surface of The AST’s report before going on a huge tangent in regards to Arsène’s approach in the transfer market and player wages, but I will return to the AST’s work in future articles, and feel that digressing and discussing the issues as they present themselves makes for a much more interesting article anyway!

55 comments to Football finance: a look at the AST’s financial analysis of Arsenal (part one of many)

  • Pat7

    An enjoyable discussion document as far as it goes!

    I’d be surprised if Clichy was on less money than Bendtner’s reputed 52kpw though as the latter was a 2nd team player….

  • Indeed that points out the difficulty over player wages given the lack of credible data.

    I plan on compiling guesstimate player wage data for Arsenal and then comparing it to the “wages” figure given in the accounts to see how accurate it is (allowing for the role of bonuses and non-player staff wages). It will be interesting to see, back of a fag packet analysis as it is given the lack of solid data!

    re: Bendtner and Clichy, arguably the first teamers could be on 40-50k fairly easily, but in the scope of this analysis as long as I’m not miles out I think the guesstimate figures generally suffice.

  • Rich

    Interesting take on defending the ‘diamond in the rough’ approach. You are right that it saves you money on that single player but remember you may need to take on 10 players to find that one that comes good.

    That obviously depends on the success of both your scouting network and the coaching which incorporates those players into the fold.

    But with players like Bendtner, Traore, Eboue, Denilson, Djourou and Rosicky being on long contracts, AST are right to suggest that the policy of paying higher wages to squad only players is leaving us with a significant drain on resource and an inability to fund major purchases in the market.

    I’ll be interested to see the remaining articles…

  • NorthBankLegend

    AST state that they expect Half year figures to be £13M loss. I do not agree with this.

    Half-year profit 2010 £ 6.4
    Increased player amortisation £(5.0) £54M transfer fees over 5 yrs
    Increase Revenues £ 5.5 £3M Far East / £2.5M sponsors
    Football Costs £(12.0) as per AST
    Gate Receipts £10.0 as per AST
    Football profits half year £5M

    AST cash analysis is also no fair. Arsenal’s cash balances have been as follows:
    Nov 2009 £101M
    May 2010 £127M
    Nov 2010 £110M
    May 2011 £160M

    Based on the past, why will the cash balance not be of the region of £150M? Why deduct season ticket advances and not add matchday income?

    Tomorrow we will see Arsenal post a massive profit after player trade and more importantly a massive cash balance.
    The question will be why with such a massive cash balance did we not spend on QUALITY players in the summer

  • @Rich You’re a bit out of date there – Traoré was sold to QPR and Eboué was sold to Galatasaray… also I’m not sure how much of Denilson and Bendtners salaries are being paid by São Paulo and Sunderland – but I’d imagine it’s significant.

  • ak47

    interesting

  • Tasos

    Phil

    Considering the amount of guesswork involved, I’m not sure how anyone can accurately predict how much J Dourou’s contract extension is worth, as some have said recently. Look forward to your follow up articles.

    Just noticed our fixture list during the busy Easter schedule, our Man City game has now been moved from Saturday 7th to Sunday 8th April, meaning we now play 3 games inside 6 days.

    We are definitely not wanted in the top four this season.

  • The Brussels Boys

    To compete and win trophies we need to have a set of world class players. It appears very feasible to have 11 players paid an average of 100,000 pounds et week and equalling just under 60 million per year. These players need to be purchased or developed. We can then afford another “team” of 11 at about 30 kpounds per week and equal to about 15 million per year. These players need to be young and on max 2-3 years contracts – if they are good enough to replace one of the “top” 11 then they move into the upper bracket otherwise they must go – no middle ground – give the chance to the next up. We of course then need a third team of possibles – these should not be costing much more than 5 million per year maximum.

    The pay of the middle team should have a component that is as high as possible based on appearances. The more they put competition on the “stars” the better.

    The stars pay needs to have a strong element related to success, I.e trophies won or CL qualification.

