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Custodianship/Self sustainability – where do we go from here?

Custodianship/Self sustainability – where do we go from here?

Richard Bedwell

If we believe those who understand these things there are two tectonic shifts happening in football at the moment. The first, according to Ivan Gazidis, is that football generally is moving towards the way that Arsenal runs its business. Driven by the demands of FFP and the European-wide fear of imminent bankruptcy the Arsenal template is being accepted as the only way to go. It won’t happen at exactly the same speed everywhere, but happen it will.

The other thing we know is that revenue coming into Arsenal, both in the form of sponsorship and of TV broadcast fees, are going to expand quite substantially. A combined figure of perhaps as much as £70m a year was bandied about at the AST meeting last week.

The full impact of these shifts won’t be with us until the 2013-14 season and  it could even be a bit later for some elements. So, knowing what’s going to happen with a pretty high level of certainty, what do the Club do in the meantime? As I see it they have three broad options.

1.      It moves from its current (and very long established) strategy to a position that is closer to where the rest of football is actually moving away from. This has been described as a more ‘aggressive’ strategy and would involve Arsenal throwing its financial weight around a bit more both in terms of transfers and salaries. It might even involve the possibility of going into (player cost related) debt in the knowledge that the money to pay that debt would start to arrive in the not too distant future anyway. It would also of course mean that, if other clubs are being encouraged to emulate Arsenal, any move towards them makes that task that much easier.

2.      It stays exactly where it is. Having established the template that UEFA desperately needs to be able to put before the more FFP-resistant clubs, to change that model in any way now might be a strategic error. Even if it was only seen as ‘temporary’ and merely the spending of guaranteed revenues in advance of their arrival the spell might be broken and we would have less of an argument with UEFA if FFP (a basic plank of the Club’s future planning) did not get delivered.

3.      Move even further away from the inflation riddled past/current market and start ‘phase two’ of the long term plan now. Current evidence would suggest that this may well be what is actually happening. If you can’t stop players running their contracts down in order to maximise their own bargaining power with you (or anyone else) then play the game as much to your own benefit as you can. Don’t get blackmailed into keeping the inflationary spiral going and  aim to take as much of the steam out of the transfer market as you can and, more importantly still, reduce player wage costs.  In order to do this you need players to replace the ‘rebels’ preferably already on your books so that your position is as strong as it can be.

Given that player costs is where most of our money goes and given that we don’t like how much it’s costing us to watch the buggers play, this seems like something we might want to support. Gazidis has stated that the plan is to take as much pressure off ‘the stadium’ to deliver revenue and if that means taking the pressure off us it sounds like a plan.

But does it increase our chance of success on the field and does it maximise on our enviable financial strength?

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Publication on July 20th: Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football.

The book that re-writes the Arsenal story.

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22 comments to Custodianship/Self sustainability – where do we go from here?

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think this is a very interesting question being asked. And a difficult to answer.
    I think we should stick with what we have been doing the last years. Spend but wisely and not throw any money away (even though one never knows if a transfer will be a success or not).

    And indeed if FFP rules are nothing but words in the wind we can still move towards the rest.

    But like you say the further the distance between ourselves and the spending teams the more impact FFP rules will have and the more difficult for the others to catch up with us.

    The big problem I have right now is that PSG seems to be buying themselves out of the FFP rules and as being a French team…will Platini have the guts to throw them out or will he quickly forget all he has been saying in the past about clubs have to live within their means…???

  • Shakabula Gooner

    THE MAIN NEWS IS THAT ARSENAL WILL NOT NOW OR IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, BE LOOKING TO BUY MARQUE PLAYERS AT CRAZY TRANSFER FEES AND CRAZY WEEKLY WAGES THAT SET ALL PLAYERS’ WAGES ON AN UPWARD INFLATIONARY SPIRAL OVER TIME – AS A WAY TO “WIN SOMETHING” SEASON-AFTER-SEASON.

