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Wednesday
Jul032019

Supporters of loss-making Arsenal need to change their perception of the club

The Swiss Ramble Twitter feed outlined some uncomfortable financial truths for Arsenal supporters on Monday. Due to the club’s continued lack of Champions League participation, a wage bill spiralling out of control, a net transfer market loss of £64m (2018/19) and a pay outs for the sacked Wenger (and staff) amounting to £17m, the club is set to report its first financial loss since 2002.

To rub salt in the wounds, while Arsenal is haemorrhaging cash, Spurs made a £139m profit last season with a wage bill £75m lower than its North London neighbours. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s revenues have slipped to 5th in the Premier League and 20th in Europe’s so-called ‘Big-Money League’, behind FC Schalke 04, Everton and West Ham.

Arsenal’s commercial income is also quite dreadful, with a paltry £4m growth since 2015.

As if you didn’t know by now, it’s clear that Ivan Gazidis was an absolute dog of a CEO. So much so, one has to wonder whether AC Milan embarked on any sort of due diligence prior to employing him.

Over the past five seasons, Arsenal has spent £395 million on players, which makes a mockery of the generally accepted belief that Stan Kroenke has not provided adequate transfer investment. However, Kroenke is guilty of overlooking an abysmal CEO and manager who, hand in hand, committed a litany of disastrously incompetent financial decisions, both incoming and outgoing, while paying themselves obscene amounts of money for the privilege.

By any other definition, one might call it a scam.

Thankfully, the last 12 months has seen change. As we know, Gazidis and Wenger are gone, while Kroenke needs to be viewed slightly differently. He entrusted those in charge with more than enough cash to challenge for major honours and they failed him, therefore, it’s only fair to question why he should put his hand in his pocket when other clubs have achieved far more with far less.

The club’s new board maintain the owner is very closely involved in Arsenal’s day to day operations, and Kroenke has not long taken full control of the club so is clearly going nowhere. Supporters could protest to invoke change (some are), but Arsenal fans are insipid at the best of times, so unless things get a lot worse, the timing of their protests is not only pointless but misplaced.

Even if Kroenke was to depart, a new owner would not be able to invest huge sums of money for transfers due to STCC rules and UEFA’s FPP, so that would solve nothing. A new owner could certainly invest ‘some’ money to help with transfers, but not enough for Arsenal to do anything other than what it will have to do now – adopt a completely different strategy to becoming competitive in the future.

Unfortunately, we are only at the very beginning of that strategic cycle, which will likely be (mostly) based on signing young players, contract expirees and periodically selling key assets in order to foster financial growth to reinvest in the team. Emery has the unenviable task of managing this transition alongside the board amidst a largely ignorant supporter base unaware of the huge rebuilding job required.

Untangling Wenger and Gazidis’ mess has barely begun. The simple fact is, unless the board pull some outrageously good bargains out of the hat, Arsenal supporters are going to have to start thinking about their club in a very different way over the coming years. By all means dream of CL qualification - even if the benefits would only be of monetary value, but be aware that achieving that level of ambition is unlikely to run in a straight line - even assuming the club has the right personnel in place to fulfil it.

We have a relatively new manager in Unai Emery and his first season at least saw stability, if not marginal improvement. An investment was made in three young players who are already worth exponentially more than they were signed for. This is a sign of things to come, and it’s worth embracing that fact rather than fighting it.

Instead of seeking instant gratification, supporters need to change their perception of Arsenal, viewing the club as the underdog rather than the misplaced notion that we’re some sleeping European giant (we never were). For their own sanity, fans need to seek fulfilment from growth and adaptation to a new model rather than basing the club’s progress on results alone.

Clearly, Arsenal fans need to draw a line under the past and allow the new board and manager the time and space to implement their ideas and grow the team back to competitiveness. Nothing is guaranteed, but if Arsenal fans can accept and embrace the challenges that lay ahead, they may actually find a sense of fulfilment in this path rather than the masochistic misery of the unrealistic quick fix that bears no relation to Arsenal’s need for an era of prudent fiscal adaptation.

However, let me make it clear that this does not mean the club’s new incumbents - board and manager alike – should get an indefinite free pass. There should be no correlation between accepting reality and lack of ambition. Their actions still require close scrutiny within the context of the financial burdens placed upon them, and not for much longer can the owner be allowed to continue to hide behind the failure of those he appoints.

