There are a limited number of ways of running Arsenal, and most are not sustainable

In the aftermath of the two defeats against Man U and Chelsea there are the inevitable calls from change and an uprising from those who feel all is not right at Arsenal – not least because we get these calls even with Arsenal are winning.

But I’d like to put forward something else: an examination of alternatives.

In doing this I am developing the notion that has come up a couple of times before – that football has moved through three generations.  What I would like to do is ask anyone who doesn’t think the current arrangement is right to tell me either

a) what is wrong with the analysis below or

b) which of the alternatives they want.

Alternative a: Football 1.0

This is the old regime – in which a single person (who might be quite well off but is not in the realms of the billionaire class) puts money into the club and doesn’t really expect to get it back.  Henry Norris did this to Arsenal, and set the club up as one of the greats, allowing it to become self-sufficient.

It is an approach that is used by lower league clubs, but for EPL clubs now seems to have gone beyond its sell-by date.

The upside is that you are seen as a saint in your neck of the woods until results go bad and then you are seen as the person who is dragging the club down into the mire and the locals call for your head.

The downside is that you don’t get your money back in most cases, and since the person putting the money in has limited funds, it is not sustainable.

Alternative b: Football 2.0

This is the current approach of Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, and I rather suspect Everton (although I don’t have the inside story on that club).  I imagine there are many others following this route.

Here the single owner carries on in the old 1.0 tradition, but puts in more and more money.  However (and this is what makes the whole approach so attractive to the clever owner) in return for the investment the owner becomes the preferred creditor of the club, and makes sure he gets a good interest on the loan.

This is a very good business proposition, for several reasons.

First, it is easy to manipulate this position so that your supporters see you as a saint, selflessly putting a fortune into the club to make it big time.

Second, by securing your loan against assets you can be sure that if the club goes bust on you, you get to own the ground etc, and you can then sell it off to another person, or you can use it to build houses on.  You can, if you wish, even sell it to a supermarket.

The upside is that the club can keep going and look like it is striving upwards – in short it is an easy way to con the supporters who keep paying your the money.

The downside is that in the end the club might not be able to afford the interest on all the loans you have made.  It is important to pull out before the “lending event horizon” is hit – when the loans to the club exceed the value of the club.

Alternative c: Football 2.5

This is the Manchester U and Liverpool approach and is generally hated by the supporters of those clubs (although because it can bring footballing success for a while the anger against the system is not all-encompassing).

The system is simple: you buy the club and then use the club’s own money to pay yourself back for the buy-out.  Additionally you take a huge fee for “directors’ fees” and “management fees” and you can give mega loans to your children or lovers, by putting them all on the board too.

The upside is that if you are lucky you can sell the club at a profit to another Football 2.5 con man, or you can sell on to a Football 2.6 buyer.

The downside is that there is a debt event horizon and once that is reached like the black hole after which it is named, you can’t escape.  In Manchester’s case the horizon is the date when the new bonds mature because they must be paid back on that date.  If the market is poor or belief in the ability of the club to pay its way out of debt disappears no one buys the bonds and the club collapses and goes into administration or receivership.

The upside of that is that the people who caused the chaos walk away with a profit, and as I mentioned, during the financial decline it is possible to have success.

Alternative d: Football 2.6

Here the owner of the club is of the nature of Abramovich, with wealth beyond understanding, that can be poured into the club.

The upside is that with that sort of money you can buy your way to any trophy you fancy – unless John Terry can’t kick a penalty or you choose Mark Hughes as your manager.

The downside is that the owner might not be all he is cracked up to be (see Portsmouth’s endless activity this season) or might get bored, or might get arrested (Man City might remember this with a previous owner), or he might get shot (I don’t wish that on anyone), or there might be some nasty court cases lurking around (Mr Abramovich has one or two).  If the owner goes, as one day he must, then all hell breaks loose.

Chelsea have tried hard to get out of this but have failed – each time they set a new deadline for breaking even, there is no movement towards it, and it is just possible that UEFA will get its act together and stop indebted clubs from playing the Champs League.

But even if a club bribes its way through UEFA everything still depends on one man’s finances.

Alternative e: Football 3.0

This is the Arsenal approach as of now.   The upside is that you can recruit lots of young players – either at 11 from your own youth set up, or at 16 from overseas.  The Arsenal 11 year olds who came together seven years ago are now coming through for the first time, and we can see the upside there.

But the biggest bonus of all is that the club is solvent.  While other clubs are all dependent on one person, or a set of banks, the Football 3.0 team is not.

The downside of this is that clubs which do have endless resources either because they don’t care about tomorrow and will let the debt grow until it goes bang (Liverpool and Man U) or because they will spend anything (Chelsea and Man City) can beat the 3.0 clubs to the championship because they can buy in more and more players.

But for 3.0 the future is secure.  With this methodology you can be sure your club will survive… with the earlier models you can’t


For me the question is – instant gratification or long term survival.

Do we risk everything for one more title, or do we bide our time, until the crazy finances of Football 2 pass on, those clubs vanish, and we are still here?

I have commented on the Making the Arsenal blog a number of times that when we look at football of 100 years ago, we see the same names as now in the league table.  That gives a sense that no matter what, the clubs go on.

And yet I don’t think there has ever been a moment like this, where so many clubs are using financial techniques that simply cannot last.

