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Having a very rich owner who invests in the club, could be a disaster for Arsenal

By Tony Attwood
The aim of the AAA, in as much as there is a unified aim, appears to be to remove Mr Wenger, Mr Kronke and the board of directors, and replace them with gentlemen of money.

But there is more, for there is an assumption that the people who come in, were there to be such a replacement, will be people who will know how to run a football club, and to a certain degree, know how to behave in a rational and dignified manner.

I wonder on what basis is this assumption made.  Of course it can be argued that Manchester City is run in a dignified and reasonable manner, although there was a rather unseemly spat between the manager and those who arrange the buying of players, at one stage.

But it is hard to argue that the regular change of managers at Chelsea has been dignified, or indeed helpful to the club. They did have a manager capable of winning things, but then a spat between him and the owner meant he left.

True they have since won trophies, which is what we all want, but despite all the millions of pounds spent, they are only a little way above Arsenal in the league this season and actually went out of the Champs League before we did.  Is the sudden dismissal of managers and the input of the money just to reach that point, I wonder?  Yes indeed they did win the Champions League last season, but with so much money over such a long period should they not by now be way out of sight of Arsenal by now?

There are other clubs with huge sums that seem to be in even stranger states: Malaga who have sold us a couple of wonderful players for very reasonable sums are clearly in a muddle and have been banned from the Champions League.  There’s the club in either Russia or the Ukraine (my apologies I have mentioned them before but can’t find the detail at this moment) where the billionaire bought the club and handed over to his less than competent son as a plaything, before having to take it back, in order to rescue the club, and his investment.

Not so edifying in my opinion.  But let’s come back to England.  What about Blackburn?

The amount of money thrown at that club is large, and yet they are sinking without trace.  Worse (for them) they are the laughing stock.  I’ll look at Blackburn in a little more detail in a moment, but I’d ask that my main point here might be retained.  What’s to say that the person that the AAA want to see as their new owner, and the staff that are brought in, sends us not down the route of Manchester City, but rather down the route of Blackburn?

You will recall that Indian poultry producers Venky’s took over Blackburn in  November 2010.   They are now looking possible relegation candidates down to League One, and have sacked the latest of four managers this season after 67 days in charge.  That compares with Henning Berg who went after 57 days in the manager’s office.

Yes, that’s four full time managers this season.    They got rid of Fat Sam in December 2010 because he didn’t share their vision for the club.  Fair enough, I’d have sacked Fat Sam.  But at the time they were in the middle of the Premier League, playing “park the bus” as well as learning the rotational fouling and rotational time wasting techniques that the Slug takes with him where ever he goes.   And then they brought in a big name…

Steve Kean.   After him big names for players, ex-players and managers were touted – such as  Harry Redknapp, Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho, David Beckham and Raul.  And guess what – no one came.

The club spent money on players – but where the AAA criticise Arsenal for spending money on certain players, nothing can compare with the signing of Myles Anderson from Aberdeen where I am not sure he actually played for the first team.  He certainly never played for Blackburn.

When it all went wrong at Arsenal under Billy Wright we got our lowest crowd of around 4000 for a match.  It seems Blackburn are trying much the same trick as our directors did with Billy Wright – they got 8,635 for the quarter finals of the FA Cup.   At least Wright could point out that our lowest crowd was on a night when there a big match on TV (at a time when football on TV was rare) and Arsenal’s match was meaningless (because of the lowly position of the club in the league).  But still that was a shameful time for our club – yet Venkys seem to have taken it as a role model.

Shebby Singh, Blackburn’s “global football advisor” and previously a TV pundit, must take much of the blame, although the owners (one of whom said at the start of their venture, “how difficult can it be?” in relation to winning the league) are obviously far from blameless.  As a result of the lunacy in the club the average attendance this season is at 14,665 about half of what it was two seasons ago.

My point here is that it is a lot easier to wreck a club than it is to build a club.  Jack Walker spent £100m getting Blackburn to the top of the league – and all that heritage has been thrown out under the new owners.