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Arsenal Truth can be found on twitter @ https://twitter.com/trutharsenal

Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

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Reader Comments (19)

Didn't Wenger get a degree in economics from The University of Strasbourg?

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AT

Apparently. Unfortunately, memorising information and utilising information are two very different things.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDanish Gooner

Thank you.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJimmy

I agree with 99%, of what you said there apart from the we're not sleeping giants bit. We are not sleeping but we're a poorly run giant hopefully up until now. We became the massive club we are by unearthing gems and promoting youth; that was our focus and should be our focus going forward. Pires, Ljungberg, Petit, Nasri, Adebayor, Vieira, Henry, Toure, Lauren, Cole, Gilberto, Edu, Anelka the list goes on and on. We got so good at it the other big teams city in particular would follow our scouts and buy the players we had an interest in.

We didn't sign big names we made big names, that's how this all started. Gooners used to take pride in this method, now Gooners look at City, Chelsea and PSG and want the easy way out. Chelsea and Utd have spent incredible amounts of cash and City are doing it by cheating and faking the books. We are not that football club and I don't want it to be. I want my Arsenal back, not the the Arsenal that blows £35m on shit defenders, £36 million on average midfielders and £42.5 million on poor no. 10s. Take us back to the late '90-'00s and follow that method and we'll be fine.

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AT

Hard to disagree with most of that. Arsenal have always been tightwads that focused on youth. If anything, relative to transfer inflation, Kroenke has made some of the biggest investments on players in the club's history.

I think we're slowly learning that having pots of money means little if you don't have the expertise in place to manage how it's spent. Man Utd are an obvious example and I feel Chelsea are soon to become one.

Wenger was likewise guilty of having no plan, no foresight and no idea. The more money he got, the worse Arsenal became.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Great post AT. As Alanis Morrissette would say, “isn’t it ironic, don’t you think”?

Arsenal fans spent a decade giving Wenger a free pass. As you’ve just proved, he spent huge sums - £395m in the past five years alone - achieved less than Leicester and now Arsenal are a smaller club than Spurs. Ndombele, a player wanted by Bayern and PSG? Spuds shattered their transfer record on him in the first summer after a hugely expensive stadium move.

The stupidity of Arsenal fans comes to the fore with their “we cannot compete financially after the stadium move”. LOL. Honestly it just shows how utterly spineless, clueless and full of excuses that pathetic fan base is.

Protests? They couldn’t even remove Wenker! Have him a decade to screw the club. And the beautiful irony is, though Arsenal fans spent a decade claiming “we will dominate when FFP happens”, FFP is the very thing impeding Arsenal from spending due to Wenker’s scandalous wage bill and transfer market mismanagement!

Finally I leave you with my favourite clueless Arsenal fan refrain, as they excused year-after-year of Wenker failure:

“Arsene is leaving the club is an excellent position and whoever takes over will find a club in the best possible position”

Hahahahahaha 😹😹😹😹😹😹😹🙄

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AT

To correct you Rasko, Wenger didn't spend £395m in the last 5 years, Stan did.

Wenger actually spent £368,701,000 in his last five years 🤢

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaskolnikov

Bring the ticket prices down to an underdog team. It's still very expensive going to Arsenal and watching the same rubbish players who bring nothing to the team is a joke.

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforeverinourshadows

We have changed kit supplier and the income is now double that of the Puma deal, we have a sleeve sponsor and our commercial income is down - anyone know why?

We are also allowed under FFP to lose £110 million over three years; we cannot be nowhere near that. We were sitting on £200m in the bank.

The Premier League has this year dropped the player wages restriction to help smaller clubs keep up with Man City and United, so is this all spin so we pick up players at more realistic prices?

July 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterknobby

"Over the past five seasons, Arsenal has spent £395 million on players, which makes a mockery of the generally accepted belief that Stan Kroenke has not provided adequate transfer investment."

False. All of that was from cash from operations. His contribution has been 0. We are the ONLY club in the PL with 100% of our money being from operations only. One of the richest people on earth and he spent ZERO!!

Now is the real test. All money is from operations, and that means results matter. Results have gone to shit and no CL and that means less money, which means less money to spend, which will lead to worse results etc. and we will continue in a continuous downward spiral.

If ever there was a time for our fucking owners to spend their own cash and invest (literally invest, because that is the only way to guarantee a better return otherwise the club value keeps falling), then the time is now.

This summer will reveal everything.

