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What can Arsenal fans do to change the club and challenge for more trophies?

By Tony Attwood

That question above is an important one in my view, and it is one that has been hanging around for a long time.

The general feeling in the media these days is, “nothing much”.  The feeling among some fans is “protest about Wenger”.

My view is a little different, and it starts from the position that action of this type should only be taken when it has a chance of success.  Taking action which is unlikely to make things better tends only to draw attention to the individual protester.  Not only does it not work, it can also have the affect of significantly reducing the chance of getting the change that is wanted because it removes pressure from the real problem area and diverts it to the protesters.

For Arsenal, as for most clubs, the change that is desired is for the club to do better on the pitch.  To win competitions and, if not effect a dominance of the type achieved by Bayern Munich (such that the league generally becomes a one horse race), at least be in regular contention.

There can be other things that fans like: bringing through our own youth players and keeping them at the club is something that I think quite a few Arsenal fans want.  Being seen to be an organisation with a social conscience is not bad either.  Offering the fans a good deal financially is often an implicit aim, sometimes explicit.

But all of these are extras: winning the trophies is the key – although even this can be modified over time.

In this decade – so counting from 2010/11 onwards – and looking at clubs that have won more than one competition in this era, and leaving out the League Cup which we know is competed (at least in the earlier rounds) by reserve teams, we find…

Chelsea have won the Premier League twice, the Europa league once, the FA Cup once and the Champions League once.  Five trophies.

Manchester United have won the Premier League twice, the FA Cup once, and the Europa League once.  Four trophies

Manchester City have won the Premier League twice, and the FA Cup once.  Three trophies

Arsenal have won the FA Cup three times.  Three trophies.

Four teams is all we have in England who have won two or more trophies in this period.  In fact even if we include teams that have won just one trophy we only add two more clubs to the list.  Interestingly that does not include Tottenham, Liverpool or Everton, who are currently seen by the media to be major players in such matters. Arsenal as we know are often discounted because the FA Cup is the wrong trophy.

So let’s say that this is not nearly good enough for Arsenal, and some changes are needed.  What to do?

Amy Lawrence in today’s Guardian expresses the view that, “Social media protestations or occasional chants at the stadium, such as at the final [Arsenal] home match of last season against Everton and a bad-tempered AGM when Kroenke comes to town, have not yet had any major impact.

“Ordinary fans will not have it easy trying to take it to the billionaires…”

Now I agree with her in that the only way to change a club’s approach is to change the owner, not simply change the manager.   Mr Wenger will go one day of course, but the notion that bringing in a new manager will automatically bring success is, I fear, doomed.  It is the owner that is the key.

In the summer the clubs in the list above spent these amounts:

  • Arsenal £46m
  • Chelsea: £187m
  • Manchester City: £219m
  • Manchester United: £146m

On this basis Arsenal are punching above their weight having won three trophies in this period.  Not least because trophy-less Liverpool who don’t make it into our chart spent £90m give or take, in the summer.

There simply is no way that the current owner is going to authorise that sort of expenditure by Arsenal, so simply changing the manager is not going to work.  More than likely if Arsenal rush into changing the manager they will get someone who will fail to nurture youth players as Mr Wenger has done, and so that limited expenditure will really start to eat into the club.  Winning the FA Cup three times since 2010/11 will start to look like a golden age.

To compete with the big money clubs noted above one either needs a change in the rules or a change in the owner.   There is a rule that says that clubs’ expenditure on player wages should only go up by £7m a year excluding increases in club income.   So if a club’s income from TV goes up by £30m in a year, they can increase wages by £37m that year.

That might help restrain the other three clubs in the list above a little bit, but seeing how clubs are thwarting the FFP rules anyway and flagrantly breaking academy rules I am not sure it is going to happen.

So if Arsenal want to compete with Man U, Man C and Chelsea, and do it in the way that those three clubs do it, they will need a lot more money to be spent on players.   Now Man C and Chelsea have their infrastructure costs (new ground, new training facilities, new youth set up etc) paid for by their sponsors, as they are allowed to do, under FFP rules.  Arsenal and Man U pay for this themselves, but Man U’s income is always far higher than Arsenal’s because of their worldwide appeal, which dates back to the start of the 1960s.