    ARSENAL WILL PREFER TO CONTINUE TO TRY ITS LUCK AT “WINNING SOMETHING” BY ASSEMBLING A GREAT TEAM OF A FEW STAR PLAYERS AND A LOT OF GREAT, YOUNG AND RELATIVELY UNKNOWN NAME SQUAD PLAYERS WHO PLAY WITH FLAIR, VERVE AND HEART.

    HOW LONG THIS WILL TAKE IS NOT KNOWN YET. HOWEVER, THIS IS A CLEAR MOVE AWAY FROM THE PREFERRED POSITION OF MANY ARSENAL FANS AND MAJORITY OF THE PRESS AND A KEY SHAREHOLDER.

    UNTIL ARSENAL “WINS SOMETHING” VIA ITS STATED AND PREFERRED STRATEGY THE THREE CORNERED FIGHT BETWEEN A SECTION OF THE FANS, MAJORITY OF THE PRESS AND THE KEY ARSENAL SHAREHOLDER IS BOUND TO REMAIN THE ORDER OF BUSINESS IN THE CLUB.

    WILL THE CLUB EVER? WILL THE QUEST CLAIM WENGER’S SCALP? IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN – A NICE TIME TO WATCH AND TO TAKE A POSITION OVER THE FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF THE CLUB.

    I AM FOR THE CLUB’S CURRRENT AND CLEARLY STATED POSITION AND WENGER, ITS COACH AND THE CHIEF PROTAGONIST OF THE CURRENT AND CLEARLY STATED POSITION. I LOOK FORWARD TO THAT DAY THAT WE SHALL “WIN SOMETHING” TO THE CHAGRIN OF THE PROTAGONISTS OF THE CURRENT CONVENTION THAT YOU MUST SPEND LIKE MANCITY, CHELSEA OR EVEN TOTTENHAM IN ORDER TO “WIN SOMETHING”.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    One thing that I don’t get is this perception that a player has the team over a barrel if he refuses to extend his contract with one year left. Unless he has done something egregious against the club to prevent him from playing AND I would add saying things like the ‘club lacks ambition’ and ‘we don’t see eye to eye on the direction of the club’ in which case he should be denied any of those stupid loyalty bonuses or suspended without pay, we should be perfectly willing to shrug and let him leave on a Bosman. After all, the value of player diminishes until it is zero when his contract is up. Presumably we would get that value by having him play out his contract. Saying he is disaffected and wouldn’t be able to play is a double edged sword. Flopping about and moaning does not increase your market value.

  • Flavour

    Success is all about being consistent. I started supporting Arsenal because of this model. Arsenal is working so hard, we are not buying success we are working hard to make it work. Soon and very soon down the line Arsenal has already created a system, we will be cruising while others will be fighting hard to learn the ropes. Then who will be BOSS?

  • Anne

    @Walter:

    I agree that we should keep doing what we’re doing. I don’t understand where people get this idea that a bankrupt Arsenal is going to be the best thing for the future of the Club. I believe that would actually be the end of Arsenal. Or at least, as soon as someone wanted to stop propping us up.

  • iniez

    Jason,
    You left out the tea lady boiling the water too hot and the groundskeeper making the grass too green. Don’t even get me started on those horrific statues they put outside the stadium, who’s that guy kneeling on the ground, and what the hell is he looking at? And what’s with that colour red, it’s everywhere! What about orange, I love that color..

  • nicky

    For good or ill, my crystal ball foresees a scenario when Arsene Wenger, Kroenke and the present Board have all gone to that football ground in the sky.
    Usmanov has taken over and the “sugar daddy” era for Arsenovsky FC has arrived.
    Money is no object and along with Citeh and Chelski we are the richest club in the land.
    We have won the EPL, the CL and the FA Cup each year for the last 5 years. Our reserves win the Carling Cup every year.
    Our team have been invincible for years mainly due to the tactics we employ. We score a goal and then fall back on a 11-man defence. We are simply unbeatable. No-one watches us play of course but our owner doesn’t need the ticket money as he continues to plough in his billions…….
    Then I awoke and realised it was my crystal ball playing up again. I breathed a sigh of relief and pondered how little Arsene would need to pay out in order to retain RVP and Walcott.
    We’re back to normal, I thought…Yippeeee.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Whatever way we do it, we need to remain competitive as new sponsorship deals are negotiated in 2014. A competitive position will bring in a lot more money. I hope transfer and player retention policy is taking place with that in mind, there is a lot at stake over the next couple of years, and we have to get things right, as I am sure we will.