What is so odd is that we live in times where just recently we have seen two huge financial collapses (the dot com comic strip, and toxic loans lunacy) and we are looking in the face of a third (football insanity).  We’ve already seen two television companies fall by the wayside (ITV Digital and Setanta).  How much more has to go wrong before people wake up?

Why anyone would choose anything other than Football 3 as a model for the future I can’t understand – but I never , but I would love someone give me a logical reason to choose Football 2 in any of its guises.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010.



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53 Replies to “There are a limited number of ways of running Arsenal, and most are not sustainable”

  1. First of all, I have to say that I am a big fun of your writing! I really admire your outlook and foresightedness. However I am starting to feel that you have only one way of looking at the manager and the boards’ performance, which I believe is not right.

    To answer your questions:
    a) what is wrong with the analysis below or
    I think the analysis is correct and makes perfect sense, except that it leaves out the details of implementing the different ways. The problem, I have with Arsene and the board right now is not how they run the club, it is more of how they either “lies” by saying we have money to spend or they have lost the plot by only wanting the world best players for “one-dollar”.

    b) which of the alternatives they want
    I would go for Football 3.0 (Arsenal’s way) as long as it works, but I would put a limit to how long we can go without silverware and then shift to Football 2.6.

    My apologies if I have been disrespectful.

  2. it’s not about management or board’s approach it’s about coach’s approach….he needs to keep players that he builds..adebayor,flamini, hleb,henry,toure, gilberto silva, ashley cole etc….clearly it’s not the case….hence arsenal are not following football 3.0 completely,,,u will give reasons that they were asking astronomical wages….but then u have to pay better than 80k a week to hold on to great players that u create….but according to u can’t afford such wages…u can’t afford to buy players….then sadly u can’t afford to win titles…..

    just tell me one thing wenger knew it all along they are not good enough to win title last season, still he comes out and states team will compete for title,clearly after rvp injury arsenal were not good enough to win title..he needed to buy..not a striker but good defenders, not excellent but good, so that arsenal can save what amount of lead they got….they need characters, tactics, which is clearly missing and don’t require astronomical money….

    have u ever seen fergie coming out and stating they don’t want to win carling cup or fa cup??NO….it’s only wenger’s mentality to discard them saying we don’t want it…has he ever consulted what fans think about his ridiculous decision making…(iam not talking about fans of this blog who are personally paid by wenger)….won’t a trophy add some financial rewards???won’t it help reducing debt and fans anger???But why take a risk, success comes to those who dare and arsene is clearly not daring enough…if he keeps the same mentality next year then he shud step down….

    Le Grove has written a nice article, i must admit better than the same article that is published here again and different words….

    like the typical arsenal…they r losing titles b’coz of same defensive errors again and again and again, wenger refuses to see them….he concentrates more on flair rather than defence….

    defeat at chelsea was less painful than to utd….why?????…………b’coz it was expected…..sadly ………it was expected……..most of d fans knew what’s gonna happen…except for wenger…….and he says they were better team in post match interview…..that’s b’coz che went into defence knowing they will score in the counter attack…which they did….2-0, game over…

    u write as if arsenal is a business and not a football club…u want profits, more than trophies…

  3. oh wait its about sustainability now….thought it was believing in Lord Wegner…..

    Why cant we spend money we got from City on 2-3 players…..?? tell me…

  4. Arsenal definitely needs to spend more money in purchasing players in other to win titles. Also Arsene Wenger needs to follow the football 3.0 approach completely by learning to keep those players he has developed – henry, hleb, flamini, adebayor,ashley cole, kolo toure,gilberto silva.

  5. Wait til the end of the season…Considering we were “expected” to drop out of the top 4 we have had a great season so far. Ok Weve lost 6 games, 4 of those against united and chelsea whichn isnt too bad. This year against the lower clubs we have been a lot more consistent and not dropped as many points. We can turn it round against liverpool, get the winning mentality back, and hopefully have a good run until the end of the season.

    Out of the 3 champions league draws, we will be favourites to go through, and we have played all of our top “3” games with the others yet top play each other. Again im disappoited in Arsenal fans on the web, i mean did chelsea call for sackings when they lost against United? Did United call for sackings when they lost against Fulham?? By the way, the support from Gooners at the Bridge yesterday was fantastic, and we need to keep it that way. 2.6 supports the notion of short term success whether it be one big game or even just one season, 3.0 provides a backbone in the financial and managerial aspects of football, bar Fergie, no one has lasted the test of time apart from wenger in this league!

  6. Great analysis Tony. Logical and fact-based. But as any student of history will attest any new idea that challenges the current orthodoxy will be opposed and vilified by those who benefit from the current order. Even those who will eventually benefit from a stable, long-term future for Arsenal FC will be among the most strident opponents (see Senseble Gunner and Critic as examples). Something missing from your piece is how the many vested interests in the football lunacy (the Banks/hedge funds, dodgy owners with money laundering intentions, football agents, the commercial media and a large mass of emotional fans who crave instant success at any cost). Our last two defeats to our two major rivals is going to bring out the worse in those who demand we return to the unsustainable model especially the craven fans. Cries to dish the youth model and splash the cash on proven stars will grow louder and louder. By the way I thought Arshavin, our darling of the January 08-09 transfer window, should have lead us to the promised land according to the gospel of buy now-pay later. Interesting days ahead.

