I read Swiss Ramble’s excellent new blog post earlier, wherein he dissects the accounts of all the top English clubs (and Spurs). And I noticed something I hadn’t thought about before regarding FFP. I was aware that clubs with wage bills over a certain amount could only add £4m a year to the wages budget. I was also aware that Arsenal’s commercial revenue has been all but static over the past few seasons, despite much talk of the brilliant commercial team now in place. What I didn’t realise was that apparently you can get round the wages increase limit rule by increasing commercial income and paying the extra wages from that!
So is it that Arsenal have been extremely cunning and deliberately not increased commercials in the past few years, saving up all those juicy contracts for 2014 so that we can do what the hell we like with the wage bill? Can that possibly be true? Is Ivan sitting there quietly biding his time until he can emerge and soak up the adulation when we are the only top club who can sign anyone at all? To be honest this probably isn’t very likely, but it’s a nice thought.
We are in the money anyway of course, because Arsenal are due a £1.5m top up on the Van Persie fee as a result of him winning the league. This probably pays about half of Giroud’s annual wage – which is fitting, as he is about half as good as Van Persie. Alternatively, it pays about three quarters of Ivan’s wages. Surely an even better bargain?
Man Utd and RvP may have walked the title this season, but with just three (or four for some) games to go this season, there’s no certainty of Champions League football next season for anyone except the Surrey Reds. City look safe, then it’s any two from Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, with Everton still an outside bet.
Some Arsenal fans have expressed a desire to see a trophy – any trophy – rather than another season of ultimately fruitless CL football. I’m tempted by shiny silver things myself, but as that can’t happen now, CL qualification is still the next best thing – I don’t subscribe to the view that we are in such desperate straits that it’s better to fail completely to provoke managerial or Board change at the club.
However, there has been talk of an odd message from the club: there is £70m to spend (and this is the minimum if you read the accounts), but some sources say it will only be spent if Arsenal are in the Champions League. A spot in the Europa League will mean significantly smaller spending.
This seems a bit backwards. For one thing, surely you need to invest more if you have fallen further? Is this not the problem Arsenal have landed themselves with by not spending enough for the past few years? Normally when a top team has a rough year they go out and spend enough to get them back in contention. Man Utd (who admittedly usually have more cash swilling about than Arsenal) certainly do. It’s not the only factor of course, but it seems to be working there.
It’s not as though the Champions League is the only trophy that Arsenal compete for. Aren’t they interested in the others if they’re not in the CL? Not spending to recover their former position sends the wrong message to fans and also to all those new sponsors Ivan is lining up. Just when new deals are coming into place – for example we now have an official gaming partner, Betsson as well as an Indonesian telecoms partner and others – Arsenal will be saying, ‘Actually we’re not that bothered about improving.’ How is that going to drive more revenue?
With luck this will prove a moot point if a top four finish is once again achieved. Arsène Wenger has only one year left on his contract, but I don’t buy the argument that he shouldn’t spend if he’s leaving. We can’t risk falling further and giving whoever the new man is an even harder job. Arsenal fans, spoilt as we are, need to see improvement from larger – but still wise – spending this summer. That way we get a squad fit for 2013-14 and beyond, whoever the manager is.
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