  • LRV

    Someone has unleashed ‘Jason the Juggernaut’; the Mr know all, whose football wisdom is far beyond mere mortal’s understanding.

  • Edda

    I hope we continue to do what we have done the last years, there is not much wrong with the strategy, just need abit more luck with injuries and more patience and lojalty from our players. This isnt football manager on your computer, u cannot just click sell and a player is gone. And there is no guarantee that all the players that the AAA suggest we should buy even wanna come to Arsenal. Its much easier for the likes of Chelsea and Man City, they dont have to think about income at all, the only way we can beat them is to buy smarter, and i believe that Arsene will.

  • Mandy Dodd

    We do need to get out of this cycle of losing our top players, not sure how though. But there are a lot of teams needing money willing to sell top players in our affordability range, there are some great bargains in the 10 to 15 million range, hopefully we have already aquitpred two players who will become just that

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m in total agreement with our regulars on this site .We are on the right path and are progressing well towards our target .
    The likes of PSG ,Man.Shitty and Chelski have shifted the goalposts somewhat but we still persevere and continue against the odds .
    A bit of luck at key moments ,a bit more commitment, a little patience and some loyalty from those players who jumped ship and we would have better results and probably have had a cup or two .
    Let us keep the faith and support AW and Arsenal .Up the Gunners !

  • Stuart

    @ Mandy Dodd,
    It is AFC who are the only ones who can stop the on-going cycle of top players being sold. I think a start would be to refuse to sign anyone associated with young Dein. Second of all, we need to stand our ground, these are our top players who are only in our team because the boss thinks they are the right players to win us something so we need to keep them, selling them is weakening us and making the opposition stronger.

    Brickfields, Man Shitty, PSG etc… they are in their own world, you have the Man City price for a player then the normal price, we fall into the normal price category however it is very alarming the amount of Arsenal fans want us to be in the abnormal price range. Is it merely for status. My car costs more than your car or am I missing something? I often wonder if mine is the common sense or if something went wrong.

  • Goona Gal

    A few months ago I had a melancholic moment, when I reflected upon the Chelsea and Man C wins and what that meant for the sport and I realised my sadness was not just as a Gooner, but as a football fan. I am so glad that Le Boss is on the same page and has publicly commented to this effect.http://www.timeout.com.hk/feature-stories/features/52243/meet-the-professor.html

    It would be a serious indictment of the sport if it were no longer possible for teams other than those on ‘roids to win silverware. Suspect teams like Man U winning do nothing to inspire or improve the game either. Football needs Arsenal to lift weary hearts, flame dying embers of hope and succeed against the odds this season. ….No pressure then….

  • Goona Gal

    I also love this AW comment:

    In football, I like to be the guy who believes in people and stands up for them. That’s where we can influence people in a positive way. You can imagine, though, that plenty of people have talent in life but they do not meet someone who gives them a chance. For example, can you name one Formula One driver from an African country, apart from South Africa? And can you really imagine that there is not one guy in Africa with the talent to be a Formula One driver? Why not? Because no-one has given them a chance. In life it’s important to meet someone who will give you a chance, and when I can do this in football, I do it.

    It reminds me of the Fabrice Muamba and the racism hot potato situation.

  • Goona Gal

    @ Mike – thanks for the article. I still have a few misgivings about FFP, but I think that Arsenal and football will be better off with it’s introduction, than leaving things as they are.

    FFP coupled with better refereeing could be saviours in my opinion.

