Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules

By Sir Hardly Anyone

Last season 19 players made 10 or more starts in first team matches for Arsenal. In addition to the 38 league games we had six in the League Cup and one in the FA Cup.

This coming season we will obviously be in one extra competition – the Europa League – which will mean at the very least another six games, and quite possibly another 10 or more games all told.  We will start in the League Cup one round later, meaning one game fewer, but hopefully will make up for that by not going out in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.  So an extra ten games is likely to be the minimum we’ll get.

Here is a list of the 19 players who made ten or more starts last season in declining number of starts.

Number Player Position Starts Subs
7 Bukayo Saka Defender/Midfielder 40 3
6 Gabriel Defender 37 1
32 Aaron Ramsdale Goalkeeper 37 0
4 Ben White Defender 37 0
8 Martin Odegaard Midfielder 36 4
34 Granit Xhaka Defender/Midfielder 29 1
35 Gabriel Martinelli Forward 26 10
5 Thomas Partey Midfielder 24 2
10 Emile Smith Rowe Midfielder 24 12
3 Kieran Tierney Defender/Midfielder 24 1
9 Alexandre Lacazette Forward 23 13
17 Cédric Soares Defender 21 5
18 Takehiro Tomiyasu Defender/Midfielder 21 1
20 Nuno Tavares Defender 17 11
23 Albert Sambi Lokonga Midfielder 16 8
16 Rob Holding Defender 14 7
14 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Forward 13 2
30 Eddie Nketiah Forward 13 14
25 Mohamed El Neny Midfielder 11 6


Of course we know that Aubameyang and Lacazette have gone taking us down to 17 such players.   Incoming we have Matt Turner, Fabio Vieira and, although not officially confirmed as yet, everyone seems to agree, Jesus.  Which takes us back to 20.

Quite how we are going to line up, of course we don’t yet know.  But one popular guess could give us


Tomiyasu White Gabriel Tierney

Partey Vieira

Saka   Odegaard   Martinelli


That lineup leaves Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Elneny, Xhaka, Pepe, Turner, Holding, Soares, and Saliba not playing in the first-choice selection.

Additionally, we have Daniel Ballard, George Lewis, James Olayinka, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Matt Smith, and Zak Swanson who are over 21.  We might note in passing that the rules for the under 23 competition that was have now changed making it an under 21 league with five outfield players and the goalkeeper all able to be over 21.

Of course, there is always a high level of turnaround with the under 23, now under 21, squad so many of those under 23s who did not break through last year will have left by the time the season starts.

Meanwhile, the rule about substitutes which was introduced as a covid emergency measure has been retained as a permanent part of the regulations, so nine substitutes can be named for each league game.

Only five of the nine can be made at three separate intervals – which normally means two intervals since clubs need to hold back their final substitute option in case of a late injury.

At the same time, new regulations come into force to control spending on wages, transfers, and agent fees to 70 per cent of club income.  This of course is the regulation that Manchester City got around by having such things as an Official Club Tractor Supplier paying lunatic sums for the title and there seems to be no change in the regulations in this regard.  So clubs that can somehow get bizarre sponsorship deals from far-off lands look to be able to repeat the process without hindrance.

As a result the fact that clubs will be checked every quarter to ensure that all bills are being paid on time, doesn’t mean much.  The clubs will be able to lose €60m over three years – which is twice as much as under the old Financial Fair Play rules. There is also a get-out clause for another €10m loss a year if the club is in “good financial health”.  So overall, FFP is being weakened still further.

The spending on wages is limited to 70 percent of club income per calendar year, not per season (the old “per season” rule allowing clubs to get around the regs by moving summer purchases from one season to the next to help avoid the limits).

Clubs breaking the rules can be prohibited from signing players, can be forced to play with smaller squads, and can have points deducted.  Clubs that repeatedly break the rules can have stronger sanctions, and the idea is for punishments for one year to be handed out in May the following year.  Many of the rules are being phased in over three years although the “No Overdue Payment” rule starts now.

But – and this is the big issue – if a club objects to its punishment, as Manchester City did, it can still appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport.  If you want to know the implication of that you might care to glance at CHAIR OF THE COURT OF ARBITRATION IN SPORT ADMITS GIVING BRIBES

That, as they say, sums it all up.

3 Replies to “Next season starting lineup and the new Financial Fair Play rules”

  1. Martinelli and Saliba now count as “home-grown”, allowing some extra leeway. Osei-Tutu has left for Bochum on a permanent transfer.

    Notwithstanding the usual nonsense you highlight of the ninety-plus new players coming to Arsenal, the club seems to be unusually bullish in the transfer market this season.

    Meanwhile there are a number of (apparently) superfluous players who may be seeking pastures new, but are currently still on the books: AMN, Reiss Nelson, Torreira, Leno, Runarsson, Mari. It might be awkward if any of these are still Arsenal-contracted come September.

    Then there’s Pepe.

  2. Once again a team has been cited and once again Smith Rowe finds himself touted to be on the bench. Yet he was our second top scorer to Saka who had 16 more starts and scored 1 more goal . We have watched ESR come through the ranks and yet our purchasing policy seems to be to rumoured to be designed to leave him on the bench.
    I would think that having Jesus joining and possibly Raphina that we may well see this extreme talent fed up kicking his heels on the bench .We have strengthened the depth of the attacking midfield with the new Vieira but surely we should be looking to do the same about the engine room . Partey and Xhaka need more than Lokonga as back up and we need that more than a Raphina overloading our forward potential
    Just my opinion of course , but I would have thought worth discussing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *