- How Arsenal are coping with being tackled all the time
- Arsenal exploits home grown loophole to give flexibility over 25 player list
By Tony Attwood
Breaking the record for the amount of money paid for a player may seem a bit foolish – although it can also be a work of genius, as Arsenal found when they broke the record, through the signing of Dennis Bergkamp.
As the Independent said, at the time, “Arsenal have invested heavily in a player who won’t sell himself to the supporters, who shuns publicity. Bergkamp will dovetail nicely with Arsenal’s new manager. For Bruce Rioch is also a man of few words . . . Let’s hope Bergkamp talks about his football more than he did in Italy. Being cool and withdrawn alienated him from the fans and from the media in Milan. Arsenal don’t want that. Not after they have paid £7.5m.”
Also at the time of buying Bergkamp, Dennis Hill-Wood noted that Arsenal had stretched themselves – which is a phrase we have not heard with a deal of around £100m for Declan Rice seeming to be in the final stage of finalizing the final details. Finally.
Of course, what started all this buying and selling at ever higher prices was the Sky contract which generates so much of income for Premier League clubs (along with the newly formed TNT Sports which is taking over the BT Sports channels and later Eurosport). Add in the ever-growing money from sponsorship and associated advertising, and Arsenal will be expecting to recoup a lot of the money they have spent on buying in Rice.
Obviously being back in the Champions League helps financially. If Arsenal were to win the Champions League (which I know is a lot to ask at the first time of returning) that will earn them another £60m just from the Uefa coffers. And that is before we start talking about TV money which overall totals over a quarter of a billion pounds.
And what is interesting is that this growth in income is primarily what Arsenal are re-investing.
Equally of interest will be the loss of such income to Chelsea and Tottenham (no Europe this coming season), and Liverpool (Europa League matches, which generate far less TV money than the Champions League).
Of course Arsenal can’t sell more league game tickets because it sold out for every game last season (all those empty seats were due to re-sellers buying tickets via bots and not selling them on), but they have potentially got more games and more sponsorship deals.
And so we do seem to have come a long way since the Kroenke’s were talked about as people who took money out of clubs rather than put it in, although I suspect, but can’t prove of course that the family will not be underpaid for their work with the club in the coming season. But then if we start winning things again, who cares?
And yet there is one other issue lurking in the background. Arsenal and West Ham United have not actually announced formally that the player is moving to Arsenal. So what is going on?
One part of the explanation is probably that the rules on “tapping up” (that is one club talking to a player of another club, rather than directly to the other club) have changed somewhat in recent years.
Certainly, clubs don’t overtly talk to players that they don’t have on their books – or at least not in a way that will make it to the media. But they do talk with agents, and that does not seem to be considered as tapping up.
So it is quite possible that at this moment Arsenal are indeed talking to the agents of Rice who is negotiating the salary etc, while also sorting out the final bits and pieces of deal with West Ham.
What’s more, the selling club will normally give permission for the buying club to talk to the player once an informal agreement between the clubs has been put in place, simply to help the deal along, especially in a case like Rice where everyone knows that the player is ready to move and the club is ready to sell. (Although I can’t quite understand why West Ham would be bothered by money since they were given their stadium for nothing, and only pay a peppercorn rent to the state).
There is also the issue of Rice having a release clause in his contract showing the amount of money that Arsenal would need to pay in order to force West Ham to sell. Such figures are generally kept secret, but again with everyone knowing that Rice wants to move on, that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
So it really does look like a bit of haggling over the “finer points of the contract” as they say. Like “my brother-in-law wants six season ticket seats in the best part of the ground” and tricky points like that.
And all I can say is, he’s not having mine.
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