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June 2021

What demands can we reasonably make on the club for the coming season?


By Tony Attwood

I was pleased to publish Fishpie’s piece Arsenal season ticket holder issues his own press statement – as I have said many times, if I am offered a coherent article which argues against my own views, of course I’ll publish it.  The reason that there are few such pieces is because I am not offered them very often (although maybe this note will encourage more to write in).

But equally I want to be able to reply to the demands of Fishpie – and so here are just the first two of Fishpie’s six demands, with some alternative thoughts.

1: Work significantly harder at maximising all sources of income and investment monies

Given that the income from the stadium on match days is the highest of any club in the country, and the use of the stadium for non-football activity is strictly limited by the local council, neither of these areas can be expanded much.

So what we are looking at here is player sales and marketing activity such as sponsorship deals.  The former is often not very popular but the latter is a possibility and one which, since I run an advertising agency, is something I know a bit about (although obviously my agency does not operate on the scale that Arsenal operates at).

Man U will continue to earn far more than we do year by year from marketing and sponsorship because they have a world-wide reach that is far far greater than Arsenal’s.  And they have that because they started work on the plan many, many years before Arsenal.  Yes, we can blame the board who ran the club in the 1960s for looking down their noses as such ventures (remember all the years where Highbury had no advertising hoardings, no adverts in its programme or yearbook – and all as a matter of pride).

So we are catching up from a long way behind, and not helped by our late start.  Here’s some other pointers…

  • Marketing revenue cannot grow suddenly – it takes a long old time to nurture clients and get them to perceive a value in the club.  They will know what others are paying and will not pay a huge amount more.
  • Being in London really helps (that’s why the boxes are so expensive, and mostly sold out).
  • Having sold all the rights up front for the move to the new stadium helped in the short time but not in the medium term.  It was necessary but makes price hikes now more problematic.
  • Winning the FA Cup three times in four years, and having the manager who has won it more times than anyone else, helps enormously.  Mr Wenger is in advertising terms a high profile icon that helps sell the advertising and marketing.
  • The demonstrations against the manager certainly didn’t help.  If you have never sold advertising or marketing opportunities you can’t imagine how hard it is to sell something in the middle of a lot of bad publicity, and Arsenal certainly had a lot of bad publicity last season.
  • The look of the stadium helps.

I’ve been in advertising and marketing for 30 years, and I just don’t think it is a case of working harder or smarter.  You can give 100% and make your product or service grow, but one major factor in the speed of growth is where you are in the market hierarchy and what everyone else is doing.  It takes years to establish a brand – and as I say Arsenal were very very slow off the mark.

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2: Be speedier and more decisive in the transfer market

In reality the horse trading can go on right the way through the transfer window.  Every selling club and every moving player and his agent is out to get as much as possible, other clubs are around making spurious offers just to disrupt their rivals, and many clubs actually would sooner hold on to their best players, and so are not happy to receive offers.  Clubs that have a player Arsenal want, but who don’t want to sell, might even work a deal with their player (an extra week’s salary if you string Arsenal along for three weeks before saying no) just to screw up Arsenal.  I don’t work in football, but I can tell you that with deals involving lots of dosh, and several people involved (player, agent, selling club, buying club, other interested clubs…) it gets complicated.

Here are a few more factors…

  • How does anyone know we are not working hard and in a timely way?  Do you argue that we were hyper speedy with Xhaka, signed so early, but dithering and unsure with Mustafi?   Were we deliberately dragging our feet with Ozil?
  • The player doesn’t want to come to the club, or to London, or the player’s partner doesn’t want to come to London, so a potential deals falls through.  I have heard of the player’s mother in law kicking up a fuss at the last minute and scuppering a deal.
  • The player doesn’t want to play for this manager, or in front of a crowd that has a reputation for making short term judgements, and for in-fighting.
  • The player wants more money than the club thinks he is worth.
  • The whole story about the player wanting to leave his existing club is either a fabrication, or results in the current club making a better offer.
  • An offer is made, it is accepted by both club and agent, and then another offer is made from another club.  An auction starts which simply can’t be resolved until the end of the transfer window.  The latecomer then turns out to be false, their deal collapses leaving Arsenal trying to get the original deal pushed through in the last two days of the transfer window.
  • The current club ups the wages of the player to try and keep him, so the agent demands even more if the player is to move.

