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March 2018
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Club owners, club morals, club debt; how Arsenal are different.

As a starting point, take Manchester IOU who are thinking about a £600m bond issue to try and sort out their debts.   First thing to note here is that you don’t do this sort of thing if everything is fit and dandy.

So we might ask, why issue bonds?   The scheme is designed to move the debt from banks and hedge funds where it sits at the moment and put it in a bond, which is a bit like a mortgage.    The point is however the debt still remains.  It is just in a different place.

The Man U situation is that with the debt surrounding them and the fact that they have repeatedly said that they are growing through increased marketing (which they are not), the club is shown in a decidedly poor light.

The club says that the interest on the loans is less than the operating profit, which might be true (they quote figures showing that the profit was £3m bigger than the interest in 2008).   But that doesn’t answer why the interest isn’t being paid.  Put another way, as was said on Radio 5 last night, the Ronaldo £80m pays for the interest for two years.

It’s an interesting point to note.  Arsenal’s debt goes down each year because they pay off the mortgage step by step.  Manchester’s debt goes up each year.

At KGB Fulham Roman Abramovich converted £340m in interest-free loans into equity.  That was probably a clever move, since it was unlikely that the owner would call in the loan, since to do so would virtually wreck the club and then he’d fail to get his money back.   Now he can sell the shares bit by bit if he wants.   In short he has given himself an exit route.

This is bad news for Chelsea, since it suggests instability, which is probably why the news was dressed up in the preposterous “we are now debt free” press release.

The club in fact has two problems.  First, how do they fund future expenditure, when the club is nowhere near the much heralded break-even and the youth structure has broken down (see previous articles which go into this in some detail).  Issuing more shares all the time will look odd, unless the new shares are issued to someone else.

Second, the internal problems of the club.   The fundamental notion was that if you spent enough money you could be sure to win the EPL and Champs League, but history shows this is not true, and this undermines the whole premise of the club and the Abramovich money.

Worse, the vast infusion of money, the failure of the “break even” policy and the failure of the youth policy, plus the accusations against the club over the illegal transfer issues combined with the actions of people like J Terry and A Cole, makes it all seem a bit, well, out of control and ungovernable.

John Terry’s situation seems particularly odd.  Obviously I have no insight into what happened at the training ground recently when it was alleged that he took money from a ticket tout in return for allowing people to be shown around.  If he is innocent, then we would expect a libel case very soon.

But even if that happens there is the issue of his mother and mother in law admitting they were shop lifting and his father being found guilty of trading in cocaine.   You have to wonder why a club with all the wealth of Chelsea can’t help this young man sort himself and his family out.

The same is true over Ashley Cole.  What were Chelsea doing tapping up Ashley Cole when they could have bought anyone they wanted in the world?  Or one might ask, what has Ashley Cole been doing with his private life, or indeed why was he driving at over 100mph in a 50mph limit at noon a few weeks back?

It is as if there is a vision within the KGB in Fulham that the law in any shape or form, doesn’t apply to Chelsea – and that is an interesting frame of mind to consider.

What is also interesting is that Terry’s mother’s solicitor has denied that the lady understood that by accepting the caution she was admitting the charge, and that she would fight to have her name cleared.  Nothing more was heard.   If the same is true in the Terry-at-the-training-ground saga (and again I stress I have no inside knowledge of any of these cases) we might draw some conclusions.

Manchester Arab are of course the other club with near unlimited resources and they have quickly indicated that they are Chelsea in disguise with the way they bought any old player and sacked Hughes while making him take the club out for one last game.   The normal rules don’t apply to us… you can just hear them saying it.

At the other end of the scale there is Portsmouth where so many people are being questioned or charged either by the Revenue or the police one begins to lose count.  Arry, Storrie, ex-owner…  Owners who say they have money and don’t… what are they playing at?   And of course we don’t know if anyone is guilty or everyone is innocent on the legal front, but to get into this state seems to suggest that someone is not looking after the club properly.

You see the pattern I am trying to project here.  Clubs out of control at all sorts of level, clubs believing that somehow the normal rules of personal behaviour or financial accounting don’t apply.

It is a bit like Notts County. The fans owned the club, a bunch of unknown wealthy investors came along and said they would make the club an EPL outfit within a few years, as long as the fans GIVE the rich men the shares.  For nothing.   Oh and they didn’t want to say who they were either.

And what a surprise.  The mega investment never turned up, the shares that people were promised have never been delivered, and nothing is happening, except there is a dreadful sinking feeling all around the ground.  A winding up order was just avoided a couple of weeks back with the payment of some debts.  Now there is another one in place, and the FA have banned all transfer movements.

