Gary Bloody Neville And Arsenal’s Bloody Debt. Feck! Arse! Bollocks!

I can’t write a blog these days without someone having a go at me. To be fair, when I could no one was reading them, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

Anyway, my ‘Gary Neville blog’ from the other day has attracted a fair amount of attention, including now a two-part blog response from Paul over at Poznan In My Pants (two parts!). I’m sure Paul is a lovely bloke, and unlike most people who criticise me he can write quite well in English and use proper punctuation and everything – it’s just that our views on Arsenal don’t quite coincide. I tend to view everything the club say and do with a degree of suspicion on motives, born from a long experience of ‘professionals’ in all areas being incompetent and sitting on their laurels far too easily. Paul is more trusting. It doesn’t make him a bad person, it just seems to make a lot of his blogs attempts to prove me wrong.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the banking crisis that brought the economies of the western world to their knees, and that we’re still suffering from, was caused by so-called expert professional bankers being complete arses (polite version). Professionals. Highly paid people who were supposedly the best in their field, and they screwed up royally. People like Fred Goodwin, who I have a grudge against that is so big I am currently housing it on Saturn. So I don’t find it hard to believe that the Arsenal Board can screw up too, and yes even the manager. It doesn’t mean I think I’m a better manager than he is, but to use another of my previous analogies, if a pilot is flying a plane badly I can see he’s doing it and want him to change, and I don’t need to be a pilot for that.

Back to Gary Neville. I put ‘Gary Neville blog’ in inverted commas above, because most of that blog was in fact not about Mr Neville or what he said, but about the conflicting stories that have come out of Arsenal in the past decade, which in my opinion led to Mr Neville being misinformed about Arsenal’s debt position.

Neville said lots of things about how Arsenal are now in a great position to push on, what a great job Arsène Wenger has done and is doing, the future is rosy, etc etc. All that I largely agree with, though the exact greatness of the position and the job AW is doing, and the exact rosy hue of the future are a matter of opinion. (Some people think AW is doing a terrible job and the future will only brighten when he’s gone; I’m not one of them, even if I do criticise him.) But Neville also said Arsenal’s stadium debt is ‘nearly paid off’. He said it twice. And it’s complete bollocks, however many blogs anyone writes about it.

Is the debt more manageable than previously? Depends what you mean by previously. It’s been on fixed terms (negotiated by Keith Edelman) for several years, so is it more manageable than it was last year? No. The year before? Not really. Five or six years ago? A bit. But overall turnover has been a bit static for a couple of years, so there’s nothing suddenly special about this year that makes the debt look a lot smaller, that’s a myth put around by people at the club that the media in general seem to have picked up on. They’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick and started beating around the bush with it.

Is the debt going to become ever more manageable as new revenue streams kick in? (TV money, kit deal, Emirates sponsorship.) Yes – but everyone is going to be better off from the TV money, which is the biggest chunk of increased revenue, so it’s not like Arsenal are gaining an advantage there. Not everyone is selling stadium naming rights, but then Ivan tells us they’re worthless – and that definitely IS an example of incompetence. Or lying. One or the other, neither of which is good.

However, Arsenal’s turnover is going to increase fairly substantially over the next two to three seasons, so yes, the debt repayments will be a smaller proportion of it as time goes on.

But that still doesn’t mean it’s ‘nearly paid off’.

It’s a curious thing that Arsenal fans who are most optimistic for the future and generally put a positive spin on things – such as the aforementioned Paul – are also always the biggest supporters of Arsène Wenger. I’m genuinely not sure why these things ALWAYS seem to go together. But the more optimistic fraternity were obviously delighted that Gary Neville had good things to say about both AW and the future, because it reinforced their beliefs. For some reason that made them believe that he couldn’t possibly have got his facts wrong about the piffling matter of the debt – how could he be wrong? HE’S GARY BLOODY NEVILLE, ONLY THE BEST PUNDIT EVER! So they have to explain his wrongness by saying what they believe he meant. They have no proof that he meant anything other than what he actually said – twice – the debt is ‘nearly paid off’ – but it fits their narrative to believe he meant net debt or a diminishing amount of turnover, or whatever else takes their fancy, so that’s what they believe. In their eyes, Arsène Wenger is not fallible as a manager and if Gary Neville says Arsène’s great then Gary Neville is not fallible as a pundit – so there!

Stadium debt repayments are at £19m a year until 2031. That’s 18 more years at £19m a year, and no, that is not negotiable – early repayment means paying the full amount of interest due anyway. That’s the terms of the deal in order to get a low interest rate and a fixed schedule for a very long time.

Arsenal’s new stadium cost a total of £390m, according to the Arsenal website – and Arsenal are always right, ahem. So it cost £390m, and there is 18 times £19m still to pay off – that’s £342m of repayments to go.

If you bought a house for £39,000 (it could happen, in Burnley) and you made say £15,000 of repayments in the first seven years and then the bank told you that you still owed £34,000 and you’d be paying it till 2031, would you say it was nearly paid off? You might, but only if you were hopelessly optimistic.

Gary Neville is still just Gary Neville, he’s not Einstein, or God. He’s just a humble son of an alleged sex pest (however dodgy his father’s eyes look), and he sometimes gets things wrong.

Follow me on Twitter, where I am usually suspicious and often cynical (half price offer on cynicism, this week only): @AngryOfN5

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47 thoughts on “Gary Bloody Neville And Arsenal’s Bloody Debt. Feck! Arse! Bollocks!

  1. Yes. Thank you. This point is indefensible. The publicly available information is all you need to know Gary Neville misspoke. No amount of spin can change facts.

