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It is not so much the transfer fees, it is the salaries that are the problem in football

The club that changed football

Follow us on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

Making the Arsenal

 “That could suggest something closer to £1m a game it has cost Tottenham to have Bentley on the books.”

——————————————

By Tony Attwood

It is a common tactic for anyone who wants to knock a club and its management to point to the transfers that have gone wrong.  The most common approach is where the player has cost a lot in transfer fees and then had a whacking great salary, and yet not delivered.

Indeed this was the sort of thing I was talking about yesterday with Barcelona.  The buying in of Arsenal players for huge sums, putting them on big salaries, and then finding that they are not as central to their requirements as they first thought.

I don’t make any claim that Arsenal doesn’t get some transfers wrong.  Take Squillaci who had an illuminated history in football.  He played in the Monaco team that reached the 2004 Champions League final, and was named in the team of the year that season.

217 games for Monaco, 67 for Lyon, 49 for Sevilla, but just 23 for Arsenal since 2010 and I think most Arsenal fans don’t expect him to continue.  He has become one of those players there “just in case”.  Perhaps Park was the same.  He is held up by some Anti-Wenger fans as being a fine example of why Mr Wenger should not continue.

But such things happen in any club.   That was what I was talking about with the transfers of players like Theirry Henry to Barcelona – at the cost of nearly half a million pounds per appearance.  As several writers said, Henry was probably very happy to be in the team that was winning things at the time and at that salary I don’t doubt it.

My point here is that this is not just an Arsenal or a Barcelona thing.   The transfer of Nic Anelka to Real Madrid for £25m never made much sense to me – he just looked the wrong sort of player for the profile and publicity that Real Madrid will bring – and he lost Real Mad money in terms of salary and subsequent sell on fee.

And here’s another club that does get it wrong sometimes: Tottenham.  (Incidentally every time I write about Tottenham the same five people – or maybe the same person with five different email addresses and site names – write in saying I am “fixated” with Tottenham.  I am rather thankful this person/people is not my psychiatrist).

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I’m thinking of course of Bentley who joined the club in July 2008, played 42 games in three years, a low number that was as much due to injury and loss of form.   His loans have been to Birmingham, West Ham and now Rostov – a club that came 13th in the Russian first division last season.

He joined Tottenham for £15m and within a year was reported to be seeking a move (Villa were suggested as the destination) with a salary of about £2.5m a year (according to the Sun, 28 August 2009, while reporting his drink driving offence).  His solicitor in court said he had been fined two weeks’ wages by his club (£100,000) and lost a lucrative sponsorship deal with Puma.

I  guess Birmingham, West Ham and the Russian club picked up most of his salary during his loan time, but I suspect not all of it.  He will go on a free transfer at the end of this season and so the cost to Tottenham of 42 games will be maybe £40m – or perhaps more if Tottenham were paying more than just a top up of his salary when at Birmingham and WHU.  That could suggest something closer to £1m a game it has cost Tottenham to have Bentley on the books.
Another interesting one is William Gallas who seems to earn over 6 million Euros a year – the generally quoted figure is £100,000 a week.  His contract continues for one more year by which time he will have earned £15.6m.   So far he has played 45 games for Tottenham, and I would be surprised if he knocked in many more starts for the club.  Let’s say he gets up to 50 games which would make it £312,000 per game – not as much as Henry earned, but still quite a nice number.

Tottenham also have four interesting goalkeepers,  Lloris, Friedel, Gomes and Cudicini.   all of them must be on fairly big salaries.  As the Daily Telegraph said, “Here is a club whose obsession with goalkeepers — they now possess four of international class — borders on a fetish.”

Lloris cost £12m according to the reports, Friedel came on a free, Gomes (£7.8m), and Cudicini (free).   I would estimate the salaries of all four together are costing £20m+ a year.

Now I know that Arsenal have a similar overload in some places, although the more negative folk among those who claim to be Arsenal supporters say that the club should have bought more and more and more.  Some recently argued that we should have a goalkeeper team like Tottenham, rather than relying on Mannone at times, but when you look at figures like this it is surely clear that the whole situation is getting quite insane.

These overloads arrive when players are offered long term contracts.  But these contracts don’t actually keep the players at the club; Cesc remember had something like five years to run on his contract when he demanded to go and be substituted in Barcelona games, so the long term deals don’t help keep players.

Yes, long term deals do indeed help get a decent transfer fee for players when they go – but, we’ve seen that even players with just one year left can command a fair old fee.

The danger of course with long term contracts is that shown with some of the players above – if they are then surplus to your requirements, you find yourself paying out huge amounts.  Squillaci joined Arsenal on a three-year contract in the summer of 2010, and I would be surprised if he gets a game this season before leaving on a free.

