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July 2021

Is £203m per trophy a sane way to spend money?

Transfers. Staying within a budget?

Or bottomless pockets?

By Cameron Wolfe

Mancini was airing his views (ie. complaining) the other day that Man City  hadn’t signed anyone this summer. And it made me wonder if he would be spending the money that’s been spent in the last few seasons so freely if it was his own. No, of course not.  It’s always easier spending other people’s money.

I’m always of the belief that Arsène spends the funds available to him like it was his own cash.  As any good manager should do.  I think it gives him a better perspective on the transfers.

As it happens today is the anniversary of the first match of three of the early arrivals under the Wenger regime (Leeds v August 1997) and so with that in mind I started to wonder…

How much has Arsène spent since he arrived? How does that compare to the other top teams?

From 1996 the amounts are…

Spent Loss Average loss per year
Chelsea £695m £502m £43m
Man City £648m £463m £40m
Liverpool £533m £207m £33m
Man U £487m £184m £30m
Tottenham £412m £170m £25m
Arsenal £365m +£45m £22m

I could go through the whole league but in spending terms it makes more sense to look at the other teams next to us in the league.  And this is enough to note that Arsène has spent less than any other manager and I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that Arsene is the only manager to have made a profit over the years.

The interesting facts I found out while looking at the EPL transfer figures were that in a single season Man. City spent a whopping £154m closely followed by Chelsea who spent £153m. Both have also recorded the biggest losses in a single season. Chelsea recouped only £100,000 compared with City’s £37m.

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The other interesting fact was that City has spent £406m in just three seasons alone.

Or so far it’s cost them £203m per trophy.

Which begs two questions: would City have won anything without such a huge investment? and is £203m per trophy a sane way to spend money.

Who knows? Probably not though.  But the big question that remains is “Will fair play have any effect on these big spending clubs?”

The official UEFA’s website says that FFP is introduced…

  • to introduce more discipline and rationality in club football finances
  • to decrease pressure on salaries and transfer fees and limit inflationary effect
  • to encourage clubs to compete with in their revenues
  • to encourage long-term investments in the youth sector and infrastructure
  • to protect the long-term viability of European club football
  • to ensure clubs settle their liabilities on a timely basis

The concept has also been supported by the entire football family


Now I have highlighted what seem to me to be the two most interesting statements – and I do this with the thought that it is  going to be difficult to enforce such a set of rules. Especially if they actually believe it’s supported by all.

I think that leads to another huge question. I think Arsène has been phenomenal in keeping us in the top four every single year and usually having a decent run in all cup competitions. On a budget. New stadium, training facilities.  (Indeed it is interesting that Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea are all still thinking about new stadia, and will have to find the money for such a venture.  Maybe not too hard for Chelsea, but more of a stretch for the other two).

Of course we can ask, how more successful would Arsèneand Arsenal be if funds were unlimited?  But that question above still keeps ringing in my ears…

Is £203m per trophy a sane way to spend money.


Ordinary is Pointless

The Great History of Arsenal Competition – complete with prizes


34 comments to Is £203m per trophy a sane way to spend money?

  • GoonerDave

    Firstly, congratulations and many thanks for your excellent work with the ref reports – badly needed!
    As for the article, on the whole, yes paying out that money for a trophy is almost sick.
    There were a few occasions over the last 7 years where we were in contention for the big prizes, but we were a player or two short. Thats not a lot of outlay, certainly not 200M. I feel that we were too rigid in our spending, and we should have taken advantage of the excellent work Arsene had done – we could have signed 1 or 2 players and actually won the league.

  • wamberto

    £203m to win the league ON POINTS!!LOL.

    Wenger is a miracle worker,every football pundit and journalist should read this,give the man some credit!!