The only person who comes out of Notts C with any credibility is Sol, who looked, understood exactly what was going on, and walked out.

So what links all these disparate clubs together is a total sense of make-believe and fantasy.   “We’ve got an Arab,” … oh that’s ok then.  Better not ask him anything personal, like, do you have any money?

There’s another club on my horizon in this arena: Cardiff City. When Sam Hamman sold the club to Ridsdale ( the ex-bossman at Leeds during the collapse) an issue quickly arose about a debt that was owed by the Cardiff to some mystery consortium.  I have no idea how that was resolved, but suddenly there is an alleged theft of papers from the club and an alleged debt of millions of pounds.   Maybe it is just a coincidence.  I have no knowledge either way.

This list could go on and on taking in Liverpool (or should we call them Little Manchester), Crystal Palace (now seemingly bust) and Everton.  Everton’s problems are different but just as real.  They make a loss every year, and are only bailed out by the occasional sale of Wayne Rooney.  Now attempts to create Wooney II have failed so they’ve tried to sell off their training ground, but had a big row with the council over that, and they’ve tried to build a new stadium, and what a surprise, they had a row with the council.  Again.

Everton’s position is interesting, because unlike the other clubs mentioned, they are just sinking into the mire day by day, rather than because of a take-over.  They simply don’t earn enough money.

So what about Arsenal? We are the club that was set up in Woolwich, and owned by Norris, his friends, and the locals of Woolwich, plus all the people who have bought shares since.   We had our crisis 100 years ago (as you’ll know if you have read my book MAKING THE ARSENAL).

The attraction that Liverpool and Manchester had when they were bought was that they were debt free and making money, so the new owners could buy them out easily.  Chelsea were not debt free, but were available for a smallish sum (in comparison), and so could be bought out by one man who could readily pay off the debt.

Arsenal is different in that we have the debt of the development of the Ems.  Also our shares are expensive.  So anyone wanting to come in and take over the club either in order to load it with debt or to sit on it and take dividends would have to pay twice – once for the debt and once for the shares.  It is a lot less attractive that way around, and would make Arsenal more expensive than Manchester IOU.

This is probably why attention was turned to Manchester City – they could be bought much more easily, and like Chelsea, who cares if they haven’t won too much in the recent past?  Why buy Arsenal when you could buy Newcastle, or Everton, throw a load of money at the club, and buy your way to success?

My view, for what it is worth, is that football in England is in a total and absolute mess, and that we are now just seeing the early stages of what will become a catastrophe.   As one or two clubs fall, so they will drag others down.

Which is why I think Arsene Wenger was so right when he said that football is about winning things and balancing the books.  I was also deeply saddened to see a few Arsenal sites argue with this point.  Do we really want to be like all the rest of the clubs?   That’s never been the Arsenal way, not since the Norris takeover 100 years ago.   Vive la difference.

Tony Attwood

MAKING THE ARSENAL – the story of Arsenal 10o years ago – is available from and from the publishers.

Today on the Making the Arsenal web site, “If we could go back to the Arsenal 100 years ago

55 comments to Club owners, club morals, club debt; how Arsenal are different.

  • Cape Gooner

    “Do we really want to be like all the rest of the clubs?”

    Let us rewind a few years. ManU and Arsenal dominated the EPL. ManU did it on the basis of their youth policy – the “kids” that Alan Hansen spoke of – while both managers made excellent buys. Then came Abramovich. Who could compete with Chelsea and their unlimited transfer budget and huge wage offers? Nobody said ManU, Liverpool and Arsenal. We need more money to compete.

    Excellent management had got us as far as it could. Tony, your point about Everton is great. Even with the huge money from the EPL, Everton cannot break square, and therefore has not got the money that you need to get the top players.

    However, there aren’t too many people who want to put hundreds of millions of quid into a football club – I mean want to and can! Enter the leveraged buyout which will likely sink ManU and Liverpool.

    Despite being great friends, David Dein and AW clash over this. David Dein – who was Mr. Arsenal for many years – holds a strong opinion shared by many other Arsenal fans; we also need the money. AW said no, there is another way.

    No wonder there is such bitterness. Dein sympathisers continue to say “we need to buy”. They are supported by Chelsea supporters, ManU supporters, Liverpool supporters, and the whole media circus that benefits from more money coming into the game.

    When we win things, they will be unhappy. When we dominate, they will be proven conclusively wrong. And this is a “big wrong”. It is not like saying “Lennon is better than SWP”. It is like saying “I think we should vote for the National Turkey Front – Christmas is great for us Turkeys”.

    And dominate we will.

  • Tony. Great insight.