What I am trying to say in my meandering way is that the whole system is based on gambling of the type developed by bankers a few years ago.  You see a great player, buy him, offer him a huge salary, and then just hope for the best.  If he loses his talent, you lose out unless you can loan him out – but even then it is unlikely that anyone will want to take on his full salary.  If he gets better and better you have to keep giving him longer and longer extensions to his contract and bigger and bigger salaries.

Consider one case where even I questioned if Arsenal had got it perfectly right: Robert Pirès.  I loved Pirès as a player.  He is the only Arsenal player whose picture I have up on the wall in my house (although it is as much to do with the memory of the occasion as anything else).  In May 2006 Pirès went to Villareal on a free transfer, and I was really fed up.   But he got injured pre-season and was out for seven months.  Yes he did go on to play 100 odd games in the next four years.  Since then he has played for Aston Villa a few times and is now with Sanica Boru Elazığspor in Turkey.

Should we have offered him a contract for more than one year as he wanted?  Mr Wenger refused, offering one year only – which would have meant paying him for a year with only a few games coming our way if he had got that same injury.   I suspect he would not have made that much impact.

And the conclusion?

Well, the situation is impossible and crazy.   Just look at these figures from Sportingintelligence Global Sports Salaries Survey 2012,

The average first team pay at Barcelona – is calculated at £101,160 per player per week, or £5,260,313 per year. That represents a year-on-year increase of 10% despite the fact that the club is in severe financial difficulty.

Real Madrid’s players  earned £90,859 per week (£4.7m per year, 6% up on the previous year).

Manchester City are third.  Their players earned an average of £86,280 per man per week, or £4.5m per year, the highest salaries ever paid in the Premier League

Chelsea are fourth with average first-team pay of £4.1m per player.   Arsenal’s figure is £3.2m per year, just a little above Liverpool (£3.1m) although obviously Liverpool are desperately trying to get that amount down now.  Tottenham are on £2.3m

Of course all the figures here are estimates and as one moves around from one source to another the figures do vary – I’ve tried to put together average figures where different sources are used.

But even if I am out in some cases, this is surely crazy.

——————-

 

43 comments to It is not so much the transfer fees, it is the salaries that are the problem in football

  • all this dosh to kick a ball round a field

  • WalterBroeckx

    After reading this brilliant article the first word that entered my mind was: insane.

  • Andy

    Decent article, but asa spurs fan there are a couple of things I think I should mention. Gallas has been worth it, definitely,he was great in his first season and always been reliable since. It would be unfair to put him in the same category as Bentley. Also, there is no chance gallas earns 100k p/wk. the only player that we are paying anywhere near that amount is bale. For everyone else the salary cap is about 70k pwk

  • Paul

    Some of the wages you are quoting on Spurs players are ridiculous! Gallas £100k a week?!? More like £50k!
    Four goalkeepers on average £5m year! Absolutely no chance they are on £100k a week on average.

    It is widely acnowledged that Levy is unwilling to pay much more than £60k a week to anyone! Bale and Adebayor excepted.

  • Luke

    Good article. As a spurs fan I would have to point out that whilst gallas is one of our top earners, he certainly is not on anywhere near 100k pw. We’ve got a good return on him, more than I thought we would get when we first signed him. I would even go a step further with Mr Bentley, he has cost us so much that I think it has scarred levy to the point where he is reluctant (understatement of the year) to pay out for any marquee signings. We’ve certainly made some howlers in the market but overall I think levy has done well. However it has to be said that yet again your squad looks stronger than ours, couple that with the fact we’ve got a new manager, yet again, then I think it’s almost safe to say you will finish above us, but I still feel positive for the future, both our clubs approach football in the right way, both on and off the pitch.

  • Paul from Weybridge

    Records show that Spurs wage bill in 2010 was £67 million and increased to £ 91 in 2011 ( arsenal £ 111 in 2010 and £ 124 in 2012 and Chelsea £173 in 2010 and £190 in 2011. In other words Spurs have been clearly more careful and Levy who has an Economic degree from Cambridge clearly more financial aware than than the Arsenal chairman who pocketed £5.5 million last year from his association with Arsenal. At Arsenal the major sharewholders have have taken more than 135 million in the last 2 years out of the club thanks to every home game income at Emirate being 3 million as opposed to 1 million at WHL. Poor idiots who support Arsenal pay for the whole show. I recall Redknapp was saying that Gallas had a pay cut when he came to Spurs. I think he was right Levy is not somebody who pays a lot if he can save a bob or two. Gallas has provided good service to Spurs and he seems happy to paly under the leadership of King. He has behaved very well as and there has not been any repeat of his behavior in 2007-8. Bently gets paid between June to september from Spurs but his wages have been picked up by Birmingham city and Westham LAST YEAR AND BY THE Russian club this year.