    The only criticism I would make at AW is that he has not been ruthless enough in this respect, and he desperately needed the guidance of a David Dein figure to help him in this respect.

    Today we have at best one star player and 2-3 others knocking on the door (JW/WS/TV), and not a lot after that. Compare this to the early 2000’s when we arguably had ~8-9.

    We can and must find a salary and competitive model that will help in this respect, and it looks like our “friends” at WHL are ahead of us achieving more with less at this moment in time – they have more stars, pay less and are getting better results consistently through good management at coach and club level.

    We are in a great position financially to correct this, but giving new deals to the like of JD is not the solution. He should have been moved on and the next youngster giving the chance to be 4th/5th CB.

    AW is a great analyser of the game, but I think he needs a good analyst to better understand the cost model he has and how to achieve success with optimum costs. Today I think it is pretty clear there is significant waste, and a system that does not encourage work rate. Time and time again we are being out fought by teams with less resources. This has to be resolved and quickly, and looks to be achievable if we have a change in mind-set.

    Come on Arsene – let’s see the ruthless side now.

  • Mandy dodd

    Thanks for an interesting take on a meeting report that seems to have the aaa in a frenzy.
    One of the targets everyone seemed to want was Gary Cahill, can only imagine what he asked for in wages on top of a 17m transfer fee, and seeing his recent performances, glad we left him well alone. Another was the oft mentioned st Scottie Parker, reportedly 85gpw over four years?, has had a good season but I can tell you he needs an injection every time he plays, that would have been a very risky move.

  • Mandy dodd

    Agree tasos, we are not wanted there. Expect a lot of assistance coming the way of the spuds and a team that refused to recognise racism until its owner intervened

  • carl

    Excellent article but why give credence to ast who in no small way helped create the current hysteria around spending money to be the best just look at chelsea. Also wasn’t jet sold for 1.5m

  • Rich

    Interesting reply Dogface. The last accounts published and therefore the figures that AST are working off of (to May 31st 2011) included all those players so they are very relevant. [They are actually pretty relevant to the November accounts as well because of bonus payments over the summer but that’s just nit picking…]

    So in effect the point remains. Whilst you are trying to bring though a batch of players all on comparable wages you are heavily reliant on a significant number coming good. If they don’t then you are (1) holding back the wages of the better players [Nasri] and (2) taking on incredibly large fixed costs long term for little reward.

    This is the point AST are trying make, in that the wages structure is inefficient as it neither encourages star players to stay nor allows the club to invest in experienced players from other clubs. It also has the side effect of players being difficult to offload as they are on high wages.

    In fact, I would say that AST have been one of the few places where sensible debate on the topic of wages has been apparent. Too much of the agenda is driven by mindless focus on the wages of a particular individual (player or manager) and not enough on how Arsenal have lost star players over the last few years but have seen an ever-increasing wage bill.

  • Mahdain

    truth be told i have never really liked the AST….i mean how can you take a group seriously when they have the likes of tim payton and le groan on board? how can anything positive come from there?

  • Mahdain

    and i have to say some of their members are really arrogan..have had some quarrels with some of em on twitter

  • Ruaridh

    Title of Reply:

    Potential players to move on and their wages, values and implications

    Player Status Wage p/w (£) Wage p/a(£ Million)

    M. Almunia Reserve GK 40/50k 1.920,000-2.400,000
    (not in 25 man squad)

    S.Squillaci Squad 5th choice CB 40k 1.920,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    A.Diaby Squad CM 40-60k 1.920,000-2.880,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    A.Arshavin Bench LW 60-70k 2.880,000-3.360,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    Y.Benayoun Bench ATM 40/50k? 1.920,000-2.400,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    J.Y. Park Bench STR 20k 0.960,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    M.Chamach Bench STR 60k 2.880,000
    (in 25 man squad)

    C.Vela On Loan STR 20-30k 0.960,000-1.440,000

    N.Bentner On Loan STR 50k 2.400,000

    Denilson On Loan DM 30k 1.440,000

    Total Wages:

    400k-460k p/w

    19.2-22.08 million per annum/year.