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AT

However the income was incurred, the £395m was his money was it not? He could have chosen to take it out of the club to buy a yacht or feed it over to one of his other sports franchises. Instead, he enabled the board to use the capital it generates for player investment. Therefore, he has provided more than adequate transfer investment.

Your notion that we're the only club with a self-sustaining model is false. And what you call an injection of capital is usually debt - the road to annihilation when you have morons like Gazidis/Wenger in charge of the books.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterQ

Spot on. The only reason we are a giant club is history. We have some. We were the largest club in the land three generations ago and have been the biggest club in the capital forever. What we have not been is consistently successful. Essentially, we have been an above average aside for 70 years apart from a few 5-10 year periods (68-72, 88-93, 98-05).

Our average league position since 1950 is 6th and Wenger's first 10 years are responsible for pulling that from 7th. We have won two European finals in that time and reached a further four finals - so an average of one a decade or so (and only ever once in the big one).

Arsenal have also had never had success buying star players for big money. They have only ever used these players as show ponies and surrounded them with more average players to reduce the outlay. They have won us cups, but that will not win a league. In my time as a fan (since 1970) - we have signed Ball, MacDonald, Nicholas, Woodcock, Platt, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette and Aubamayang. None were in title winning sides. They played with Powling, Mancini, Chapman, Eboue, Santos et al.

What we have done well is sign next-level-down players and build them up alongside players that we have developed. Graham and Kennedy, McClintock and George, Sunderland and Stapleton, Talbot and Brady, Marwood and Smith with Merson and Rocky, Adams with Bould - the list goes on.

So - we are not a top three club (despite being one of the three biggest clubs in the country) and we are not a galacticos club. So perhaps being rated 6th and having to shop in the discount bin and use kids will play to our strengths. At the very least it represents a reversion to our mean, which is exactly what the fans that Le Grove suggests need to recalibrate and understand.

Our owners have never been involved - nor have them been ambitious or anything less than frugal/cheap. Our managers have never been big names when we hired them. Kroenke and Emery are actually as qualified and experienced in their roles as we've ever had. Doesn't mean I'm thrilled, but that is just the facts.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjohnno

£395m from operations and you call it spending his money? What kind of reasoning is that? If he takes it the club collapses?

For a billionaire, this guy is one huge disappointment. He is busy buying shares when he should be worried about the performance of the team. No wonder Gazidis bolted when Wenger left, because he couldn't trust the new set up. Even that new Spanish/German (wherever he is from) guy looked in and couldn't stay.

I put the blame for this club's poor performance squarely on Kroenke and no one else.

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AT

He owns the club, so of course the £395m from operations is his money. He owns every, brick and seat and every penny the club generates is his. However, it's pure ignorance to suggest Kroenke is wholly to blame for the club's poor performance.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGooner96

Nice try lowering expectations, but club nearly missed out top four only due to Emery. So if he doesn't get us top four this year the fans are going to get him out. And please stop trying to defend Kroenke, he is a terrible owner like the Glazers.

And the reports today that our board will request him to increase the transfer budget with the new relaxed STCC shows he can spend money if he wants to. If he doesn't invest this window, the fans are gonna start protesting, which I suggest you join instead of discouraging us. For good owners, have a look at Liverpool or Tottenham owners.

I think with the rumoured summer additions this year we will have squad to get top four or at least win EL. Even 5th place might be enough if City get enough. No excuses for Emery.

Anyway, with Edu overlooking things he'll at least right the ship and unlike your excuses he will get rid of Emery if he fails. He is the only guy who we can trust at the club.

And Raul Sanllehi needs to stop embarrassing the club with his derisory bids. He has already pissed of Palace. The laughable bid for Zaha was Gazidis all over. And he was fired by Barca so we might have another incompetent guy.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGooner

Why do you always go exact opposite of what the fan base thinks? This is the reason your blog never hit it big like Arseblog, Gunnerblog etc? You just don't get the fans pulse mate.

You keep saying how Arsenal fans sat quiet during Wenger's mediocrity but you fail to understand the emotions of it. How can you expect us to go against a man who was loved, who was the greatest manager in our history, who had done a miraculous job until 2006 and was still a very decent manager who got top 4 regularly until the very end. We were always hoping for his comeback. It was the same with GG who we supported during his mediocre time.

Look at Emery, the fans are already ready to get him out just like we wanted Rioch out.

The problem of your blog is you just don't take the emotional factors into consideration and blame the fans. This is the reason blogs like Arseblog, Gunnerblog etc shined while your blog didn't.