  • kenecoaster

    Let’s face it it’s a bloody joke that uneducated people who kick a football around and not always with the amount of skill that the press and their agents claim they have earn in one week more than the average fan earns in a year!

  • Mike T

    Spurs overall wage bill has grown at an alraming rate from £40 million in 2006 to £65 million in 2009 to £91 million in 2011.It will be interesting what the accounts for 2012 show.
    Much has been said about the wage cap at Spurs.
    The numbers suggest to me that there is a certain amount of creatve accounting in that yes the weekly wage probably has been capped but to hit the figures now being reported the club must have been paying either significant signing on fees, loyality bonus or perfomace bonus or more likely a combination of them all.
    In the case of Gallas I suspect his wage didnt break the previous cap but have no doubt his overall cost to Spurs would average an awful lot more than the £50k a week being suggested by Paul

  • Paul from Weybridge

    The 124 million Arsenal spent on wage billion 2011 ( up from£111 million ) is not good value compared with Chelsea £190 million (up from £124) because Chelsea player have won silverware. Chelsea captains Terry and Lampard pick up premiership , FA CU, league CUP AND European cup regularly. Arsenal captains Vierra, Henry, Galls, Toure, Fabrigas, Van Persie win nothing irrespective of the money and run away taking people like Clishy, Emmanuel Ad. Nazri, Song with them.
    The money that Arsenal pays results in zero , nil nothing

  • Paul from Weybridge

    Levy is very careful. of course he is careful: 855 of Spurs is owned by Enic of which 70.6% is owned by Joe Lewis and Levy and his family have 29.4%. It is ridiculous to suggest Levy does not know what he is doing. He is in full control and has been serving his own interests and Spurs well

  • Franglo

    Another (long time) Spurs supporter.
    Just want to say it’s refreshing to see player salaries quoted
    in the correct context; that is as annual amounts.
    I do not know anyone in the ‘real’ world that
    quotes a salary as a weekly amount.
    Doing so with astronomical footballer’s salaries is just one more example
    of the contempt with which parasitic media
    and clubs treat the intelligence of those
    who pay their wages through hard earned incomes reinvested in their love
    of the game/club – tickets, merchandise, tv subscriptions etc.
    Rant over: generally congrats on a good article.

  • Shard

    Paul from Weybridge

    “Records show that Spurs wage bill in 2010 was £67 million and increased to £ 91 in 2011 ( arsenal £ 111 in 2010 and £ 124 in 2012 and Chelsea £173 in 2010 and £190 in 2011. In other words Spurs have been clearly more careful”

    Yeah.. If you ignore the fact that Arsenal’s wage bill is the result of spending 16 consecutive years in the CL, while Spurs achieved that a grand total of once. Consistently higher performances lead to higher wage bills. Ask Barcelona.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Paul,
    the money we spend Paul results in being in the CL. I lost count of all the years running now. So it does results in to something.

    And do you really compare us with the billionaire clubs? I think you should know by now that we don’t spend like they do. Arsenal only spend what we got

  • bob

    “Now I know that Arsenal have a similar overload in some places, although the more negative folk among those who claim to be Arsenal supporters say that the club should have bought more and more and more.”

    Tony,
    To many, the decision to purchase or not to purchase is (obviously) situational. It’s not an absolute principle either way.

    Surely I will have failed this implied loyalty standard/litmus test (per your quotation); but, loving Arsenal, I’d still say (and did at the time with many who love our side) that we needed to buy more defensive coverage two January x-fer windows ago when we were in pursuit of four cups and were already stressed beyond limit. Well absent that, we flamed out. And last season we had how many games playing with no (that would be zero) fullbacks, owing to injury? And this season, I plead guilty to the charge of advocating for another midfielder (which we/AW were purportedly pursuing?) because AFC are gambling on: (1) the speedy return – and presumed lightning fast return to full form – of Jack and Thomas R; and (2) the hoped-for freedom from injury of the potentially great Abou Diaby.

    Purchasing critical back-up in the right situation as prudent insurance, and failure to do so is reckless gambling. Especially when there’s available money. I’d make the same argument for another striker. Several posters here have also done so. Does saying out loud here, that failure to heed the potential and vulnerability for injury of the current midfield and attacking corps qualify one for being a negative so-called Arsenal fan? Indeed, it’s all insane. But not to buy 1 or 2 players (not massively as the buy and buy and buy mantra would suggest) to help us this season to shore up our promise is to take an absolutely needless gamble. Especially when the money for it exists. Indeed, parsimony can be as reckless as being profligate.