This is all about negotiation.   Because I work in markets where the value of what we sell is open to debate there are negotiations all the time.   What is a new advert worth?  Maybe £500 if it brings in £2000 new work that wasn’t being seen before.  Maybe £50,000 if it brings in £200,000 more than the existing advert – but no one knows in advance that it will.  So we negotiate, and sometimes the negotiation goes nowhere, no least because if I sell an advert at half the price I want for it, the word will spread.

In short where is the evidence across a number of deals that we are not getting the players we want and need, because we are not speedy and decisive enough?

If that thought comes from transfer rumours, remember that only 3% of the rumours about players coming to Arsenal last summer turned out to be true.  Is it truly believed that over 100 players were going to come to the club but we were not speedy and not decisive enough.

Put another way, every single player in the Arsenal first team squad last season was tipped as being on his way out, with the buying club clearly cited.  The overwhelming majority did not go.  Were all those buying clubs not speedy and decisive enough?


13 comments to What demands can we reasonably make on the club for the coming season?

  • goonersince72

    What the owner, the board and the Manager have stated – to compete for the EPL. Not an unreasonable expectation from a Club the scale of Arsenal. That’s all, as a supporter, I ever ask of the club. This season was disappointing but not a disaster, as I’ve said before. The additions to the club addressed need and will come good, if they haven’t already. Mustafi and Xhaka have on what I’ve seen. Seems a shame Lucas Perez can’t get a game because I think he has a poachers instinct that can’t be taught. Would that Welbeck had it! Finishing out of the UCL places is disappointing but they’ve won the FA Cup again. Regardless of criticism it’s a major trophy to me. So, compete for the league, for FA Cup and make a good showing in Europe.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    As I’ve said before on this site after the 2016-17 came to a close with Arsenal winning a Europa League spot in next season’s campaign and also won the FA Cup. The priorities at Arsenal in next season’s campain as far as Le Prof, the Gunners, the Arsenal board and we the Gooners are concerned have to be to first and foremost see that Arsenal win the Premier League title unfailingly and preceding that, win the English Football League Cup which is still missing on Le Prof’s curriculum vitae (CV) as at last season”s campaign. Then win the Europa League Cup title at their first time of competing in the completion.

    Therefore, my personal wish titles win for Arsenal next season are:

    The EFL Cup,
    The Premier League title and
    The Europa League Cup are the treble
    titles I want to see Arsenal win unfailingly next season. However, another FA Cup win by them next season a quadruple, will be a huge added bonus for us to relish.

  • kamiel

    Great article. You take any sport in the world and its enthusiasts will know the ins and outs – the politics, what’s involved between seasons. Even a sport in constant flux like Formula 1. Football isn’t like that.

    A great example is that few know what’s involved with completing a transfer, even though for a football fan it can be the pre-season highlight. The average fan regards it as though there’s a player-orientated Ebay site somewhere that all the managers use.

    It is an incredible misconception somehow. Yet it feels by design, like the media needs us to be ignorant in order to sell hype, papers and airtime. Untold is important to fill this deficit and I’m thankful for it. Perhaps consider creating an Untold Football site to broaden the message amongst all supporters. Just a thought.

  • Chris

    Well, we may have another problem….looking at headlines in the UK, the word Arsenal is now linked to a terrorist.
    Not that it has anything to do with what happens, nor gives any information necessary to understand the attack.
    Yet, I’ve seen it crop up more and more.
    And I’ve yet to see any information of the PL clubs murderers past and present are supporting….

    Just proves the point of the systematic negative bias even happens on totaly unrelated events.

