What missing out on the top four would mean to Arsenal and the rest

By Tony Attwood (part way through packing for the journey across the world tomorrow)

It struck me, peering at the league table from the far side of the planet, just how the league has divided itself into groups in a way that it has not done before.   I might be wrong in that memory and it is not so easy to check without all my normal reference books and a high speed desktop computer at one’s side, but that is how it feels…

Here is the top 11 as it appears on Monday at noon in Sydney, Australia.  A win against Newcastle would place us third, two points above the hunting group of wannabes, and with a better goal difference than the rest, and more goals scored than the pack.

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 32 24 7 1 72 19 53 79
2 Manchester City 31 25 2 4 81 21 60 77
3 Tottenham Hotspur 31 20 1 10 58 34 24 61
4 Manchester United 31 18 7 6 60 41 19 61
5 Arsenal 30 18 6 6 63 39 24 60
6 Chelsea 31 18 6 7 52 34 18 60
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 31 12 8 11 38 38 0 44
8 Leicester City 32 13 5 14 42 43 -1 44
9 Everton 32 12 7 13 45 42 3 43
10 Watford 31 12 7 12 43 46 -3 43
11 West Ham United 32 12 6 14 41 48 -7 42

So we have the isolated t not.op six, and then a secondary five – WHU, the last of the pack, being four points ahead of Bournemouth.   Of course one or more of the clubs in Bournemouth’s group below the top 11 could look to climb up, but the five below the top six do look to have investment and stability – which are the starting points for securing a regular place in what we might call the second tier of the Premier League.

And yet to climb from the second tier into the top six a club will also need one of the current top six to implode.  Is that really likely?  I am not at all sure it is.  It could happen, but probably not.

But who will make the top four and what will it mean to those two clubs in the top six who get the Europa spots?

The Telegraph approached this is a bit of a strange way this week with an article, “What missing out on the Premier League top four would mean to London’s giants?”

The chosen title means that Manchester United, a club who along with Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea could miss out out on the top four, were not included.  Are they saying that Man U not getting top four is utterly unthinkable, or did the writer just get bored with the subject and give up? It is hard to say, but support for Man U remains solid among journalists so it was probably not a subject that they wanted to approach.

As things stand, writing this before the Newcastle game, Arsenal and Tottenham have the benefit of the better goal difference than the rest, and Arsenal has the benefit of the game in hand.   Tottenham are on the bad run with just one win in six – that being in the Champions League and not the Premier League, which I suspect is more important to them for next season.

And there are other points to question in the report.   Tottenham have been aided by three years of Champions League football – goodness knows what financial impact a season or more with just Europa income would do for them.  With Arsenal and Manchester United we already know because they have both done it, and both are debt free.  Tottenham as we know are overwhelmed by debt.

The report on Tottenham sees the new stadium as a great bonus to the club, talking up its size and income, but as we’ve shown in a number of articles, most clubs that have got a new stadium in the past 30 years have do struggled thereafter, and certainly the cost of the repayments on the debts can have a debilitating effect on the club.

For Arsenal Mr Wenger managed the situation well, keeping us in the top four and balancing the books without being tempted away.   Tottenham may not find that their manager is able to do the same so easily especially with other clubs waiting with offers for players and for the manager himself.

The fact that no naming rights have been revealed for Tottenham’s Newhl stadium (they have so far only said that they have persuaded the railway company to change the name of the local station) suggests that the club want to secure the top four place before selling the name.  If that is the case, it is a high risk strategy – if they don’t get the Champs League next year the naming rights could be worth a lot less.

Meanwhile Chelsea, now banned from signing anyone, although that is under appeal, have finished outside the top four three times in the past seven seasons, which suggests they can survive such upsets, but it seems Mr Abramovich has not turned up at Stamford Bridge since losing his work visa application, and the new stadium project seems to have been cancelled.  That doesn’t really look like enthusiastic ownership.