    There’s no exact science to this insanity as you well describe it. But to advocate affordable prudent buying for demonstrable reasons is not the same as buy-buy-buy negativity. One can love our team by advocating we ensure against a demonstrable track record of injury just as well as those who advocate a parsimony that fattens the bottom line for the next 10-20-30 years whilst tacitly writing off the chance of actually winning the league this year. There’s no negativity here by advocating specific (and affordable) buys. And to caricature that position as ‘negativity by so-called Arsenal fans’ is to equate questionable parsimony with true loyalty.

  • bob

    Walter,
    On your comment to Paul:
    Yes CL for 16 years is indisputably and admirably brilliant. A source of genuine hard-earned pride. But being in the CL, yet again, also means having an insurance fund – of somewhere within 35M each time, or at least this time – to buttress weaknesses in the side (against injury) as we prudently could have done this summer with 1-2 specific purchases (midfielder and striker). (Especially as we reached a zero transfer balance with RvP/Song out balancing C/G/P in. Plus other incomes like the new TV deal.)

  • nicky

    “It is the salaries that are the problem in football”.
    Never was written a more truer word.
    Most of the early comments, Tony, agreed with your post but in an oblique sort of way. They appeared to feel the wages you quoted were too high, in certain named cases,rather than commenting on the broader picture you put out.
    I have long felt that the wages now being paid in the top echelons of professional football are nothing short of obscene.
    Unless something is done to introduce some form of restraint,
    this continuing wage rise will spiral completely out of control.
    Whether a wage cap is the answer, I do not know.
    All I DO know is that a solution must be found, otherwise self-sustainability will be forgotten as clubs seek ways and means of extra funding in order to meet their ever-increasing wage bills.

  • Ong Bing

    Yes Tony, you’re right. For now, the problem is salaries.

    The new example is Nani, his moved cancelled because he demands very high wages, the buyer club already agree with transfer fees but not Nani salary.

    The problem for Arsenal at some case, maybe is about salary, we can pay transfer fee but not salary that the player want. We also lose some players because of salary.

    I still agree with Arsene, not follow the madness, we must understand our condition.

  • Dave A

    The big RVP merchandise throw away day

    The man has obviously no respect for us so why should we have any for him.No gooner surely still wears his shirt or drinks from his cup or wears his scarf or waves his flag or whatever you bought to support his one great year for us,so why not on that fatefull day he returns to our club playing against us dont you just throw it onto the pitch before the Kick off so he actually realises how he has left us feeling.AFC has to know how this unbelievable event has affected the fans.This transfer cant just be brushed under the carpet…….can it.

    Im in no way suggesting anyone has to do it but it might get a point across,agree or not to the point that is.

  • Paul from Weybridge

    why did the last 7 Arsenal captains leave one after another? money? silverware ? why spurs and Liverpool captains do not leave ?

  • Ong Bing

    Because no club interested on Spud and Pool captains. Wait until next summers, that’s Vermaelen turn.

  • nicky

    @Paul from Weybridge,
    I think you will find it was the last 5 Captains who left for various reasons. To refresh your memory (as a follower of our great Club)these guys were:
    Vieira and Henry left for one more big payday and were not missed as their time at Arsenal was up. Both had a poor final season.
    Gallas was unstable and therefore suitable to join Spurs.
    Fabregas was homesick (and now appears homesick for Arsenal)
    Van Persie was greedy and after giving Arsenal one good season out of seven, at 29 he will not be missed.

  • Damien Luu

    @Paul: “why did the last 7 Arsenal captains leave one after another? money? silverware ?”

    Go ask ’em.

    “why spurs and Liverpool captains do not leave ?”

    Because no one wanna buy ’em. Very happy to see Spuds have become such a small club with such tiny fans like you.

  • Damien Luu

    @Ong Bing: Hope you are wrong about Verm. I truly think he loves the club and he is a man with honour. But heck, I thought the same about that van Per$ie, so…!

  • Andy Kelly

    To put this into context, I remember reading an interview with Lee Dixon regarding the time he joined Arsenal in 1988. He had to give it some serious consideration as he was offered £350 per week and he wasn’t sure if he could afford to move down to London for that money. At the time I was a 20 year old BT engineer earning about the same (albeit with overtime).

    My guess is that players like Dixon, Winterburn, Adams and Seaman earned more in the last 5 years of their career than the previous 15 years and far less than they would in today’s market.

    I also recommend Malcolm Macdonald’s autobiography as an example of a player that was severely underpaid compared to any of today’s mediocre players.

    Bowman, Chelsea and Winston Bogarde have really screwed up the game.