Thus Arsenal are out on a limb.  The club needs a big money owner to take over the costs that are outside FFP, while continuing the Wenger approach of finding great youngsters and bringing them through.  Indeed it could be argued that the club has only survived against the other three regular trophy winners because of the youth programme.   Players such as Ramsey, Iwobi, Bellerin, Holding, Wilshere, Walcott, Coquelin… all these came through for little or no money because they were bought early.  And there are Maitland Niles, Nelson, Willock, Bielik, Nketiah and McGuane coming through now.  It’s a hell of a good approach.

But my fear is that after Wenger we might get a manager who doesn’t have that talent at finding young players, and we still won’t be able to compete in the transfer market.

Which means the only protest worthwhile now is against the owner, not the manager.  Quite how we do that however, is another matter, and maybe I’ll tackle that another day.

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12 comments to What can Arsenal fans do to change the club and challenge for more trophies?

  • Jammy

    “But my fear is that after Wenger we might get a manager who doesn’t have that talent at finding young players, and we still won’t be able to compete in the transfer market.” But is Wenger really the one that is finding these great young talents?

  • Goonermikey

    The challenge with a new manager, whoever that might be, will be that they only ever think about short-term success as they’ll be off in a few years (or weeks in some cases!). So the interest is only in spending big money in the hope of gaining instant success.

    In that context, I completely share your view that things can only get worse. AW cares about this club and without him, we would have had no new stadium, no solid infrastructure and no future. Sadly, we have many fans who don’t appreciate this as they are also only interested in immediate success and have no thoughts about the future.

    Seemingly, many are unaware that “crossing that bridge when we get to it”, relies on someone having maintained the bridge in the meantime otherwise you get to the point where you go no further…..

  • Polo

    What can Arsenal fans do to change the club and challenge for more trophies?

    Change the negative atmosphere and support the players and staff during bad periods, if they see and feel the whole fanbase are supporting them, they will have something to fight for, morale is a powerful tool.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Getting rid of Stan Kroenke as the club”s majority stake holder by the Arsenal supporters through whatever form they choose to do it will not be easy. But it can be accomplished if pursued continuously with relentless vigour in protesting against him physically at the Ems weeks in weeks out before & after Arsenal matches are played. And also on the media and by signed petitions against him unabated until he relinquished his holdings.

    Then and only then, he might considered leaving Arsenal by selling off his 67% stake at Arsenal. But care must be taken by the Arsenal supporters to see he does not sell to a single business investor not even Alisher Usmanov, who by selling to him will make him become a whopping 97% stake holder at Arsenal that owned the club. But Kroenke should be compelled by the Arsenal supporters to sell his share holdings at Arsenal to a consortium of at least 3 individual interests who have the passion for Arsenal to win titles on regular basis. With the owners of Arsenal becoming 4 in numbers that includes Usmanov all sitting on the Arsenal board as the club executive directors with one of them becoming the chairman of the board in rotation every two seasons. Some none executive directors with specific oversight function at the club could also be appointed by the board. And of course, an employed CEO should be employed to run the day to day administrative side of the club. With the 4 individual owners sitting on the Arsenal board as executive directors of the club, compelling progressive decisions making should be taken to that will be moving the club forward season after seasons by the new look Arsenal board.

  • Nitram

    Jammy

    Wenger may not ‘find them’ in a literal sense, but he is certainly fundermental in there progress and subsequent transition into first team football.

    Others are by no means certain to even care about doing that, or even if they are, are not necessarily going to be any good at it.

  • Josif

    Tony

    “There is a rule that says that clubs’ expenditure on player wages should only go up by £7m a year excluding increases in club income. So if a club’s income from TV goes up by £30m in a year, they can increase wages by £37m that year.”