Arsenal’s problem is that they are only able to invest what they generate themselves – and maybe not all of that.  So Champs League entry is vital for progress.  Without it we ain’t going to have much money to spend in the summer.  That doesn’t mean Arsenal must sell players but it does mean that what we need to do is find some more bargains like Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.  But the club has been helped by the recent Adidas and Emirates deals being signed before the season is finished showing the sponsors’ faith in the “brand.”

So to summarise, Arsenal need top four to be able to recruit new transfer targets.  Another Europa season will mean modest purchases.   Manchester United are financially immune, such is their income from worldwide marketing, and a season outside the Champs League won’t affect them.   Chelsea are in a state of limbo.  If the owner gets his visa back the project could be back on.   Without his engagement, they need a new owner fast – especially if they slip out of the top four.

Finally Tottenham.  I see them as being at the greatest risk if they don’t get top four.  They need the top four to be able to pay for the stadium, and they need it also to secure the continuance of their manager.   Without the manager they might struggle to find cheap new players and keep the ones they have.  And if the curse of the new stadium hits, they could be in real trouble.


29 Replies to “What missing out on the top four would mean to Arsenal and the rest”

  1. I think it’s hilarious that Spurs have been terrible since Kane (& his mbe! Laughable) returned from injury (1 win, I believe) I hope they keep this form up!

    Huge game tonight COYG

  2. Tony

    Point 1

    “And there are other points to question in the report. Tottenham have been aided by three years of Champions League football – goodness knows what financial impact a season or more with just Europa income would do for them.”

    BBC 15th October 2018

    “The construction of Tottenham’s new stadium will not directly affect the club’s transfer policy, chairman Daniel Levy has again told fans.”

    ESPN 17th March 2019

    “Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy has told the club’s official supporters’ trust that summer transfer plans will not be affected by the cost of the new stadium, according to published minutes from the meeting.”

    —-So despite what history tells us. Despite the massive over spend. Despite the frugality of recent years, Levy insists transfers will NOT be affected ? We will see, especially if they do miss out on CL football.

    Point 2

    “The report on Tottenham sees the new stadium as a great bonus to the club, talking up its size and income, but as we’ve shown in a number of articles, most clubs that have got a new stadium in the past 30 years have do struggled thereafter, and certainly the cost of the repayments on the debts can have a debilitating effect on the club.”

    —–When we set out on the Emirates Stadium project it was seen as an essential development if we were to compete in future years with the, not only Manchester United but the elite of Europe.

    As it transpired it had nothing like the effect that was envisaged simply because other income streams have increased beyond anything that could of been reasonably foreseen.

    TV, sponsorship, and global marketing have severely impacted on the real worth of stadium income compared to 15, even 10 years ago, so I would argue that apart from the kudos and a possible better atmosphere, the impact of a new stadium is lost in the enormous initial outlay.

    Man city haven’t got the biggest/best stadium by any means but that doesn’t affect them financially at all due to other income streams.

    Similarly Chelsea.

    Yes Man United have a massive stadium which obviously brings in a huge amount of money but it is their ‘Brand’ that makes them the real money.

    As for us, we do have a lovely shinny new stadium but without other income streams it’s financial impact is minimal, and it has to be said we should be doing better from these other streams, especially the Global Marketing’. Our position in Deloitte’s latest top 10 richest clubs list clearly shows something is wrong somewhere.

    1: Real Madrid (€750.9m revenue)
    2: Barcelona (€690.4m)
    3: Manchester United (€666m)
    4: Bayern Munich (€629.2m)
    5: Manchester City (€568.4m)
    6: Paris Saint-Germain (€541.7m)
    7: Liverpool €513.7m)
    8: Chelsea (€505.7m)
    9: Arsenal (€439.2m)
    10:Tottenham (€428.3m)

    I understand the top 4. Recent history has them all maintaining their steady flow of trophies and of course they are historically 4 of the biggest clubs in the World.


    Liverpool haven’t won a single trophy for over 10 years and a league title for almost 30 years yet they still sit above us. Yes they have their glorious European history butsurely we should of surpassed them by now?

