Where does Arsenal stand in the battle between UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar?

By Tony Attwood

So we’ve been thinking about owners of late, because they are the people who can make or break a club.

And two bits of news have come up on the owners front.  First, there is the story (completely unconfirmed of course) that Kroenke will make a major cash injection into Arsenal.  That is according to Mail and copied by other papers – but with no authentication of indication of the source.

The other is a new chart, published by the Mail at the same time, showing the wealth of the owners.  Here’s the full list…

1. Newcastle Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund
2. Man City  Sheikh Mansour  £23.3bn 
3. Chelsea  Roman Abramovich  £9.6bn 
4. Arsenal  Stan Kroenke  £6.8bn 
5. Wolverhampton
Guo Guangchang  £5.2bn 
6. Aston Villa  Nassef Sawiris  £5bn 
7. Leicester  Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha  £4.6bn 
8. Tottenham  Joe Lewis  £3.9bn 
9. Manchester United  The Glazer Family  £3.6bn 
10. Southampton  Gao Jisheng  £3.1bn 
11. Crystal Palace  Joshua Harris  £2.7bn 
12. Liverpool  John W Henry  £2.1bn 
13.West Ham  David Sullivan and David Gold  £1.6bn 
14. Everton  Farhad Moshiri  £1.5bn 
15. Brighton  Tony Bloom  £1.3bn 
16. Bournemouth  Maxim Demin  £900m 
17. Sheffield United  Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ed  £198m 
18. Watford  Gino Pozzo  £93m 
19. Burnley  Mike Garlick  £62m 
20. Norwich  Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones  £23m 

It is interesting that a man with a wealth of (for example) £1,300,000,000 can be just 15th in the league table of owners.   But more to the point, the wealth behind Newcastle is just so far beyond everything else we have seen, that we can only imagine what the club is going to do.  Probably just wave out of the window as it by-passes PSG and Manchester City and buys in the top manager, the top players and adds another tier to St James Park to take it beyond the 52,000 capacity.

As we have noted recently, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund also own BeOutx TV which offers free to air coverage of matches from across the world, and I wonder if they will extend that to the UK.  Probably not.  But would be nice if they did.

Anyway, we can see Arsenal’s owner is in fourth place, in wealth terms, but his problem is that his investments are in shopping centres and sports clubs, which are all being hit at the moment.  But still if he loses the odd billion, will it matter?

Yet the simple fact is that it will take exactly the right combination of purchases and youth team players to tackle the three clubs above us financially, especially since Manchester City will be out there buying everyone and everything for the City Group.  Indeed I wonder if the purchase of Newcastle is the start of a rival group deliberately set up to take on the City Group with its multiplicity of clubs.

What is fairly clear is that the failure of Manchester City to continue winning the league has affected them badly and they are not going to take this lying down.

You might recall that in the earlier article “Football is being taken over by those fighting their own wars” we ran this chart as a guide to what has happened to football of late…

Club Country TV War / Dispute
Manchester City UAE Man C v Uefa
Newcastle United Saudi Arabia BeOutQ 2nd Arab Cold War
PSG Qatar BeIn 2nd Arab Cold War

.;.. so now we have to wait and see just where the purchase of Newcastle by Saudi Arabia will leave the club, and indeed the whole of Premier League football.

Liverpool has shown that with the right manager it is possible to build a club that can walk away with the title even with an owner who has just a measly £2,100,000,000 to throw at the project.  But the fact is that Liverpool had more than the right manager and the money.  They also had, in building up to this season, a loyal support from fans and the media of the type Arsenal can only dream about.

If we look at Liverpool’s last ten years, it is hardly sensational…

Season P W D
L F A Pts Pos
FAC LgeC Champs Europa
2009–10 38 18 9 11 61 35 63 7th R3 R4 Group SF
2010–11 38 17 7 14 59 44 58 6th R3 R3 R16
2011–12 38 14 10 14 47 40 52 8th RU W
2012–13 38 16 13 9 71 43 61 7th R4 R4 R32
2013–14 38 26 6 6 101 50 84 2nd R5 R3
2014–15 38 18 8 12 52 48 62 6th SF SF Group R32
2015–16 38 16 12 10 63 50 60 8th R4 RU RU
2016–17 38 22 10 6 78 42 76 4th R4 SF
2017–18 38 21 12 5 84 38 75 4th R4 R3 RU
2018–19 38 30 7 1 89 22 97 2nd R3 R3 W

Compare with Arsenal

Season P W D
F A Pts Pos
2009–10 38 23 6 9 83 41 75 3rd R4 QF QF
2010–11 38 19 11 8 72 43 68 4th QF RU R16
2011–12 38 21 7 10 74 49 70 3rd R5 QF R16
2012–13 38 21 10 7 72 37 73 4th R5 QF R16
2013–14 38 24 7 7 68 41 79 4th W R4 R16
2014–15 38 22 9 7 71 36 75 3rd W R3 R16
2015–16 38 20 11 7 65 36 71 2nd QF R3 R16
2016–17 38 23 6 9 77 44 75 5th W QF R16
2017–18 38 19 6 13 74 51 63 6th R3 RU SF
2018–19 38 21 7 10 73 51 70 5th R4 QF RU

Yes of course I know that Liverpool! has won the Champions League and we have not, and they will win the league this season whenever it is finished.  But their only other trophy in ten years is the league cup, and their average league position is 5.4.  Ours is 3.9 – massively better.

But of course the media has always been full of Liverpool!  Even though this will be their first title in something like 30 years.

My point is, that the utter wealth of Manchester City, and now the utterly insane wealth of Newcastle, can be overtaken with the right manager and the right tactics.  I am not sure how much money our owner is going to throw at Arsenal, and whether we have the right manager to take the club up to the level of the three clubs above Arsenal in the financial league.  Maybe yes in both cases, in which case we will give them a run for their money.

But let me just add one curious other factor.  The purchase of Newcastle by Saudi Arabia is a direct challenge both to Qatar and the UAE, as it is to those of us who value human rights and the rule of law as understood in most western countries, and as it is to Uefa.   If Uefa is strong in taking on Manchester City, then the limits as to what Saudi Newcastle can get away with will be established.  If Uefa or the CAS crumbles in the face of the Man City onslaught, then we might as well accept that fourth will be a trophy, because even achieving that will be quite something.