    It’s only a matter of time before football gets hit with the reality of the economic downturn. I was just thinking the other day about the bankruptcy (forgive the pun) of financial understanding displayed by all manner of football commentators in the game. Some of them are so far removed they think the gravy train of the big money spending is untouchable and will never stop. To them it’s a fashion statement that is glamourous and cool and they honestly believe it will carry on. Even someone like Harry Redknapp when commenting about Portsmouth plight suggested that the only solution is for a new owner to come in and buy them out. Talk about groundhog day.

    As for Arsenal, I can’t remember whether I read it here or on ACLF – but it was an advertisement from Henry Norris looking for a new manager (Chapman eventually got the job). Even as far back in Norris’s era, the advert was explicit in saying that any candidate who could not manage within a budget or who was interested in buying big name and big money players need not apply.

  • walter

    Another great article. I could have them with a dozen a day. I was just wondering when I saw Leeds winning at Old Trafford : will within some 10 years MU create the shock of the FA cup by defeating Leeds at their home ground as a 3rd division club ? I think the water is rising above their heads now. Like you said if there were no problems why try to make money with those bonds.

    I also recently noticed that the “sold out” sign has gone at Old Trafford. When there are some empty seats in the Emirates the cameras take more notice of those empty seats instead of looking at our football. But the +2000 emtpy seats against Leeds were not showing (when I looked anyway and must admit that I didn’t see the whole live coverage)on TV.

    In fact if I understand correct regarding The Arsenal, as long as we have the mortgage on the Emirates we will not be intresting for rich Arabs (with or without money) ? And once the debt is being paid off in some years we could become more attractive for those guys ?

  • Aaditya

    Brilliant article, as always.

    I was just wondering if you could enlighten me more on the Everton situation because it doesn’t seem as though they are doing anything wrong in terms of buying players at least (Moyes in fact, has worked miracles with a pretty small budget).

    Oh, and how can I get Making The Arsenal? Finally got some cash from parents for my birthday.

  • neutral fan

    dude get a life….writing about club debts, comparing them with arsenal is fine…but giving example of a player’s personal troubles for explaining ur point for the club is bit too much….i hav been a regular follower of ur blog….but nw iam realising it’s a blog on which to show how gr8 ur club is it’s necessary to ridicule other clubs and even their players…..
    i agree on one thing a true arsenal fan will want to win title by arsene way…and not by buying mindlessly…and utd were unlucky to be in such a big debt…

  • SomeRandomGunner

    Great article Tony. Actually your points on Arsenal’s take over makes much sense , hope fully we will not get into this list after ManU and liverpool.

  • Jonny

    The difficulty neutral fan is that most fans are not neutral – as an Arsenal fan we face the endless gloating and ridicule of the Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd fans and we like to give a little back.

    Chelsea, Man Utd’s & Liverpool’s situation is not directly the fault of their fans, and yes it’s unfortunate, but fuck me dead, it IS funny.

    Would I like it if the shoe was on the other foot – of course not but as fans when you dish it, you best be able to take it too. This hostile rivalry and schadenfreude is one of the best elements of football – take it away and the game would become rather sterile & insipid.

    If you are a true neutral I would have thought you could be a little more thick-skinned and just enjoy the banter and above all the football itself?

  • Couple of points in answer to those above.

    I mentioned J Terry as an example of the notion that “the rules don’t apply”. I am as aware as anyone that Arsenal players have had severe problems, and I was a season ticket holder when Merson and Adams had their very overt difficulties. What I appreciated was the way club and players worked together to get through these difficulties. What I see at Chelsea is solicitor based denials that anything happened. That is the difference that I perceive, but of course I understand the different perspective that says, this is nothing to do with the club.

    In terms of Everton, they are losing about 6 million pounds a year and the only year they did not was when they sold Rooney. The reason is simple – the salaries they pay players are too high. Add that to the running costs, and the total running costs are more than they can get in from TV, money through the gate etc. Champs League would help, but that would put salaries up, to maintain it.