  7. Great analysis and i don`t think anyone will disagree.
    Arsenal as a proper football club the decision they took to live with their own means is very respected.
    If i ask a question to yourself: WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS ARTICLE RIGHT AFTER THE TWO DEFEAT (MAN U AND CHELSEA )?My understanding is most of us understands that the club is finacially unable to compete with the likes of chelsea at this moment in time.
    Problem is not a financing but a clear management error.Himself (wenger)stated clearly that he got money if needed to add some players.And we take it at a face value.When the team is clearly strugling on the defence and strike department obviously the expectation of a new arrivall is expected.
    Wenger he came out end of jan and says that is not paying over the odd for players which are not better from what he got already.To me this failure.It was in his plan to bring a striker.Wether they are expensive or not he fail to fill the gap that himself acknowledged.His homework is to bring a player to fill the gap.Did he do that with the money he got ? NO .Then he failed.
    As a fan i just expect to deliver what he stated.The fans are happy how the finacing is going on but equally do not want to see empty department for almost whole season specially when Wenger is saying he got money to spend.
    So i am not asking for his head like some crazy but when there are mistakes surely should be mentioned and should not mix up with the over all running strategy of the club.

  8. Please show some patience. Wenger’s plan is still a couple of years away from its target, i.e. a first team full of Wilshere and his mates. In my opinion, the club is heading in the right diection and is on schedule – to call for the manager’s head now is lunacy. How quickly you forget what AW has done for this club.

  9. I will not bore you with more of the same arguments we heard and read all over the arsenal blogs and sites. I will simply put a question you need to think about. “If you were Fabrega’s agent would you in your heart advice your client to stay put?”

  10. This is to everyone whose saying wenger should stay..Guys,come on..

    1 -Wenger plays an under strength team in FA cup becoz we need to rest players before the big matches..The result- not only do we get knocked out,but we go on to lose embarrasingly to Man U and chelsea…

    2- We have been crying for a proven goalscorer since Henry left,but wenger ingnores…becoz we have Van Persie..Van Persie?yes he is good,but this guy can never go through the whole season without getting a serious injury,i mean, never…Whose left?Eduardo(please),Bendner(my god),Vela(a school boy..Who do chelsea Have?Drogba,Anelka,Kalou..who do man utd have?Rooney,Berbatov,Owen…who do man city have?Tevez ,ADe,Bellamy…who do liverpool have?Torres,Kulyt..who do tonttenham have? Crouch,Dafoe,Guddijonson…..

    3-We are grooming players for other teams…Where is Hleb? were is Flamini? were is ashley cole? were is Henry?were is Adebayor? soon it will be Fabregas and Asharvin ,for sure…

    4- Someone pliz tell me now why Nasri is prefered to Ramsey? why Sagna is prefered to Ebuoe? why Alumunia is prefered to Manone? why danilson is prefered to merida? why Clichy is still playing in that team? too many questions,little answears..

    5- wenger says finishing 3rd is better than winning a cup, he even goes on to say we have done well to be were we are,if we look at teams like liverpool and tottenham..Liverpool and tottenham? why cant we compare ourselves to Man Utd and chelasea who play their best players every cup,who who go to the later stages of the champions leaugue every year,who are always top 2 in the league and who always win cups every year,something weve not done for six years..

    6- Chelsea ,man utd play their strongets teams in all cups,which is why they win trophies every season..Drogba plays in every cup competition,so why cant asharvin or any of our players play?Maybe we dont have back-up, then why not Buy more players?

    To me wenger is like Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe..He came , he was a hero,the people loved him,he liberated his country,and then lost his mind…Mr wenger we thank you for all u have done,but u are not arsenal fc,and its time for u to go because u show no respect to what the fans and players tink..U are a dictator now…PLIZ GO… and take yo rubbish players Alumunia,Danilson,Clichy,sagna and bendner

  11. @Kanenas —

    Sorry, but that’s a nonsensical question because if I were Fabregas agent, my job would be to make $$$. Thus, I’d be spreading rumors of discontent to all the big clubs, and be selling stories to tabloids all over Europe (oh wait…hmmm…). That’s what agents do.

    I think what you are trying to say is “If you were Fabregas’s [good friend/parental figure] would you in your heart advise him to stay put?”?

    Well, if that’s so, then a wholehearted YES. Because Fabregas runs the show in London, and is adored (while in Barca, he’ll only be one among many behind Messi). Because the team that Arsene Wenger is building is young and ever-improving. Because he already makes a huge salary and has endorsement money that will only increase. Because….the list goes on….

  12. It’s obvious we live in society where self-discipline is as foreign as the players on Arsenal. Rather, today if we were to have a concensus it’s 2.6! 2.6 if we were in first would be the only way to go. If we won three titles running 2.6 would be the only way! But, as the future will show the 2.6 teams will be looking to add .4 as they watch the 3.0 still around and winning all silverware. Even the 2.6 players will want to join the 3.0 team because they will be glad to be paid wages less than 80,000. Because at 2.6 they never get paid anymore or they get IOU’s. The 2.6 fans then become more astute about what are the differences in regards to 1.0-2.6. The 2.6 fans then realize that the press encouraged 2.6 by pursuing an auction like transfer period. The fans are also dispirited with the FA and themselves because now they know they can never have what the 3.0 has year after year. They can’t even watch what they supposedly love and that is to watch football. Now, it also becomes apparent and laughable that even though 3.0 is winning, is sustainable, and ruled from future forward by the FA as the only way to run a football club this site has captured “D&Gr’s” and “posers” who were as guilty as the “poor” 2.6 fans. Only now (future) they worship Wenger. They literally Worship Wenger. The problem is in the future 3.0 will be outdated and a Wenger protege will sponsor 4.0 and will follow the proper steps of 4.0 and will salvage through yet another harsh economic crisis. But, the D&G’rs and the posers will be stuck in their own cyclical smut! And, we move on!