    Mean Wage per annum/year: 20.64 million per annum/year

    This is an estimate of how much arsenal pay these players accumulatively per week and per year, I would appreciate any feedback if anyone has more accurate figures. I beleive these players may be better to move on in the summer and regarding Diaby, will he ever fulfill his potential at Arsenal? At the bare minimum, should he not be loaned out to a French (ligue 1) team for at least 6 months so that he can play regular first team football without the pressure of playing for Arsenal so that he can find his feet and form again-this would allow Arsene to use his squad place for another player (new or youth academy).

    Player Market Value (£ Million)

    M. Almunia 1-2
    S.Squillaci 1-2
    A.Diaby 1-2 (possible loan?)
    A.Arshavin 6-8
    Y.Benayoun No Value (Loan)
    J.Y. Park 1-2
    M.Chamach 4-6
    C.Vela 3-5
    N.Bentner 5-8
    Denilson 2-3

    Total market value: 24-38m (minus 1-2m for possible Diaby Loan)
    Total market value mean: 31 million
    (mean between 24-38m)

    The players above consist of 6 players in our 25 man squad and four who are not.

    So in summary of the wage savings and money earned from selling these players we could save £20.640,000 in wages next season and recoup £31 million in transfer fees. I am in no way expecting for Arsenal to move all of these players on so a realistic figure in player wages might be £12-15 million saving in wages and £20 million in player sales equating to a total figure of £32-35 million that AW and the board could factor in when working out this summers transfer budget (inc players wages).

    The players…

    Players My opinion

    M. Almunia – Better back-up in Mannone
    S.Squillaci – Better back-up in Miquel and on loan Bartlet
    A.Diaby – Too injury prone to be in 25 man squad
    A.Arshavin – Very good player and he may be effective individually but not for the team (without the ball), can still get a good fee for him due to status in Russia and Europe and we could us a the fee and saved wages to sign a better player in his position (not necesariy Hazard) or strengthen the purse to buy in another position.

    Y.Benayoun On loan- Sufficiently impressed with him and AW says that his atttitude is 1st class in training so AW could get himn in on loan again (his experience is good for the developing young players & he’s a national captain)

    J.Y. Park – Not trusted for 1st team after 8 months of training/acclimatisation. For 3M, he was worth a punt though…

    M.Chamach – Loss of form, if he shows enough in training it may be worth keeping him as he offers something different to arsenal other attacking options but I’m sure he’s on circa 60k as he had top European clubs after him when he signed and he said he even took a pay cut to sign for us, really should be contributing more when he plays.

    C.Vela – probably best to cut our losses, still alot of talent there though and if he continues his current form for R.Sociedad he could be retained if his pre-season form impresses Arsene-ready made replacement for the hopeful departure of Arshavin/ foil for RVP?

    N.Bentner- Has not cut it despite a good international pedigree.

    Denilson – has not cut it, Coq and frimpong are superior.

    So there are my reasons why most of these players should be earmarked for leaving. I have not taken into account how many of these players are classed as “Home Grown” to meet FA/EPL regulations and I am well aware some of these players are difficult to move on (Bentner, Denilson, Almunia etc) due to the wages versus their actual percieved quality by other clubs/managers. A mindfull note is that Arsenal may well need to let these players leave for less than thier market value so that the club will meet their wage demands but you would hope that in order to earn regualar football that some, just some (not all) of the aforementioned players would take a wage cut.

    A note regarding Rosicky, some may include him in this assessment however I beleive he has a valuable role in CM and ATM and is very experienced. A side note regarding Ramsey, with his abundance of qualities and his bounless energetic performances, would his best position not be to compete with arteta in the CM role linkinfg CM to attack-he’s very much a box to box MF IMO than just an AM leaving space this summer in the AM role, with jack wilshere competing for the CM and ATM role with whomever AW hopefully brings in.

