How much does the League title cost, and what power do mere supporters have?

By Tony Attwood

Over the last 10 years Man City have spent £1.3bn (or for the mathematically challenged, £130m per year.)

During this time they have won

  • 3 league titles
  • 3 league cups
  • 1 FA Cup

That works out at £429m per league title.  If we include the FA cup it is £325m per trophy.  I’m not including the League Cup since for so many of the games it is the reserve teams that play the matches, but if you really do want to include the league cup that is seven trophies at £185m per trophy.

As we know Arsenal were able to spend £69m last summer, and maybe there will be a little something left in the bank come January, but it seems unlikely.  So not enough to buy a trophy.

Assuming that we accept that buying top players for big transfer fees is a central part of preparing to win titles, then we are lagging a long way behind.  We are not likely to be able to spend £325m per trophy – and indeed even if Arsenal did, the club would be criticised for the billions it has wasted.  Criticised in a way that Manchester City is not.

So what do we do?

Mr Wenger found a way around it twice – once in the early years by bringing in discarded and rejected players that no one else really wanted to know about, like Thierry Henry, and mixing them with players no one had ever heard of like Gael Clichy, plus players who could fit in the mix already being established such as Robert Pires.

That’s one way, and it does look to me thus far as if this approach is being adopted by Mr Emery with Guendouzi.  It could, in the long term, work.  In fact he’s good value already.

But much will then depend on how much of a storm is whipped up by the media and their allies with money to burn.  The headline in the Telegraph “Jose Mourinho backs Ed Woodward after Man Utd fans fly ‘specialist in failure’ banner over Turf Moor” suggests that the silly-billies from Cornwall have observed the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal mobs and instead of seeing their action as a dire warning have seen it as a blueprint.  “Hey guys, Arsenal fans stole a march on us there with all those aeroplane banners, we’re slipping behind.  Anyone here own a plane?”

Of course if Man U does get close to Man City, the latter will just go out and spend some more, and since Manchester United is funded by profits made by the club (which of course City is not) it looks like City will always win until democracy takes over in the UAE, or maybe one of Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s wives distracts him by asking for a divorce.  (Neither is on the cards at the moment).

Certainly the media are beholden unto Manchester City and will not stint in their praise of how amazing they have been in buying league titles for £429m each.   Although let me meander from that point a moment…

A little while ago I had it put to me that Arsenal had done exactly the same in the 1930s, as Man City are doing now, buying up all the best players and being known as the Bank of England club.  And yes Arsenal did increase the amount of money they spent but, all of that money came from the club’s earnings through football.  The plan starting with the move to Highbury in 1913 and the buying of the ground in 1925 was always to fund the club through gate receipts.  That Arsenal started to do from 1924/5 when they started a run in which they had the highest attendances of any league club – even though in that first year (1924/5) they were fighting relegation.  (Anyone interested can read the story here – although it is a rather long read).

Of course there is little us ordinary working folk can do about this situation.  But pointing the reality out constantly might have an effect.

Now I’d never want to claim that my ramblings over  the past ten and a half years have made too much difference to anything, except the PGMO have built the walls around their castle even higher, and most seem now to recognise Arsenal don’t get more injuries than anyone else.

But it is interesting to watch the trivia because I do get the impression that at the edges it is just possible to nudge the old drunks down the Toppled Bollard away from their mindless ramblings just a bit.

For example of late Untold has had a bash against bloggers who write “Arsenal fans turn on…” followed by someone who apparently we all hate.  At least a number of  them are now saying “Some Arsenal fans turn on…” which is more accurate.  A tiny, tiny, tiny step, but still…

Another catch phrase we had a bash at, “All you need to know about…” also seems to be much reduced in the headline lists.  Likewise “Arsenal fans turn on” has become “Some Arsenal fans turn on…” and most bizarrely of all “Five things we learned” has become “Four things we noticed…” in the Daily Star.  (OK they have a bit of catching up to do, but it is a step forward.)

It is perhaps harder to deal with gibberish headlines like the Daily Star’s “Unai Emery: What I really think of Lucas Torreira at Arsenal” which leads into the story “Emery insists that he has been happy with Lucas Torreira’s start to life as an Arsenal player,” but I wonder if just one or two guys down the pub have looked at a silly piece we have published making fun of them and thought they’re endless anti-Arsenal approach isn’t working if people are laughing at their prose.

It can be asked, of course, does that matter?  And I would say, “yes, somewhat” because the more Arsenal is a laughing stock in the media, the harder it gets to persuade future Guendouzi’s to come to the club.  And he is a player like many before, who has made it clear, he wants to be at this club.

Supporters’ input into the club is more limited these days than ever now we have a monolithic owner.  But I like to think there are still tiny niches where what we do might make a little difference.

And we can still point out that this season Tottenham Nomads have more stadia than league titles.

Dec 1925: Arsenal’s winning run comes to an end but they stay top of the League.

Cardiff v Arsenal; beware Now TV, Sky’s commentary, and Tottenham Nomads.