How the hell can you expect us to respect you and your opinions when you insult the fans and their opinions who are readers of this blog?

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AT

The last thing I want is an imbecile's respect. You're lucky I give your ignorant tripe the time of day let alone post it.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGooner

Funny how some believe every word on Newsnow as if our hierarchy discuss our finances with the media.
What did Gazidis say when Emery was appointed? Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterknobby

Wow. Interesting posts from Gooner. AT stopped posting for a year or two. Not the actions of a blogger that want to make a career out of it (like Arseblog et al.) Bloggers should speak their minds. Not everyone rated Wenger. For my money he was massively overrated and could not adapt. He delivered the minimum expectation for his second decade and earned over £85m in that time.

GG won the league in 91 - losing 1 game. He won 2 cups in 93 and a European trophy in 94. He left in 95. His "mediocre time" lasted 10 months. Wengers lasted 10 years.

Is Gooner's suggestion that we just keep quiet and let the people in charge do as they see fit? Never question. Always be reverential and accept it's their club? I can only assume that he is American and votes for Trump. Or is 16 and was scared when his daddy Arsene left.

July 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjohnno

Christ AT just ban the AKB already? Watching the same numpty post Arsene Wenger-love defences under various usernames is SAD! On a separate note AT it’s quite funny seeing the same set of fans who spent years smugly telling Chelski and Citeh that Arsenal “have class and do things the right way” and “don’t want a sugar daddy owner”, now DEMANDING an instant quick fix and to spend a load of cash from the owner! Hahaha. Remember Usmanov wanted to but the club and wanted to spend a shedload of cash on transfers. What did the Arsenal fans do when it looked like Usmanov might get the nod? They went on a protest march AGAINST Usmanov!!! They said they don’t want “sugar daddy ownership”. Yet here they are, 8/9 miserable years later after Wenger’s serial failure and desperation has set in! They’re demanding “instant fix” - but it’s funny because when Wenger went into his ninth consecutive trophyless year, we heard “real fans have patience” and “instant gratification”.

Suddenly as soon as their beloved messiah has been sacked they simply can’t handle the fact that his years of incompetence have been exposed. Everyone objective is now looking at the car crash that is Arsenal and is asking how the club could possibly be in such a shocking state. The only answer is Wenger and Gazidis. The whole world knows it. The shocking “socialist wage bill” that Wenger himself developed and used to brag about is what has truly screwed the club. That and the shit signings that can’t be shifted like Mustafi and overpaid pricks like Ozil. That’s all on Wenger. And still the man “who thinks there’s too much money in football” happily trousered his £17m payoff for being sacked. Joke.

Clean slate needed, better scouting needed, quality young players needed inside or outside the academy who cares but they need the right skills and winning mentality. The other thing that’s needed is a fanbase with brains and standards because honest to God, Arsenal fans are possibly the most moronic bunch out there. As far back as 2008 many of us warned Wenger would cause untold harm and damage to the club - and so it was.

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AT

As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

July 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaskolnikov

Have you read the new interview of Dick Law where he says 40m + 1 pound was not an insulting bid? What an incompetent prick just like Gazidis.

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AT

I've deleted the rest of your comment because I can't be bothered to edit such drivel, however, the above line pretty much says it all. If you'd actually bothered to read the article, £40m + £1 was NOT the transfer bid, it was merely used to trigger the clause that meant Liverpool had to allow Suarez to talk to Arsenal if he wanted to.

Had Suarez agreed terms with Arsenal, the club would then have had to negotiate a fee for the player, which would not have been £40m + £1. Therefore, it was not an insulting bid because it wasn't a bid.

Either you're too thick to understand what you're reading or you're deliberately perverting information to fit your twisted Wenger agenda. Either way, I suggest you read another blog and stop wasting my time, and yours.

July 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGooner

Good article.

I've read a good few blogs where the opinion is that Emery should be replaced. The same blogs who ate shit from Wenger despite years of incompetence have now suddenly abandoned the ability to have some patience.

They want what Liverpool have with Klopp, forgetting that Liverpool have only really had a good defence in the last season, mainly due to Van Dijk. In Klopp's first 3 or 4 seasons, Liverpool's defence was awful.

July 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRicky

I see the situation now as very similar to when I first started supporting Arsenal in the late 1950s. We had struggled after the Second World War to recover our status as the most feared club, not just in England but throughout Europe in the 1930s. It was the 1930s that established Arsenal as a 'great' club, but for various reasons we never got back to that level.