  • elkieno

    At all spurs fans, we did something similar to you mob by nicking Sol Cambell, a desision he no doubt has never regretted for 1 second.
    How many arsenal players in their prime that we needed and wanted, left is for Spurs?
    None in recent memory that I can remember.
    (In saying that i am so sleepy, my baby girl woke up at 2am and didn’t go back down till 4:20am. Then woke again at 7:30 and I just got her back down at 8:50am, so I am almost sleep walking, the now….)
    Gallas is the last person to go that way and good riddance I thought.
    Just one more game to go, I am praying for no injuries to anyone, esp diaby, ohhh ohhh.

  • ARSENAL 13

    another good one TONY….

    therz a misconception that ARSENAL play like Barca…..Barca Lite….Yes we play a possession based football, but unlike Barca we are very very very quick. The pace of the game is very high compared to Barca. Our players when at Barca cant adapt to the slow game there hence fail to deliver.

  • nicky

    @Elkieno,
    Off topic, but don’t complain about your babe. If she slept all day and night with never a murmur, you’d worry that something was wrong.
    When ours were young I used to say I would give up all chances of promotion at work in exchange for an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Things never change…

  • FinnGooner

    Great article Tony.
    As you meentioned Lloris I have to say watching him on last Friday nigth (I remembered that he was linked with Arsenal but forgotten that he went to spurs) my thought was “He is not good enough for Arsenal, glad we didn’t buy him”. If Finnish strikers had been better we would have scored. Oh I did cheer when they announced that France goal was scored by Diaby. But best couple minutes for me was Koscielny warming up front of me (not running around but streching).

  • @ Andy Kelly
    £350 a week in ’88? How the other half lives (even with the OT)!
    (yellow smiley face)

  • @ elkieno, 12.13am (et al)
    Laurie Brown, centre-back (OK, not recent memory – 1964).
    Left us in his prime, his career went downhill upon joining Spurs. That neither joking, nor cynical.

    Surprisingly, he was a striker at Northampton Town and scored 22 goals in 33 games to help them to promotion 1960-61.
    We converted him to defence.

    Died at only 61yo.

  • FunGunner

    @ Tony
    Good post. And as you point out, the thing with salaries is that they go up, year on year.

    @ bob
    Do you believe that spending an extra £15m a year, and not having an emergency fund in case of dropping out of the CL, or a reserve fund to pay off the our stadium loan, would have brought us closer to the title? What would £15m get us, bearing in mind the figures above about average annual salaries?

    Were you aware that we have built a state-of the art medical centre recently? That would have taken quite a large chunk of equity.

    Would you accept that sometimes, the players Arsene wants to buy are not available in any particlar transfer window? A couple of current examples are the defenders Kouyate and the Montepellier captain. Both refused moves for different reasons.
    Buying a player is a huge investment and always a bit of a gamble – but if it doesn’t work out, it’s not always easy to move that player on. It may well be that AW doesn’t want to take that gamble on a player unless he really believes in him and thinks he will improve the team. So he won’t just buy a player because he’s all that is available. And he won’t pay inflated prices. He would have paid £20 million for Reina (a few years ago) but not £4m for Schwarzer. He would have paid £18m for Phil Jones but not for Gary Cahill. I think that approach makes sense when you are on a limited budget and can’t afford to make too many mistakes.

    My feeling is that you and others who feel like you do equate ambition/doing all we can with spending all/spending more of our money specifically on buying players. The board and Arsene disagree.

    I’ve got a bit more to say, but I have to be off.

  • Stu

    Gallas is £60,000 a week, until this season we have not payed £100,000 a week so quite how that is a generally quoted figure is beyond me.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    When I see an article dealing with players’ salaries and other fees, it makes me cringe,except when Tony write it. Here is why:

    1)Most of those articles are written in a total vacuum since the absence of accurate financial information is obvious,
    2)the writer, because he or she is composing in a vacuum, relies on guesswork and builds a house of cards that is easily blown down,
    3)most fans post about ¨salaries¨ and NOT compensation packages, which in business are vastly different. A salary is usually a predictable amount paid out by the employer per week/month or annually but a compensation package includes emoluments, variable benefits, potential bonuses, ancillary income (advertising payments, possible book or media royalties, etc.)and whatever else the employer/employee agree to,
    4)those comparing the Totts versus the Arsenal’s spending are comparing apples and oranges. The Spuds don’t have a new stadium and its subsequent costs, they don’t have our CL and stadium revenues nor a big youth system, nor an ownership arrangement like we do, etc. In fact one could say they are Arsenal-lite in some ways because they play good Football and are administered quite well. They get great bang for their buck as the Yanks like to say.
    5) noone seems to be able to justify the inflated salaries that sports figures are consistently paid but suggestions of salary caps and other ¨remedies¨ are, at least in Footballing terms, unlikely to happen for a number of reasons: resistance from the players’ association/union, fear from the oilygarch owners that they will be outbid for a promising player, a lack of backbone at EUFA and FIFA regarding enforcement of sound financial management, etc.
    6)in actual fact, the entire transfer, compensation and investment conundrum infesting Football today will likely be resolved very dramatically and precipitously by a few simple events now on the horizon; the decline and fall of the Eurozone and the Euro, the financial failure of some ¨too big to fail¨ Football dynasties, the subsequent surplus of ¨superstars¨looking to compete for fewer greener pastures, the potential FFP impact on ¨big¨ clubs participation in the CL, the potential loss of interest on the part of sugar-daddies and oilygarchs in their football trinkets, the gradual shrinking of consumer markets and refusal of fans to continue to pay very high ticket prices to watch mediocre Football matches, and so on.