    More concerning is Spurs, again not a single trophy for over 10 years and we all know how long since they won a title. Unlike Liverpool they haven’t even got a ‘glorious past’, at least not in living memory.

    So the worrying question is…why are Spurs only £10 million behind in the list and that’s with “…the club has been helped by the recent Adidas and Emirates deals being signed before the season is finished showing the sponsors’ faith in the “brand.” and before Spurs sell the naming rights of the Stadium ?

    We should be miles ahead of Spurs financially.

    It seems to me we are seriously falling short with both our sponsorship deals and Global Marketing.

    Or maybe it’s something else.

    People who know more than me about these things can perhaps cast a better light on this….Tony?

  3. We have a very big ploblem in tonight’s game the PGMOL Tiger is on the prawl ready to pounce and suck our blood for their darling teams,Manure and the tiny tots not to miss out of the Champions League spot.
    Who remembers the last time we where with Newcastle needing some one Or Two points in that controversy 4 4 match draw. Be warned.

  4. The points gap between the lowest ranked Top-6 and the highest ranked ROTP has been: 9, 8, -31, 2, 8, -2, -13, 4, -1 and -13. We might discount that last -13 as being a Top-4 year instead (first year of Abu Dhabi owning Man$ity).

    Having a current gap of 16 points is a little larger than expected.

    Having that -31 sitting in there is a bit of a shock. But what do you expect of a 1 in 2000 year (or so) event?

  5. Let’s leave Tottenham Hotspur’s NWHL Stadium possible arising problem or problems to Tottenham to solve it or them. For, as far as Arsenal are concerned, there is nothing they will do to help Tottenham their arch North London club side should the problems that are being envisaged they could be confronted to deal with them happens. Or will Arsenal do something good to the Totts to be their brothers keeper?

    What I think should be the immediate focus for us Gooners to focus on should be on our home match this evening in the PL against Newcastle Untied. But not on the kind of problems Tottenham could have when they move to their new White Hart Lane Stadium. Right?

    Ironically, the Totts defeat in the PL away to Liverpool has provided Arsenal with a good opportunity to go to 3rd in the table at the end of week 31 matches in the Premier League but if they beat Newcastle to not in the words of Lawrence of the BBC be “the same Arsenal the same old Arsenal”. Otherwise, they will be “the same Arsenal the same old Arsenal” should the Gunners fail to capitalise on Spurs stuttering in the PL last Saturday to beat the Magipies this night at the Ems to move to 3rd place in the table. What a chance the Gunners should not contemplate missing it but take it with both hands.

    Nevertheless, I think the current Arsenal are ‘New Arsenal The Recover New Arsenal’. And no more the “same Arsenal the same old Arsenal” according to Lawro. Therefore, for the certainty, Arsenal will tonight at the Ems beat Newcastle by 3 goals to nil and go 3rd in the table. Any attempts by Anthony Taylor, the PGMO anti-Arsenal match referee in the PL and his 2 match assistants to hinder Arsenal from collecting the maximum points in the match with be met with great resistant from the Gunners which they’ll not be able surmount.

  6. [ Attempt at humour ]

    Since April Fools brought us a Pie funny.

    We are to play Newcastle, also known as the magpies. Foods which are known to contain a lot of magnesium:
    1. green leafy vegatables
    2. fruit (avocado, banana, raspberries)
    3. nuts and seeds
    4. legumes (including such things as tofu form soybean)
    5. vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts)
    6. seafood (salmon, mackeral, tuna)
    7. whole grains (brown rice, oats)
    8. cacao/chocolate
    9. chlorella powder

    Out of that list, I think the only think I would call a “Mag” pie, would be the nuts and seeds. What do you think makes a Mag Pie?

  7. I can’t see how Spurs are going to do anything but struggle to pay the reported £1billion on their lovely new stadium. We rarely hear of Joe Lewis putting anything into the club, but if he’s needed at any time it’s now.

