Officially confirmed Arsenal are bottom of the ‘Transfer League’ – Plus new deals for Koscielny and Cazorla now please.

Time to open the pig? Or will we see him fly first?
Time to open the pig? Or will we see him fly first?

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
1 Man City £537,450,000 £147,300,000 £390,150,000 £78,030,000
2 Chelsea £326,800,000k £97,600.000 £229,200,000 £45,840,000
3 Stoke City £88,825,000 £8,650,000 £80,175,000 £16,035,000
4 Aston Villa £161,100,000 £89,350,000 £71,750,000 £14,350,000
5 Liverpool £260,650.000 £192,050,000 £68,600,000 £13,720,000
6 QPR £68,450,000 £850,000 £67,600,000 £13,520,000
7 Man United £184,850,000 £127,800,000 £57,050,000 £11,410,000
8 Sunderland £131,900,000 £89,700,000 £42,200,000 £8,440.000
9 West Ham £81,150,000 £54,800,000 £26,350,000 £5,270,000
10 Southampton £37,650,000 £14,600,000 £23,050,000 £4,601,000
11 Norwich City £17,050,000 £1,100,000 £15,950,000 £3,190,000
12 WBA £38,725,000 £26,310,000 £12,415,000 £2,483,000
13 Spurs £207,200,000 £199,550,000 £7,650,000 £1,530,000
14 Fulham £42,550,000 £39,700.000 £2,850,000 £570,000
15 Swansea £27,960 £29,860.000 -£1,880,000 -£376,000
16 Wigan £47,100,000 £59,250,000 -£12,150,000 -£2,430,000
17 Everton £63,500,500 £75,816,000 -£12,315,500 -£2,463,100
18 Reading £11,300,000 £25,850,000 -£14,550,000 -£2,910,000
19 Newcastle £90,950,000 £117,050,000 -£26,100,000 -£5,220,000
20 ARSENAL £145,700,000 £182,400,000 -£36,700,000 -£7,340,000



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!!!

Farewell Pulis - The Gooner Nation mourns your parting
Farewell Pulis – The Gooner Nation mourns your parting

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
1 Chelsea £704,500,000 £180,000,000 £524,500,000 £52,450,000
2 Man City £605,220,000 £187,400,000 £417,820,000 £41,782,000
3 Liverpool £441,880,000 £264,580,000 £177,300,000 £17,730,000
4 Man United £365,250,000 £241,850,000 £123,400,000 £12,340,000
5 Aston Villa £216,850,000 £108,375,000 £108,475,000 £10,847,500
6 Spurs £369,900,000 £267,550,000 £102,350,000 £10,235,000
20 ARSENAL £252,500,000 £267,770,000 -£15,270,000 -£1,527,000



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.

New deals now for these guys
New deals now for these guys

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?:

Now is the time chaps!
Now is the time chaps!

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


Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter –






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  1. Good to know we are the bottom club in the spending table and still among the top 4 clubs of EPL. Now we have all the basic infrastructures (if the rumors to be believed) including the super Emirates stadium free of debt. So the Board, Management and Wenger should and must spend on quality player to actually win the trophies.

  2. Couldn’t agree more players who have shown that they are worth a better deal should be given one. Santi and kos have been the standout performers certainly cazorla in the firsthalf of the season and kos in the last third. However I would add that I would like to see a player have consistency over a season in order to obtain too much of a deal.
    Qs long as we keep our 15 best players this summer (szczesney jenkinson mertesacker koscielny vermaelen gibbs monreal arteta ramsey wilshire chamberlain walcott podolski cazorla giroud) and make the right decisions on the other 10 (fabianski mannone sagna djourou coquelin frimpong ryo campbell rosicky gervinho) as to whether they stay or leave on loan or permanent. For me that is our 25 man squad so if any of those players leave then they will need to be replaced, sure I realise that some will still be classed as under 21s but when has age ever really mattered to wenger. However for me these players (squillaci santos denilson diaby arshavin park bendtner chamakh) time is up and whether they are replaced or not is irrelavent. Only 2 of them made league starts this season so for me it would not matter one iota if they left and were not replaced

    1. Totally agree! Would like to see Fabianski, Sagna, Rosicky & Gervinho to stay.
      Mannone, Coquelin, Frimpong, Ryo, Campbell to go out on load.
      Djourou……… I don’t know, permanent or load, either is good!

      I still think we need 1 or maybe 2 strikers, a midfield, maybe a defender. Then we’re all set! Next season is gonna be great! It’s gonna be Red & White!!!!!!!!

    2. Rosicky and Sagna should stay. They are quality and have passion for the club.
      We need such players who play in their 30s and look to end their careers with us. Its high time we give our younger players the image that they can have long career here at Arsenal if they have the quality and passion.

  3. I would like to see us holding on to some of our more experienced players for longer. Giving over 30s just an additional year means they will always be on the lookout for another contract at another club. It also deprives us of the opportunity to let their experience rub off on younger players.

