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Tom Fox suggests that there is life in the Premier League financial plans

By Tony Attwood

Tom Fox is the second most powerful man in the Arsenal business empire – the Chief Commercial Officer.

He was a guest at the Arsenal Independent Supporters Association AGM last night, and did a question and answer session with AISA members at the Emirates Stadium.

What I found particularly refreshing was that he was open and frank in all his answers, and that gave us some real insights into the future of Arsenal and indeed of the Premier League.

Tom talked quite a bit about salary caps, comparing how the system worked in the sports within the USA with the way it worked in football.  His view was that salary caps would not be easy to work in football in the UK because players would simply queue up to work in countries where there was no salary cap.   This would disadvantage the English clubs and so they would never vote for the salary cap.

But, he added, the group that met last Thursday found that an England version of financial fair play could work, and it was clear that he saw hope in that direction.

Obviously such changes don’t come in at a moment’s notice, but judging from the speech last night I would say that just as the “25” rule was put through for the Premier League we might well see a move to bring in an English version of financial fair play which limits the losses each club can make.

There was also a second area that Tom Fox engaged with: the growth of commercial revenue.   He said that he saw 95% of Arsenal’s growth coming from the increase in global revenues, and each time he spoke of this he gave the same list of regions: China, South East Asia and the USA.

I got the clear impression that the key issue on this summer’s tour was that it could be shown to happen without disrupting the pre-season training arrangements that Arsene Wenger wanted.   Tom Fox said that the tour was incredibly well organised and did a huge amount for Arsenal’s good name, and hence their future income.

The new sponsorship deals (excluding the naming of the stadium) come into effect in 2014, including the shirt deal and the Nike deal, and the club is currently talking to corporations in Japan, India and South East Asia, although I also understood that both current sponsors are also keen to renew.

As for the stadium there are nine years left on the naming rights, and Tom reiterated the widely held view that you can only name a stadium once.  He suggested that even if a new name sponsor was found people would still call it The Emirates, or Ashburton Grove.

So, I thought it was a very good session.  It was of course only part of the evening – among other things we had Perry Groves there too – but the news about a possible English FFP was, for me, the key point.  It certainly suggested it was not just a kite that was flying, but something that could very easily come into effect.

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The club that changed football

Making the Arsenal

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21 comments to Tom Fox suggests that there is life in the Premier League financial plans

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Having read a transcript, it’s nice to see someone at the club reiterate that unlike a certain bankrupt team in the north west, we don’t buy players ‘to make a headline’ or prop up the share prices…

  • ARSENAL 13

    well I am saddened by his remarks on stadium name. I still think we can name our stadium the Highbury or new Highbury and have the sponsors name at the bottom.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Having read the transcript of this meeting, those guys seemed to be talking quite a lot of sense, I also get the impression they are learning fast.
    On a slightly different note, many times over the last few years, I have heard out teams detractors making comparisons with Andy Murray – I certainly hope they are correct in their assumptions!

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    As Tony will either confirm or humiliate me, the stadium we knew and loved was actually named “the Arsenal stadium” which ironically is what the media calls the Grove when they can’t use “the Emirates” for sponsorship reasons.
    I would think that if Emirates don’t renew, it will be called the Grove, much to the annoyance of the new sponsors.

  • Very interesting Tony. Big thanks.

    Only naming the stadium once…
    If the Emirates stop sponsoring us in nine years, it’s ridiculous to think the name “Emirates Stadium” would/could continue to be used if only because a new sponsor would never agree to such a thing. Yes, “people” would still call it The Emirates’ (affectionately)…
    And finding a stadium sponsor who can’t use their own name?
    I foresee a problem nine years down the road.

  • colario

    @Tony. Just a reminder. The film that was made at Highbury was called ‘The Arsenal Stadium Mystery’ not the Highbury Stadium Mystery’
    Had the official name of the stadium been ‘Highbury Stadium’ then the understanding would have been it was the stadium for the area as opposed to being for Arsenal alone.

    However to all who loved Arsenal back then it was always Highbury. If only we had a word that speaks of our new stadium with the same affection.
    I think a certain Herbert Chapman must be crying in his grave that the stadium is no longer ‘Arsenal Stadium’ He loved to put ‘Arsenal’ first in everything.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Colario, for Uefa it is “Arsenal Stadium”

  • The common view is that Herbert Chapman renamed the last stadium as “Highbury”. Prior to that the ground was generally called the Arsenal Stadium. However the film “The Arsenal Stadium Mystery” was released after Chapman’s death, so it shows that it took the new name a while to catch on – if the story of Chapman’s renaming is valid.

    When Arsenal moved to Islington 99 years ago, the first programme (parts of which I have reproduced in the Arsenal History Blog), invited supporters to suggest names for the stadium. I have not found a result of that suggestion in a subsequent programme.

