Mourinho meeting Arsenal, and the stadium is still not paid for

By Tony Attwood

It seemed to be all over the blogs and cheap-seats newspapers too: Mourinho was in a secret meeting with Arsenal top bosses.

Football.London got so excited about it all that they even ran a computer program to find out how well Mourinho would do as Arsenal manager.

Then Arsenal put out a vigorous denial of the story and all the same publications that had run the first tale as fact or at least “according to reports” found they had another story they could run: that there was no meeting.  Two stories for the price of one.  Not bad eh?

Others found nifty ways around the problem.  The sun’s report that the “Under-fire Arsenal boss” had been given a month to save his job suggested that the board were still unhappy with him – a neat way of trying to avoid any suggestion that all the media were rushing to the bandwagon about the meeting.

If there was a single source for the tale it could have been that Mourinho watched the Europa League win over Vitória.   But then you’d expect him to watch a few matches while out of work.

As for all the people who ran the story that this was most definitely an event, I am not too sure that many of them have run an apology.  Or come to that an explanation as to how the whole thing was so wrong.

Although to be fair, Arsenal are not saying that they won’t employ Mourinho (although as you’ll know from our last piece on the topic, I do hope they don’t since he looks like a manager who wins the league and leaves the club in a terrible state.)

Meanwhile on a separate issue, whenever the suggestion is made here that the Arsenal Stadium has been paid for, and was indeed paid for during Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager, then we get a few readers popping up with their absolute denial, claiming that there is still a vast amount of money to be paid off by the club for the stadium.

Naturally, the writers of such comments don’t give any information or evidence to support their claim – it is just stated.   So here’s an invitation to give some evidence that the stadium has not been paid for.

Even Arsenal Supporters’ Trust which has twice claimed that there is something very wrong with Arsenal’s accounts (on one occasion saying that money was being pushed into a secret directors’ fund, on the other saying the club has only £40m to spend on transfers) has not claimed that the stadium debt is still there.

But credit where it is due, for they did give a full analysis of the debts that Arsenal do have in an article under the heading Arsenal’s debt commitments.

They confirmed that it is the Arsenal bonds that are the big debt commitment, not the loans for the new stadium, and which will need to be repaid at some stage.

Arsenal launched their first bond in 1993 (or within a year of that, sorry I can’t see the exact date), and this was followed by a second set of bonds at prices between £3,000 and £5000 each ten years later.

These bonds were all subject to a sufficient demand for them, and it was reported at the time of the second set of bonds that interest was 11 times the number of bonds available.  The aim was simply to raise loans and use the income to help the transfer budget at the time.  Not to use the money to build the new stadium.

There was no offer of a discount on the cost of season tickets at the time, but there was a promise that the bond holders would be first in the queue for season tickets when the new stadium (the current one that is) was opened.   There was also the promise of a dividend of £100 per bond in each season that Arsenal won a trophy in the five years after the sale.   Plus interest.

So when we talk about Arsenal’s debt, it is not the debt caused by the cost of building the new stadium (that was £390m) but by the earlier fund raising while at Highbury.

The fixed rate bonds will be fully repaid by 2029, and they are costing the club about £16m a year.  The floating rate bonds need to be repaid in 2031 and will cost £50m.

The debenture bonds C and D will cost £20m to redeem in 2028.

And undoubtedly all that is very boring, but that is part of the problem.  When someone comes in and says Arsenal have huge debts on the stadium, and it is not true that Wenger’s success on the pitch in keeping the club in the Champions League helped pay for the stadium – and does it without the offer of any evidence, it looks rather untrue to me.

Of course if there were evidence, or indeed detail, I’d look again.   If you are a regular reader you’ll know I often make mistakes – not least because Untold often deals in areas of Arsenal’s existence that are themselves unclear – but thus far I am not sure I have made one here.