    Last paragraph I promise. Looking at who’s on loan (and performing well on loan at the moment)I would consider Lansbury, RYO, Manone, Bartley, J.Campbell (definately) for filling in some of the squad positions that would be available due to (the hopefull) departure of the above mentioned 6 current 25 man squad players. Lansbury, Manone, Bartley may benefit from more first team football though, if we could source a team in the EPL, that may be more suitable (eh, Hello Mr O. Coyle). So in effect, if all goes well in regards to shipping players out for adequate fee’s hopefully we can look forward to signing at least two (maybe 3) quality first team players in the LW and ATM position and other players of quality if they are available at a reasonable and correct price. A further note, is that I would prefer it, that if we did bring in an ATM that he was either on the cusp of world class or there allready with experience as this is an essential/influential area to how our team plays and we allready have younger players (wilshere/possibly Ramsey) who can learn and dovetail with him in the first team.*Duly noted that this would cost a premium amount in transfer fee and wages.

    Anyway, I appreciate the platform of Arsenal Untold to put forward my view and welcome any critique from the UA community…

  • Ruaridh

    oh, forgot the most important part of my reply, Arsene knows best and in Arsene We Trust!

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I don’t think anyone disputes that Arsenal has been managed profitably the past 15 years. What AST is highlighting is the significant impact that failure to get 4th place would have on Arsenal FC finances.

    The key balances are always what ratio of experienced players to more youthful ones you have, what you need to pay more experienced players to keep them/attract them and how you structure deals to both attract the players, motivate them but also cover the club’s downside risk if success does not ensue.

    In my opinion you need two or three absolute stars on £125 – £175k a week; seven or 8 solid first-teamers on £40 – £100k a week; 10 – 15 squad players on £15 – £60k a week. And another 11 players on either £5 – 15k a week as juniors or the odd one who is over 30 but is retained as a mentor, ambassador, guru, call it what you will, likely to be paid good money but maybe part of that is pay-as-you-play.

    The absolute stars need to be in critical positions, namely goalscorer, creative midfielder and either central defender or goalkeeper. In other words, the spine of your team is where you invest. That’s hardly different to what Arsene Wenger has done over the years: Sol Campbell, Gilberto Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry. A significant portion of their salary should come from commercial revenues raised on the back of their name/image. A further part associated with key performance metrics (be that goals/assists/other suitable things for midfielders/defenders).

    The solid stars need their pay to be increase significantly if they get beyond the QF of the Champions League or finish in the Top 2 of the EPL. Their basic should imply they finish 4th. If it’s worse than that, there need to be get-out-clauses for the club. One further season to restore the status quo or a permanent decrease in salary. They aren’t the face of Gillette but they are essential to an Arsenal side which goes on to win things.

    The second tier should include the youthful Wilsheres, Ramseys, Oxlade-Chamberlains et al. Teenagers expected to reach the first team regularly before 21, whose salary structure will rise into the solid star category if they perform for 18 months to 2 years at the appropriate standard and into the superstar bracket if they continue rising for 4 to 5 years. The solid citizens would be equivalent to the Rosickys, the Eboues, the Benayouns. Of the solid citizens in the 21 – 25 bracket: 66% should expect to leave by 26 if they haven’t progressed to the solid star tier.

    The youth should be expecting to go out on loan, to play a part in 5 – 10 squads in some cases. They should be given 3 years to justify promotion to the second tier and if they don’t, sold.

    What that system does is that it rewards people by success, but the metrics for success are different for different people. Some youngsters’ reward will be a pay rise through promotion to a higher group. Regular players’ reward will be for results in tournaments. Stars will also be rewarded for helping the club generate commercial revenues globally.

    Real Madrid have always said that the easiest transfers to recoup are the most expensive. Zidane. Beckham. Figo. They made a huge profit on them – not from selling them on, I might add. It behoves this site to discuss why Arsenal can’t do similar things and why you always obsess about costs and not revenues which accrue from those investments. Real Madrid said anything less than 200 million Euros for Beckham was a deal they could win from. It’s time Arsenal thought like that or explained why they can’t make money in that manner……you don’t have to do it in exactly the same manner, but you need to be creative in how you extract value from a star player whilst working in a win-win manner with the player.

