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For Arsenal, it is worth playing it cautious

The Lord Wenger has done an interview in which he says that he still has no doubt that over time he will be proven right with his strategy of bringing through younger players rather than doing what Manchester Bankrupt have just done – which is yet again to splash millions of pounds on transfers at the start of a new transfer window.

This is bad news for all the Arsenal supporters who are demanding success now, at any price.  But good news for those who value the notion of Arsenal continuing through the next decade as a strong and vibrant club.

Manchester B’s spending shows that beyond doubt the finances of the club are completely out of control.  Despite an assertion in the Guardian that the club is making a profit, the reality is that the situation in Manchester is so bad that the club has diversified its reporting into different subsections, so that the football can be seen to be making a profit, when in fact overall the club cannot actually pay the interest on its current loans.    Quite where the money is coming from to pay for the new Serbian players that have just come in is unclear.  It is possible that there is no source of funding.

This level of unreal financial reporting is apparent at Chelsea (KGB Fulham) too, where the papers happily report the club becoming financially self-sufficient, while omitting to say that this is only true as long as one ignores the debt and  the fact that for the moment it is interest free.  The terms of the loan are that it can be called in at any time with just 18 months notice.   That’s not long when you we £550 million and no bank will write you a cheque.

Liverpool’s disaster is much closer to hand, for they have to renegotiate their loans this month, and no bank is showing much interest in helping.  It is unlikely that they will go bust this month, because someone will step in at the last moment – but the terms the banks will extract from Liverpool will  be the harshest yet seen applied to an EPL club.   The most likely outcome is that from February, Liverpool will join Manchester in being unable to pay the interest on its debts.

99 years ago, Woolwich Arsenal went bust, and were taken over by Henry Norris and his friends.   The result was a disaster for Arsenal, and led to relegation for the only time in the club’s history, into division 2.   With the new owners not willing to bankroll the club, all the best players were sold, the crowds sank, and the club nearly sank with them.

The ultimate solution was the move to a much bigger ground – Highbury.   Since then the club has handled its money well, and it would be an absolute disaster if the club chose to go down the route of spending money it doesn’t have to buy some success this year, when in a few years time all our major competitors will be mere shells of what they are now, crippled by debt, and replicating Arsenal’s 1910 experience.

Meanwhile, on a different matter, next week there will be a new Highbury High published, with some more whizzo exciting and overwhelming articles by… well, me actually, including a piece on 10 Reasons to be Cheerful in 2009.  Do you hope you can spare a few coins to buy a copy.  Subscription details will appear here in the next couple of days.

Tony Attwood

3 comments to For Arsenal, it is worth playing it cautious

  • aqqe

    Brilliant. I love to read these sensible articles rather than the hollow and overly optimistic spend-big-now-or-we’ll-die-blogs. Keep it up.

  • stevedon

    Surely anyone can see that we urgently need a decent defensive midfielder? The money from Hleb, Hoyte and the sell on clause of Bentley could be used to secure a DM, so the funds would come out of gains fron player transfers and not touch the rest of the business. This is not being reckless, just good footballing business. If it means we secure 4th spot and hang onto the Champions League money then even better.

    I agree we should be careful….but not miserly

  • don't believe the hype

    Who says we’re being miserly? Arsene will buy when he finds the right player at the right price. Times are hard so I don’t blame him for resisting the urge to spend for the sake of it.

    As for Manchester B – I suspect they might be forced to sell Cronaldo at the end of the season in the hope of getting a huge bonanza for him otherwise I’m not sure where the interest payments are coming from.

    It’s only a matter of time before the first club goes to the wall – West Ham and Portsmouth are desperate for cash and there will be bigger names in trouble before 2009 is over.