    Last, you can buy MAKING THE ARSENAL from or from


  • AGS

    Hi Tony
    Great article yet again, and I completely agree that the situations within these clubs is only the tip of the ice berg, and that there is a lot more to come out yet. With regards to Man IOU it is pertinent that we now see apparent discontent among the players – I’m referring to today’s story about Vidic wanting out with Real Madrid waiting in the wings, coupled with his refusing to play on Sunday – and it is normally a sure sign of things being bad within a club when the best players want to quit. When was the last time we heard about any player (especially a regular starter) being unhappy at Man IOU?? I also believe that many of these clubs problems stem from too much power now being in the hands of agents and the players themselves. It was interesting to read the other week how premier league clubs paid agents more than £76m during the last year – money that is now lost from the game forever. Even Arsenal paid nearly £5m to agents, yet we only signed 2 players (Arsh & Tommy). I remember a BBC program about agents where Sky Andrews was driving this Portsmouth player called Courtney something, around various car show rooms looking at the latest supercars for him to buy, and yet I’ve never ever seen this player anywhere near Portsmouths 1st team and God only knows where he is playing now. Also with Chelsea – if Lampard, Terry, Ballack, Cashly were each on £50k per week less (they would still be on £100k per week) then Chelsea would be £10.4m better off per year.

  • Jonny

    Oh and puleeez tell me you weren’t feeling sympathy for Terry and family or serial scumbag Cashley Cole? These people care about no one but themselves and are widely derided as morally repugnant with very good reason.

    Tony is right, there is a feeling that emanates from Chelsea FC, of being above the law and, as is often the way, it has permeated into the players attitudes on and off the pitch.

    I am proud that our players never grace the front pages.

  • wambam


    True arsenal fans knew this club had to RELY on it’s youngsters while maintaining the dept and THEY’VE DONE SUPERB. APART frm some dodgy refs and INJURIES this club has done MUCH MUCH MORE than other clubs(SPURS)spending hundreds of millions to win a cup worth £1.
    Carling anyone?

    WHY Victor moses when Theo,Vela,Simpson,Watt are equally if not BETTER?

  • Goonergerry

    Yes great article- but suggest that the roots of Arsenal are also founded on the success of the thirties -which in turn was based on both revolutionary tactics (initially) and the purchase of key experienced players-like David Jack, Charlie Buchan, Alex James and Cliff Bastin- all Arsenal legends. It wasn’t for nothing that Arsenal were known as the “Bank of England” club. That is not the case now and Arsenal cannot compete for the best players available, English or otherwise unless we grab them at 16 years old. Whilst spending offers no guarantee of success-those clubs that have spent the most have been successful -because they have accumulated so many good players in their squads. Sadly money talks now as it did more than 70 years ago and Arsenal need to have more options available at the back, in midfield and upfront.

  • same old same old tony — always D&G :P.

    On a totally unrelated note : Merida to Athletico on a 5 year deal?
    And Tony, where is Nacer Barazite?

  • Diaminedave

    Glad to see that you pointed out how Sol seems to be the only person at Notts County to have any common sense.
    At the time lots of the papers seemed to be taking a pop at him for not being able to hack it at a ‘lower’ level (turning out in front of 5000 on a cold wet afternoon in the middle of nowhere). He himself was saying that it was due to promises not being kept – which seems to be what has happened.
    Wonder if all those commentators deriding him for being to snobby to play for a league 2 club are now going to apologise! and admit they did not check their Facts!!!
    all the best

  • Coconut – Barazite is, as far as I know, back from his loan deal, and ready to play. I thought he might turn out on the bench against WHU, but maybe that was a bit quick. But I am sure I read that he was back.

    As for Merida, what the hell is the point of playing for A Madrid? Look at the state of the club.

  • It has now emerged that Notts County’s debts to Revenue and Customs are £600k with a further £900k owed to creditors.

    It may be that the £600k was paid off before – but that doesn’t explain the new winding up order. More power to Sol for seeing it coming.

  • Ian Trevett

    Happy New Year Tony and all Untold writers/contributors.

    Sorry if off-topic, but how good was Diaby on Sunday? Ramsay was great, but Abou turned the cup tie on its head. He seems to have developed the leadership qualities to drive the team on.

    Alex Song has now won the battle for hearts and minds of even the doomiest and gloomiest of Gooners, and if Diaby keeps in the form of the past couple of weeks, he will do the same.

    Still it infuriates me that the young players have to go through all the flak first.

  • Tony,
    Thank you for the great and informative articles. One of the reasons I love The Arsenal is because they try to do the right things the right way. As in real life it takes time and there’s some suffering along the way but when our time comes it will be so much sweeter.

  • Paul C.

    Hi Tony – good article but I must say that I agree with Neutral Fan about the inclusion of Terry and Cole in the article. I didnt really see the point of that and found that it distorted and reduced the impact of everything else. Like you I can remember Tony Adams and Paul Merson and the whole drinking culture of the club under George Graham (as exposed in Perry Groves’ fabulous book) and my first thought when reading your article was “hey, we aren’t whiter than white either”. I know you maintain it was to show that these clubs have a “the rules dont apply” culture but to me it still just seems like an Arsenal fan having a normal pop at another club’s players just for the sake of it. The intelligent and fact based reasoning of your pieces it what drew me to your blog initially and the above references to Terry and Cole is one of the first times I have been dissapointed in your articles.