    If Arsenal wish to stay narrowly focussed solely on profits from deals, they will stay where they are in the pecking order.

    If they wish to be more ambitious, they must change their approaches to business.

    End of.

  • Rich: if you think of the relative “hit rates” – how much was Luiz in fees, (more than Kos and Vermaelen, and I bet his wages are higher too! Personally, I think Arsene has a betetr strike rate than most (despite this approach making life harder!) and his cash-wasted would also be substantially less.

    The debate is whether squad players are on similar wages to first teamers, cos we give them so much money as promising kids. That’s something I will examine in the future.

  • Tasos

    I do find it interesting how those that want to criticise Arsenal no longer use the moronic “spend some f-ing money” approach. With G Rangers and Portsmouth’s plight now fully in the public’s domain, suddenly it appears our wage structure has become the main focal point(stick) with which they attack the club.

  • insideright

    @ Phil – you say that the AST ‘is not happy with the current Arsenal model – as is theiR right’.
    Well, arguably, it isn’t! The AST was specifically set up to support the custodianship model which had been the way the Board had run the Club for many decades. They even published a book called ‘Custodianship’ which lauded the policy and emphasised that it was one that was passed on from generation to generation of Board members. Those Board members are not expected to put money in themselves but never take money out (see latest Man Utd figure to see how it works otherwise). What we are seeing today is a continuation of that policy of custodianship at Arsenal and what we are seeing at so many other clubs is the failure to adopt it leading to bankruptcy and fan misery. Stan Kroenke didn’t ask the current Board to stay on after his takeover because he didn’t like that model or the way it was being applied did he!
    What the AST (or more specifically one or two ‘leading lights’) don’t like is the fact that David Dein isn’t around to share in the final victory of the Arsenal model over the others.
    There will be ups and downs on the pitch as there always has been – and as there are at even the biggest ‘sugar daddy’ clubs (see Chelsea). UEFA, with the support of the vast majority of clubs, have basically made the statement (through FFP) that they want the Arsenal model applied throughout Europe and the effects, initially in the transfer market are already there for all to see. It just doesn’t suit the new, ‘Bring Back Dein’ agenda at the AST to admit it.

  • Tasos

    @Rhys

    How much leeway, if any, would you allow in your rigid wage system?

    How would such a system have dealt with the world class talents of RVP, considering his late development to the “solid star tier”, mainly due to his proneness to injuries.

  • jbh

    Forget the AST and the other so called supporter groups. They have no say and no scruples (virtually all of them). Just look at the non Kroenke/Usmanov ownership numbers and you can see that it is way down – near 3% (from closer to 10%). This means most of them cashed in their chips. So much for sticking with the club and funding it. Hypocrites.
    Keeping 10% in non K/U hands was important. But with the sight of some money coming their way they bottled it. Big time.
    Now they demand Kroenke, et al to spend some money.

  • AFCThick/Thin

    Found an interesting article earlier that gave more perspective on Arsenal transfers and wages.

    http://www.thebeautifulgroan.com/2012/02/22/arsenal-misconceptions-wage-bills-net-spends-and-the-71-man-squad/

  • Mandy dodd

    Cannot agree more inside right, why can’t more arsenal fans see what you see!
    As you say, there will be ups and downs, we are not having the best of seasons, we are in transition, and presumably there will be comings and goings this summer, but we still sit 4th, despite for some an insane senile manager, a money grabbing board and lazy, hopeless players, now how did that happen?
    I have had reservations about whether FFP will be properly enforce, and am yet to be convinced it will , however, as you say, things are changing. Even if not fully enforced, FFP may bring about a gradual change in culture.
    I don’t really understand the dein thing. Ok he is a fan and a friend , and maybe confident of wenger, but he has not been infallible, I also remember David dein is a wanker being sung at highbury for whatever reason. Some believe he is the one man on earth who can persuade wenger to spend, think they are
    missing a few points. The one aspect of dein I would take tomorrow is his influence, maybe he could do something about the refs!
    Wenger is seen by some as a fool and god knows what else, but his track record is that of a visionary, no reason to believe that has in any way changed