Late 1950s and throughout the 1960s we struggled mostly, even though the club acquired some good players, especially forwards such as Joe Baker, Bobby Gould and George Eastham. Most seasons there seemed to be a high profile purchase to add some glamour to what was a mid-table outfit full of journeymen. Not unlike today really.

What changed things? Luck really. Don Howe was emerging as a top quality coach and somehow Bertie Mee got appointed manager. Between them they started to guide us towards the double of 1970-71. We saw gradual improvements from 1968 onward. A mix of very talented youngsters starting to emerge, such as Charlie George, Eddie Kelly, Ray Kennedy and some good quality older players such as Frank McLintock and Peter Simpson, Bob Wilson. It all came together for a few glorious years, then fell apart. It has been pretty much the same story ever since.

So in managerial terms we need a slice of luck. I'm pretty sure that Dick is not the man to make the breakthrough, but give him a couple of years. At some point, hopefully, a man is going to emerge with the right ideas and crucially the right young players at his command, and we will enjoy some success again.

July 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBill Robertson

Liverpool are the ones at fault in the Suarez bid. John Henry admitted he lied about the buyout clause, but that didn't fit the Liverpool-loving/Arsenal-hating media agenda.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/mar/02/liverpool-john-henry-luis-suarez-clause

July 5, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterknobby

I'm not necessarily disagreeing that there should be a recalibration of expectations AT, but Arsenal supporters still pay premium ticket prices and should, therefore, expect a premium product. I know you would argue that they deserve to suffer for their years of inaction regarding the Wenger/Gazidis clusterfuck, but Kroenke also suffered those idiots for far too long and should also be held accountable for that.

Kroenke was happy when the Champions League money was rolling in and obviously did not give a fuck about employing capable management that could use the resources available to take Arsenal to a level where they were actually challenging for the biggest trophies. Whilst a gullible fanbase bought Wenger's bullshit and lined the pockets of those in charge of the club. So you've got to forgive the fans their antipathy, I was shocked by their inaction during the Wenger years, but I do not think that Kroenke comes close to being a responsible owner of a football club.

You can argue that modern football clubs are businesses first and foremost, but that just brings us back to the ticket prices Arsenal charge for the product they are providing. If Kroenke has any scruples whatsoever he'll consider drastically reducing those. I know this won't improve the club's financial position but it might go some way to appeasing disaffected fans.

I also disagree that the owner cannot invest in the club. Arsenal is currently still saddled with stadium debt and the owner could, at the very least, service the debt and repayments to free up cash for footballing operations without breaching FFP regulations (it's unfeasible to settle it due to the absolutely idiotic way the bond debt especially is structured – it’ll cost a hefty premium to settle these early). Servicing the debt and interest would free up around £20m a year. And that sort of money (£38.5m fee + £200k per week wages x 4years = £80m) could sign a Mo Salah and pay his wages for four years. Extreme example maybe, but it kind of puts it in perspective.

If Kroenke were to do this it’d have the effect of replacing the stadium debt with an owner investment thus reducing the interest burden. And from an investment perspective Kroenke has to realise that success on the pitch is the only way to maintain or increase the value of his asset. Especially as clubs behind Arsenal are now catching up and we risk being miles away from the top 6 without some additional investment in the playing staff.

Suggestions such as the one by James above, “oh, let’s just go back to investing in world class players who are available on the cheap”, are laughable in their simplicity. All top clubs have major scouting networks now. Arsenal will have to spend some money to get the players they want. Wenger and Gazidis spunked it on absolute filth but we’ve got to trust the current incumbents to spend it better.

Oh, someone asked why commercial revenue was down from 2017 to 2018. Commercial income includes income from retail merchandise (shirts sales, any official merchandise with the clubs brand on it) so by nature that will fluctuate. It was around £25m pa though, so cannot believe it has dropped by £11m year on year. Unless lack of CL football has really started to impact that too.

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AT

In terms of ticket pricing, theoretically prices should drop to reflect the fact that Arsenal are no longer competing for the PL or CL, but I suppose supply and demand takes precedence over that. If the club's selling out the stadium week in, week out, why the need to reduce prices? They'll only reduce them when there's empty seats.

Having said that, it appears that executive boxes are not selling very well at all, so the price of those are likely to drop. Unfortunately, this means commercial income will also drop, which affects the transfer budget.

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