Arsenal warned over huge financial losses … presumably because they don’t realise!

By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist at the University Hospital of the North Circular Road.

The notion that Arsenal need to be warned that there could be huge losses ahead is one of the more bizarre stories that has emerged from the British national press of late, but that is what the Daily Mirror told us six days ago, adding “Arsenal are in danger of losing millions if they are forced to operate without matchday income.”

Now we know that different clubs will lose different amounts of money if they can’t play their games with crowds in the ground.  The BBC gave us a very helpful piece a while back showing the annual matchday income per club.  Arsenal are up there at the top, ahead of Liverpool, behind Man U.   The Tottenham figures relate to a period when they played at Wembley.  All graphs here come from the BBC.

What made the piece so amusing was however that if was followed by the statement that Arsenal “have been warned they stand to lose huge sums in revenue if the Premier League decide to stage matches behind closed doors next season.”

This suggests that Arsenal’s directors and management are so stupid that they can’t read accounts and projections, and that other clubs won’t lose money too.   Now who would originate such a story, and would then go out and tout the notion around newspapers trying to find one that would be so willing to knock the club that they would run it also.

Step forward the Arsenal Supporters Trust, of who it has been said, and indeed quite rightly.

Now you know you are going to have a laugh when a newspaper like the Mirror reports something the AST has said as “findings,” but that is what they did.  And what they found was, “that the club’s finances would be £144m worse off” if there were no crowds at the stadium for a year.

Then however the piece got worrying.  “Arsenal have already had to refund fans for the four home games that were still left to play,” said the Mirror – maybe making it up or maybe following an AST story.

Certainly that is worrying for me because I have not received the money. If you are a season ticket holder and have had a refund from Arsenal could you let us know.  If it is just the Untold group without refunds we’ll need to take action!  I am sure the Mirror can’t be wrong.

Then it goes into the regular knocking copy – we won’t have the money to buy players, Arsenal are already on a very tight budget, we might well not qualify for Europe next season (no mention of two managerial changes which the Mirror was a forthright advocate of, of course) and so on with lines such as “in addition to lost ticket income, Arsenal would also be impacted by a drop in commercial and retail revenue.”

That of course could be true, but on the other hand it is the same for all other clubs, so just mentioning Arsenal seems a bit odd.   As is the notion that, “A key concern is the delay in receiving season ticket income, which is usually collected this time of year, but has currently been frozen until further notice,” which is also true – for every club.

So step forward the AST who said: “Arsenal’s available cash reserves heading into the summer of 2020-21 could be wiped out and a new borrowing requirement of over £50m ($62m) being required by the end of July if the club is to meet its commitments to pay other clubs instalments due on player transfers and finance wages in June and July.

“So we certainly don’t predict a big-spending transfer window!”

Well, yes, except there is no comparison there with other clubs, and no mention of the failure of their previous prognostications.  And indeed no mention of the impact on player prices of the current crisis.  It is as if Arsenal exist in a bubble – it is affected but no one else will ever be affected.

As with the prediction AST did before last summer which said we would have an expenditure of £40m on transfers when in fact Arsenal spent £138m.   Or that before that they said that Arsenal’s directors had salted away £40m for their own use.  If there were subsequent apologies for these errors, I missed them.

These stories have no basis in reality and no supporting evidence, and such evidence as there is suggests the opposite.  Arsenal have been spending a lot of money on transfers, but as with all the other top spending clubs of last season, Arsenal’s position has declined in this regard.

Arsenal do get a lot of money from matchday, but their problem is primarily that it is a higher percentage of their income than for most other clubs.  Up to now that was something to celebrate because it comes from the highly successful club level and boxes catering facilities, as well of course as high ticket prices.   Projections show that Tottenham will in fact overtake Arsenal in this regard once football resumes.   Man U, despite their much bigger ground, earn less on match days because their facilities were built before the notion of exploiting the very wealthy on match days.

This BBC chart shows matchday income as a percentage of total income.

The clubs with asterisks in this and the chart below had not declared their financial position and so the previous season’s figures are taken.

Clubs will have financial losses because of the virus — but the key issue is their level of financial reserves and here the BBC figures show Arsenal in a better position than most.  This table shows cash reserves at the end of last season.

Of course quite a lot of that will have gone because of transfer spending last summer (although only a small part of each transfer fee is paid at the time of transfer) – which is what AST were calling for.

So are the AST and their chums at the Daily Mirror talking sense?  I’ll leave that to you.

The fact is that no one prepared for this crisis either in football or elsewhere, simply because we haven’t had a crisis like this for 100 years, so on some counts Arsenal will be worse off, in others they will be better off.  There is a real possibility that a number of clubs across the divisions will not survive, but much will depend on the owners, their pockets, and their willingness to dip the hand within them.

3 Replies to “Arsenal warned over huge financial losses … presumably because they don’t realise!”

  1. Well done Untold Arsenal the Arsenal bashing media need to be exposed for their error strewn tosh.

  2. The Mirror? Isn’t that where that spud supporter Piss Morgan is said to work? I am certain at some time previously he did. AST? I certainly would not trust them. Whilst we can all have our moments when we are critical, most of us would stop any activity we were voluntarily engaged if we were just moaning and whinging about it all the time. I am sure these people have ” Nuke the whales” posters in their homes. We can only hope once they become adults that they will stop this and do something constructive instead.

  3. I believe Morgan was the Editor at the Mirror when they where found guilty of ‘photoshopping’ pictures of some of our Troops whilst on active duty abroad to make them look like they were abusing either young squadies or enemy prisons.

    Either way it was a disgrace and it was on his watch and yet there he is, still working in the media, making moral judgements on Özil and telling others what they should and shouldn’t do.

    The mans a disgrace.

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