    Just my opinion however.

  • yadda

    you guys forget one thing…..though….the popularity of the sport ….and the league ….and some clubs…if a club starts going down, there will always be a rich guy to buy…them off and their debt…sure sometimes its too much but…….not always

  • christianjimmy

    An interesting article by Robert Peston on the perilous state of Manchester IOUs on the BBC website now
    Seems to me like he’s echoing a lot of what you’ve been saying for a long time Tony! Can we have some lottery numbers or a horse for the grand national next time you feel like doing some soothsaying?!

  • Fair point Paul, but even in retrospect I still think it a valid point I made. If Arsenal had rolled out a solicitor to say over Merse and Adams, “there’s no problem here” I would have been frustrated and annoyed.

    I remember when Stan Cullymore had his highly publicised problems which related to depression and other issues, I was utterly outraged at the behaviour not of him, but of his manager (can’t remember who) who made all the remarks about “what has he got to be depressed about, he’s got a job hasn’t he?”

    As a pundit I think Collymore is awful, but he had personal demons and I think he was trying to face them and my heart went out to him.

    My argument is entirely with people who deny that people suffer from problems – and that is the culture at Chelsea. Everything is fine, no one is doing anything wrong, and our solicitor is dealing with it.

  • Paul C.

    Tony – perhaps that wasnt made clear enough in the original article. The way you explain it now makes it seem clear what you are trying to say, but I didnt get that impression when I read the piece to begin with. Your final paragraph in the 3.04 response above sums it up perfectly, and perhaps should have been present in the article itself.

    As far as your piece itself, a classic example of the misconceptions about finance occured yesterday on (US version) in which Martin Rogers, who is English and used to write for one of the tabloids, gave his mid-term grades for English clubs and said about Chelsea “now that they have sorted out their debt, they can splash more of Roman’s cash in the transfer window” which if it didnt show such painful ignorance and distortion of what just occured at Chelsea might be funny. I mean, does he not realise that Roman just splashed 340million of his own cash to convert the debt to equity? That was Roman effectively saying “I bought the club as an undervalued asset and now Chelsea FC are worth approximately 650million (or so) and so I am going to take on an equity position that reflects that”. In my mind, he did that so that he WOULDN’T have to “splash” much more of his cash, with the expectation that Chelsea would indeed start paying their own way. They never will pay their own way if they keep taking his money every time they need a player.

  • kiwigooner

    Again an insightful article, it seems most football clubs are being run without any regard for sound business practise. When money is easily available and times are good this somehow seems to be overlooked. But in today’s climate, which is likely to continue for at least a year or two, money is much much harder to find. The clubs with massive debts, will have problems resheduling them, especially those whose wages are an hefty proportion of their income (80%+). It may hurt when we miss players because of the cost, or the better tax systems for them (the players) on the continent, but we are cutting our cloth to fit our means.
    When the house of cards comes tumbling down,as it assuredly will, there will be a scramble for those clubs that survive to duplicate the Arsene way.
    You should do a league table of EPL clubs and the % of income lost immediately in wages, would make interesting reading.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Tommo

    Great piece Tony. If the Terry et al references stoke the flames of other supporters I’m all for it!

    I thought it to be fantastically written and a wonderful example as to why we are doing things the right way. If only other blogs could see this.

    @Walter, was it you on a certain blog being befuddled at the insinuation we can buy players much the same way as going to the supermarket? Bravo sir, superb point well argued. And responded to by the clientel in their usual unintelligable grunts and groans.

    I’m off to see the game tomorrow, any good resteraunts/pub (a’la weatherspoons) around the area I can take the dad?

  • heffy

    yeah Ian…been rather impressed with Diaby the past couple of weeks. Looking more like Diaby before the horrific ankle break. Looking forward to more from him…

  • Simon Bailey

    ive just read the blog that christian jimmy linked to. the article is good enough but most of the comments are very wide of the mark. especially the small few that mentioned arsenal. its quite a thing to see so many bloggers blindly thrashing away at their keyboards without a solid fact between them.

    for sure football finances are going to come more and more into the spotlight. it wont be ‘youre not singing any more’ it’ll be ‘youre not singing at all’. and all the doubters and d&g’ers will see the arsenal revoulution in its full glory.

  • Tommo – the only place I use with restaurants etc is Upper Street which runs between the Angel and Highbury and Islington.