  • WalterBroeckx

    Aren’t most visionary people ridiculed at some point? So one could say it is part of the job

  • WalterBroeckx

    Off topic sorry Phil but I will be there for the home game against Aston Villa next month. Let the pilgrimage begin 😉 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the article: great article Phil. I’m looking forward to the rest.
    I’m not an economic person or have any degree in such things but in my own personal live my wife and I have always had the line that unless for a home you only buy things with money you have earned yourself.

    My neighbour has a bigger and shining car? Fine for him but I will only buy a car I can afford without minding the rest.

    So the way Arsenal is doing their business reflects very much my own personal live. Maybe this is one of the reasons I have no problems with the way our club is run…absolutely no problem at all.

  • Anne

    @Phil:

    Great article. Glad to see that we’re taking a closer look at the AST here. I think that it’s been overdue for awhile. Well done, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    I’m going to be in London next week. Guess I’m going to miss you?

  • Mandy dodd

    If you support arsenal, you may consider yourself rich in so many ways

  • Mandy dodd

    Our owner may not be flavour of the month with some, but at least he does not appear to be in the league of the Rangers owner

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/22022012/58/spl-whyte-sells-historic-arsenal-shares.html

  • WalterBroeckx

    Anne,
    no chance for me to be in London next week. But London is still interesting enough even without me being there. 😉

  • Gooner Gal

    Very interesting and insightful read. I look forward to the next installment!

  • Anne

    Would appreciate tips from anybody about what to do in London.

  • Gooner Gal

    Personally I am not a fan of the self important AST, whom find their views superior to others and who try to belittle those who don’t agree with their stance on the club.

    They don’t speak on behalf of me and I resent the self promotional opportunitists negative media sound bites, putting the club down as soon as a microphone is pointed in their direction.

    I have nothing against honest assessment, but with so many media detractors, if the AST are’nt able to express themselves in a fashion that does’nt add fuel to the fire, they should stay silent.

  • Mandy dodd

    Anne, hope you enjoy your stay in London. Not sure how long you have, or where you have visited but The whole south bank, borough market (friday and sat) and the Tate gallery worth a walk around. Hyde park and st James park always good for an amble. My favourite location is the park, museums, observatory and history of Greenwich, you can take a rather enjoyable fast river boat there from central London. Richmond always a pleasant visit as well, but stay away from tottenham, not much there for the discerning visitor. Loads of theatres and restaurant, then the tourist attractions like the London eye.
    Whatever you end up doing, have a great time!

  • DC

    @insideright
    Good comments!

    @Rhys,
    Your staggered wage structure is interesting but I assume for it to be sustainable it depends on a modicum of regular success? But with that said, I keep regularly hearing that Barcelona has one of the highest wage bills in the world so the more success one attains, then EVERYONE will begin to think they have “made it” are indispensable and demand more. Pay should be performance related and that needs to be fundamentally aligned to performance of that individual (goals scored, assists, clean sheets, etc) and the team as a whole!

  • DC

    @Anne,
    It all depends what you like to do but Mandy D’s tips are good. Combining the traditional (such as Buck Palace & the other Palaces, Parliament Sq, the various parks, Museums, etc) with the alternative (Carnaby Street, Jack the Ripper Tour, Soho, etc) is a usually a good mix. Wrap up warm though as it’s still fairly chilly here!

  • DC

    @Rhys,
    Sorry, I meant to say above “basic pay should be capped and then significant bonuses fundamentally aligned to performance of tha individual (goals scored, assists, clean sheets, etc) and the team as a whole!