  • goonerob

    All Arsenal fans will be hoping that the FFP is strictly enforced and any devious schemes to try and get round it should be severely punished. Your figures are something most of us knew roughly but putting down the exact figures in black and white makes you realise that all of our main competitors could well be in serious trouble over the next 2 to 3 seasons. Running the club as Arsenal do and with a highly intelligent manager will make us the most competitive team financially in the EPL and I hope the benefits will be that we remain a strong team whilst all of the rest suffer especially the likes of Man City and Chelsea who deserve to return from whence they came, mid table or even better the Championship.

  • Stuart


    How about ON GOAL DIFFERENCE 😉

  • Stargts

    Ofcourse they wouldnt have won anything without the investment they were a bottom half of the table team for goodness sake.

  • Benglian

    There are so many ways around FFP, though. Vastly over-priced sponsorship deals anyone? …and how about the loan system?
    Man City want ‘player x’, so they ‘ask’ some rubbish 2nd division club to sign him, for a zillion pounds, and pay him a fortune(they just got a massive cash injection, doncha know?), and then lend him to Man City for a nominal fee while paying 80% of his wages… So, the 2nd division club break FFP, but oh well, they weren’t going to be in Europe anyway….

  • John

    Love the site and indeed I think Arsenal defintely have the morale high ground when being compared to Chelsea and City.

    One point I would like to make is as follows (I dont take any pleasure in this) I’m a big Arsenal fan and Wenger fan ..

    Utd losses have come from the club being bought by the Glaziers using borrowed money. If you factored this out they would have made more profits than Arsenal and still won many more trophies.

    Why did this happen its simply bad management and a board that doesnt support the manager. Utd build on there success and continually reinvesting in the squad. Every success commerical benefits have been maximised … they have a huge fan base, huge success and revenue is consistenly growing. It sickens me that Arsenal were the Invincibles at one stage yet Utd are now ligh years ahead of us commerically and in the number of fans they have.

    The are the way a club should be managed and if the Glaziers had not be let saddle the club with debts they would be out of sight.

    Lastly our current shareholders paid top dollar for there shares and I think in mind games aside dont want to put there hand in their pockets. Its the previous share owners that made a pretty penny out of this club and its supporters.

    Lets call it as it is.

  • Mick

    @ John
    Seeing as how you like to factor things out, just to even things up how about factoring out Arsenals huge investment in the Emirates stadium.
    Lets call it as it is.

  • John

    Yes Arsenal did build a new stadium and that was a huge project but I believe instead of robbing the manager of any transfer funds for years while competitors built and built, winning trophy after trophy resulting in huge increases in revenue (commercally) ….compare Arsenal revenue to Utd its a joke.

    Why didnt these people who would later make a fortune selling their shares after the stadium was built put some money into the club??? The fans were played by a greedy bunch of c**ts.

    I personally think what Utd are planning on doing to reduce the debt should be done by Arsenal. Create a worthless class of share something only fans want not investors to bring some money into the club.

    Arsenals fan base is 27M if we said 5M would be able to purchase a share (this is just a example I’ll let smarter people analysis it) and each purchased a share to help clear the staduim debt say 60 pound …. it could be worth looking into.How many Arseanl fans buy a jersey from Nike who f**ked us on the last sponsorship deal.

    If they knew the funds were to be wisely and not to buy shit like Squllaci, Denilson, Park and then paying them so much a week no one will take them??? It could work???

  • RobL


    To an extent you are right – Dein the messiah bought his shares for a few hundred K and sold the last lot for over £70M, but I think the Denilson & Squillaci comments are a little out – you have to take risks in the transfer market – as has Fergie, and Wenger has had less cash to play with.

    There’s no way he could have bought a Veron, Kleberson, Djemba Dejemba, Anderson or Taibi and got away with it as we had a smaller budget to hide them in.

    I firmly disagree with you on the debt reduction model united have though – a share offering where most of it is trousered and only a small proportion pays off debt. If it had been all on debt then great, but I think we all need to take a step back and see what happens with this one. I’m not anti Fergie – but I have no trust for the Glaziers.

