By Tony Attwood
I read the comment that I have put in the headline the other day. I thought it a strange comment at the time, but knowing how I am not averse to making awful cock-ups when I rely on my memory I decided to look again at the figures.
But it turns out that for once I am right…
|Rank||Club||Revenue € million||% gap||Country||Previous rank|
In terms of the top England clubs regarding income Arsenal are third behind Man U, and Man City, and above Chelsea and Liverpool.
So if income determines the league position in England that is how it ought to be: Man U, Man C, Arsenal, Chelsea.
However income from player trading, crowds, media rights and marketing, is not all there is, for income can also come in from the owners. That doesn’t happen for Arsenal who are currently having to pay for their new youth training facilities out of income. It does happen with Chelsea and Man City. Man U are a separate case as back in the 1960s they started developing their world wide marketing plan, which has been the greatest football revenue success of all time in the UK.
But let us look at the percentage gap in the fourth column. This is what percentage revenue each club has of Manchester United’s revenue. Arsenal only has 68% of Man U’s revenue, and so if money relates directly to success then each season Arsenal should only get about two thirds of the points total Man U gets. So if Man U gets 85 points we should be about 58 points.
Two things emerge from the table. First, the clubs with lots of money are not using it to march ahead and become all conquering. Indeed you can’t even say, each extra £50m is worth 10 points a season since clubs with more money don’t always end up above clubs with less money.
But it is worse than that, for those who argue that money is the deciding factor. These figures only take into account income from normal footballing activities. Financial Fair Play does not stop club owners paying for youth development and stadium improvements.
The youth set up at Manchester City is considered by many to be one of the best – perhaps the best – in the world, but none of the payment for it came out of Man City’s income. Neither did the cost of expanding the stadium, which they were granted in the first place at a very low cost by the state on behalf of UK tax payers such as me. And possibly you (depending on where you live and if you are earning).
It is difficult to estimate how much the owners put into clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea, not least because the amount is variable season by season. The Man City owners have invested in the new youth stadium and all the facilities around it. The Chelsea owner is about to do the same with the Chelsea stadium project – just as he did for the Cobham training facility.
But the one thing we can say is that the financial distance between Arsenal and the clubs above them is far greater than that shown in the figures above, except of the case of Man U, as the other clubs have massive investments not counted in the figures above, from their owners and sponsors.
Thus instead of it being possible to argue that Arsenal should be doing far better because of their finances, it should be argued that it is quite remarkable that Arsenal has managed to keep even close to the financial giants above them.
Of course it can be argued that this is Arsenal’s fault for not getting an owner who will put more money into the club. I personally don’t agree with that, because I have always been proud that once Highbury was built Arsenal then relied totally on their income from the ground as a way of becoming what other clubs then called “The Bank of England Club”. Arsenal’s source of income from a rich philanthropist came in 1910 when Henry Norris cleared all of Woolwich Arsenal’s debts and subsequently took the risk of being the club’s guarantor over the lease at Highbury. Since then the club has lived on its income.
That might not mean much these days when instead of the crooks robbing the banks, the banks rob everyone else, but I find it still something to cherish.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.