  13. There’s one other model I guess: fan ownership. The Barca model.

    There are a number of ways you could do that: one fan one share is the Barca way. Another way is to designate pools of shares for different sections of the Club: Directors, Employees/players and fans. I guess you call this the ‘John Lewis model’.

    It would be perfectly possible to constitute such a model to include financial limitations, say requiring a 90 days outgoings in cash; requirement for a balanced budget through a, say, 3 – 5 year cycle; and, I guess, appointment of the CEO and CFO by designated custodians.

    What’s important there is that the fans get to decide what the constitution and the enduring principles are. The Board are then charged with deciding how to implement those principles. For example, the fans might say that 5 games a year, 10,000 pensioners can get a £10 ticket. Or a family can come for £50 for four twice a year. Or the like….

    Clearly, this will work best when wise counsel and old heads are heard when emotions are high. If I were to recommend such an approach, I’d want the Hill-Wood style continuity, the Sheepshanks approach at Ipswich or the like to bring intergenerational wisdom to the table.

    It’s got the dangers of the Real/Barca Presidential elections, where the name of the club is sullied due to Press articles targeting players under contract elsewhere.

    But I do think it should be listed for completeness sake.


  14. @ critic and all relating

    I bet you’re one the fans that screamed for Adebayor and Hleb to go.
    Now you want to druge ’em up as an example for the failure of youth system.
    What? ‘Cause it suits you?
    You do realise they were part of the experience brought in to supplement the youth?

    The system only fails if so called ‘fans’ want it to fail.
    …And this whole idea that the team is going to be forever young (because we sell them as soon as they’ve gained some experience) are just lies perpetuated by your kind to de-stabilize the great work being done at this club.

  15. There is being fiscally prudent and then there is not spending the money available to you to shore up obvious deficiencies in the team. I agree a longer term approach built on investing in youth and developing a cohesive squad is the way forward but there comes a point when you have to be past the rebuilding phase and be able to challenge for trophies – otherwise what has it all been for? It has got to the stage now where it is becoming false economy and I think we can all agree that unless we match Fabregas’s ambition then we will lose him and where to we go from there? Back to rebuilding…An addition of two or three established, quality players will not bankrupt the club and Wenger is becoming increasingly disingenuous on this issue at his press conferences. I am not calling for his head but I am calling for more pressure to be exerted on him from within the club (or does the problem lie there?)

  16. @Kanenas,

    I think Cesc deserves the benefit of the doubt. I don’t see him leaving until Wenger’s plan comes to fruition. Right now, as we can see, it still needs some time and some tweaking.

    Also, if you look at recent players who have made the jump to either Barca or Real Madrid, you can see that in many cases, it’s not a wise career move.

  17. Im all for the current regime, but I just hope that those in charge the day Wenger does eventually go realise that come that day we will have to start spending big because only a genius like Wenger could keep us as competitive as we have been on such a small budget. Without Wenger (or hoards of cash in the hands of another manager) we’d be mid table

  18. Patience fellas, patience! The times they are a changing. If you take a look at Chelsea and ManUre they are playing out time. Chelsea are reliant on the old guard that their millions bought this won’t last forever. ManUre have bought no-one of note since they wasted 30m on Berbatov and have very little coming through. Their bond investment document was about as bleak as you can get. We are in a good position and yes it is frustrating when the same errors reappear but nothing good ever came easily and we cannot rush this process along just to sate our needs that year by year become a little more impossible. Le Grove is a disgrace! I am not saying that people shouldn’t have an opinion but there needs to be a bit more substance behind an argument other than sell 16 players as one blogger write!

  19. Before we even get into the innumerable questions concerning our outfield capabilities let us consider the goalkeeping histories under Arsene. He was fortunate enough to inherit a good one (Spunky) which saw us through the first six seasons. During that period Alex Manninger was added and showed undoubted promise (eight clean sheets in a row) but had bruised confidence, bruised beyond repair with the arrival of the disastrous Richard Wright. Even Stuart Taylor overtook Wright! It is said Wright cost six million but the figure is actually around three.
    Since Seaman was sold four more keepers have been and gone – Lehmann, Shabaan, Warmuz and Poom. Four remain – Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone and Szczesny. The last of these is mooted as being a future great…….the others? Lehmann had the biggest pedigree but in his last season between the sticks he was costing us a goal a game.
    Almunia – an acquisition from the Spanish second division could not believe his luck when he joined a club of Arsenal’s stature. I bet most of them couldn’t! If you think I’m being harsh – look it up. Check their careers. Manuel currently sits 19th in the table of stats on current Premiership keepers. I thought Arsene was a fiend for stats despite the fact that with outfield players stats only tell part of the picture. With goalkeeprs they tell you prtty much the whole story. Arsene might like to consider why – when most great managers consider a goalkeeper one foundation around which to build a great footballing side – he sees them, as he always has, as some kind of afterthought. It is said a great goalkeeper will save you fifteen+ points a season. Why has Arsene, season after season after season, NEVER asked himself how many points his have cost us.
    He said that Fabianski couldn’t play against Chelsea because he has a problem with them. So why renew the guy’s contract?
    I have mentioned ten Wenger goalkeepers. One came in on loan – Warmuz. The others (read their names agin) Manninger, Wright, Lehmann, Shabaan, Almunia, Poom, Fabianski, Mannone, Szczesny. In Szczesny we may one day trust……the others? They were assemled for UNDER £10 MILLION. That UNDER £10 spent on a vital position over some thirteen and a half years. It’s not mere myopia. It’s absolutely inexcusable.

