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April 2021

In the end football is always a question of money. Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, Rangers

By Tony Attwood

Everyone knows the Arsenal money stories.  How the club did everything to reduce its stadium debt – from building houses on the Highbury pitch through to front loading sponsorship deals and using the money to reduce the borrowings.

If you know your Arsenal history you’ll know that when Lt Col Sir Henry Norris put out his advert seeking a replacement for Leslie Knighton as manager, he told managers whose “sole ability” was to spend a lot of money on transfers not to apply.  He got Herbert Chapman who went ahead and spent more than all the previous Arsenal managers put together.  (The twist was that it wasn’t his SOLE ability).

So it goes in football, and at the moment we have a series of contrasting stories all of which come down to money.  They involve Manchester United, Chelsea and Rangers.

Now whenever we take a wander away from Arsenal and start noting other clubs and their issues, there are always comments about why we don’t mind our business.  So to deal with that first, as the banner says on the site, it’s “Football news from an Arsenal perspective”.

So to move on, Man U have in the last couple of years given huge salaries and long term contracts to RVP and Wayne Rooney – both of whom will be well into their 30s by the time those contracts come to an end.

During the latter years of these contracts the players will be losing their touch, and will also be untransferable, for the simple reason that no one will pay anything remotely like the salary they now get, for a 32 year old.  (In RVPs case there are also the injuries which have dogged his career – just how often will he be playing by the end of his contract).

Will it matter?  No, not if they keep on escalating their income as they have done in the past 10 years, but yes it will matter if they have a few years outside the Champions League, the gloss goes off, the share price declines, the Glazers keep taking their money…

It is true that in the 1970s when Manchester United played in the second division they still got very large crowds, but I am not sure that in the 21st century this will apply.  Crowds seem to me more fickle these days.

Meanwhile Chelsea, with all their money, seemingly can’t get the players they want – as we now have confirmed with Mourinho being recorded by Canal Plus saying, “I have a team but no striker.  The problem at Chelsea is that we are lacking a goalscorer. I have one but he is 32, possibly 35, who knows?”

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In effect he also has £50 million worth of Fernando Torres, Eto’o and  Demba Ba plus Romelu Lukaku (whom he loaned out).  But no striker.  Its a funny game.

But let’s conclude by looking at money from a different perspective.

I’ve been fascinated by the case of Rangers, currently of the Scottish 3rd division, for a number of years, and what’s been interesting me of late is the fact that they raised £22m from the stock market in  December 2012, but then Brian Stockbridge who was their finance director said that they would have run out of all that money, and the day to day money they raise through normal channels like replica kit and ticket sales, by the end of April.

If that were the case, and of course we don’t know if it is, it would mean that they were losing £19m a year, with no reserves to back this up and no oil billionaire to hand over as much as they want.

Although that story was denied in some places, Rangers have changed their financial  department around, and then announced to the Stock Exchange a deal to borrow £1.5million from their chairman, Sandy Easdale, and the investment group Laxey Partners.

We can now see that Rangers made a £14.4m loss in the 13 months up to June 2013.  (That is the loss announced for taxation purposes, it is quite possible that the £19m loss I estimated is still right but even if it is £13m a year that’s a lot in Scottish football when you have no reserves).  They also attempted to get the players to take a 15% pay cut, but failed to get an agreement.

The chairman’s loan is £500,000 without any costs, but the Laxey Partners money is at an interest level that will add £150,000 to what Rangers owe.  The deals are secured against tangible Rangers’ assets and are repayable by 1 September 2014.

The money, according to Rangers’ statement is needed as working capital over the “next few months”.

Translated this simply means that Rangers are out of money and don’t have enough income to pay the bills.   In the summer they expect a slosh of money in from the renewal of season tickets, and they will use that to repay the loans before 1 September.

Which then means… they will be rather short of money again.   Not short enough to make them go bust, but if they don’t get a further major injection of cash by October, they are again in very serious trouble.

So where does the next round of money come from when the club is in the second division next season?  It is very difficult to say.

Indeed, assuming as seems very likely that they continue to rise up the chain and get to the Premier League in 2015/16 they will get bigger crowds and be charging more.   But they will also need to be buying better players to compete with a standard of football two league higher.
Sustainability, in fact, is becoming the name of the game.   Are the deals that Man U have done with RVP and Rooney leading to a sustainable front line during the time they will have to be paying out the salary?  Obviously not.   And Chelsea – how come with all that money they can’t get the striker they want?  Is endless money in the Premier League a sustainable option?  Maybe not.   Maybe their are taking FFP seriously.
And Rangers – are their finances viable?  Based on the evidence of this short term loan which is repaid by next season’s ticket income, no.
Arsenal, as we know, has worked on a different model, and that has seen us through.  As the report on the Arsenal History Site of the booing of players during the Championship winning 1953 season shows, some fans (at least at Arsenal) have always been moaning.  But on the financial side, we seem in a more sustainable position.