14 Replies to “Mourinho meeting Arsenal, and the stadium is still not paid for”

  1. It’s interesting that we’re now a club who is probably going to have go through this kind of hiring/firing scenario three, four, five times or more over the next 20 years, having seen one man’s tenure last that long. It is a bit difficult to get used to, but it will happen because that’s how it works. The lifespans of head coaches these days are far shorter, and we’ll fire one because he’s not good enough, and we might lose one because he’s too good and he’ll have a better job to go to. That’s the merry-go-round we’re on and there’s no getting away from it.

    I get the sense that there’s a kind of resistance to the idea that we should sack a manager so quickly. That it’s somehow unbecoming of a club like Arsenal (the same Arsenal whose club strategy was, apparently, to freeze out one of its best players). I don’t really understand it, I have to say. 18 months – which is about where we are now with Emery – might seem rapid in the context of Arsene Wenger’s 22 years, but in modern football it’s more than enough to see what a manager is about.

    Let’s also be clear: we wouldn’t be having this discussion if there were signs that things were getting better under Emery. They’re not. Results are bad, performances are bad, the underlying metrics are bad, and there are things we need to consider in the wider picture too. We want Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette to sign new deals, they’re on offer but remain unsigned because these guys don’t want another season of Europa League football. If our form continues the way it is under Emery, they’ll get their wish because we won’t have any European football at all.

  2. Great to try to put the record straight. It shows it is not smart enough or be half smart by merely reading financial statements and put your own ”imagined” notes to the account.
    Hope those guys come up with something not invented, or keep the silence of the graveyard or hold their peace as wedding minister would say.

  3. Liam, I think the problem is that fans protested in the stadium two years ago to get Wenger out. Now 14 months into the new reign and they are doing it again. so what on earth makes anyone think next time it will be ok?

  4. My patience with UE will probably last until the end of the month after which if there is no significant improvement then it will be time to act and the short term solution is Freddie

    In the summer Joachim Low will be available and I would choose between him and the Leeds manager Bielsa who has (without any English) transformed that club

    Long term we must as in 1996 have a vision and not opt for a safe but unimaginative man

  5. Fans are protesting, Tony, because they want a manager that can keep up with the rest of the top of the league. Wenger had clearly started to struggle with some of the changes to the game. All of a sudden, players were regularly getting to the last season of their contracts without a replacement already in hand, new signings were disappointing at a higher rate than a decade ago, and in general, we were struggling more than we used to against the best clubs out there.

    Emery’s troubles seem to be of his own making. He’s blunted the attack because he’s focusing too many players on preventing goals, ironically, without actually preventing goals. The underlying metrics this season are brutal. It’s very possible to improve on the last few seasons of Arsene Wenger, it just looks like the club’s first attempt to do so was a big swing and miss.

    Fortunately, Emery has freshened up the squad even if he’s not getting results. When we do eventually move on from him (which seems inevitable at this point), at least the new manager won’t be dealing with an old squad with very little depth, and a bunch of bad contractual situations.

  6. “Naturally, the writers of such comments don’t give any information or evidence to support their claim – it is just stated.”

    With respect, I have on more than one occasion provided links substantiating my statements. Nevertheless, here we go again.

    From The Swiss Ramble (

    “There have been a few misguided reports in the media that Arsenal have paid off their stadium debt, but the reality is that the debt incurred for the Emirates development continues to have an influence over Arsenal’s strategy.

    “Although this has come down significantly from the £411 million peak in 2008 to £233 million (in 2016), it is still a heavy burden, requiring an annual payment of around £20 million, covering interest and repayment of the principal.

    “Arsenal’s debt comprises long-term bonds that represent the “mortgage” on the stadium £194 million, derivatives £24 million and debentures held by supporters £14 million.”

  7. Everyone who dares comment on Emery’s future is simply indulging in Fantasy football wet dreams. Given 18 months to change 22 years of one man’s approach and management style is not a lot of time. Also he has to integrate a new tactical system and 8 new or youth players into a team that has had one philosophy for so long. Tony has repeatedly shown that constant changes of manager and the time a new manager needs to adjust and remodel any team into a working unit is often fraught with dangers and disappointments. Maybe Emery is still fine tuning the team, maybe he’s lost the plot as the pseudo-supporters often whine on about or maybe like some of you above, whose ¨patience¨ is running thin, and who think anybody at AFC or even on UA give care sweet ¨f**k¨-all about what you will or will not do, it is meaningless posturing.