    Although I know many disagree with me I am quite content to eat in the Ems. OK you stand up, but until shortly before KO there are no queues and you can buy the usual mix of pies, fish and chips, burger, pizza slices, and a beer. It is not the cheapest, but its generally ok, and you are in the environment.

  • walter

    Well Tommo it was me indeed with that remark.
    I was so pissed of by the Wenger MUST buy player A, B, C to Z behaviour of some that I couldn’t let it pass anymore.
    But as I had to leave short after my remark, I will check the damage out I did. 😉
    Enjoy yourself Tommo(row) 😉

  • a99

    Nacer Barazite was out with a dislocated shoulder and has only just resturned to training

    On Chelsea’s attitute – I think the arrogance stems from their former md Peter Kenyon. The Mancs behaved the same way when he was there and that arrogance trasferred itself to Chelsea as soon as he arrived at Stamford Bridge.

  • walter

    And Tommo, I survived my burger in the Emirates last time I was there against A Villa. 🙂

  • Fem Dee

    Great piece Tony. Reading through the reactions, two points need to be emphasized.
    1. It will not always hold true that EPL is so popular that distressd clubs will always find new buyers because the costs required is increasing and the people with that type of money and are, at the same time football lovers are fewer still. Also, being being mostly entrepreneurs or having savvy financial advisers, sooner or later, they will have to rein in their propensity to shovel cash into the gaping jaws of the clubs without due financial and cash rewards (see Fayed in Fulham and now, Abrahamovic in Chelsea as examples of maturing attitudes of private owners).

    2. When the new owners take over, they indeed buy a set of good players (if they are lucky to have a Mourinho) for a few seasons. However, as they cannot continue to do so year after year, there comes a time the generation of players age and they have to be replaced enmass. If the matured owner continue to insist that the club runs profitably then the cash is not forthcoming. Then, the club runs into problems and sink to mid-table…where the owner’s grudging dollops can afford to keep it.

    3. It is for 2 and 3 reasons above that Arsnes Wenger is the dream coach of EVERY club owner Europe-wide. Since they always fail to get him, they are always looking for coaches who are willing to copy the model.

    The future, indeed, belong in a big way to ARSENAL or the WENGER model; another reason Arsenal fans should be praising Wenger and loving the club to bits.


  • Hartwick89

    I would like to add something that may add another (forgotten) dimension to this piece; And, surely not knowing all of the other hidden debts for EPL, Championship, and other lower divisions yet unknown. The scope could be to the detriment of football in Britain. For example, if these clubs do fold what next? How does this impact the respective leagues and how then football overall in England? Although football is nothing in America in the recent past the N.A.S.L which I considered to be a good thing for American sports folded under a bad economy in the early-mid 80’s. It’s impact totally devistated the fan base and players it encompassed. I for one had very little choices in terms of spectating or a proffessional career. I hope for the sake of football in the U.K. this is not a domino effect. While it is good to celebrate the proper business dealings of Arsenal it should be hopeful that other clubs who practice these corruptions are dealt with immediately. And, let the clubs who eventually fold be examples of what not to do. Finally AW should be highlighted in every business magazine of what success looks like. He is honest, ethical, and passionate about Arsenal and that is why we should be modeled as a club. Just my thoughts

  • Arsesession

    In America, we’ve evolved into an ‘unaccountable society’.

    Its refreshing to see a manager stick to his principles; determined to balance responsible budgetary decisions for the club’s long-term health.

  • Mark

    I agree that mentioning Terry’s family is of no relevance.

    But the general point is that Chelsea appear to flout the Law.

    Changing subject slightly,

    How come Terry Venables was ousted for financial irregularities,
    but Capello’s were overlooked?

  • benhan

    Hi Tony, another great article and very true when you linked this to Wenger personal view: “football is about winning things and balancing the books”, which unsurprisingly will be neglected by the so called know-everything football pundits.
    I’m just curious why your blog isn’t listed on, when ANR was often listed on top stories section (controversially got many hits). I think it might be a good idea to list this wonderful enlightening blog on newsnow, to spread the good words so gooners around the world could understand what Arsenal and Wenger try to do which is the only right way to do in managing football club in current financial condition.

  • benhan

    Cape gooner, good rewind… but I guess first the clash was between Dein and Danny Fiszman-PWH. And surprisingly Wenger chose to side with Fiszman than Dein considering their very close relationship. For me this illustrating how Wenger could put objective view above personal things. He knew at that time with his decision to side with Fiszman & co, Dein could lose his position and power at Arsenal. And honestly, that decision also won’t benefit him in the short and mid-term. He just put another avoidable hard challenges to himself. To compete while moving to new stadium with limited budget. Don’t forget at the same time, Chelsea surfaced as the new challenger.
    Maybe Tony could highlight this incident better.

