I don’t tend to write on the financial side of Arsenal as others do it so well and it is not my thing. However I was discussing transfers and money with my friend Richard at the Wigan match and in the morning he sent me a link. The link was to a site called ‘Transfer League.’ Apologies if this is old hat and you have all seen it but I had not and it does make for fascinating reading. (Indeed since I began writing this last week I have seen the figures bandied around.)
Those of you who read me regularly I hope know I am objective and write about what interests me and what I think will interest my readers. I have had my frustrations with Wenger and at times have been close to falling off the fence, but in the main I support him as he is the man employed by my Arsenal. He has been criticised for not strengthening in the January window on a few occasions when we could have pushed on. Certainly 2008, 2011 and 2012 spring to mind, but in the main he has done good business for Arsenal, perhaps with one financial hand tied behind his back and the other unable to dip into the pocket.
I am firmly not a financial expert nor would I claim to know the ins and outs of the players’ contracts but simple maths I can master. The web site I mentioned examines the net spend of all the football league clubs as calculated by looking at the outlay on transfers set against net income from players sold. Not definitive at all as it ignores, wages, signing on fees and the cost of losing key players in the case of Arsenal, in particular.
However it does give some real context to our relative achievements next to our peers in the crazy world that is the EPL. Many will delight in Wenger’s frugality and others will cringe at it. That of course will depend on what type of Gooner you are or indeed if you are just an independent observer.
Hard however not to be impressed even if not satisfied with 5 successive top 4 finishes when presented with this:
|Net Spend last 5 years||Purchased Gross||Sold||Net||Per Season|
Before we look at some of the serious points to be made shall we first all laugh at Stoke City and Tony Pulis?
Yes we shall. Stoke City ate officially the third highest net spenders over the past 5 Premier League seasons. The baseball capped genius has spent £88 million of his Chairman’s cash and brought in around £8 million. He net spend of over £80 million places The Potters behind only the 2 Oligarchs and they have one Cup Final appearance to show for it. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!
Enough frivolity for now at least…
– In the past 5 season 6 teams have spent more in players than Arsenal – Chelsea, City, United, Spurs, Liverpool and Aston Villa
– None of the top sides in the League are trading in profit in the transfer market except the Gunners
– Only Liverpool and Spurs have recouped more in player sales
– Arsenal are officially bottom of the net outlay league when you take the average net outlay per season, trading on average at over £7 million in the black over the 5 year of 10 transfer windows.
Now as I said at outset this is far from the whole picture but it is testament to Wenger to have kept us near the top whilst spending in minus net figures over the period. Of course finishing top 4 is not enough and the imagination of the manager in the transfer market and his ability to more than balance the books for his board is too not enough.
Even had he just broken even over the period 2008-13 instead of turning a profit in the transfer market he could have spent another £36 million. I think this is the valid criticism for most objective supporters. He did spend a lot last summer but in truth still less than he received for RVP and Alex Song. It is this that hurts the honest regular fan.
Yes we achieved the minimum but has we just invested slightly more than we brought in for selling 2 top players what might have been?
If we look further back over the past 10 seasons the picture is similar and of course would take into account, an FA Cup, the Invincibles League Title, the Champions League Final and 2 League Cup finals.
I will dispense with including all the teams and stick to the main protagonists:
|Net Spend last 10 Years (03/04/12/13)||Purchased Gross||Sold||Net||Per Season|
So even over the longer period taking into account 3 seasons at Highbury before financial constraints on one side, and before huge gate receipts on the other, Arsene was under spending.
The difference of course is that in the early part of this 10 year period Arsenal were winning and our world class talent has less reason to leave for glory. At the time also we were among the higher wage payers which is patently not the case in the latter section of this decade of wheeling and dealing.
As I said at the outset I am not a financial blogger and we all know those who cover those aspects so well, but nevertheless these figures and this website did intrigue me and there are a few obvious conclusions to draw.
– It would be hard to deny that Wenger has an overall good track record of spotting potential and turning that potential into and asset of some genuine value.
– Given our transfer budget compared to some of our rivals this eye for a bargain is going to be essential moving forwards as we simply will not spend on transfer fees what the likes of Chelsea and City are able and willing to play. FFP may impact this but somehow I am not convinced.
– Despite they excessive spending we are not far off Chelsea and City in the points tally in the Premiership
– However something has to change if we are to change challenging into winning in 2013/14.
– If we have continually proved that we can recognise and secure the talent and below par prices the difference between us and the rivals is the retention of that talent
– To retain top class players, or players that we have turned into top class, we have to either win silverware of pay higher wages, ideally both.
– We have a core of a squad that can challenge without doubt as the last 3 months has clearly demonstrated BUT we have to improve the squad while it is performing, and not after.
– The unavoidable conclusion therefore from all off the above is that we need to reassess the current wage structure and move closer to our rivals for our very top talent, and to attract new additions at the level to take this squad forward. The word is that it may happen but it HAS to be this summer.
This MUST I repeat be for our existing stars as well as the new ones we hope bring in. For example I would say our most valuable players this season who would be on the radar of any top club in Europe would be Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny. Now both are on long term deals and the old Arsenal way would be to wait until 18 months before the current contract is due to expire. We have seen this improve last season with new deals for the UK core but if we are serious then Santi and Kozza should join the highest earners now. Particularly in the case of Koscielny where are new deal and affirmation that his is the lynch pin of our defence for years will head of Bayern interest at the pass.
Now is the time to add to a good squad. It is the first summer since 2004 when there is (not yet) rumours about any of our strong players wishing to leave. In addition we have numerous on large wages who will leave and do not figure in Wenger’s plans.
I truly believe that whatever any of our rivals do this summer, this close season is THE turning point for The Arsenal if the club seize the moment. Large wages off the books, money in the bank and a team that has only 40 league games to go undefeated to make history……..
With the debt being paid down and the repayment schedule re-structured and the finance deal for the new kit with Puma secured now is the time to press on and gamble slightly, but will they?:
Not telling anyone anything they did not already know but sometimes writing my thoughts down is therapeutic so I hope you enjoy it and to browse around the Transfer League site click here
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