  4. This summer will reveal a lot about the clubs ambitions.
    The stadium debt is NOT cleared, but it is far more manageable with the new deals coming in. Along with the new deals, we have a number of players on large wages that are out of contract. So at least their wages can/should be allocated rather more wisely.
    Lets hope the days of overpaying potential are done.
    Begovic/Cesar in to push Szczesney, Wanyama to provide some bite in CM and a WC striker (Falcao or Cavani, too much to hope for?) and we are not that far off challenging for the league.

  5. I think we will spend thus summer but we are never going to spend just because we have it. I can never see us paying inflated prices for any player. As long as we can keep the best we have as well. I think we can turn things around.

  6. I think Rosicky should stay. He is instrumental to our qualification for champions league last year and this year.

    1. Yes and I hope he will but he got a new 2.5 year deal last Spring. AW will not offer another extension

  7. While this is heartening to see and provides more feathers to Wenger’s miracle working cap, we shouldn’t lose sight that this is only one side of the equation. What’s missing? Wages. Arsenal pay a huuuge amount in wages and consistently outspend most of the PL

    Simon Kuper’s (FT football journo) maxim that the spend on wages provides a general indicator of a team’s finishing position mostly holds true and has been so of Arsenal for the last few years

    While I support the general tone of Wenger as miracle worker (and fully endorse him as our manager), we must be careful to

    a) see the full picture
    b) not spit out our coffee on the monitor by laughing too much at QPR ducking this wage/finishing position correlation

    1. Thanks but perhaps you need to read again. I stressed it was only part of the picture and firmly state he could have done more my friend

      1. You’re quite right, Dave

        I was too eager to provide a corrective to the common trope of Arsenal-as-frugal-spendthrifts, when it wasn’t actually needed in this instance

        My apologies

        (note to self: while it’s ok to snigger at QPR, must read whole piece before jumping in)

  8. Our frugality is news only to the green creatures from somewhere deep in the cosmos. Just like you rightly said above Dave, if we don’t change our wage structure to meet modern day competitiveness, then, sorry to say, we wont achieve a lot. We have this money (so they tell us and we believe) and it is high time we spent it. Remember how we lost Mata to Chelsea? Somebody please, tell them to spend the freaking money! QED

  9. 2 things.
    1) It’s hard to say bottom of the league because you’re looking at net spending. Those clubs that have spent outrageous amounts are backed by enormous debts (which put them at great risk while draining future spending) or by multi multi billionaires (I’m fine with how Kroenke has run the club – very prudently and very stably). When you look at profits, or add color to those numbers, Arsenal are in the green, everyone else in the red. We’re in the better position going forward.
    Look at what we have going forward: another promising young team, minimal debt, a large stadium that’s steadily paid off, a manager who’s been with the club forever whereas the rest of the top 6 (apart from Spuds) are getting new managers, and we’re in the champions league for the 15th consecutive year.

    2) Wenger has often avoided keeping/signing players over 30 or so. But these are the wily old veterans who know how to grind out wins, who best understand the game and can help coach their own replacements. I thought this then and I still think this now: letting Henry, Pires, and Ljungberg go when Wenger did was a huge mistake. Certainly all were past their prime, but they still had a great deal to contribute.
    Compare this to other top clubs: Terry at Chelsea, Neville at Everton, Carragher at Liverpool, and most amazingly Scholes & Giggs at United. Look especially at Scholes and Giggs. Yes past their prime but sticking around forever because they can contribute and have all the intangibles a club needs. Giggs has started seemingly all the big games over the past few years because Fergie understood this. We saw how Henry coming back for two months benefited the side.

    1. You’re only seeing half the picture mate! Not saying you’re wrong but you have to understand why those players were let go! Arsenal were going to build the stadium and they needed money so they needed to get rid of some high wage players. Freddie is one my favorite but injuries had caught up with him, Pires wanted a longer deal which Arsenal weren’t prepare to take the risk, he was getting old at the time. PV4 was a pain in the ass, every season he was moaning about leaving and he was also getting old. Anyway, I can keep on going but the point is, Arsenal made a decision in how to finance and run the club for the next 10 years.
      It might not be how everyone would like it to be, but that’s what we got. Although I must say, Wenger almost pull it off a couple of times during his “dark” years as Arsenal.