7 Replies to “How much does the League title cost, and what power do mere supporters have?”

  1. In the past gate receipts provided the money for the team to buy players and success. Gate receipts still account for at least 50 to 70% of a clubs income.
    That’s why Wenger decided to build the emirates to draw level with MU in gate collection. But since then
    sponsorship has come into the picture.
    MU have the greatest income of all teams .They had been successful on the pitch the last 15 years.Arsenal had declined the last ten years .
    Now if Arsenal can be successful the next 5 years they shd make it into the top 5 richest teams.

  2. Gunner Smith – I’m interested in the view that gate receipts account for 50% to 70% of the club’s income. I’ve not seen any figures on this, and reached the conclusion that the gate receipts were smaller just from my own back of an envelope calculations. But have you got a source for these figures? I am not trying to suggest you are wrong, but rather would really like to explore this further.

  3. Tony

    “It can be asked, of course, does that matter? And I would say, “yes, somewhat” because the more Arsenal is a laughing stock in the media, the harder it gets to persuade future Guendouzi’s to come to the club. And he is a player like many before, who has made it clear, he wants to be at this club.”

    I agree that it matters very much, but perhaps not for the same reason you do.

    It is of course possible that players, past, present and future, are all well aware of all the negativity in the media, and are either upset, bemused, annoyed, or all 3 by it, but to the extent of affecting whether or not they join us, I’m not convinced, but who knows.

    Where I think it does have an affect is in the negativity it invokes in a lot of fans.

    Constantly being told your manager is crap, your players are crap, your team is crap, your club is crap certainly seems to get into the heads of a certain section of fans.

    After all, over the last 5 years (not just the last 2 as some who deem to justify their relentless whinging would have you believe) we have won 3 FA Cups 3 Community shields, came 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, yet we have consistently been portrayed as failures, and on the back of this a significant portion of fans are constantly discontented.

    Conversely, Liverpool and Spurs, who have won NOTHING during that same period, are portrayed throughout the media as being successful, and on the back of this, by and large, their fans have remained happy and contented with there respective teams.

    Lets look at Manchester United, I feel it is no coincidence that the fans are turning on the team/club/manager in a much more vocal and overt way than normal, just at a time when the media have similarly turned on the club and this despite that they too have won a League cup, an FA Cup and the Europa League over the last 5 years.

    Not to the extent they ridicule us of course, but the usual fawning has subsided considerably of late, especially since their focus of limitless devotion has been cranked up towards Man City, Spurs and Liverpool.

    The media criticise constantly, the planes fly over. The media sees you as successful despite winning zip, and the planes remain on the ground.

    I believe that alone shows the massive impact media propaganda, because that’s what it is, has on fans.

    But more importantly it is the affect the media has on how teams are refereed.

    The referees know full well that any mistake they make in our favour, especially if it leads to a game changing event, is going to see them slaughtered in the media.

    The referees know full well that any mistake they make in our opponents favour, even if it leads to a game changing event, is going to be brushed over as utterly irrelevant.

    It isn’t an exaggeration to say that how a referee handles us can have a big affect on his or her career.

    So in conclusion I feel the media may affect whether a player wants to come to, or stay with us, but I doubt it.

    I feel the media certainly affect how the fans perceive there their clubs performance as either a success or a failure, and on the back of that how they behave towards there own owners, manager and players, which in our case is terrible.

    But by far the worst affect is the affect it has on how different teams are refereed in different ways in accordance to the demands of the media.

  4. Yet again, Attwood rides his favourite hobby horse, the finances of Manchester City. You really are the ultimate cracked record, a pub bore par excellence. It doesn’t matter that City have made a profit for the last three years now. It doesn’t matter that City have one of the highest incomes in world football. It doesn’t matter that City are absolutely self sustaining. None of this matters, as long as Attwood can continue to squeal like a spoilt 4 year old, stamping his foot, blubbering that it’s not fair.

    I’ll tell you what’s not fair. Your desire that the original Top 4 cabal continue. Should we just accept that you ‘deserve’ that place in the cabal, just because you’re Arsenal? Pfft, I don’t think so. In addition, you continue to charge the highest, most obscene ticket prices in the world, prices that we cannot hope to charge purely and simply because of geographical location. THAT is not fair. Rich owners have always put their money (aside from Mike Ashley), I suspect that it’s a fair bet that it didn’t bother you before City had their money but now that it affects you, your continued slide into irrelevance absolutely does bother you.

    Don’t forget, you also have a billionaire owner. One who chooses to maintain his parsimonious ways. That’s not our fault bùt your frustration maintains that it IS our fault because there’s nothing you can do about it.

    In fact, I believe the phrase is, ahem, ‘tough shit’. You carry on boring the balls off everyone, Attwood, it’s the one thing that Arsenal do better than most others.

  5. Perhaps the most interesting point therein is that you didn’t disprove anything I said.
    And of course you are seeking to comment on this article and inferring from that alone my views on football as a whole. And then not surprisingly get it wrong.
    What you could have done is asked my opinion on issues you infer, or you could have read others things I’ve written – but it seems you are much happier jumping in.
    But on one thing you are wrong, “Rich owners have always put their money” (I suspect an “in” was missing there.) No that is not true, and very successful clubs have been built in different models. Indeed I write on such a topic every other day … but still it is always easier to make it up.
    Oh and incidentally it is not my favourite hobby horse. But then, you haven’t done any research before accusing me, so you wouldn’t really know.

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