  20. Red Jim I am sure I read this same article somewhere else yesterday you copy and paster you!!!

  21. Unfortunately the entire media & d&g brigade in this country would rather villify arsenal and wenger rather than giving credit for the amazing job they’re doing which should be a shining light for the rest of the football world at the moment( new stadium , team , sustainable and still competing at the top level ! ). Nobody expected us to even challenge for the title this season let alone whilst getting the important injuries we’ve continually had. The only time I have seen credit given was after the milan win in the champions league a few years ago, the italian papers the next day were full of superlatives for the ‘arsenal way’ and wengers system of bringing talent through whilst playing amazing team football, and stating that italian clubs need to follow this example to move forward… In this country we have a one eyed view of the game unfortunately

  22. @Bobby Pliers,

    Well said.

    Chelsea and Man U are teams that are past their sell date. Like expired milk, it may seem fine for now and taste great, but a few days down the road, and it’ll be poisonous.

    Also, money buys the ability to make mistakes. Sure, Arsene probably does have a little war chest, but what if he made a Berbatov-sized mistake? Arsene (unlike Alex Ferguson) is unwilling to make that kind of mistake, especially with the stadium debt hanging around. (As for Chelsea, well, fuck them. They live by different rules, just like their dirtbag owner).

    I’m sick of pundits and commentators suggesting that Arsene is a mad man for not spending beyond Arsenal’s means. Is spending frivolously how these morons want their family’s finances to be run? (Hmm…perhaps this is true in the case of the First Footballing Family of Fools, Harry and Jamie Redknapp…)

    In this sense, the whole “Arsene lost the title by failing to buy in January” is ridiculous because: 1.) How do fans know the players he wanted were available? and 2.) Big-time transfers do not guarantee success. They only guarantee huge pressure and bloated expectations.

    Arsene is not perfect by any means. But in terms of a football manager, he is as perfect as it gets.

  23. Something like a year ago I was in a meeting that the AST had with the fairly recently arrived Ivan Gazidis. I asked him whether he thought that the UEFA sanctions (based on club finances) would work and his reply at the time was that he thought the matter of how clubs were run was nothing to do with UEFA. I took this to imply that Arsenal were quite pleased to be seeing other clubs destroying themselves and, in some cases, risking their places in Europe. I asked him whether it was not part of the AFC strategy to sit and watch this mutually assured destruction to take place. He used the laughter of the audience to cover up for the lack of a direct answer. I would have been surprised to have received one anyway!
    Having started the whole ‘financial doping’ hare running Arsenal have to stay absolutely clean on all matters related to it. Even if they can afford to spend they must not appear profligate or in any way to undermine the UEFA strategy. When everyone else is basically being told by UEFA ‘you must be self sufficient – like Arsenal’ you don’t start acting differently to how you have operated for the last 50 years. Neither do you buy a player now for £10m that you could get in the summer for nothing. Sorry if that sounds too ‘business-like’ but when you operate in an unbusiness-like manner you end up like Portsmouth.
    At the AGM Wenger said that he firmly believed that Arsenal would dominate ‘for the next ten years’. Domination on the pitch is something that you can never guarantee but I would contend that there is no one better placed than we are to deliver the chance of it being so.

  24. Some good points but cant really say that I am in agreement with much of this. Your 3.0 model appears to be the most sustainable model in a recession -which we are now coming out of. Surely the main plank of Arsenals promise of a sustainable future is continuing to charge fans the highest relative costs to watch a match in the western world. Arsenal’s commercial performance is weak compared to rivals. Sustainability requires continuous success on the field-and many fans are dissatisfied with the teams performances-Have performances this year really improved on those of last year-have they? They look quite similar to me. I am not convinced that growing your own will generate enough good players to bring success in the long term.
    How sustainable is the Wenger management model?-there is no succession plan built in and Wenger appears over-stretched and maybe only a few years off retirement. In truth who else could coach this team?

  25. The truth of the matter is this now people want to separate the business side of Wenger with the Tactical & coaching side because results are not shown in silverware. The problem with that is as Tony has said we don’t see the whole or appreciate the air-brushed (me included sometimes).
    Back in the late 90’s who was that tall geeky fellow Freanch-speaking with glasses? By the mid 2000’s he was known as the proffesor. Because he changed the face of Arsenal and eventually the game in England. If he was given a platform day one and said I will deliver Arsenal what is 4 titles, 3 FA’s and other silverware as well as an invincible team you would have all laughed and signed on with Barnet like OB”sean” long ago… But, now as plain as day the same man goes against the grain of all of football and little by little things begin to unravel. And, what? We have skeptics? Abnormal! I mean normal… Buggar off the lot of you… You deserve Terry. He can be your leader. For me I am patient and let the record show that… Nothing wrong with this team let alone the system. Rather, the D&G’s and the drone’s need to get back to where they came from!