None of what happens at Blackburn makes sense – just as a lot of what happens at Chelsea with the hiring and firing of managers makes little sense.  And that is the problem when you have a hands-on billionaire making decisions.  Blackburn are not Chelsea, but in both clubs you do have some strange things happening.  At Blackburn they are just written on a larger scale.

My point therefore is simple.  If someone did come in and buy Arsenal, that person, or group of people, might do some good things and spend money in the right way and win us the league.  But equally that person might be another one who learned about football in the Venky house of insanity.

Most of all, I think it is a case of “be careful what you wish for”.

Recent posts…

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30 comments to Having a very rich owner who invests in the club, could be a disaster for Arsenal

  • GunnerPete

    This has been my worry since fat cats decided to buy trophies for certain clubs. The damage long term to our football soul will not be known until they depart. Their child like crave for trophies is fired on by a biased press and has brought the standards down of our whole system. Yes Chelski won the CL but not with quality football but with money and incredible luck.I do not want AFC to go down this oath but I feel that the anti Arsene mob mentality of some of these sites will lead to exactly this scenario. The only hope is that the board allow other investors who will replace current board members and jointly own the club and not have one bent messiah like Abramovich.

  • Charlie

    Heard it all before. The point of the AAA is clear. The saying goes “if it aint broke don’t fix it” well the Arsenal model isn’t working and hasn’t been for nearly 10 years so it needs fixing. Using Chelsea or Man City as negative examples of rich benefactors gone wrong is idiotic considering their vastly superior success over recent years when compared to Arsenal.

  • HaightStGooner

    First off I’d like to say thank you Untold for your thoughtful and well measured articles.

    As far as the rich owner model in the Premier League, I’ll admit that I’m quite shocked that it hasn’t already imploded. As you pointed out Abramovich cost Chelsea years of domination with his spat with Mourhino. This highlight’s the fact that one “rush of blood to the head” decision from the owner (who in effect is a dictator) and the club will pay the price, however small or large.

    Clubs like Chelsea, Man City, PSG, etc. will achieve trophies, but the entire foundation of the club now rests on an individual–a dangerous thing indeed.

  • Charlie

    Will any of you accept that Arsenal are a club that are in one of the biggest slumps in their history and show no signs of overtaking their rivals ? Also the people running the club have had plenty of time to demonstrate their ability to change things. Is this good enough ? In my opinion no it is far from good enough. Do I care about a new stadium ? no I don’t because most of those seats will be empty in a few years time and I don’t live in England so I will probably never get to watch another match at the stadium. So the stadium brings in money well when will we actually get to see some of that money get spent ?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Charlie,
    maybe once when the stadium is paid for?

  • Lanz

    I actually expected that by now the whole site would be full of comments- most of them from the AAA! Did you notice Charlie believes that money from the stadium isn’t being spent? The truth about it is that but for the stadium, our case could be much worse!! I had a debate with a friend not too long ago about his belief that money was not being spent. We had to sit down and examine together the profits being declared and what they were being spent upon. People seem to believe Arsenal makes some £500m per season or something. Charlie, spend what money?

  • Gonnerjoe

    Charlie I don’t live in England either but I know how important the stadium is to the growth of the club but unlike you I make the effort to attained a couple of matches a season. Also if you look at number of clubs that are trying to find the funds to build new stadiums or trying to get them at the expense of the British tax payer maybe was a good idea. So the new stadium affords fans you do not live in England or can not afford season tickets the ability to attend matches. But you not care because of your need for instant gratification and you take no account that the time of the sugar daddy clubs began at the time Arsenal started financing and building the new stadium but hay maybe we should have stayed at Highbury maybe won a couple more trophies but the club would not have been able to compete in the future look at Liverpool.

  • Gonnerjoe

    (Not you)but ( who do not live in England)

  • Stuart

    Tony,
    Changing managers on a regular basis is not what is required to win trophies. Chelsea have done this and won trophies but the two are not linked. The constant changing is very unsettling and the club is in a constant state of implementing the new philosophy & team structure. Have a look at the other seasons and performances in different competition.