  8. Tony you say for a new club to get in the top six, one of the current top six has to implode. I totally disagree with you. As recently as a few seasons back, you weren’t using the term top 6. I believe you started using that term when we slipped out of the top 4. So if something like that were to happen again, I’m sure you’ll just change the slogan to “top 7” or “top 8”
    Also you said your research showed that clubs tended to do worse after building new stadiums, really? Off the top of my head I can mention Bayern, juventus, ath Madrid, Southampton, clubs that have done quite well, maybe better after building new stadiums

  9. Had a quick estimate and repayments over 20 years would be around £75 million per year.

  10. Arsenal XI

    Mustafi Sokratis Monreal
    Maitland-Niles Kolasinac
    Ramsey Guendouzi
    Ozil Lacazette Iwobi

    Beach: Cech, Elneny, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Suarez, Jenkinson, Nketiah


  11. How to go Aaron!

    Half an hour into the game, no data on possession yet? DailyFlail said at one point, it was baout 70% Arsenal.


  12. It would seem that Aaron scored unasisted.

    At half time, still no idea as to possession statistics. Must be an April Fools joke to not do commentary properly. Lots of mistakes in commentary.


  13. TomP,
    Sunderland: went up and down since then. Southampthon the same even went bankrupt I think. Middlesbrough, Derby County, just a few from the top of my head. All of them went down and some stayed down. I even think there is an article about them on this site.

  14. My computer must be flaky. I still can’t get possession data, and Walter’s new thread shows a title of 1:0 in this page, but clicking on that link there is a page which shows the 0:0 score and very little updating.


  15. First treatment of the game to Maitland-Niles. PGMO official as usual notices nothing.


  16. Of course, first yellow of the game goes to Arsenal. Xhaka didn’t make the bench, so who to give it to. And the winner is Monreal.


  17. @walter, I’m sure if you made the effort to check, you’ll find those teams were up and down before the stadium moves. I believe a good yardstick for measurement would be average position 5yrs before stadium move and 5years after

  18. Middlesbrough’… Moved in 95
    5seasons before
    90-91 old div2
    91-92 -old div2.. Promoted
    92-93 -EPL (21st)…relegated
    93-94 -div1
    94-95 -div 1..promoted//

    moved to Riverside
    95-96 -EPL
    96-97 EPL (19th, relegated)
    97-98 -div 1(2nd, promoted)
    98-99 EPL (9th)
    99-00 EPL (12th)
    Summary: before stadium move 1/5 season in top tier, relegated immediately. After stadium move 4/5 seasons in top tier. Relegated once, bounced right back up.
    Verdict: 5seasons after stadium move much better than 5seasons before.

    Same conclusion for derby, Sunderland. For Southampton similar verdict, only that they got relegated after 5yrs. Note that on 2 occasions before the stadium move they finished 18th and would have been relegated if it were a 20team league season.

    Source: Wikipedia

  19. So I ask again Walter, how did you come to the conclusion that teams plummet after stadium moves?

  20. @walter, I’ve gone through both articles and I must say the logic behind them is fundamentally flawed. The bone of contention is “do clubs plummet after building new stadiums?”, and the only logical way I think you can answer that question is to compare performance before the stadium move and performance after the stadium move. I have decided to use an arbitrary figure of 5yrs before and 5after(you can chose your figure). And from my research
    Middlesbrough’ -as given earlier
    Derby- 1/5 seasons in the EPL before stadium move, 5/5 seasons in the EPL after.
    Sunderland -1/5 EPL seasons before, 3/5 seasons after.
    Southampton -5/5 EPL seasons before, 4/5 seasons after.

    Summary: in other words, other than Southampton, these clubs natural habitat before their stadium moves was the lower tier, after the stadium moves they more often than not punched above their weights, having a ride in the EPL for a period. Thus for those that in due course fell back into the lower tier, they were merely returning to their natural level, and not plummeting as you erroneously would have us believe. Its just like saying Leicester is underperforming coming in 10th position, just because they won the league in 2016.

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