  • Anne

    @Mandy & DC:

    Thanks for the tips, appreciate it.

  • Gord

    @anne

    I’ve never been to the UK. But, on a lark I looked for something for your trip. The National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, Middlesex has an Open House mid-march (Wed March 14, 2pm-8pm).

    Why suggest this? Ever play with Lego? Quite a while ago, I had the opportunity to visit TRIUMF at the University of British Columbia. The target building had 46,000 tons of shielding in it, big lego blocks. TRIUMF is a mile or two from the hospital at UBC. And there is a pneumatic line which runs from TRIUMF to the hospital. Particle accelerators can make Fluorine-18 (and other stuff), and a common thing is to put this F-18 on a “sugar” like deoxyglucose, and inject it into a person. Among other things, this sugar concentrates where the brain is active. And so you can get a map of brain activity in a PET scanner.

    NPL does a lot of work across a large variety of physics.

    The other idea was beer. Quite a while ago, I tried a beer called Old Speckled Hen. My thoughts were that it was near London, but it seems that isn’t true. According to wikipedia, it was in Oxfordshire, but was bought out and is now in Suffolk. If you ever go to Bavaria, G. Schneider & Sohn (Schneider-Weisse) has a beer called Aventinus (a strong, dark, wheat doppelbock). That’s my favorite beer. Sure, you can buy either Old Speckled Hen or Aventinus all over the world, but getting it fresh at the brewery is usually better.

    Enjoy your trip to London.

  • Adam

    @Anne. I politely recommend you start at Tower hill and walk the Thames back toward the houses of parliament. Take in the old city first. The old bailey might interest you. Ludgate hill is worth a visit pop into st pauls while your there. Keep an eye open for references to the slave trade in and around the river. It really is an eye opener. You can walk Watling street (the old roman road into the city of Londinium) . See if you can find the river Fleet. Or where Boudica’s army massacred the Romans. It really is amazing what we Brits have built around the Thames considering its original course used to run some 40 miles farther north in what is today Hertfordshire. Amazing what a little bit of ice can do.

  • Anne

    @Gord:

    That open house at the National Physical Laboratory is quite a good travel tip (for me at least), and I would love to go if I could. Unfortunately, I’m going to miss it, as I’m only staying in London a week. Damn.

    Although I’ve already had the ice cream made using liquid nitrogen, so I guess I won’t be missing out on that 🙂 Actually, my favorite drink in Atlanta is Flip burger boutique’s cucumber martini that’s flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen. The uses of nitrogen in cooking are so under-explored…

    But anyway, thanks again for taking the time to look up tips for me. I’ll look into that brewery as well, because I like Old Speckled Hen myself. Cheers.

    It’s really good, though.

  • Anne

    @Gord:

    And the other aspects of your post have given me something to think about.

  • Anne

    @Adam:

    Ok, presenting me with something historical like that is quite my cup of tea as well. And I’ll probably take you up on that tip 🙂 Thanks a lot.

  • anne, when you return to hotlanta try kingfisher and tell me what you think.

    after years of playing, watching and coaching (at a very junior level) i have come to realize that wholesale changes or player additions make scant difference to a team. here the operative word is “team” and the success of a team often hinges on bringing in one or two players for key roles and letting things gel. arsenal is no different and i think we are four players away from being a formidable force. one winger to make walcott/gervinho look over their shoulders in addition to the ox, one playmaker (gourcuff, goetze, not hazard) to rival jack, a centre forward and a solid back-up centre back.

    i believe we have the winger in ryo and the centre back in miquel/bartley. in every other position we have quality and reasonably good backups. so spend $40 million or so for a higuan/goetze type player and we’ll have backup like we have never had before.

    admittedly, our season would not look so stark had we not lost four fullbacks in one go. how do you plan for something as bizarre as that? take heart nevertheless. next season we shall have the fastest set of wingers in the league, a world-class playmaker in jack and hopefully one of the world’s best strikers. or we could buy a team like chelsea did. and see where that gets them when the team they bought ages.