    Charlie,
    You can interpret info / facts / figures in many ways. Yes, I’d agree we are in a slump, we haven’t won the league or a cup for many years but the overall picture is : neither has most other teams. Out of all the teams who have been in the running for the league, we are the only one without major investment. Spending some more money would be fantastic, I believe it is there regardless of the common line of ‘what money’ however at this moment in time you or I have no idea what agreements are in place regarding the finances. The property development project was way under target in terms of bringing in funds due to the massive drop in property prices so it stands to reason some sort of agreement has been made with the banks to cover this. There is a reason the money hasn’t been spent and I’d bet it has something to do with this.

  • Charlie

    Oh poor Charlie…he has taken it to heart!

    I think Walter/Tony we should also have a team you support field (apart from name, email and website) to correctly gauge the exact nature of the malady affecting the likes of Charlie and ofcourse the Ruperts and UKs…Charlie has taken offense…God knows to what! And he thinks that there will be empty seats in Emirates…

  • Asif

    Sorry…i have put my name incorrectly!

  • soglorious

    Τ̣̣ђё real question to be asked should be ” ȋ̝̊̅‎​ƨ̣̇ there really fund to be spent?” Cos I believe A.Wenger spent some money when we were at Τ̣̣ђё highbury and that’s because THE MONEY WAS AVAILABLE. Get †̥̥ ђ !ş into ur skulls AAA

  • Steve

    Arsenal could so easily be in the same position as Aston Villa or Everton. Everybody expected Villa once the new owner took over to push up the league and challenge for the top four positions. Arsenal could so easily be in the same boat as Everton unable to find a buyer, unable to move ground, unable to rebuild their ground and in a position where if they did move to a new 50,000 seater stadium they would only make £4,000,000 a year more. If Arsenal stayed at Highbury that is what Arsenal could be looking at this season.
    Fans go on about Usmaniov coming in splashing the cash and making Arsenal great again. What I can’t find though is where he has stated this yes he has talked a lot but the manifesto is short on actuall firm facts. Lots of if we were in charge this and that will happen but that is as good as Ed Milliband saying labour can do better than the Tories.

  • Mike T

    There are so many points in this article that in truth need to be addressed alas not enough time so I will focus on just a few.

    1) You say that changing managers at Chelsea hasn’t been helpful to the club? Last week topic was discussed on TV and whilst some do indeed argue that very point the line kept coming back would they have won as many things if they had stuck with the same manager. Quite simply you will never know
    2) You seem to applaud Jack Walkers £100 million
    “investment” in Blackburn and talk about it being heritage. So what is the difference to his financial input to RA`s at Chelsea and don’t hide behind the sums involved
    3)You ignore the trophies Chelsea have won over the last 10 years suggesting that all that matters is the here and now and celebrating getting to one more stage of the CL this season as being the only thing you need to look at to see where the clubs are and have been over the last 10 years.You say that Chelsea should be out of sight of Arsenal a point well made but the reality is over the 10 year span quite simply they are!
    4) You then go on to talk about someone coming in and buying Arsenal.That has already happened I accept that as yet no money has flowed into the club from the majority shareholder but at some point I think it is pretty assured that he will be looking for a significant return on his outlay

  • John L

    there is a documentary called ‘the four year plan’ about qpr, after they were bought by ecclestone, flavio briatore and a few others. the new owners allowed film makers almost unlimited access and according to the film had no say in what was allowed to be shown.

    on one hand you could argue that the new owners saved the club from its debts and started it on the path towards the premiership. on the other hand about six or so years on we see a club under new ownership, at the bottom of the table, facing relegation with out of control wages….and i have to wonder where it will go from here?

    what i found so fascinating about the doc was just how openly meddlesome the owners are. at one point flavio briatore demands a substitution during a match, but in order to save face relays the message through the club masseuse!?!

    i for one would not want to see that kind of thing happen at the arsenal….tony is absolutely right….be careful what you wish for!