  26. TIM
    Standards dictate.Arsenal is not any rubbish club it is a worldwide recognised brand.From this perspective you cannot the team play almost a whole season without a STRIKER.Wenger put himself in touble by saying he got enough money to spend.
    Nobody yes nobody will expect WENGER TO SPLASH BIG MONEY on a single player.But by his standard to not buy in january is a failure.Failure not on spending big money but even to find one just one player from the whole globe with all his scouts.That is the failure.This it does not means we are financially very sound and we can spend lavishly.I do honestly believe by Wenger standard there are plenty so called mediocre or unknown gems but he was carried away by the statistics of goals scored against the mediocre or lesser teams.
    WENGER you got it wrong as any ordinary Human being.

  27. lets go back to when henry was sold we had 30 mill to spend and 16 from henry ,we bought nasri 11mill where did the rest of the money go? last season helb gone 30 mill to spend where did it go this season toure adebayor 14 +21 +30 mill we neaded a gk center back striker plus midfielder thats why were shit <we cant even get a loan player in becouse the club are useing all the money to hike to price of the club up so when its bought thay can get a bigger divedent!

  28. Well, I would probably agree with most of the artice Tony has written here, but I what we would all want would be for Liverpool and Man U to go broke in the next season or so right?

    Anyway my comments here are mainly directed at people like critic, cecsrule (i.e. D&G brigade). Your “support” for Arsenal is really amazing indeed. In these fans, we see the seeds of the media’s brainwashing and anti-Wenger stance well implanted in them.

    Well cecsrule, for number 1, can you predict the future and expect that Arsenal would have lost those games? At least Wenger played his full strength team for those games, unlike a certain manager who gave Man Utd a free win…

    For point 2, look at the players you are criticizing and remind yourself that Bendtner is 22, Vela is 20 and they are FULL INTERNATIONALS for their countires. Eduardo came back from a potentially career ending injury. You obviously do not see Eduardo’s contribution other than goals from youtube or something.

    Point 3, where are Hleb and Flamini indeed. Hleb flopped at Barca and Flamini is a mere squad player at AC now. Cashley Cole went to Chelsea for money. Henry was a pity I would say, and why the heck would you want Ade back?? Once again, can you predict the future and say that Fab and Arshavin will leave?

    Point 4, I daresay that you obviously do not watch Arsenal’s games. Too many irrelevant questions, so a damning answer.

    Point 5, finishing 3rd is better than winning the cup competitions according to UEFA, who award Champions League places to the top 4 and Europa Cup places to the cup winners. And somehow, Chelsea and Man Utd are really lucky with injuries.

    Point 6, I think this site has already covered the reasons why we do not buy players like Man Arab. It’s not as simple as a fan brainwashed by the media saying to buy this or that player. There’s much much much more than that.

    To me, you are not fit to support Arsenal. Go support Man Arab instead.

    Man I’m tired. Blasting one D&G fan is enough for today…

  29. Hleb and Ade given as an argument for failing of the youth system. Well to tell such nonsense you just expose yourself as not real Arsenal fans.

    Every Arsenal fan knows that Hleb and Adebayore have been bought at older age. Ade somewhat 22 I think and Hleb even older. They never have been part of our youth system. NEVER!

  30. Lets all calm down.This is supposed to be the best and most intelligent of websites.Everyone said we were going to finish outside the top 4.I do not see that happening.To finish in the top 3 would be ideal.I do think that next season,if we can keep hold of all our players,we will make a massive impression on the league.Football is changeing.Look at the changes in football fiances in the past year.Who would have said that this transfer window would be dead.Look at Pompey,Unt,Liverpool.AW will not make the same mistakes he MAY have made this season.Flamini,Helb,Toure,ADE,give me a break!.
    PS.Read McNulty on the BBC web rpt on the match on Sunday!That is why we must stick together.I have a long list of all the media who are totally and utterly bias towards us.Question for you all!
    Who said when i played Arsenal and looked at them in the tunnel they were all 6 plus.How many times has that tosser Redknapp said that.He is the first.

  31. Aftermath of our second defeat yesterday against our title rivals, can we put to Arsene Wenger and the boards
    to state to us about what they think of current Arsenal squad. Do they think that, the current squad is capable of winning the title or not? Could they be honest enough to state to us the truth whether, there is money availabe to strenhghten the current squad or not? The problem we are facing right now, is the ideology of the management. It is inconceivable when, the manager Arsene Wenger believes players of the calibre of Flamini, Ashley Cole, Hleb, Gilberto and Toure are not worth 80.000 a week. He refutes those conceptions and will voluntarily open the door widely and let the players go. To build a formidable team, we have to keep our players together with the above wages. Then, strenghten the squad with some new players, in every department. Some radical decisions have to be made as soon as possible. The management have to take a serious look of our defense. Manual Almunia and Fabianski have to go because they are not good at all. Almunia, is not a number goalkeeper for me. His decisions making and reflections are very poor indeed. For me, the Italian boy Vito Mannone, should be our number
    goalkeeper. The boy is good, he had a good game against Fulham. His quick on his feet, his reflections are good.
    As far as I am concern, he should be our number one goalkeeper. our system is so predictable, when we drew 2-2 against Everton in January, our system was exposed. every Sunday the same episode occurs. Thus, some of teams are commencing to exploit those errors and weaknesses. Thus, I have been wondering for a considerable
    period of time whether, we have defensive coach or not. If the answer is yes, then, why those problem have not
    been rectified up to now. During the course of a game, when all the players are moving forward, three players
    can stay behing in order to stop any counter-attack of the opponent but that has not been thought through at all.
    We haven’t got plan B, because everybody knows that in Arsenal, Fabregas is our play maker. So, in order to beat us, they have to stop him playing and the team come to stuck. When that happen, there is no else to take the initiative to change the game around. There are managers on this planet, who will change the system twice or thrice times during a course of a game but not Arsene Wenger.