  • Anne

    @mike in Atlanta:

    Kingfisher? (I tried to look it up myself but I found multiple alternatives)

  • Kentetsu

    The AST made an error regarding Miyaichi, other than the spelling of his name. Miyaichi joined Arsenal on 31 January 2011 and is not a summer signing. Also, as far as I am aware he came on a free transfer, having played only for a high school team in Japan up to that point.

    For the argument of AST’s article it makes little difference, though.

    And great work dissecting the AST’s article, Phil.

  • Walter

    Anne, a MUST VISIT is …The Emirates 😉
    Take a tour, come as close to the pitch without stepping on it. Forbidden!! 😉

    Visit the museum. Look for the Arsenal way. The person at the entrance is a real nice person (well he was at the occasions I visited it – telling him I cam from Vermaelen-country made him delirious 😉 )

    If you go try to come with the underground and take the Arsenal station. Once you come back above the ground close your eyes imagine all those ten thousands of people going to a game walking in the streets. Try to imagine the smell of burgers, frankfurters, sweets sold in the streets.
    Try to imagine the person shouting: “get your gooner” (a magazine sold in the streets)
    Then go to your left and look between the gap between the old houses and see where Highbury was/is.
    Walk further (it is a closed area so you cannot enter) and go the next street to your right and see the old stadium (or what has been made of it after the installing of the flats)
    Then go back in the direction of the underground and just walk further and then you will see the greatest stadium in the world appearing on your left hand side.

    Every time I come there and when I see the stadium it sends shivers through my spine.

    I bet you will see at both locations supporters hanging round coming to feel the atmosphere and look at the old and new Arsenal.

    Can’t wait to come next month myself…

    Enjoy the trip.

  • mark

    The movie Money Ball tells an interesting story. If the cost of a player is linked to performance there are clearly players undervalued and lots of players overvalued. I know some of the pundits in the USA look at this in the MLS regularly. Often the team with the biggest names and highest wage bill don’t win. Often a player with the same quality can be found at a lower price. Wenger has been doing this for years. One of the reasons he does not buy many English players is that they are over priced for the quality. He can get a player from France or some other country that is just as good but at a lower price. This is good business. I think soccer players are harder to analyze than baseball players but it can be done and I think Wenger is doing it.

  • Gord

    @mark
    I don’t think there is enough in common between football and baseball to even consider comparing how to compare players between the two. Comparing players of football, rugby, gaelic football (do I need to capitalize gaelic?), Aussie rules football would be better. I wouldn’t include the Canadian or American versions of gridiron in any comparison. Those two games have diverged so far, most players and fans don’t even know the origins of the words they use to describe scoring. The only thing I would ever compare baseball to, is cricket.

    @anne
    I’ve worked with liquid nitrogen a lot, but usually in the context of keeping gamma ray detectors cold. I didn’t get to “play” with it. Trying to freeze dry ice cream is difficult. Ice milk freeze dries much nicer (DQ Ice Milk sandwiches become enjoyable cookies). I’ve made lavender ice cream and garlic ice cream.

  • Northbanker

    This article is ok as far as it goes but it doesn’t then explain how a club that doesn’t buy stars still ends up with one of the highest wage bills in the UK. The club is being bled overpaying under performing players on long contracts – Diaby, Denilson, Almunia, Bendtner, Fabianski, Chamakh, Park,Vela, Djourou,Squillachi, etc etc Some of these are now finally on loan but you can bet that we haven’t offloaded all of the wages

    The club’s supposed thrift is a myth It throws away huge amounts of money on these types of Wenger projects. Worse still we seem to keep these failures for years. This doesn’t even begin to consider how much we are not earning in our abject failure to win trophies and watch our team deteriorate bit by bit. The opportunity cost of this is massive

  • AFCThick/Thin

    @Northbanker read the link I posted in an earlier post. It does a good job at explaining why our wage bill is so high. Quite insightful I thought.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Great link AFCThick\Thin.