    I think TV money is excluded from own revenues in order to avoid huge wage increase.

    http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/latest-news/premier-league-update-their-ffp-rules

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    On what should Arsenal do to be challenging to win more titles especially the Premier League title this season which they’ve not won for last 13 seasons? The CL or the Europa League Cup they hadn’t won at all in the history of the club? And the Carabao Cup they last won for only God knows when last?

    I think the natural answers to all these 4 questions are, Arsenal should keep trying their possible best, for one season their luck will shine to see them win these 4 titles. But for Arsenal to win all the 4 titles they are competing in to win this season does not totally depended on the shining of their luck. Other elements such as keeping Sanchez and Ozil beyond this season’s campaign and adding at least one top class quality to them again during the coming January window as they added Lacazette this summer come into play which they must put into play if they are to win the 4 titles of the Carabao Cup, the EPL title, the FA Cup again and the Europa League Cup progressively all this season.

  • nicky

    The biggest problem facing Arsenal today is how to solve the vexed position of a single de facto Owner.
    Ever since Kroenke bought out the required number of shareholders, he obtained, for the first time in the Club’s history, supreme dictatorial powers with regard to the governance of Arsenal FC.
    How can the Club return to a state when the Board is properly representative of the shareholders, none of whom have an overall majority of shares?
    There can only be one way to achieve this aim.
    It would be through a consortium from (say) the City eventually persuading Kroenke to sell his holding.
    By such means the curse of a single Owner would be lifted for all time. It may take time, the consortium and the new Board would need to be properly constituted but in my opinion it’s the only way possible to obtain success through harmony. 😉

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Is Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean national team all time top goals scorer so far a rebound ball goal scorer specialist? I watch him on TV this morning pounced on a rebound to capitalized to score the winning goal for Chile against Ecuador in the Commebol WC qualifying to move Chile up to 4th above Argentina in 5th in the table. I think I’ve watched Sanchez on TV capitalizing on a rebound to score the equalising goal for Arsenal at Parc de Princes against PSG in a Ucl group stage match. And I also watched him on TV did the same thing for Arsenal from his own rebounded shot against Bayern Munich at Alliance Arena in a Ucl match. And also have watched him in some Arsenal PL matches scored from rebounds for Arsenal last season. This season, he almost got one against WBA at the Ems when Lacazette’s shot rebounded off the post but he blazed it over as almost does not kill a bird.

    Apart of him being a workaholic on the field for Arsenal last season, Sanchez poached his 24 goals for Arsenal from direct and assisted goals, free kicks goals, penalka & penalty goals and from rebounds. Why should the top big club of Arsenal size and caliber lose such a value player of Sanchez to another top club in the PL or in Europe top Leagues? Is it because of the PL wage cap which if Arsenal decided to pay him and Ozil close to what they have demanded to be paid before they’ll extend their contracts at the club, the FA wage cap will catch Arsenal. Or what is actually the financial problem that makes Arsenal look not want to keep the duo quality players at the club beyond this season? Let Le Prof tell us the Arsenal fans through his press conferences. So that we’ll know and understand.

  • momma

    Where is your evidence that a new manager would not bring through youth players and where is the evidence that Wenger has been successful in this area. I cite the ‘English spine’ experiment which has come to very little.

  • omgarsenal

    Momma……where is YOUR evidence that a new manager WOULD bring through youth players, especially given that you have NO idea who that manager would be! There is overwhelming evidence that Wenger’s efforts have succeeded at the same level as Ferguson’s,but for much longer and that alone is more than sufficient. The English spine was never done in isolation and your simplistic comment is totally without context or justification!

  • jon fox

    I totally agree with Samuel A A’s post saying that a concerted mass and prolonged protest against Kroenke’s ownership, combined with a huge protest to news, radio, and TV, social media plus hundreds, daily, of letters to Arsenal itself will win out in the end. It will not be easy to move a man with no heart or soul for romance for anything other than tangible assets and a huge balance sheet. Kroenke is empty and dead inside. I warrant, so are most billionaires. Football should be about soul, passion and sheer art. Kroenke is effectively DEAD to footballs charms and MUST be forced out. I urge all true Gooners to adopt this method of removing his python grip, which is killing our club, starting today.

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