  8. Emery’s Arsenal team performance in the Premier League matches this season leaves much to be desired. And therefore his teams who he’s responsible for have to improve very quickly on their performances significantly, and keep improving on them on the consistent basis that will see the club start to win matches again on the regular basis at home and away. Which if achieved starting from their Leicester away game can kick-start a winning confidence breakthrough to the team after their haven had an unwinning game run that saw the Gunners performed averagely in Arsenal matches in recent weeks to give fears to the credence if their lost PL game winning confidence will be recovered at Leicester to serve as the catalyst if recovered that can see Arsenal return to the winning ways to have a very long winning run garnering some massive points to recover back their lost regular top-four place finish lost after 22 consecutive seasons achievement that was lost in the last 3 seasons.

  9. When you see how statistically Arsenal have struggled under Unai Emery, in almost every metric you can think of, it just adds to the worries about this team and where it’s going right now. Nor should we underestimate the benefits of having a manager to connect with and to believe in. We’re never going to have another Arsene Wenger, he was a once-off in terms of longevity and the impact he had on the football as a whole. We don’t now need a man who has to revolutionise the entire club to make us successful, because over the years football has changed and the club itself has changed immeasurably.

    We have the finest facilities, we’re not lacking in staff, there’s data, there’s science, there’s backroom support, improved fitness and medical teams, there’s technology, it’s all there. So to is a squad that has enough talent to make the top four this season. Despite my concerns about our form and how poorly we’re playing, I still firmly believe that the players we have are good enough to achieve that goal. It just needs someone to come in and get the mix right.

    Not just from our perspective as fans, but those players need it too. There are growing whispers of dressing room discontent, never a good sign for a manager, but how could you really blame them? They’re ambitious, they want to win, they want to play Champions League football next season. Worries about our strikers refusing to sign contracts because of that precise concern should have the boardroom thinking long and hard, but Aubameyang and Lacazette feel to me like players who would be happy to stay if we were achieving what we should be.

    It’s an age-old concern though, when a club is under-performing – and we definitely are – your best players don’t want to stick around. That’s not unique to us, that’s football, but it’s something we need to give very strong consideration to. Our goal this season is to finish in the top four: if we don’t do it, and certain top players depart because of that, that ambition becomes even more difficult to achieve next season.

    This is a pivotal moment in the recent history of this football club. We need the people at the top to be decisive, to be strong, and to improve us – not allow us to drift along until such time as our season becomes impossible to salvage.

  10. But Liam, the people at the top are by and large those who encourage Wenger to resign (under fan pressure) and who then appointed Emery. what makes you think they will do any better next time?

  11. @Liam, my opinion why PEA and Lacca is not committing to the new contracts would most likely be due to the price offered. I believe they want a substantial increase in salary and longer contract term but Arsenal is not willing to meet it. If history is a guide I say this is most likely why they are not committing, not because whether Arsenal is in the Champions League or not. I mean they left their former clubs who were in the Champions League and move to a team playing in the Europa League.

  12. @Tony, even the best get it wrong sometimes. All the big clubs are littered with managers who got it right and the failures. Consider Chelsea, Barca, Madrid, Munich, juve, PSG from 2010 till date, we’ve been treated to successes like pep, mourinho-inter, Madrid, ancelotti -Madrid, Chelsea, PSG; klopp-dortmund, Liverpool; Emery-sevilla, allegri-juve, Milan; Enrique-barca; zidane-madrid. We’ve also had the flops man utd-moyes, lvg, mourinho, solskjaer; Chelsea- avg, scolari,mourinho 2; Liverpool- Rodgers, king Kenny, hogdson; Bayern- ancelotti, kovac. Even Leicester have gone through Preston, ranieri, Shakespeare and now Rodgers.
    So if we go through our own process it won’t be a big deal or make our management useless. Of course every time it doesn’t work out they’ll get some stick, but they know that already

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