  • Fishpie

    Tony my demands as you put it were terms. Terms for the basis of having a renewed and respectful relationship between cynical fans and the Club. I don’t know why the Club didn’t declare their support for Mr Wenger earlier in the season. Mr Wenger now thinks it did’nt help. People, the press, have speculated that some people on The Board wanted change. If that’s true (and obviously I have no evidence one way or the other) but if its true the hold up in Arsene resigning was down to them haggling over “changes”, then in the absence of the Club announcing any changes, those of us who are being asked to give it another two years have a right to say ok, fair enough but just so you know Arsenal, we still have some wished for changes we’d like you to be aware of and which we are hoping you guys will bear in mind as we go forward. We’re asking to be listened to and not taken for granted just because we are loyal fans. None of us know Mr Kreonke. His record at his other franchises is solid but not that of great sporting achievement. We are deeply scared that he will let Arsenal drift. Now drifting in the top 4 each season and winning FA Cups is a hell of a good way to drift, I know. If you fancy drifting, we’re good at that but I’m paying higher than drifting prices and I fundamentally believe Arsenal has the potential to do even better. It has the potential to win the very top honours. That takes money amongst other things. Arsenal’s commercial income is high but not even as high as Dortmund or Liverpool, let alone Chelsea or Bayern (Swiss Ramble and AST I believe suggest/report this.) In my book, if its possible for these clubs to find ways of maximising their brand, so it should be for Arsenal. As for being speedier in the transfer market, we seem to buy players late and start the season not ideally equipped. I accept your point of course that its complicated. But getting more business done early gives more time for integration and understanding between players.

  • Chris


    buying players late ?
    Yep, Sanchez was not bought on the first our of the transfer window. Neither was Cech, nor Holding or Xhaka….not to talk about Elneny and Montreal.

    Yes some transfers happened late. If I remember right Ozil finaly came when Bale went to RM in the last days.

    So, respectfully, your statement seems to be a perception and not a fact.

  • nicky

    I would demand of Arsenal FC that they stop this con trick of issuing a constant range of ridiculous home and away kits, purely and simply to rook money out of supporters. The designs are becoming more and more bizarre.
    An absolute disgrace. 😉

  • Temitope

    Off topic
    Heard somewhere that man utd won 3 trophy with them including the community shield,but when Arsenal win/won it,it was not a trophy as the FA cup is not a trophy since we have won it.
    (Carager) now say that top4 is a trophy since Liverpool qualify for champions league but they use it to bash Arsenal whenever we qualify.

  • Knobby

    How can anyone demand anything? It’s a life choice.
    Like demanding Ferrari paint there​ cars yellow…

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Even if it is not always a sure path to victory, the advantage of a pressing game like that employed by Spurs, is that it gives a visual to the fans of a team working hard. In a restaurant, some like a table server to ask what you need every 15 minutes , while others would find this intrusive. The style employed by Arsenal (and on a smaller scale, Oezil) is often a more languid style looking to let the other team chase and then opening them up after they have huffed and puffed around the pitch.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I will personally demand anything of The Arsenal . Even though I have supported the club sine season 1971-72 , all I wanted is that we play hard and play well .That our players play with pride and be a credit to the jersey the put on.

    There were times that we were truly hard (1990-91) , but not very pleasing to the eye. I did get some measure of pleasure and contentment from winning that year , especially after the double standard shown by the league in that ManUre game . Strange that it never happened to any other team, again .

    Since AW took over , we have been for the most part , playing the beautiful game. This has made me very proud . I never ever watch any of the other teams of the EPL , nor the German , French , Italian or Spanish leagues , even though they are all included in my subscription .

    My fervent hope is that we progress always and achieve success playing in the right way, and be most deserving of it .

    Up the Gunners !

  • Leon

    This is not new. It was widely reported (back in the day) that Bin Laden was an Arsenal supporter, and you can’t get them much worse than that.
    I think this is an attempt by the media to make this piece of crap seem like an ordinary football loving guy who was turned.

  • jjgsol

    I am mystified how anyone who is not or has not been a manager or someone high up in a football club can possibly be in a position to criticise any club about how it goes about dealing with transfers.

    There is so much that we do not know about the players, or the club, how can we purport to advise.

    It is not as though teams like manure of chel$ki have no spent fortunes on lemons.

    I firmly believe that AW and his staff know what they are doing, it is just we don’t know what they are doing and, in truth, it is none of our business.

    I doubt if we will see too many new players, or players leaving.

    As to why we were not really prepared when we played pool, it is obvious to me that too many players came back late from the European championship and the foreign tour was too much for the players who were there too soon.