  • bob

    Cameron, I apologize for this mostly tangential – but still, I think, important observation:
    Tony, Walter,
    I think it’s due time that we have a proper airing on UA on whether a possible to probable sale of RVP to Manure at ANY price is an acceptable proposition for Arsenal. Imo, this discussion should be held before the fact; rather than – more safely – after the fact. Sorry, but the Board’s interest and non-Board interests may soon be at MAJOR loggerheads and there could (indeed should) be a lively and earnest discussion of this hereabouts.

  • nicky

    I agree entirely with your comments on Squillaci and Denilson.
    Creeps like John take obvious pleasure in abusing the ability of these professional footballers, signed in good faith,tried their best, but haven’t quite made the grade at Arsenal.
    Unless these so-called football experts have something constructive to say about our players (without abuse and obscenity) they should keep quiet.

  • John

    Fair point Rob yes each transfer you take a chance but the wage structure of the club needs to be sorted.

    As for the share thing its just an idea to bring in money … the Glaziers will affectly pay a large chunk of their debt using other peoples money.

    They have played a absolute blinder Gordon Gekko would say if they can get this through…. they will have little debt yet a huge money maing machine in Utd.

    With regards to Arsenal generating cash through shares to reduce the staduim debt.. the issue of any money going elsewhere can be easily sorted.

    The Glaziers are saying look all this money will be used to reduce their debt they incurred when buying Utd its pretty clear however they will raise the money I convinced of this. Just my opinion.

  • Wooby

    @John, I’d encourage you to read the other articles/comments that have been posted on this site about the building of the Emirates and what that meant for the club with respect to sponsorship deals as well as the idea of a shares-issue for cash injection into the club.

    In addition, you mentioned you are an admirer of Wenger in your first comment, then proceeded to indirectly slag him by bringing up player purchases that have not worked in your second comment. Are you suggesting the Board insisted on the purchase of those players over Wenger’s objection?

    Are you associated with Mr. Usmanov? Your arguments sure appear rather representative of his viewpoint.

  • bob

    p.s., I don’t mean Kroenke/Hill-Wood/Usmanov, necessarily, but fan interests that don’t get reflective by any of the above. Isn’t this a key enough issue to discuss – in real time – at a key enough moment?

  • Mandy Dodd

    This shows what wenger has achieved, quite incredible. Shows what he is up against, I wish platini and co were strong enough to counter it but we shall see
    On another note, great to see a massive Gooner winning the 800m in WR time, a good Olympics for our fans!

  • Arun

    @John, regarding the fan base of Man U, what do you think will happen to the fan base of Man U if they fail to win anything this year??? Will they stay loyal if their favorite team fails to win anything for 2 years, I seriously doubt this.

  • Wolfgang

    So Arsenal are sane but football is measured in trophies won. Frankly it has been a disappointing 7 seasons.If Arsenal fail again this season it will be heart breaking especially with the inevitable departure of RVP. Assuming he goes to OT and helps them win any of the FA/epl /cl and the gunners win nothing,Wenger will have run out of excuses.
    Of course it is not ordained the red faced win a trophy. If that were the case,football won’t be exciting any more. Then fans may as well save their hard earned money and stay away.
    The red faced is getting desperate.Arsenal shd not let RVP go unless the minimum price is met.Btw Arsenal are under no obligation to sell RVP since he did not officially ask for atransfer.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Yes Wolfgang, you say football is measured in trophies won, Portsmouth won a trophy, since we did, maybe they are more successful than us on trophies won….but cost them though. Could,even cost them their existence….for an FA cup. I hope we never go down that road. Football is about far more than trophies, all major teams have suffered trophy droughts. If in your worst case scenario, we lose rvp and fail to win a trophy next year, life goes on…..and life will be better for arsenal than so many others, as long as we don’t do something really stupid……..

  • Damien Luu

    Nah, I don’t care about sane or insane. I just want Spend Some Fukking Monie! As long as it’s not my money 😉

  • jamie

    yea ofcouese sell RVP for measly 15 mil to our greatest rival does make sense.How on earth anybody let such situation to build up in the first place… i am hearing song is about to go too….fk our self sustaining economy model.