    We do need, as Tony points out, to return to a more sane and pragmatic arrangement when it comes to Clubs’ management of their finances and player investments. Just what that new paradigm will be is, so far as I can predict, going to be mostly dictated by outside rather than Football-based events.

  • Stu, and everyone else who questions the salaries of players… I am an Arsenal supporter, obviously, who tries to keep up to date with what is going on in football. The salary figures I have quoted are those which have been in the newspapers – not just comments from people on the internet. Of course they can be wrong, but by and large they are the best source I have.

  • Adam

    It is a difficult one. Who are we to moan about a person earning a fortune. But at the same time how much does a person truly need?
    You can bet one thing though, These boys don’t pay 50% tax as they should.
    I do hope HMRC goes after footballers and other high earners. I think the taxes that should be paid by footballers would go along way to propping up the NHS or building new schools the possibilities for this sort of money are endless and would be benificial to the nation as a whole.

  • bob

    “Do you believe that spending an extra £15m a year, and not having an emergency fund in case of dropping out of the CL, or a reserve fund to pay off the our stadium loan, would have brought us closer to the title? What would £15m get us, bearing in mind the figures above about average annual salaries?”
    FunGunner,
    No, I believe that your model and reconstruction of what you think I said is way off base. I didn’t say an extra 15M a year, each year. I said it’s situational. That means window to window. Two Januarys ago we needed competent if not quality backup because we were stretched too thin as it was, let alone for 4 cups and the burnout to be. Can you possibly deny that that was our state? And this past summer window my argument – as AW also suggested, and others here called for – was for insurance in the midfield and up front. This is because, again, we are not insured against injury. And your status quo is just fine is an wishful thinking assumption that there will be no serious injury to one of Carzola/Diaby/Arteta and that Jack and Rosicky will come back and hit the ground running. Think it through. There is a need for insurance. And – please, spare me the cost of the medical center amortized over how many years – we can afford that insurance, this year in particular. Again, to help it sink in, because this year we are slated: (1) to earn 35M this for making the CL (let alone for 15 other years); (2) participate in a substantially better, record-setting TV revenue sharing within the EPL; (3) have sold off the real estate venture; and (4) achieved a zero transfer balance with RVP/Song out and C/G/P brought in. To me, pleading poverty, parsimony, saving for any number of rainy day scenarios you wish to raise does not come near to outweighing the good that finding suitable – affordable – quality insurance. That would be 1-2 insurance signings this summer. And 1-2 insurance signings two January windows ago. Not a must 15M per year, each and every year. I hope I’m wrong. But at least argue with what I presented instead of making it into a caricature that you can knock down. To me, our ambitions would be better served by having made two prudent and affordable signings in those two windows. Not spend for its own sake. And I’d be interested in you further thoughts on these points taken together.

  • bob

    p.s. And when you lump me with “you and others” you fail to grasp: that my position is not buy buy buy equals ambition; and that my position is not we must spend 15M per window or per season or we are not ambitious, etc. You may not want to distinguish between a variety of positions that can still love, admire, live and die with AFC in ways that are not yours. But for the sake of accuracy and a more constructive discussion – rather than a litmus/loyalty test of us/them – please note that differences do matter, and I wholly reject the spend for the sake of spending as a necessary show of ambition. I might well be dense, but it’s not in the ways you’ve portrayed so far.

  • bob

    “I think the taxes that should be paid by footballers would go along way to propping up the NHS or building new schools the possibilities for this sort of money are endless and would be benificial to the nation as a whole.”
    Adam,
    Amen!

  • A. Stewart

    @ kenecoaster with this…”Let’s face it it’s a bloody joke that uneducated people who kick a football around and not always with the amount of skill that the press and their agents claim they have earn in one week more than the average fan earns in a year!”