  • John L

    @mike T,

    i think the point tony is making about chelsea and man city is that should something happen to the oligarchs that bankroll those clubs…what then? and that arsenal should be wary of that kind of outright ownership.
    although chelsea have been succesful in the short term, there are plenty examples (tony uses blackburn & malaga, i use qpr in my first comment) of clubs that under similar ownership have struggled.

    the point me thinks is simply that its not quite so simple as having a rich owner come in a throw money at the club. yes sometimes it works (at least for a while) but when it doesnt the results for the clubs and its supporters are disastrous…be careful what you wish for….

  • John L

    @ Charlie,

    you say the club is in one of the biggest slumps in its history….well mate, im sorry to say that our history goes back a wee bit further than 1998 and when we look at the facts we are far from “the biggest” slump ever ever.

    hahahah over two games of football we tied bayern munich 3-3. yes we went out, but it was essentially tied over two legs. bayern are running away with the bundesliga this year, were finalists last year in the CL and have expectations of winning it this year. a team most people would agree are not in a ‘slump’. so if were are so terrible….how are we so so close to the top teams?!?

    i agree there are improvements to be made…but do try and think before you speak man!

  • Here’s one other issue that I hadn’t even thought about when I wrote my article this morning.

    Look at Leeds. They were bought by a Bahrain-based company in December. Now they are selling it again to someone else. That can surely hardly be good for stability.

  • Mike T

    @ John L

    As things are as of today there are two type of owners .

    The first is those that are investing in clubs with the intention of making a profit such as the Glazers, possibly the owners at Liverpool, Spurs and I would suspect Kronke at Arsenal (all Yanks) and then there are those that put money in without the expectation of any return such as Wigan, Chelsea, Qpr, Chelsea, Man City,etc

    There are huge dangers in both ownership models.Football finance is a delicate balancing act and for every club that fails due to a benefactor withdrwaing their support there must be another 10 clubs without benefactors that have failed.

    Before RA took over at Chelsea we were owned by Ken Bates who was far more of a danger to the long term of the club than RA will ever be indeed since he, Bates, sold the value of the club has grown as has the attraction of the club to another owner should RA decide or be forced to sale.

    In reality a bigger danger to the EPL clubs is the reliance on television monies and the inevitable change in the way club football is organised.

    There is a real possibility of a two tier pan European league within the next 10 years , not the one talked about in the last week or two in the press , but the one that the top clubs have been talking about for the last few years. Sky dont make their money showing say Stoke against Wigan they make their money from the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea , Man City and Spurs and the truth is if you throw in the giants of Italy, Spain and Germany mabe PSG, Malaga, Ajax the attraction to Sky would be huge.
    Nah I hear some say wont happen just as cricket thought Packer wouldnt be a threat.

  • Mike T

    Reading back my earlier post o course Joe Lewis isnt American but in my defence ENIC are all about profit.

  • greencardusa

    One of my issues with this corporate culture is that the “fix it” and “its broken” nexus derives from a long history of looking at things in a very narrow, and idiotic way; this allows easy fixes and solutions. And who cares if other problems roll up as a consequence? History, context, and connections to much related forces are completely ignored. And hey, in such a culture every hack is a prophet because s/he does not have to know much to be a pundit.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting. I do not have sources of conclusive proof but I believe we are at present vulnerable to such a take over, and yes it worries me. There are more out there than usmanov who covet this club. We are a seriously valuable commodity, biggest club stadium in the capital of the country who gave the world the game….at least as it is now. We have history, class, global appeal and are well run. A rich consortium wanting to fit in with such things and improve images would love this club. And believe me, such people are out there. As for the current owner and direction of the club, we need to change a bit, wenger will not be around for ever, and I doubt a lesser manager can keep us where we are on what we spend. As for stan, I am far from enamoured, as far as I know , he has done nothing wrong, but really not sure at all what he brings to us. I was in a debate with another poster on here who suggested…and I agreed that maybe the best thing about stan is that he seems to leave us alone…for the moment. Some clubs would love that, but is that really the best type of owner? I honestly do not know with him. I know stan has never sold a share, but I also believe such a man will have his price, we are now in the stage where we live with stan, or go with who he could easily sell us to on a whim. Peter hill wood knows of no potential investors, I believe he would be the last person stan would tell if he was indeed in contact with anyone. Shame, in my mind at least, neither of these two choices….stan, or an investor we know nothing about would be what I would have wished for this club. The way of the world I guess