  32. nice article tony, of course 3.0 is the way forward. but we still have to make headway on our ratio between income and wages.

    cos, they cant gat a bigger dividend if they dont get a dividend at all.

    goonergerry, the worldwide financial recession may be coming to an end, but footballs recession hasnt peaked yet. you also say ‘Arsenal’s commercial performance is weak compared to rivals.’ this statement is utter hogwash. we are one of the most financially profitable / successful sports teams in the whole wide world. i haven got the ststs but they have been mentioned on this blog in the past.

    who is to say that, had arsene spent in january that the two results would have been different? the transfer market was dead this jan and no one spent. we signed 2 or 3 players and sent a couple out on loan. we have the money, but that lack of available talent that conform to arsenes’ crtiteria is the reason we didnt buy an expensive player. i would really love to hear the names of signings that we should buy.

    if anyone is seriously embarrassed by our last two defeats then i suggest that this says more about yourself than arsenal or arsene.

    cecsrule, of all the strikers you mentioned, only torres, dafoe, dogboy, anelka, rooney and maybe tevez have class. how you can even mention owen is hilarious. our cbs will score more than him this season.

    i think ye d & g lot should take a leaf out of avrsms book and get yourself a nice relaxing massage.

  33. so if we are out of money. we need to raise 30 million each year from sales based on sales this year….oh Wegner you have them blinded.

  34. Oops! Sorry I need to amend my statement of 2.6 & .4 to 2.5 & .5……from my earlier post by the way blog seems quiet today w/o a few of the regulars. Lots a white noise when the yut’es are punching in the negatives though!

  35. The amount of politicization that now goes on around Arsenal is astounding. It is like watching politicians explain everything to us in black and white terms because we are apparently all to stupid to understand anything else.

    Can we just be clear on a couple of things:

    1. Buying a decent goalkeeper (>10 million) would not bankrupt the club nor would it break the sustainability model.
    2. Buying a decent striker (10-15 million) wouldn’t do that either. There is a strong argument that doing so would increase turnover, through a combination of tv revenue,prize money, extra gate revenues and product marketing.
    3. Giving huge long term contracts to players like Denilson, Eduardo, Fabianski, et al, who have little chance of becoming major players and will sit on the wage bill for ages as nobody else will pay them that sort of money IS being financially dumb.
    4. Having an opinion other than “we must agree with everything we are told” does not make someone a doom and gloomer – it is their right as individuals to have an express an opinion even if you don’t like it.
    5. No company in any business EVER made sound financial decisions by not communicating effectively with its customers (fans).
    6. There is no widespread media campaign against us, we are just a big club who gets a lot of attention, not all of it positive but we get a lot of praise too. The reality is that a lot of people in football are actually laughing at us for making the same mistakes over and over again and still claiming it as some sort of moral victory.

    Increasingly Arsenal look like a major corporate monolith that tells us what we should think and Arsene is the main protaganist of this. It is time for Arsenal Football Club is cut the corporate political PR machine and tell the fans what we can expect from them. Stop telling people that what they just watched with their own eyes is not what really happened. Up is not down, left is not right and football is not a game won on points not goals. Stop trying to tell us it is!

  36. @66,

    I have never met an honest politician recently so I get the dig but spare us the lecture please. The following is from the inventor of this site a good read. You would do well to follow it:
    “Before commenting
    You’re before welcome to write a comment to this blog, but before you do, please do take a note of these points:

    1. Untold Arsenal is a biased blog – its supports Arsenal without question, and particularly supports the work of Arsene Wenger. You may disagree with this view of the world, which is fair enough – but there are plenty of other blogs around which criticize Arsenal, and which support other clubs, so it is probably best to express your views there. We are not looking for this blog to be balanced within itself.

    2. Comments which are simply pure abuse against Arsenal, Wenger, or the writers of articles won’t be published. If you think that the writer is a total tosser, who has personal problems, doesn’t understand football, thinks he’s a clever journalist when all he is, is a wanker, then fair enough. That’s your view. The problem is these views have been expressed so many times before it is getting tiring, and there really doesn’t seem any point publishing over and over again. Your best bet (in our view) would be either to write to another blog, or maybe start your own blog.

    3. We are 100% against racism, homophobia and violence, both when exhibited by fans of other clubs, and by fans of Arsenal. We’ve now stopped publishing letters calling us racist simply because we might comment on a black player. We comment on players because of their footballing ability, and possibly their personal views, never on them because of their colour.

    4. The editor is 100% against international football in all its forms. This includes the Euro Championship, the World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, the Copa America and any other cups you can think of. But if you want to argue against that, fair enough.

    5. A lot of stuff we write is meant to be funny. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does. But it is always catergorised as humour.