  • Arvind

    I wonder why it should sicken a fan so much that we didn’t spend. It is a point I have made multiple times. Assuming AFC did win a trophy it would mean 10000 times more to the player than to the fan. To the fan, a trophy is nothing but bragging rights aming his buddies. Nothing else. Zero. So why they find it okay to throw abuse at everyone concerned, while themselves doing zilch to help the situation along, I do not know. Okay there isn’t much one can do, frankly, but even keeping silent and not booing would be a good start.

    The latest fad is standing up in a stadiumd when you don’t like a substitution and screaming ‘YOU DONT KNOW WHAT YOU’re DOING!!!!’ And bang on queue you’ll see the media zooming in on 5 people who are screaming and portray it as the ‘opinion of the fans’. And show 3000 replays so the remaining sheep who follow MOTD and similar programs all collectively nod their heads and call in to Talksport and write articles on BleacherReport.

    It’s not my money..fuck Damien says. Why doesn’t Arsene spend??? Penny pinching board…I’ve been a fan for 40 yearzzzzzzz..zzzzzzz..zzzzzz

  • ceejay

    As much as i want to salute Arsene’s unique method I still believe Arsenal would ve been better off had they spent some few extra cash on a few top class players this past few yrs as that would ve aided our quest for trophies. And looking at the way things seems to be going presently – If Arsenal should sell both van persie and Song without replacing both with top class striker and midfielder to help balance the team – Then i tell you, we might just be looking at yet another trophy-less season. Cos it still beat my imagination how Arsenal would bring in quality players like Cazorla and Poldosky with the aim of challenging for trophies only to agree to sell two of the only few top class we have in the team already. Pls does this really make any sense at all?

  • Gerry Lennon

    To bring this discussion back to the final point of the article – Will the FFP make any difference?
    The weakness in the words quoted from their website is the use of ‘encourage’?
    I could encourage my dog to go for a swim, but if it does not want to, what do I do?
    Simple, look for a way round the water obstacle ..

  • ceejay

    Well, yes Arvind, i think u ve made so good points there. Yes it all comes down to the players benefits or loses. And your point about the media picking out a few disgruntle fans and try to make a meal of it, is absolutely spot on and has really change my thinking. Really. I ve been a fan of these great club since 2002 and i can say it with pride to have made that decision to follow Arsenal fc and i love this club with all my life trophies or not. Although it won’t hurt to win one though. hahaha. But am happy anyways.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It amazes me that despite the many informative and excellently researched articles on this site regarding Arsenal’s financial prudence and long term goals, so many
    ” fans ” are dim-witted or are outrightly stupid .
    Winning cups is the icing on the cake and is reward for hard toil and due digilence. No club ,nor its fans ,nor any man can justly feel entitled to reward by a perceived and perverted sense of importance .
    There is no such thing as a “big” club – success is cyclic –
    Huddersfield in the 1920’s ; Arsenal in the 30’s ;followed by Leeds ,Liverpool and recently Man.Utd dominated for a time.Some have fallen greatly , others still presevere.

  • Cameron Wolfe

    you said: Man. U have huge success and revenue is consistenly growing. Don’t know if you noticed but they didn’t win anything last year?
    This year their revenue was @300m. Profit was @118m they were left with pre tax profit of only @29m
    Most of the 118m profit went on fees, paying off some of their debt and shock horror 50m in interest. In fact the Glaziers are currently costing Man.U that a year in interest on their loans/bonds
    Just think if their still in charge for their ten year aniversary that’s 500m they will have denied Man. U in funds.
    A club that was debt free before they came along.
    Currently we are just under the 100m mark and we pay @17m a year in interest. That’s because Arsenal secured a long term loan at a low rate of interest on the stadium, training ground etc.
    So as our debt decreases and our revenue increases. Not too far in the future Arsenal will be debt free and making @50m plus a year depending on how much is spent on players/wages etc.
    I think the future looks good for us. We just have to make sure that no one looking to take over the club saddles us which such a huge debt and then uses our profit to service it.
    Doing that should be outlawed at all clubs.