24 comments to In the end football is always a question of money. Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, Rangers

  • Mike T


    I think I am right in saying that any day now Arsenal are due to publish trading figures for the 6th month period ending 30/11/12
    I am pretty sure that the profit from player sales will be down significantly to about £10 million from the £42 million last year and the £62 million the year previous and like wise I guess following the purchase of Ozil player amortisation will be up so the figures will make very interesting reading

  • ARSENAL 13

    So cash balance that ARSENAL are said to be “sitting” on starts to make sense.

    I’ve always maintained that a healthy business needs a good cash balance. You never know, in a volatile market, the ins and outs of the money, how they vary. A big enough balance can help by reducing the pressure…..

  • Mick

    ‘Now whenever we take a wander away from Arsenal and start noting other clubs and their issues, there are always comments about why we don’t mind our business. So to deal with that first, as the banner says on the site, it’s “Football news from an Arsenal perspective”.’
    As far as minding our own business is concerned what goes on at clubs such as Man U, Chelsea and other sugar daddy clubs very much concerns and affects Arsenal. The way these clubs have distorted the transfer fees and enormously raised salary costs has impacted directly on Arsenal and every other club trying to run their clubs in a sustainable manner. Does anyone seriously believe that the latest ridiculous deal involving Rooney will not have a knock on effect throughout the various leagues both here and abroad. When the club drew up the plans for the move to the Emirates the oligarchs were not around and the planning for the move and transition period was based on the prevailing conditions at that time. The emergence of Abromavich etc and subsequent distortion of the market caused by their financial subsidy makes it even more remarkable that we have remained as competitive as we have whilst remaining so financially secure.

  • ARSENAL 13

    And about Rooney, ManUtd now, looks like, have put all their eggs in one basket (does that statement sound right??). Rooneys basket. The team will be built around him. Well, all this is what media wants us to believe.

    If reports are to be believed (300ks a week mega contract) then the message behind those headlines are clear. Man Utd have given up on top 4 already. They are counting on someone coming in for Rooney this summer. This deal looks like a leverage. The length of contract for the club and size of the pay pack for the player.

  • AL

    Agree Mick, it IS our business. Whenever a super store like Tesco moves into a new area they can expect some kind of resistance to existing businesses, big or small, in that area.

    I think Man U are starting to throw money at their problems, but they will simply not go away. I feel they would have been better served acquiring younger players for half the money they are committing to players who are now past their best. I guess the pressure Moyes is under(not sure about fergie and the rvp deal) meant he needed results, and fast. So letting rooney leave was going to send the wrong signal and make it near impossible to improve the results. He decided to give rooney a bumper pay at the expense of rebuilding, which his squad desperately needs. But it appears this will definitely come back to bite his bum. As for Chelsea and their statements of not having a striker…well, just as bemused by that as everyone else.

  • bob

    “Crowds seem to me more fickle these days.”
    Anything to do with affordability, Mr Attwood? Some (perhaps increasing numbers) have been priced out, as in a difficult economic. Just a thought you might factor in sometime when so glad to muse on the lack of support say in clubs (especially) outside (but not to exclude) London. Surely the leagues have been studying this as it is a problem that’s bigger than football (if that’s conceivable).

  • jambug


    Again, well said. Agree with every word.

  • jambug

    Talking of other Clubs.

    Just watching SKY.

    Seems Maureen’s getting on his Little ‘High’ Horse about the Eto comments.

    Apparently he didn’t ‘say what he said’ or at least he didn’t ‘mean what he meant’, or something like that !!!

  • finsbury


    Sports broadcasters do not care about fans in stadiums. There was a one day Cricket World Cup in the West Indies with empty brand new stadiums, local fans were priced out of the grounds. Football is no different.

    Untold, along with other football fans, contributed to a White Paper composed by the UK government a few years ago now, which was then probably thrown in the bin in favour of a document containing a bid for a small club from some dodgy geezer in Singapore.
    We can’t blame Arsenal Football Club for the governments policies. If football fans want cheaper tickets and less dodgy owners who do not have a need to cycle ca$h through a laundromat then they need help from those who are charged with upholding the rights of citizens. Protecting the rights of man and football fan.