    No it’s not a joke and it’s not just kicking a football around like most of us do on the weekends. Professional football is ridiculously big business globally, and makes tons of people/corporations etc (who are not players) exponentially richer than a footballer could even dream of. So what they are paid is generally arguably commensurate with the global money spinning industry that is built off THEIR TALENT. No disrespect but I find the argument of being paid highly to “just kick a ball” a little juvenile and dismissive, if it was so easy everyone could then do it, and if everyone could then do it, then there would be no professional football. It doesn’t matter what the average fan earns in a year, they are not professional footballers with a unique high level talent in a global industry worth billions and billions.

    Similarly, the argument and implying that players should be happy to just play for whatever, or the usual “I would play for free for [insert] favourite club” is just nonsense. Fans are just that fans, pros are pros.

    Moreover, yes most footballers don’t have tertiary academic education credentials or whatever, but I’ve never understood this satisfaction in generalizing about their lack of education and lack of intelligence. Footballers are not homogenous in their makeup, like any other spread, I’m sure some are not very bright, some average and some intellectually are genius. Some may have strong business acumen, some may not etc etc..I just don’t get the need to so often put down their intelligence, and justify it based seemingly (often)on the boorish behaviour of a few seemingly easy to dislike characters.

    Lastly a point on “education/intelligence”, I’d pretty realistically bet that most professional footballers to this day still come from the slums, ghettos, favelas, barrios, poor rural areas, mining towns etc of the world, and therefore formal education (especially quality formal education) is often not as available or more importantly affordable to many from these areas. Moreover, even if kids from these areas manage to obtain certain educational qualifications, in many parts of the world prejudices in hiring decisions still exist rampantly when looking at the “address” of a candidate for employment or opportunity, so for many of the very few who are blessed with sufficient talent to make a career out of the sport and provide for their often poor families and communities, football is a way out. Their lack of educational opportunity, and even in cases (more rare imo) where a more privileged youth forsakes advanced education to pursue football or sport in general, shouldn’t be confused with “intelligence” or lack of it.. (yes I know the word you used was education, but the inference seemed pretty clear, that footballers are stupid).

    Players are always the easiest target in these money related discussions, because they are the faces we see, and we relate our jobs/how hard we work and comparative miniscule earnings incorrectly to what we do for recreation (play football) and how much they get paid to do what we see as a fun activity in our own lives.

    There is unprecedented money in the sport. So many are getting so rich of the talent of players, I have no problem with how generally high the average professional footballer or sportsman is paid. They are worth it, they make far more far richer and their careers are very short and very uncertain.

    If this was “just kicking a ball araound”…none of us would be on these forums and blogs (which in most cases are making money in some way off of..you guessed it, the players’ talents).

  • A. Stewart

    With regards to AFC specifically and wages..the problem is pretty simple to identify I think, the solution however, won’t be immediate and will take time with serious directional change.

    Simply we waste too much on too many players that contribute too little. It couldn’t be any more simple.

    We are governed by a self-imposed restriction based completely (imo) on ideology, where salaries are intended to be as close together as possible under the justification of “harmony”. Clearly this theory is fatally flawed, as players constantly want to leave, become disillusioned with our direction, and even the manager admitted that things haven’t been so harmonious in recent times in the dressing room.

    This theory has no place in a professional sport team dynamic. Professional sport is not supposed to be “equal and fair” it is fiercely competitive and cut-throat by nature, personalities that thrive in such an ultra-competitive landscape internally and externally are often the best, paving an easy road for players with pay and often play they haven’t earned does them or the club no favours (assuming titles is actually our objective).

    Players’ abilities are not equal, the better players should get paid more and the others less. A player with extraordinary talent who contributes far more (or is less easily replaced) than a squad player or a youth, shouldn’t be underpaid and the others overpaid as a result to balance things out. The player who contributes more invariably will not be harmonious about his wages being artificially depressed and someone else’s being artificially inflated to make things “fair and harmonious”.

    Further, I think most Gooners can draw up a list of easily a couple dozen players over the last few years that have contributed very little to our cause (even more if we count the vast amount of youth that don’t make it, won’t make it, and are sold for little/nothing to often lower table/lower division clubs), and in alarmingly too many cases some of these players were/are reportedly amongst our higher earners. What’s the point of having a bloated squad with so many non-contributors and paying salaries for years which when combined with fees paid in some cases, totals in the millions upon millions over time with nothing to show for it.

    Wouldn’t it make sense to have a smaller squad filled with more quality like uhm….. we used to? We have increased some net of 30+ pros since our last trophy (mostly youth),and that comes with cost (wages, infrastructure, staff support, meals & the whole nine…)..

    Does it not make basic business sense to pay and pay for say 2 top players top dollar, instead of spending the same and arguably more (over time combining wages/fees etc) of 10 players who do very little?

    Not only that but having more difference makers in the squad for the same or less cost, will increase our fan base, give us a better chance of winning etc..which means increased revenues as a result (TV, prize money, merchandize sales, increased player value, more matches and gate receipts etc etc.)