  • Shevo

    @Mandy Dodd. You have hit the nail on the head. I
    Fans like @john would happily see us spend gazzilions to keep up with the Chelskis and Shittys of this world. However how does he think the fans of clubs like Leeds, Portsmouth and most recently Rangers feel right now. These clubs all felt they could buy successes and yet many of them would happily trade some of these trophies just to have their clubs stay in business. You only have to look at the current economic climate to realise that one day that will happen to football and any club caught with their heads up their arses will be fucked.
    So what if we haven’t won a trophy for 7 years. As @Brickfield Gunner states, success is cyclic and no one club will dominate for ever. I would much rather we continue with the same policy of buying sensibly and developing and nurturing our own talent. That to me is more satisfying seeing players grow into world class like Henry, Wilshere, Cole, Viera, Fabregas, Koscielny, Van Persie etc etc..
    That’s what it’s all about and I for one do not want to see people like Usmanov (the devious little prick) jeopardise the future of our club by trying to outspend other clubs just to win a trophy. We might as well just put the EPL, FA Cup, League Cup and champions league up for auction to be bought by the highest bidder rather than waste time playing football.

  • Stuart

    You can see many of the more patient fans are beginning to get anxious about the lack of trophies now. Please remember, the trophies at the moment are going to teams who are not in the real world. We have two financially doped clubs in the entire football league who are taking the honours, that’s two out of about 90 clubs. The rest of us are coping without the sugar daddies and come the other side, will have a stronger footing to press on from.

    The good thing about our model is we know what is going to happen on the other side. Do Man City and Chelsea know for certain that their owners wont get bored? Wont sell the assets and club name to get their money back and leave the fans only with memories and regrets? These guys didn’t get rich by playing fair and caring about what others think.

    Further to this, what do these people think Chelsea are going to do in a couple of years time. Most of their players are getting on and will be hanging their boots up for the last time. Chelsea can’t just go and buy an entire first team and get around FFP, they also have a lack of youth coming through the ranks. The same may be said of Man City in the coming years.

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  • Ong Bing

    Will the board sack Arsene if we win CC this year?

    I am little bit worry, because it happen to someone last year.

    Arsene please send the kids to CC.

  • gooner 4v4

    well put,good article……

  • Wamberto

    Thanks Stuart:)

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    It beggars the imagination to hear people like John, Ceejay, Jamie,and Wolfgang oversimplify and try to find the lowest common denominator when faced with a very complex and intricate combination of Arsenal Footballing events!

    their solutions range from :

    1)Spend some fookin’ money,to
    2)Sack Wenger and bring in Mourinho, to
    3)Get rid of the ¨deadwood¨ and buy some ¨big¨names,to
    4)Fire the Bod,Gazidis, the medical team and the ground staff and bring in Jabba the Usmanov to
    5)Reduce the wages we supposedly overspend on everyone at the Club, but principally the deadwood, blah,blah,blah, to
    6)win some silverware at ANY price and all will be bright and happy in Arsenal land….

    Interestingly enough the article was about Clubs spending insane money for trophies, and as examples we have PSG (won nothing so far), Real Madrid (finally won something after 5+ years of outrageous spending, City (won 2 trophies last year and the EPL) after 4 years of trying, Liverpool (won 1 trophy last year-ended up 7th in the EPL) and Chelsea (won 2 trophies last year-ended up 6th in the EPL). All these ¨stellar¨ examples of the FFP model Club are adored by the likes of John et. al. as the mold in which AFC must be forged, if we are to EVER achieve our destiny?

    My answer to them and to the question asked in the title is that selling our soul for a few shiny objects that are transient at best is a recipe for medium and long term failure and disaster. The disciplined and restrained spending model that Wenger and the BoD have followed is THE model we need to continue to mold ourselves in…leave the profligates to spend themselves into debt and despair.