I saw a photograph of Donald Trump, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia touching a glowing earth and on the one hand it reminded me of something Dr. Evil would do to start his doomsday machine and on the other hand it reminded me of something The Brain would also do to start his doomsday machine. Somehow Pinky, dressed in the Donald Trump suit, would foil the Brain’s plans and their quest for total global domination would have to wait another day.
But oddly, a bunch of the world’s oligarch’s posing for an odd photo of themselves activating the globe also reminded me that Arsenal have a weird old rich guy who owns them and also have another weird old rich guy who wants to own them. Stan Korenke is the current majority investor and Alisher Usmanov is the guy who wants to be the majority investor. Meanwhile, us plebs sit here and argue over which rich guy gets to touch our globe.
Do you know how much money Arsenaal have? Guys… guys.. it’s ridiculous. Arsenal’s wage bill was £200m last year. That’s just £18m less than Chelsea, £21m less than United, and £25m less than Man City. Guys… we had the 4th highest wage bill in England.
And when I say 4th highest, this isn’t like in that time between 2005 and 2012 when Arsenal were at the height of their claims of poverty and clubs like City were outspending Arsenal by 150%. In 2007/08 Arsenal’s wage bill was “just” £100m and Chelsea’s was £150. Chelsea’s wages would have to be £300m this season to match the rate of difference between the clubs from 10 years ago.
In fact, Arsenal had the 7th highest wage bill in the world and according to official UEFA documents, spent Euros 250m per annum on wages in the fiscal year ending in 2015. That document is an absolute boon of financial information about our club and our sport. You should spend the rest of your day reading every word.
For example, according to their simple squad cost formula, Arsenal’s squad cost just £5m less than PSG in FY 2015. That makes Arsenal the 7th most expensive squad in world football. I’m sure this will spark all kinds of negative comments but I don’t care. Those are UEFA’s official numbers. Maybe Arsenal’s cooking the books. Maybe UEFA’s cooking the books. I don’t know. This is the data I have.
And the data passes the smell test for me. I mean, do you know how much money Arsenal have spent on transfers since 2012/13? I mean net spend, naturally: purchases minus sales. Euros 257m. That’s £222m for those who count in that system and $289m in USA American.
Arsenal spent £100m in transfers just last season alone and they still have at least £100m in the bank, and the club was growing revenue at a 25% clip in 2015 (p. 71 of that document). Again, dispute UEFA on the exact numbers but I think the picture is crystal clear: Arsenal have money, Arsenal have an absolutely astonishing amount of money, Arsenal’s revenues are growing like crazy, and Arsenal are spending that money.
Arsenal supporters have been conditioned.. no, it’s more of a Stockholm syndrome at this point.. to regurgitate the myth that Arsenal don’t have the money to compete with other clubs in Europe. It’s simply not true. Financial Fair Play isn’t perfect but it has put the brakes on a lot of the financial doping that was going on 10 years ago.
This is why I don’t give a shit who the owner of Arsenal Football Club is next year and let me be clear: I don’t want either man owning Arsenal. In a perfect world I’d have a situation like Bayern or Barcelona but I guess that’s not realistic. But my point is that Financial Fair Play is going to limit how much money an owner can “filter”* into the club. Maybe Usmanov will get one of his telecoms or whatever he owns to sponsor the club with some outrageous fortune, though that could run afoul of FFP rules because unlike the Etihad-City deal – in this fantasy world, Usmanov is direct owner and CEO of both companies, which I’m certain UEFA would not allow. Or maybe he could increase the money we have on hand or pay off the remaining debts, giving Arsenal a whopping £14m more to spend on players.
But again, I need to point out that Arsenal spent £100m on transfers last season and Arsenal’s wage bill is only marginally smaller than Chelsea’s. Not only that but Arsenal lost the League to fucking Leicester two years ago when Wenger chose not to buy a forward and instead spent some loose change on one player, Petr Cech.
Arsenal’s problem is not money. Arsenal’s problem isn’t that Stan Kroenke doesn’t go to games or that he pays himself some token salary. Arsenal’s problem is Arsene Wenger.
Wenger asked us to judge him when the financial shackles were off. Well, not only are the shackles off but the man was handed a jet pack, which he promptly used to launch himself straight into the West Stand.
I don’t hate Arsene Wenger, far from it, I actually idolize the man. I just also think that sport is a highly competitive environment. It’s do or die. Wenger himself would fire any player who was performing at the level at which Wenger is performing. He would have given him plenty of chances. He would have stuck with him for two or even three years, showed the player faith, but then when it became clear that the player wasn’t at the level needed to make Arsenal a top club, he would (and has) drop him.
We have stuck with Wenger. We have shown him faith. We have rooted for him to get better and to make our club better. We have asked him to change. We have done everything that he would do for a player and he’s finished 5th. Finished 5th in the Premier League with the 7th best resources in world football.
Sorry, but Wenger has to be dropped.
*Actual word used by someone on twitter, Usmanov will be able to filter money into the club, in other words, cheat the rules.