  10. I think Lucas You make a very good point that somehow gets forgotten. The arsenal decline really began not as an issue of not spending enough on players but as a loss of veteran leadership. Back then I think Arsene had a one year deal for players over 30 rule. Over the years, Arsene has shown more willingness to keep players on longer into their later years but unfortunately, now our veterans are leaving on their own accord to seek greener pastures. Its now a vicious cycle that we can only stem by being competitive again.
    On the issue of wage structure, I do not presume to know the clubs wage structure at the moment so I am not entirely sure if it needs a change or not. What I do know is that if we are changing it has to be tempered, we absolutely cannot afford to over pay player wages the way chelsea, man city and at times man united do. It is simply unsustainable, consider that paying a player 100 k more in wages can easily cost a club more in 2 years than chucking an extra 10 million on top of a transfer fee. The man citys and chelseas of the world are paying players well into 200k. I believe arsenal players are typically capped at 100k. So while it may be okay to pay one or two extremely special players extravagant wages, I dont think we can make a policy of it. Additionally, looking at the quality of the players on our squad, I dont honestly think they deserve more than they are getting paid at the moment, with the exception of maybe Koscielny who has improved dramatically since his arrival. I believe offering cazorla a new contract one year after we bought him is bad business, we bought him to be a good player and he was exactly that. It is not as though he absolutely smashed every expectation we had for him at the beginning of the season

  11. In his book ‘Why England Lose’, Simon Kuper describes the correlation between wages and league position. As such, Arsenal finishing 4th is not a surprise. However, I believe Arsenal should adjust its wage structure somewhat by allowing a larger inequality between the top earners and the typical squad/fringe players. Rumors are that Arsenal top earners are on about £90k/wk while the top earners in the other CL clubs are well North of £200k/wk.
    We can easily afford 2-3 WC players and provide both them and the top players already at the club a substantial increase in salary. Let’s lose those players who don’t contribute much and replace their numbers with youth. We need to keep the starting XI and those typically on the bench. The new players coming in need to be of a quality that sees them get into the team. We lost RvP and Song last year, both in the starting XI, the year before Cesc, Nasri and Clichy left the starting XI. It’s crucial we change that. I’ve been arguing for months we need a WC striker. However, I’ve just checked on the last 10 seasons. Only in 2009-10 (83) and 2004-05 (87) did we score significantly more than last season. In our unbeaten run, we scored 73 – same as last season…

  12. We know we have not spent big in rescent years but we have just built £400 million stadium £100 million training ground £ 300 million housing project plus £2 million waste and transfer station. No other club has ever attempted or done anything like this, but it was all done for the bigger picture of becoming the biggest club in the world. This year we will spend and year on year from now on will spend bigger and bigger COME ON YOU REDS.

  13. After we all give a round of applause to Wenger for the miracles he did on a tight budget, let’s look at some other facts… In all honesty, City and Chelsea would’ve never had any success without the money poured in to the club, but Manchester United is a true showcase of relatively prudent spending but on a slightly higher level… the top. Yes, United spent a lot more money than Arsenal, but they also won a lot of money. Titles and silverware are not the only reasons why clubs go for the top, it also has huge financial benefits. Success brings popularity which also adds market value. Having top players also means expensive kit sales. Spending big involves a lot of risk, but it doesn’t mean it won’t pay. Yes, there are the greatest flops like Torres being brought in for 50 million pounds, but if you look at the transfers of Rooney, Mata, Hazard, Ronaldo, Yaya Toure and many others then you’ll see that these guys were worth every penny and gave a lot more in return. Let’s not forget the fact that Gervinho and Chamak were not brought in very cheaply and still didn’t perform as expected and Squillaci is having the greatest hugely paid vacation of his life at Arsenal. Good or bad deals can happen at any level. Manchester United are a proof that you can be at the top and still run a relatively solid financial institution. The time for being cheap is up for Arsenal, there are no more excuses. We don’t need a multi-billionaire to pay excessive money on transfers, we need reinvestment on the profits made. A change of strategy and mindset is required to put Arsenal at a higher level. We’ll see what will happen this summer, it should be an interesting one in the EPL, but I honestly think that Wenger does not have the required know-how to make deals on a higher level. I very much hope he’ll prove me wrong.

    1. Well, Chamakh came as a free transfer – that’s pretty much as cheap as possible although there is both a sign on fee as well as a slightly higher salary on the other side.

  14. so every time we buy we sell unlike other clubs, sounds great. sucks being in this debt but in the end it will be worth it. just a matter of time

  15. If money buys points and goals, it would be interesting to divide total points and goals by the net spend and see how much money a point or a goal costs a club…now i feel that would be a table where Stoke would be #1 🙂

  16. Disaapointed that there is no silverware but overall Wenger has done a great job. I much rather have this senario than Leeds Utd situation.
    It seems now they are in a position to gamble, and hopefully they can pull ot off. In Arsene i trust because he could have easily spent money to save him from the firing line but has not wavered from his belief. A lot of people criticised arsenal for celebrating the 4th position last season, but i think is justified. They got out from a tough situation. ARsenal may not win alot of trophies, but they are universally admired. It ten years they built a new stadium, the team is still competitive, a manager who has principals ( he could have easily gone to another club for more money but has not) and all this without breaking the bank
    . Dont be too down hearted. Arsenal fc has done fanstactic job without silverware.

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