    I’m sorry the D&G couldn’t understand Wenger and his sacrifice for Arsenal. This is why articles like Tony’s are really important in this circumstances. To help us gooners understand the decision the board and manager took was the best for Arsenal.

  • Hartwick89

    Another point about Arsene and his philosophy; and I often argue this point with youth parents who pay out tons of money for so-called youth clubs in America. The belief here is more money = a better player = a better team = a better youth organization. I point out, and call me an old timer, but who is Pele? Who is Maradonna? Who is Puskas? Who is Sir Stanley Matthews? Pele, as I read from his biographies and his personal struggles was a poor Brazilian boy who excelled at football. He ultimately became the best footballer ever! How did he do it? And, how much finances did it take for him to become who he was? My opinion is not much! How about the Hungarian national team of 1940’s to 54? A country embroiled in WW2 and then the Soviet invasion but turned out the “Golden Team? How is it that they did it? Not much finances either! The point goes on and on….My belief is you don’t make money on football. You make money on the passion of football. I mean to say you follow the rigours involved in success. Which include ultimately doing the “right things”. Take a peek at the most successful producers of football. Brazilian footballers, Arsenal…etc. The sustaining value comes from hard work, passion of football, and ultimately a belief that you can affect football. That is what we have here currently. A Manager that loves football so much that he is involved with every aspect of the team. That is why we are successful and why I believe that a new golden era will start to take place. This manager has come from a place where he was introduced to good tutilage at a young age. He used to drive hours with his mentor to watch games. He understood through hard work he could affect football. He studied videotapes after videotapes of the best footballing teams and ultimately created the Arsenal of today. He endured players who betrayed him as a young coach and decided that his future would involve less cheating and more hard work. Arsene Played and then coached in France, Japan, and England. It is no surprise what Arsene has done for Arsenal and for the sport in the UK and for the world. So one last thought as I rest in the wee hours of the morning; Wenger prophesied that he could envision a European Super League. Could he be right? Could the fact that money hungry and corrupt owners who place their desires over the good of proper footballing management be what Arsene was talking about? I don’t know? But, I know Arsenal will survive this economic downturn while the EPL will have to face some hard times….Just my thoughts

  • Jonny

    Have to disagree about food at The Ems! The burgers are overpriced and pretty damn awful.

    Tommo, if you are still reading, I’d recommend Zilouf’s on Upper Street. It’s a Pan-Asian restaurant and it’s about 20 mins walk from The Ems.

    I often eat there before the game with my dad and, if you book through Toptable, you can get 2 courses for £15.

  • Just one point on what happens when clubs fold, I think we should remember the point of clubs that have had bad times but have turned things around.

    I’ll try and put together a piece on this in the next day or so.

  • Finsbury

    Things are not looking good for a number of clubs it seems.

    Fortunately Arsenal FC is not the only football club in the UK managed by people with a soul, or brain even.

    The FA’s Burton academy may still be behind the Ascot expenses on the FA’s checklist ( amongst other things) but it is reassuring to see people who love football just getting on with things.

    Yes, it seems the climate change ‘debate’ even exists on this blog. Fortunately for Dartford FC, there is no debate, and in the future, their running & maintenance costs for their stadium will be much lower thanks to things like, efficient boilers, rain water harvesting, a green roof etc…Some would call them crazy & deluded. I can only conclude; it looks like a lovely club.

  • neutral fan

    point taken jonny…

  • Tommo

    @Jonny, well game is postponed – thankfully, snowed in where I am, not a chance of travel. Thanks loads for that, I’ll definitely check it our 😀

  • walter

    Well Tommo, bad luck or not ??
    About eating we mostly go to the little wonder cafe just over the Armoury. Well we didn’t die after eating there for some 5 times now. But it is not exactly haute cuisine. 😉
    But we don’t mind. We come for The Arsenal, not for the food.

  • Clerkenwell Gooner

    Another thing that Wenger has done that never gets mentioned (following on from the Dec 31st post) is that he sold Henry to FC Barcelona.

    I don’t know why he did it, because Henry obviously still had a lot to offer (or why would a club like Barça buy him?)

    Henry contributed goals, goals, goals to Barça’s historic season as hexacampeon, and to see him getting a CL medal, La Liga title medal and so on, was highly gratifying.

    The romantic in me wonders if Wenger sold him because he knew Henry would have the chance to win copious honors in the tail-end of his career, but only with Barça, that would not be available at Arsenal for another few years, and that one of the greatest players should not be without this opportunity?

  • Hartwick89

    @ Finsbury you forgot to mention Artificial Turf I mean Astro turf! Quality stuff mate.