    The thing that brings “harmony” in football (well at the elite level we say we are) is winning, or at least seriously contending..players don’t need to be best friends “like in college” they need to perform their role for the best of the collective, I doubt someone like say a Wes Brown during all his trophies with United felt like it was “unfair” that Run, Scholes, Keane, Rooney, Ronaldo etc made the big bucks in comparison to him, guys like that knew their role, knew their pay scale in comparison to the top elite players and I’d bet we HAPPY to be on a winning team and all that comes with it…Because in most clubs or even workplaces where pay is driven by meritocracy and achievement, players accept that top players get paid top money and squad players get paid squad money in comparison. There is nothing wrong with that in my humble opinion, and it is the way it should be.

    Overpaying players who haven’t earned it whether because of youth or ability, and overpaying so many of them at that, is not good for the football or long term business products imo (well assuming we are truly serious about winning the big titles on offer). Rather it leads to complacency, a sense of entitlement, and difficulty in getting rid of the players who contribute little/nothing, and difficulty in retaining the players who contribute so much more in comparison.

    What’s the sense of having 8 Ladas (old Russian cars do they still make them?) and the cost to maintain them, when one can have one high performance Porsche for the same outlay? And the benefits that go along with having the Porsche if you follow me..:)

    More quality, less quantity for the same outlay, better results, and ironically more money in from so many different avenues as a result..

    Simple stuff really, we are wasting the resources we do have, which is troubling as we are led to believe that resources are skint (in comparison to our direct competitors).

    We need to be more EFFICIENT with the resources we have. There is too much wastage.

    No-one is saying to buy 50mil players as PHW and this blog (imo) somewhat disingenuously suggest/infer (hope you can take that without repercussion as it is my honest feeling) that fans calling for a different direction (note that doesn’t mean without Wenger as part of it) allegedly want. No-one wants us to spend like City, Madrid or Chelsea. No-one wants us to waste 20 million or whatever on players like Henderson, Downing or Adam as Liverpool did…And no we won’t (if we invest more) become the next Pompey, Ranger or Leeds, that’s like comparing apples and oranges, and lacks any intellectual honesty when those comparisons which don’t account for the vast vast differences in fan-base, global reach, club location, shareholders, sponsorship etc etc.

    Rather many of us love the club as much as any other Gooner, but think that we can AFFORD more top players if we stopped wasting money on so many non/under-contributors.

    Unfortunately this problem has been allowed to fester for the better part of a decade and with the vast increase in players (and thus years of contracts left to pay or payoff), it will take a while to unravel this problem.

  • A. Stewart

    @ Bob beautifully said with this…:

    “You may not want to distinguish between a variety of positions that can still love, admire, live and die with AFC in ways that are not yours”

    I really despise that any group no matter what side of the issue they are on that thinks their way of thinking is the only way of thinking for a “true supporter”.

    Similarly I vehemently disagree that disagreement with those currently in charge of the club (temporary by nature) equates not supporting the permanent institution that is the Club.

    It’s just like nations and governments. I can vehemently disagree with the policies of the government currently in charge, but that has nothing to do with the love or lack of it for my country, the two are simply NOT the same..I live in the states and it (the situation with the AFC fanbase) reminds me so much of the George W. Bush years, wherein if you disagreed with the policies of the administration (particularly with regards to the Iraq war) you were accused of not supporting the Country.

    So instead of AAAs and AKBs (and lumping each other into groups in the first place) thinking they are the only true supporters, realize that no-one holds a monopoly on what a true fans is…

    One man’s moaning is another man’s wanting change for the better for the club..

    At the end of the day we all want the same thing, success for AFC, we simply disagree on how to get there, and in some cases, who shall lead us there.
    Similarly I vehemently disagree that disagreement with those currently in charge of the club (temporary by nature) equates not supporting the permanent institution that is the Club.

    It’s just like nations and governments. I can vehemently disagree with the policies of the government currently in charge, but that has nothing to do with the love or lack of it for my country, the two are simply NOT the same..

    So instead of AAAs and AKBs thinking they are the only true supporters, realize that no-one holds a monopoly on what a true fans is…

    One man’s moaning is another man’s wanting change for the better for the club..

    At the end of the day we all want the same thing, success for AFC, we simply disagree on how to get there, and in some cases who shall lead us there.

  • A. Stewart

    Oops double posted somehow above… But I’ll leave you lot with this again….

    At the end of the day we all want the same thing, success for AFC, we simply disagree on how to get there, and in some cases who shall lead us there.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    A. Stewart,
    Whilst I agree with a lot of your sentiments, you do ignore the problem that whilst there is no one correct answer, there are an awful lot of wrong answers. Regarding everyones’ opinion as equally valid is absurd.