  • nicky

    This question of whether the presence of “sugar daddies” in football is a good or bad thing reminds me of the maxim of “not seeing the wood for the trees”.
    The overall progress (if you can call it that) the World has made since the end of WW2, has, IMO, centred around the love of money and in turn the love of material goods.
    Sport generally has moved into big business and with the advent of world-wide TV advertising, wages and profits have spiralled and dubious individuals and syndicates have inevitably appeared to take advantage of the largesse.
    Even the controlling bodies in many sports have been infiltrated by powerful criminal elements, which sadly adds to a bleak outlook in creating fair play and honesty.
    As someone nearing the end of his earthly life, I have to confess to some pessimism as to the ultimate outcome of big business and its controlling effect on sport.
    One can only hope that fairness and honesty will prevail and eventually be reflected in all sports.

  • Andrei

    @Tony A fair point of view. Unfortunately, the article comes across as a bit disingenuous and an attempt to justify the status quo by employing FUD tactics and using one-sided arguments based mostly on supposition.

    First, in making the case the article is focusing only on the examples of a rich owner having detrimental impact on the football club e.g. Malaga, Chelsea or unidentified “club in either Russia or the Ukraine”. The more balanced argument should have presented some positive examples as at least possible if not not probable (in the author’s view) scenario for Arsenal. Take Shakhtar Donetsk owned by Rinat Akhmetov who is significantly richer than Abramovich and probably on par with Usmanov. Akhmetov’s ownership brought stability, long term business development plan and success the club have never seen in 80 year history. After all Shakhtar was never an elite club during Soviet Union time with only occasional forays into the top 3 finish and 4 victories in the Cup. Today they are arguably the best club in Eastern Europe.

    Secondly, the article fails to analyze the current Arsenal ownership and what it means for the club future. Here is imo very relevant question: is current fractured ownership situation any better than implications of potential super rich owner takeover? Is the current situation sustainable long term? If not what is the most optimal resolution?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Andrew, only my opinion, but i am not sure our current ownership structure is sustainable, and IMO that makes us vulnerable to either a hostile takeover or a period of instability. Wenger can only conjure up so many miracles, I sincerely doubt his successor will do so well with what wenger has coped with

  • Mandy Dodd

    Sorry, meant Andrei, the curse of predictive text and fat fingers

  • Just another snippet on Leeds. Even though the comment about the club being up for sale was in the owners’ annual report, the owners are reported this morning as now saying it isn’t true. Nice one.

  • WalterBroeckx

    It will depend on the weather in Leeds I think. When it rains they want to sell, when the sun shines they prefer not to sell…

  • Mike T

    @Walter

    You are wrong for based on my visits to Leeds the sun never shines!

    @Mandy Dodd

    Very balanced comment however do do you have a view as to how Kronke ,if he is truly an investor, will be getting a return on his investment? If that is by way of dividends how do you see this being viewed by your fellow Arsenal supporters?

  • Mandy Dodd

    A very good question Mike T. We are told Stan believes the club are undermarketed, and he can raise the value. We are told he has taken no dividends yet and did not buy with an LBO. Only a personal opinion, but he is a businessman and a collector, but does not appear to have any real interest in Arsenal. Probably just a case of someone making an offer he cannot refuse, unless he thinks we will not be able to compete as we are…..damaging his investment. I would imagine the board see wenger as a miracle worker, can the next guy be expected to be the same?