  • Finsbury

    Hi Hartwick,

    Yeah, well at least they own their own Stadium, it serves the local community, the club exists, it’s not receiving scary letters from the inland revenue.

    Unfortunately I’m not a dictator, and can’t fix the economy of the entire South of England to make it feasible for a tiny club like Dartford to be able to budget for a competent team to maintain their grounds.

    The only dedicated natural football playing surface in practically the whole of N.London, that you don’t have to be a professional in order to be able to play on is Hackney Marshes, and that’s been reduced, we’ve yet to see what the ‘olympic legacy’ will be. Name me another please?

    If you played cricket like I did for London Schools, you’ll be in for a more interesting hunt. At least if you just want to have a kick about, you can play in a normal park. Seriously, you should check out the quality facilities provided to the youth of London at North Middlesex cricket club in Crouch End/Highgate Wood. Lovely grass there (no football fields) but facing a genuine a fast bowler, a club player from Jamaica on such facilities, is frankly, not for me, and I was a fast bowler. I’d much rather play Asian ‘tape ball’ cricket on the pavements near Highbury, showing off in front of Arsenal fans & chatting to Barry Davies as he’d stroll down to cover his three o’clock game. London Fields cricket club is very cool, but you can’t train there.

    Why let economic reality get in the way of a glib joke? After all climate change is just a load of old cobblers isn’t it mate?

    Boom boom.

  • Finsbury

    Of course the whole point in the above link, was to show how all these ‘green’ technologies applied on the stadium were saving the club money. Operating costs being the main concern for the management.
    Why would they choose anything other then astro-turf?


  • Consolsbob

    Does anyone sane really care if someone has a pop at Terry, Cole and the chavs?

    It may not be cricket but the chavs have been responsible more than any other club for the rapid debasement of our Great Game. They can take a running jump. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I have any sympathy for them or theirs.

  • Hartwick89


    I was just having a bit of fun at the expense of your political views.

  • Hartwick89


    It is a beautiful complex though!

  • Dan

    Well said, I’m very glad to see that we are sorting our finances out first and Wenger has made the club millions just from his very clever signings such as Adebayor and Toure going for huge sums last transfer window.

  • Finsbury

    Hartwick, any opinion that I (or you) may have is irrelevant.
    Surely saving energy, using pioneering building technolgies is just common sense. Any ‘debate’ about ‘climate change’ is just farcical vanity.

    I forgot, the only reason I mentioned the cricket story above on an Arsenal blog, was because the youth of inner London would have to trek up to the Selby Centre, White Hart Lane, in the off season to train. Where we’d have the pleasure of rolling out our own matts of beloved astro-turf. We’d even train with County pro’s as at the time it was the only facility available, and affordable!

    A traumatic experience for any young gooner, having to trek out into the wastelands of darkest Enfield.

  • Ken Banham

    I agree the way ARSENAL run our great club is the right way this is why we have been in the top flight for the longest of any other club, Arsene and ARSENAL doing it the right way and in the next few years we will become the biggest and wealthiest in Europe, they have a master plan that is why they are signing players on long contracts and setting up soccer schools and stores all over the world in time, it takes time money and patients something ARSENAL have always had just wait and see the trophies and top players coming out of Highbury and the Emirates will happen.

  • Henry

    I want to point a couple things out.
    1) Forbes 2009 list of football clubs puts Arsenal’s debt at a staggering 64% increase from 2008. Why? I have no idea. Where it came from? I have no idea. All I know is that I quite trust Forbes.

    2) The argument that ‘Arsenal’s shares are expensive, therefore we are immune’ is stupid. 100 shares in a company at 10,000 a share, versus 1,000,000 shares at 1 a share is pretty much identical situations. Infact, stock markets will favour the latter as it makes it easier to shift. The total value (share volume * share price) is the important factor. Just because the Arsenal shares are hitting in about 3,500 pounds a share last I checked? doesn’t mean you’re any more immune to any of this than anyone else. To buy a 51% stake in Arsenal is share price irrelevant, as you’re buying 51% of the total volume. I can’t believe you let something so simple pass you by completely.

    3) I agree football in England is a complete mess. I love it. It’s a house of cards that will collapse, and we’re on the turning point of that already. But to brandish Arsenal as immune to it is ridiculous. What happens if people default on their Highbury apartment contracts? If you can’t generate enough money to cover your debt and interest payments? What happens if you drop out of the Champions League this year? -> Unlikely but not implausible. Too many variables for you to begin brandishing this around.

    I agree that other clubs are in worse situations, but yours is hardly immune either.