Spurs' dominance, and the consequences of Arsenal missing out on top four
Monday, May 15, 2017 at 8:32PM
Arsenal Truth

As Spurs attempt to finish the season in style, they said goodbye to White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Man Utd. Amidst finishing above Arsenal for the first time in decades, the question some have been asking is, has there been a North London power shift? I suppose that depends on how you would define a power shift.

Some people will say that Arsenal have ruled over Spurs for 20 years, therefore their neighbours would have to achieve something similar to claim a genuine ‘power shift’. However, to me, a power shift can be signified by a sudden event or short-term change, like a dictator being strung up by his neck, but not replaced by another dictator.

Long-term dominance is not a power shift, it’s a trend.

So yes, the power in North London has shifted. It started last season when Spurs challenged for the title but Arsenal didn’t and Pochettino has cemented his short-term dominance over Wenger this season.

To make matters worse for Wenger, Liverpool now only need a home win at Middlesbrough, and Man City a healthy win from one of their two remaining fixtures against West Brom or Watford, to relegate Arsenal to Europa League football next season.

Apart from the obvious decline in footballing fortunes that Arsenal are suffering, a bigger worry for the club is the financial shift that will occur should, by this time next week, Liverpool and City damn Arsenal to Thursday night football in 2017/18.

It seems that Spurs’ rise to becoming one of the Premier League’s elite has come at the perfect time for the club. With a frighteningly expensive new stadium to build, not only are they generating substantially more income from their participation in the Champions League and new-found Premier League status, but they’re also poised to rebrand their soon-to-be-completed 61,000-capacity stadium.

‘Experts’ agree that Spurs could generate up to £400m in naming rights for the new stadium. There would also be a timely (for them) redefinition of the club’s status when it comes to negotiating new sponsorship deals. Such sums would remove some of the impact of the reported vast increase in borrowing Tottenham have had to shoulder (from an initial £500m to £800m) in finishing the project.

One foreseeable problem for Tottenham, however, will be how the players adapt to playing matches at Wembley Stadium next season. On the plus side, if Spurs can regularly come close to filling Wembley’s 91,000 seat capacity, the club would more than double its match day income, earning them an extra £45m-£70m.

As for Arsenal, relegation from the Champions League to the Europa League could not come at a worse time. Arsenal’s kit deal with Puma expires next season, and apart from the £50m income Arsenal would lose - of which they’d be lucky to claw back half even if they won the Europa league - the club will inevitably suffer the commercial fallout of non-Champions League participation in renegotiating that deal. It would likewise be disastrous if Arsenal failed to get into the top four next season too, as the Emirates deal expires in 2019.

At present, commercial deals are vitally important for European clubs looking to compete at the top financial table. As mentioned on this blog last October, Arsenal’s commercial revenues already trail badly behind their rival European elites, while the Premier League’s Short Term Cost Controls, i.e. ‘salary cap’ programme prevents clubs with wage bills in excess of £67m from increasing their wage bill by more than £7m for each of the next two seasons unless profits are driven by commercial income. If Arsenal cannot increase wages by way of higher commercial income – and there’s little evidence of that as commerical income only rose by £4m last season, they will have to sell to buy more players.

Arsenal’s recent £70m increase in turnover has been almost entirely driven by the Premier League’s new TV deal. This has helped to deliver a £40m profit this season despite the club’s dismal failure to compete for major trophies. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s wage bill is touching £200m pa, while stadium debt stands at around £200m with fixed-term repayments standing at £20m pa. The club has enough cash reserves to cover this amount - theoretically meaning that Arsenal are debt-free, but paying the debt early would forfeit Arsenal approx. £25m.

Arsenal should have a £100m war chest available for the purchase of new players this summer + whatever they can get for players they have to sell for fear of their contracts expiring in 2018. The situation is perilous with Sanchez, Ozil, Oxlade Chamberlain, Gibbs, Wilshere, Szczesny and Cazorla perfectly positioned to demand either a big wage hike (which the club can’t afford due to aforementioned PL short-term wage control costs) or leave the club this summer.

Basically, as things stand at this moment, assuming his demands are legitimate, Arsenal could barely afford to pay Ozil £300k a week, as the £160k increase alone would raise the wage bill by £8m. The wage bill might have to drop just to give Ozil the money he wants, so you can see how it’s impossible for Arsenal to hand new contracts to all those players listed above (assuming they want to stay) without having to offload others.

This further demonstrates the mess that Arsenal are actually in. The team is nowhere near competing for the Premier League or Champions League, and will be lucky to even qualify for the latter, yet in order just to keep the current failed status quo, Arsenal would have to dump a heap of players in order to finance new deals for Ozil and Sanchez and there would be little wriggle room to bring anybody else in.

Just as well Sanchez will be leaving then.

Of course, as we well know it’s not all about money – for most. A host of clubs throughout Europe are seriously outperforming Arsenal with far inferior wage budgets and spending power. However, they’re not managed by tactical cretins. Wenger’s only way to succeed at Arsenal is if another three of four players of Sanchez or Ozil’s ilk land in his lap. Unfortunately, the chances of that are remote, he can’t pay the wages anyway and would probably fight for fourth every season even if he had a £400m wage bill and double the transfer funds.

Basically, it’s blatantly obvious to any cretin that Arsenal need a manager that can punch above his weight or at least perform like one that has a £200m wage bill and blown £306m in players over the past three seasons. That’s why 100% of clubs in Europe would ensure Wenger leaves in the summer, and why the Arsenal board are mentally deranged if they don’t, from both a footballing and financial perspective.

Arsenal have made a predictable end of season return to form in recent weeks as Wenger desperately begs for boardroom clemency by claiming that Arsenal’s “fighting spirit has returned”, Ozil has “blossomed in his new position” and “Chelsea won’t be as strong next season”. Of course it’s complete rubbish, Arsenal are still the same old shit show – the only difference being they have had to go full throttle while their opponents are downing tools in preparation for their summer holidays.

Arsenal sunk Stoke 4-1 at the weekend because Stoke gave up, just like Liverpool battered West Ham 4-0 because The Hammers’ end of season party started the minute after Daniel Sturridge put Liverpool 1-0 up in the 35th minute.

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