Arsenal’s finances stay secure but we can expect more price rises for fans


On the Arsenal History site today: Arsenal become the first league club to get 100 wins against an opponent

By Tony Attwood

Back in 2017 Untold Arsenal published an article that began, ‘There is an article in the Telegraph today that says, “Once the butt of every joke, now Tottenham are laughing at complacent Arsenal’s expense.”    It is an approach which has been replicated in many newspapers and on many blogs over the years since then; Tottenham are on the way up and Arsenal are on the way down, and it is all Arsenal’s own fault.’

Tottenham’s league finishes since then has been 2, 4, 4, 6 7 8.  Arsenal’s over those years were 2, 5, 5, 6, 8, 8.    So yes we can hand it to the Telegraph that Tottenham came out of that period slightly better with two fourths instead of two fifths.   Arsenal got a 7th and 8th, instead of two 8ths.   It’s all been pretty close and not enormously impressive.

But, there is a difference.   Arsenal spent all of that period paying for their new stadium.  Tottenham have only just started paying, and have no ground sponsor and have had their owner found guilty of three charges of insider trading, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of security fraud.   So slightly better league positions for the club, but a worse criminal record for the owner.  

But of course this is the past: what of now and what of the future?

Tottenham are five points outside the top four (although admittedly with a game in hand) and are 11 points behind Arsenal and with a goal difference that is 15 worse than Arsenal’s.

And all this came back to me as I read a new article in the Telegraph which says, “It has been 20 years since Arsenal last won the Premier League. That is two decades of flattering to deceive. Often looking good before crumbling when the pressure was cranked up and expectations soared.  The odd cup success soothed the sense of underachievement, but it has seeped into the pores of the club.”

Leaving aside the detail that it is 53 years since Tottenham last won the league, I was interested in the “odd cup success” comment and the fact that there was no mention of the building and opening of the Emirates Stadium which ensured that around double the number of fans could watch matches.   The stadium incidentally is still being paid for – it cost almost £400m: a cost that was greatly increased because of a desire to build the stadium as close as possible to the Highbury ground Arsenal moved into in 1913.

But let’s move back to the “odd cup success”. in two decades.   In fact Arsenal won the Cup five times in 20 years.    Only Chelsea matched that and we can look at where that club is now.

And if winning trophies is the only matter that counts Tottenham last won anything in 2008: that was the League Cup.   Arsenal last won something in 2020, winning the FA Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons.

Yet the fact is that club success can rise and fall very quickly.  Two years after winning the Champions League Chelsea finished 12th in the Premier League which is quite a drop, and they are still nowhere near solving the problem of improving their stadium which holds 20,000 fewer than Arsenal’s ground.

Arsenal does have the disadvantage however of having of late a lower income overall than its obvious rivals (Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham) largely because of the lack of Champions League football.  And of course Arsenal did have one big self-inflicted cock up in the purchase of  Pepe for £72million – who was let go for nothing in the end.

Arsenal were also hindered by the release of Ozil and Aubameyang but those releases have meant that suddenly the wages bill declined.  On the other hand the salaries of Rice, Odegaard and Saliba to name but three must be pretty big and the wages bill has risen to £234.8million, and is still rising.

That sounds horrific, but is put into context by the wages bill of Manchester United (£331.4m) and Chelsea (£404.9m) especially remembering that last season Man U were nine points behind and Chelsea 40 points behind Arsenal.   In fact Arsenal’s wages are down to 50% of revenue: the league average is around 67%.

As we know, the reason Arsenal didn’t buy any new players in January was the impact of FFP, which shows how tight the regulations have become.  But there will be money to spend in this summer’s window.

Meanwhile of course we are all seeing our season ticket prices rise, although this season’s appearance in the Champions League (and next season’s too, hopefully) will also help the income. 

The debt owed to Kroenke’s company is now a massive £259m.   But there is good news in that permission has at last been gained to undertake building on some of the land Arsenal own around the stadium, which again should help.

5 Replies to “Arsenal’s finances stay secure but we can expect more price rises for fans”

  1. Because Kroenke paid for the new stadium and some other activities on behalf of Arsenal and over time Arsenal are paying him back so that they own the stadium

  2. Totally off piste for this post, but I can’t help but think someone needs to keep track of which refs add which amount of time to which matches.
    Would be nice if the PGMOL would explain how refs validate extra time added, rather than just “9 minutes, cos I said so”.
    Would love to have the time to track that for you, but I have a 5 month old son, sooo…..
    Also, more in line with the post, how is it spurs made a stadium, and don’t appear to have the restrictions we did (despite interest rates soaring)? Something weird is going on there, or so it seems to me.

  3. Philly the kid

    “Would be nice if the PGMOL would explain how refs validate extra time added, rather than just “9 minutes, cos I said so””

    Indeed it would.

    The thing is, there are actually some guidelines as to how time is added on. You will find them here:

    Substitutions are 30 seconds each. Goals are a minimum of 45 seconds each. No natural time is allowed for these.

    I did a short post in the ‘WHAT EVERY FOOTBALL CLUB (AND MOST CERTAINLY ARSENAL) IS AIMING FOR.’ article talking specifically about the 8 minutes time added on in the Forest Liverpool match.

    The truth is, using those parameters it is actually quite difficult to justify 8 minutes added time, especially without substitutions, goals, injuries or VAR interruptions. It all seems rather ad hoc as you suggest. For example, there was a bit of a furore when we scored in the 7th of 6 added on minutes at Luton in December.

    But the thing is, why did the referee only add 6 minutes in the first place?

    In the 2nd half there were 3 goals and 7 substitutions alone which should of resulted in 5 minutes 45 seconds added time without anything else.

    There were also:

    9 free kicks

    7 corners

    In the Liverpool Forest match there were no goals and 7 substitutions in the 2nd half prior to stoppage time resulting in 3 Minutes 30 Seconds added time.

    The rest of the added time came from

    11 free kicks

    11 corners.

    So in the Luton Arsenal match somehow those 16 sundries were worth an extra 15 seconds but in the Forest Liverpool match the 22 sundries were worth 4 minutes and 30 seconds, nearly 20 times as much.

    Okay, Forest may of wasted some time but that much? Well, possibly but we don’t know where the time comes from officially. We just have to ASSUME the referee has added time correctly.

    Now I realise that’s all a bit much, but I’m just making the point that there are extraordinary differences in the time added on in those games, but given the rules on adding time as we know them, it is really hard to see why?

    As we have suggested Philly, it is just not good enough to expect fans to accept this seemingly arbitrary approach to adding on time. It needs to be done overtly and in real time so we can see when and where the time is being added.

    The problem is, when it comes to the PGMOL and their referees, secrecy is the name of the game.

  4. There were 11 minutes added at the end of the Liverpool game, in addition to the drop-ball fiasco, and a Forest penalty being ruled out.


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