    6. Much of what we write is part of a continuous stream of commentary. You don’t have to go back and read it all, but reading several of our pieces from the last week or two can help if you want to comment. If you don’t there is always the risk that your comment will look a bit out of place.

    This is all set out a little more formally in our manifesto.

  37. @Alex —

    You said, “But by his standard to not buy in january is a failure.Failure not on spending big money but even to find one just one player from the whole globe with all his scouts.That is the failure.This it does not means we are financially very sound and we can spend lavishly.I do honestly believe by Wenger standard there are plenty so called mediocre or unknown gems but he was carried away by the statistics of goals scored against the mediocre or lesser teams.”

    1. I do believe we signed a few South Americans, Wellington Silva and Samuel Galindo, but please correct me if I’m wrong. Are these the “mediocre or unknown gems” you are talking about? I think they are far from mediocre and, in South America, far from unknown.
    (There was also a Montenegran defender, too, I think.)

    2. I’m not sure if I understand the meaning of your last statement, but if you are saying that there are plenty of “mediocre or unknown gems” that Wenger should have identified and signed, then: A.) Doesn’t that contradict what all his critics have been saying about the need to splash cash on big name signings like Dzeko and Villa rather than youngsters who can’t immediately step in to the First Team and contribute?

    Following your logic, Wenger is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

    I trust Wenger when he says that the players who would have been legitimately better than the players he has now, were unavailable.

    For him the only reason to buy would’ve been to placate certain fans, not to better the team.

  38. If Wenger were a smart politician, he would’ve bought somebody. (And in some way, I wish he had because he and his players do not deserve the criticism they are getting now).

    But he’s not a politician. That’s why I admire him.

  39. @tim

    a good website I just came across helps fill in some of Tony’s inuendos or comments called the arsenal column. It explains the tactical approaches Arsenal are experimenting with and some interesting other things. For me quite helpful and for most who care would do justice to read. But, I suspect most of the bloggers are boys who just like to argue and are skulls full o mush!

  40. @Hartwick89,

    Oh yes, I enjoy Arsenal Column, too. I think this and that one are the only two I regularly check out.

  41. I don’t disagree with you about the finanicals, Tony, but:

    1. I think we could be better drilled at the back and have a hungrier set of players. We conceded weak goals against Chelsea and Man Utd, and it’s partly due to bad defending.

    2. It doesn’t hurt to have experienced, talented players in critical spots. Almunia isn’t talented enough for Arsenal. Fabianski should be promoted to first choice if he’s ready, sent on loan if he isn’t, or transferred if he’s not good enough. Mannone the same. Goalkeeper is a position we can’t piss around with. And a good goalkeeper can last for years; 10m for Cech doesn’t look expensive in hindsight, and 15m-20m on a Lloris or an Akinfeev won’t look bad in 10 years time either. And tanking last season just to blood Alex Song seems a bit indulgent.

    3. We have a lot of injuries. This has crippled each season for the past 4-5 years. Why is that? Are our players weaker than other, or is our training regime not suited to the players? I think there should be some sort of inquiry about this. for example, why was van Persie misdiagnosed and allowed to go to a placenta-loving quack, instead of getting surgery?

    Point 2 requires money to be spent. You’ll probably disagree with a philosophy which entails money being spent to get the expertise we lack. You’d probably point to the healthy finances and say that that’s so healthy because we haven’t spent on transfers. But Points 1 and 3 are things that any self-respecting club would address. And they haven’t been addressed in 5 years.

  42. A really good post Sir Tony -and I have to agree with most if not all of your points.AW is on the right path and the club will go on to better things.Patience and loyal support will get us to the promised land.This team is still raw but there were many positives from the Chelski game to keep me optimistic.A good show against Liverfool will cheer us up and set us for a final push.

  43. @Hartwick89

    Which specifically of these “rules” am I supposed to be in contravention may I ask? Or is the purpose of this website only to reaffirm what everyone on it already holds to be the one inalienable truth – that Arsene and Arsenal are one and the same and cannot be separated or open to criticism on any point. If that is the point why allow comments – surely you all already know what you think!

    Perhaps I am misled but I thought we were fans of Arsenal Football Club, not any particular employee. Perhaps you could clarify for me who you will support when Wenger eventually leaves? You see, some of us remember a time when we had other managers – if you check in the history books some of them were quite good.

  44. Tony, I wholly agree with your thinking and how you have surmised the Footballing modules. Is there anyway you could take this article to the mainstream press. It’s all very well for us Gunners to be privy to this perspective; Fleet Street is butchering us. Presented with this argument they might back off a little bit. I’m truly worried about the negative press and what it’s probably doing to team morale. Otherwise, we shouldn’t shy away as a team to look ourselves in the mirror and admit we have problems. …And Gooners out there let’s try to be less fickle, you’ve got to admire the Liverpool supporter’s spirit even in times of adversity.

  45. dude, iam not in ur d n g brigade…i am just telling the fact…..if wenger is not able to hold on to players which he creates then he is not following tony’s so called 3.0….whatever may be the reason..lack of money…but fab doesn’t deserve to play his heart out at 80k and will move on if arsenal doesn’t win anything this season…if arsenal do anything he will give reason that he has won something and now it’s time to move on to barca as it has a better weather….whatever….


  46. you clearly have some sort of degree ‘critic’. it’d be best for all of us if you leave us to our misery and went on to the bigger and better things that you are clearly destined for.

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