  • Goona Gal

    Right I am going to attempt to type something out on mobile technology, but in stages in case this train goes through a tunnel and I lose it all.

  • Goona Gal

    Sorry Mike, this is a slight tangent off topic ( I hope I don’t hijack your piece), but I wanted to say something a bit belatedly regarding an observation I made a while ago regarding Muamba, Suarez and John Terry. I recall that many Briton’s took pride and gave themselves a pat on the back not just for the medical marvel but also for the amazing Muamba back story, i.e the story of how the son of an Congolese immigrant, fleeing percecution, had a dream of one day playing football at the highest level and for his beloved team, some how makes it to England, age 11 knocks on the door of the football club he had only seen on TV, barely speaks English and asks to be given a chance to play. He asks to be judged on his ability, attitude and work ethic, not the colour of his skin, nationality or his hard luck story even. I have read a few throw away lines like ‘his story is familar, or this is a common story that the UK can be proud of’. I asked myself the question in the context of English Football in particular, just how common or familar was the Muamba type story in reality?

  • Goona Gal

    How many clubs aside from Arsenal could and have situations arisen where a poor, young, foreign, non english speaking kid is given the opportunity Arsenal gave him? He wasn’t scouted, as a young lad he repeatedly knocked on Arsenal’s door. Better still when challenged on the ‘jonny foreigner’ matter Arsene Wenger famously stated that he does not look at the passport when picking a team. Indeed, that ethos runs throughout the club and the resulting permeation allows many fans across the globe to feel like true ‘stakeholders’ in the club. As in anyone, from anywhere with a dream, ability and opportunity could play for Arsenal. I am sorry but unless evidence to the contrary is presented, I believe the Muamba/Arsenal story to be the exemption rather than the norm. So I have a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth when his largely positive story of how he came to be, is ‘owned’ by the wider footballing world. It could be my imagination, but I still feel that there is an undercurrant of distain for the club because of our ethos of equality and dare I say it, racism.

  • Goona Gal

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not simply writing this to back slap and be self congratulatory of ‘how great Arsenal is’, I just wanted to highlight and juuxpotise this to the Arsenal 3-0 win over Aston Villa last season (I remember the media commentary and focus because I was at the game). It irritated me because in a week where Arsenal scored 3, gained 3 points, went 3 points clear of their nearest rivals (spuds) in the league and location; after being lambasted, ridiculed, abused and totally written off – the key talking point in the TV match commentary, newspapers and major websites was that there were two English goalscorers in the match for Arsenal. Why is this important? What other top flight clubs have stats like this read out as very interesting trivia? Why wasn’t it highlighted that Arsenal was the only club in the league that week to have two different English scorers if the topic was broached at all, or would that of been a too positive slant towards Arsenal? How about stating that in Gibbs, Theo, wilshere and Alex OC England have exciting group of top class talent to build a 2014 world cup squad around. All developed by Arsenal, three of them in action and playing a part in the Aston Villa win.

  • Goona Gal

    All I can say is scratch the surface and zenophobia and dare I say it again, racism is still alive and kicking. Muamba type stories are distinctly Arsenal type stories. I hope that in future aligned with the Premiership’s quest for global televised dominance and renumeration, that it genuinely embraces the idea of the Arsenal way of doing things as it is good for football’s health. I love Arsenal FC and the Arsenal way of doing things, a club that can produce both Muamba’s and Wilshere’s alike.

    As we all know Arsenal are about to embark on an overseas tour to Asia and I can say I am proud of the philosophy and ethos we are exporting. We will meet Man C over there who are right now the antithesis of us. I hope we beat them.

  • ARSENAL 13

    ” Make a list of your needs and wants. When you are finished with your needs, Its time for wants.” Says my Father. This way your progression will be slow but a secure one. This is how we run our business and this is why I like the ARSENAL way of handling finances.

    I believe we should continue to do what we are doing. There are a few places where we can improve. BUT overall we are heading in the right direction……