    I am still searching to find anything formal that changed the name – but there may not be a formality in place. While the name of the club was changed twice after the move to Highbury, that had to be put in the formal records of the state. But the ground name had no formality, and so it was primarily just a commonly used name.

    Last night the comment made was that it was probably difficult to get much money out of a second naming rights, so if the Emirates don’t renew, the club can call the ground anything it likes – but Tom’s comment was that he suspected people would continue to call it the Emirates out of habit.

    The offices of Arsenal FC are Highbury House, so the name lives on, and could well be extended to cover the whole ground later.

  • Sav from Australia

    Thanks for the summary Tony. I think the increased media/AAA/Usmanov pressure is coinciding with the coming increase in Arsenal’s revenue – although I probably just read that in an article on here – and here’s me claiming it as my own lol.

    @ Big Al from Thailand
    “I foresee a problem nine years down the road”.
    That is because some people see problems where others see opportunities. Luckily Arsenal have the latter working for them and not you.

  • @ Sav from Australia
    Not sure I understand you.
    Imagine if, in nine years time,you were a ‘potential’ sponsor. Would you be happy to go ahead and become the actual new sponsor, but with a previous sponsor’s name remaining.

    Analogy: If you were to buy a shop from a previous owner, would you be happy to keep HIS sign above what would now be YOUR door?
    My guess, respectfully, is that you wouldn’t be happy with that arrangement. Especially if he was a butcher or baker, and you are a candle-stick maker.
    That was my point.

  • Adam

    Thank you untold for the information, It all sounds positive and gives me hope for the future of English football.

  • robl

    @ Big Al, I certainly hope that’s not the case otherwise my life’s work to become a billionaire, buy Stoke, get Durex in as the shirt sponsor, rename the Britannia to the Marigold, and make them run out to Somewhere over the rainbow will all be in vain.

  • robl

    Sorry, not Durex but Canniston

  • @ robl, 7.40pm
    Very big smiley face.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Great article Tony but it raises more questions than it answers,which is not unusual when you write a post!

    1)FFP for the EPL would be designed and adopted by whom? The 16 out of 20 Clubs needed to pass such a regulation(s), a simple Club majority, the EPL BoD, the FA, the ¨big¨ Clubs who would benefit from a veneer of financial ¨control¨?
    2)The naming rights in 9 years time will be worthless to anyone if the Club refuses to change the Emirates to whatever the new sponsor wants. Therefore the BoD will have a very tricky row to hoe if they want to preserve the old traditions while accommodating a new sponsor’s title for the stadium. Do both AFC and the sponsor work out what the new name will be or is it just an ultimatum from the sponsor that decides?

    Were there any AAA or anti-Wenger cavemen there to criticize either one?

  • Mayank Gupta

    Read this in the comments on some other blog but a great name would be- “The Arsenal: Home of Football”.

  • colario, 2.42pm
    Sorry for this delay (6 hours time difference, and busy).
    Good movie: I love the part where the ref turns his back on the play, picks out a heckling wag, glares and says “I’ve got my eye on you”. Classic.

    “If only we had a word that speaks of our new stadium with the same affection.”
    We do have… ‘Arsenal Stadium’. It was perfect before, still perfect today. If only the ‘powers that be would recognise that fact… where’s PHW when we need him?

    @ Domhuaille MacMathghamhna, 9.08pm
    Your 2) paragraph is spot on, practically the same points I previously made at 7.01pm.
    You writ yours better than what I did with mine though.
    We’re singing from the same hymn sheet.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for update ,Tony .Will be glad when some form of FFP (however diluted )is introduced to the EPL .
    As for the increase revenues from S-E Asia (other than spons)orship ,what are we talking about ? Shirt/kit and bric-a -brac sales ?How would an average fan contribute directly to this increase ?
    As I’m not a member of any local Arsenal fan club ,I’m in the dark regarding this .Would be grateful if someone in the know enlighten me.
    Me ? I’m waiting for direct tv broadcasts from AFC so I don’t have to upkeep ESPN and their cronies,and rather send my money direct to the club .

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    If they paid enough money I’d support the stadium being called the ‘Spurs are the best team in London’ stadium.
    Although that might constitute false advertising…

  • Goona Gal

    @ Woolwich – nah, I could never go along with that, not even in jest and for no amount of money.

    @ Tony, I agree with Tom Fox, it would be difficult to rename the stadium and this puts the Emirates in a strong negotiating position. But it would’nt be impossible though, if anything I would prefer the stadium be called Ashburton Grove over Highbury.

    I wonder if Tom Fox realises the weight of expectation on him and his team to deliver really lucrative deals in 2014.

  • jaymin

    I agree with his sentiments on the Emirates deal: they have us by the cajones on that one! no way anybody is going to ever refer to it as anything other than what it will have been called fore the first 15 years of its life! hopefully Emirates ponies up, and it probably will! encouraging to hear about the urgency with which they are shopping the shirt deal though, 20 million a year extra should do quite nicely.