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By Tony Attwood
In 2022 One Football ran the news that “Arsenal are one of 20 clubs in danger of breaching FFP regulations” citing an article in the Times no less, which had the headline Arsenal are on Uefa’s FFP watchlist.
All of which caused FootballLondon to run the article “How Arsenal are avoiding FFP concerns amid Man City, Chelsea and Everton points deduction claims.”
The story reverberated around the febrile world of football reporting, with the notion that David Raya being signed on a loan deal was due to the fact that Arsenal would break FFP rules if he was purchased.
And that was a story that was worrying, because if Arsenal could not buy Raya last summer but will buy him now, that would suggest there is no space within FFP for Arsenal to buy anyone else this summer
In fact, since then the media has changed its tune (how unusual) and now suggests there is less of a problem for Arsenal than some have said, as the media try to deflect attention from Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and oh look, for a second time, Everton.
Indeed One Football now say that, “Arsenal insiders insist they will be compliant with FFP regulations and have received no warning from Uefa regarding their financial activity,” although they immediately followed this up with the contradiction that “Arsenal may have to consider a significant sale in the near future, or risk immense punishment.”
That approach of saying something and then immediately contradicting it is typical of English football journalism, and basically means one can’t believe anything written. But it is an approach notably avoided by The Athletic which has also looked at the issue and which reached the conclusion that Arsenal’s squad value is currently £1.13bn
Twenty First Group — a company which specialises in delivering sports intelligence and data insights directly to clubs and potential owners — estimate the current market value of the Arsenal squad to be £1.13billion.
Indeed ithis was a story we looked at last year Although when we ran the story the value of Arsenal was only £1.10 billion. I am not quite sure where the additional £10 million has come from since then, although there is a lot about Martin Odegaard now being worth £121m (he cost £30m) and William Saliba being valued at £71.5m, (having cost £27m).
So taking the upgraded values of players we now have Saka valued at £131m which is not bad since he cost nothing. Although of course the benefit of having players that cost little or nothing is then balanced by the £105m paid for Declan Rice.
Now when we get into this sort of analysis there are always going to be arguments and the suggestion from Twenty First group that Jesus is worth £90m might be questioned. But since Arsenal only paid £45m for him, there is still a lot of wriggle room.
But perhaps the best boost to Arsenal’s FFP situation, aside from having some players come in on a free, is that of Gabriel Martinelli. Although his form has dipped this season, the two late goals against Palace suggested he may refind that form rather quickly. It is amazing to think that he cost £6m after Manchester United had had him in the training camps year after year and not thought he was worth signing. The valuation is now £90m.
Now of course the nay-sayers and doom-mongers will point to Kai Havertz as being a waste of money. As I have often said here, I don’t agree, and so it is interesting to see the Twenty First group estimate as being £72m which is what the club paid for him.
I won’t go on and on through every player, but the fact is that Arsenal’s FFP issue is somewhat different from that of certain other clubs. For time and again we can see that the amount Arsenal paid for the player (Gabriel for example cost £27m) is a fraction of what the player is now worth (current value estimated as £53.4m).
And even if one says that Twenty First group is made up of a load of loonies who over-estimate on each player’s current value, there would have to be a huge drop in values for Arsenal to have a squad worth less than they have spent.
Now that in itself doesn’t get Arsenal our of FFP problems, if they indeed to have any, but it does give them a way out in the future if they need it, because the club has a lot of players who are worth more than they paid and who could be sold if need be, to balance the books. This is because FFP is based on the net payment made – which is the money paid out in transfer fees minus the money received in transfer fees.
Of course not every player has gone up in value – Ben White is said to be worth about £8m less than the club paid for him. But then again if Eddie Nketiah is sold for anything like the £38m he is said to be worth, that would be pure profit, since he cost nothing.
But let’s not forget some of the fringe players. Reiss Nelson is listed as being worth £22.8m; he cost nothing. Emile Smith Rowe is currently listed as £17.6m – again pure profit if he were to leave, although I personally very much hope he stays and that space is found for him in the team on a regular basis.
Of course some players go down in value – Jakub Kiwior is one such – he is now said to be worth £10m less than when Arsenal bought him. But he’s only 23 and I suspect he will be kept with a view to seeing him develop.
And there is one other thing: Arsenal as ever have several young players out on loan, some of whom will inevitably be sold at a pure profit. Think of Marquinhos for example, who has been training with the Brazil youth squads and is suggested to be earmarked to play in the 2024 Olympics.
In short, although Arsenal have spent a lot, they have done it on a number of players whose value has gone up. We might not wish to see any of them go, but such a transfer would not only bring in money to the club, it would also balance the FFP register.
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