    Mick, You really nailed it. In baseball terms you knocked one outta the ballpark. These moneybag clubs have distorted the playing field. If you lived close to three mega-stores in your neighborhood and they all inflated their prices accordingly, You would have to pay what they want or shop elsewhere. To the rich it would be no problem, To someone on a fixed income it would be a major strain on their pocketbook. Supporters of clubs with oil-sugar-daddies say different. They say it don’t make a difference, But that is nothing but a fucking lie. Just once I would like one of them to admit this, But somehow their lips always remain sealed.

  • bjtgooner


    My take on the latest version of the Maureen story was that the media should be ashamed for reporting a private conversation which was really nothing more than a joke.

    Some of the spin doctors employed by our politicians must be envious of that one!

  • bjtgooner

    I don’t fully understand the present financial difficulties that Rangers seem to be experiencing, there was an obvious misappropriation of funds a couple of seasons ago, but I am not clear on the ongoing problems.

    The Manures have what could be a sustainable financial model, but the Glazers having put the club into serious debt are continuously using the income to prop up their other misfiring ventures. In addition the Manures, as noted above, have not spent all that wisely recently. If their success on the pitch declines we have the interesting question of the knock on effect on their commercial income. We can only speculate on how close they may be to a downward spiral.

    As for Chelski and the Oilers – it has gone very quiet on FFP!

  • Florian

    Actually, manure are on a much more slippery slope than us. They need to generate 50+ millions an year above their operational expenses, or they lose money. Compare that to us, who only needed to keep it more or less above 25 millions before the new commercial deals were negotiated. It will be interesting when they publish their accounts. A good subject for Swiss Ramble.

  • Mike T


    Interesting that you should say that as I was directed to this article by a worried Man Utd fan

  • bob

    good points, indeed. but the state of the job economy and obvious pressures on what remains of disposable income (aka your entertainment dollar) is a factor to consider when say, some here will slate the FA Cup as being clearly irrelevant because the attendance has been low. If people have money, they could attend both FA and EPL matches. If people don’t have the dosh, maybe they can’t attend either. I’m not casting particular aspersions on AFC, but saying it’s a skewed analysis of finances that doesn’t take account of the larger picture on whether fans can attend at all – and, clearly, how hard struck a given region or business sector might be in its/their impact on attendance. That never seems to be taken into account in several analyses running hereabouts. Methinks there’s a reason.

  • bob

    “As for Chelski and the Oilers – it has gone very quiet on FFP!”
    yes, indeed! And it is a deafening silence for any with ears that listen. Seems really to be the (or close to it) the acid test of the grand reform.

  • bjtgooner

    Nice win by Olympiakos over the Manures tonight. This was the first I have seen Campbell playing for quite some time, not a bad all round performance & an excellent goal!

  • bjtgooner


    Good to engage with you again, hope all is going well for you.

    If I can mix metaphors, I expect the “Acid Test” will be “fudged”, it will be interesting to see just how Platini & co set about it.

  • bob

    Surely RVP will not stay a contented cow, as his little boy within may well be having a quiet little temper tantrum as he, The Savior (who delivered Fergie’s XIII), is being eclipsed by the face (no offense, Shrek) of the franchise, and (I’d say) newly re-minted Tali$man of the House of Barclay.

  • bob

    Have a look at Shrek’s face in this photo – as Campbell celebrates! Good news indeed, and that enriched diver’s look just about says it all. Oh Joel, you’re on your way to arriving here as a legend!
    And the beauty of it was that just yesterday the Guardian Football Dept had a feature article about how Manure’s illustrious quartet were just about starting to jell as the push was on for 4th place. Oh joy!

  • bob

    “Even towards the end, when Chris Smalling put Robin van Persie in for a clear sight of goal, the usually lethal Dutchman fired over.”
    Oh double joy!

  • bob

    Ok, this reply is supposed to be about kerching (and oh well, Manure’s collapse tonight; and our not-even-here-yet prodigal to be) may well $pell kerching for our prospects and Manure’s deepening bog: “After nine minutes of the second half the task became even harder,” the Guardian beholds. “Campbell collected the ball about 10 yards outside United’s area, evaded Michael Carrick’s challenge, then swung a sweet left boot through the ball that beat De Gea to the Spaniard’s right. The roar this brought from the home faithful split the air and added to the shock that swept across the stunned United’s players.” That’s it. Can’t take no more. I’m outta here.

  • bjtgooner

    Thanks for the link bob; Shrek is not a pretty sight!!

    When Smalling crossed to the Traitor, I thought the latter was clearly offside – but the flag stayed down – strange, or possibly not so strange; thankfully the Traitor missed!

  • bob

    Shrek’s look: he’s channeling Fungusson. Same posture, scowl, petulant rage, arms akimbo….don’t get us started!