  2. I see both sides of this one. Nobody can dispute your figures re the debt, and well done for highlighting the difference between debt and cost of debt.
    Neville is Neville. He should have said that because of decent commercial re-negotiations our debt is now manageable. What is now obvious is that we sold players to supplement the awful original commercial deals.
    The fact that he messed up in the delivery doesn’t change the sentiment though. Our future does actually appear bright. We might not have a Cesc or vP at the moment, but we have a big crop of talented and largely loyal young and hungry players, none of whom we are obliged to sell. We also have money to spend, apparently.

    • Yeah, but nobody’s disagreeing that our future is brighter. We’ve got tons more money coming in soon.
      It’s a bit disingenuous to say he messed up the delivery. He said the debt is nearly paid off. That’s not delivery. That’s an entirely different statement.

    • I knew there’d be one. Well done mate. No one is bitter, Paul and I just have different viewpoints. And yes, I am cynical – read the post, that’s what I said.

  3. Just a quick calculation but please tell me where I’m wrong (probably everywhere). Stadium cost = 390m over 25 (?) years is 15.6m a year + interest. So, if we’re paying 19m a year that works out at 18% interest. Not really a competitive rate imo. Thanks. Oh, and please don’t get angry with me, I’m just asking.

  4. How do you know the detail of the terms of their loan? Even in normal residential mortgages you have the option to make overpayments without incurring penalties or interest. So how a large commercial deal as this have such rigid terms? I’m sorry but I can’t see an establishment like Arsenal F.C negotiating such a poor deal. I think there’s every conceivable chance that there is flexibility to reduce the outstanding amount especially with the new Puma deal.

  5. To continue with your analogy: If you bought a house for £39,000 and you still owed £34,000 and you will be paying it till 2031 — but if in the meantime your salary has increased from 10,000 to 27,000, then your mortgage payments have become easier to make and you now have spare cash which you can spend on luxuries (or save up for a rainy day) – in effect you would feel the mortgage burden has become lighter and you will feel richer. Gary Neville was wrong about the debt but what he was getting at was the AFC are now in a position to start spending some money should they wish to – although probably not as much as the newspapers are suggesting.

  6. Nope, our mortgage bond is for only £260m at I think about 5.87% interest-bearing bonds with repayment up to 2031.

    Repayment is falling and I think it was about £13m during FY2012.
    You can check it out at http://www.arsenal.com by reading all those annual financial reports up to FY2006 archive section.

    Time for you to do some reading up and research to correct some errors in the figure.

  7. Ask yourself why you hear echoes of Fred Goodwin when the Arsenal PR Department speak. FG’s crime (and it was a crime) was that he and his ilk only considered the upside. Do you honestly think that is how Arsenal have been operating??? If anything, surely they are over-cautious. I think you undermine all your other arguments by such false comparisons.

  8. Your cynicism may be justified and definitely Neville knows bollocks about the financial situation at AFC but your obvious bent against those who take a more optimistic view is unfortunate. None of those who see a brighter future for AFC necessarily believe Wenger is infallible nor do they fail to recognize the manifold issues AFC still need to deal with. I have a mnore positive view of Wenger and the BOD but that said I do NOT fully support everything he does. He’s made numerous miscalculations and transfer mistakes that have hurt the team BUT so did SAF and most other top managers…now they have either retired or been fired/moved on. Wenger tends to fall into the cesspool and still manage to come out smelling roses or at least baguettes…so he isn’t as miserly or incompetent as his detractors love to ceaselessly remind us about. He’s just another bloke who is navigating the unstable Football and Economic waters trying valiantly to keep the ship afloat….your analogy of the pilot is spurious, since there could be factors involved in the flight not being comfortable, other than pilot incompetence, and since the pilot usually sees them but you can’t, then we have little choice but to trust in his professionalism and experience to land us safely. I trust Wenger, the BOD a little less but most certainly the players a great deal….they have come through difficult times and shown they can be winners….to me that is all that matters at this time.

    • @weedonald.., they can be winners? Lets hope so, but on the evidence of loosing to Bradford City and Blackburn in the same month, some might be forgiven for being more skeptical.

  9. Isn’t it the same Gary Naville who was spewing bile about Arsenal while playing for Man U, who’s praising Wenger now?. As for Paul from Poznan, you have to excuse him for his bias ,as it is difficult for most of my compatriots to remain objective when it comes to Wenger,who outside of Jurgen Klopp , is the single biggest employer of Polish footballers outside of Poland , thus must be infallible .

  10. “I can’t write a blog these days without someone having a go at me.”

    It’s because you are the grumpiest old git on the Arsenal blogosphere, you reply to trolling all the time and just come across as bitter and angry. Well, at least you admit that in your name.

  11. Excellent post. I largely agree with your comments re incompetence but there is also another, scarier factor. Those at the top of the banking industry embarked on their path of greed not only apparently ignorant of the possible ramifications, but actually not caring anyway as they were (and are) always secure. Even if they knew they did not care. They still don’t. By being so dismissive of stadium naming right income IG is either incompetent or displaying the same disdain towards his customers (fans). We lost or true club a long time ago. Now it is a financial institution for the benefit of a few. It sees CL qualification in £ signs rather than as a footballing issue. Nothing will change without a complete clear out of both the shareholders and the manager. Sadly the only apparent alternative is to join the sugar daddy set with Usmanov’s tainted billions putting us in the same cesspit as the Nothern Oilers and Dynamo Chelski. Maybe it’s time to find an honest lower division FOOTBALL CLUB to support!

  12. I believe that you knew exactly what Gary Neville was talking about but the Angry Man inside just couldnt bear to hear the praise that Mr Neville was spouting about our very well run club. This prompted you to pick out the financials and wurlitzt them to fit your agenda and write about it (which you do very well). Maybe he is more aware of the financial situation at Arsenal than you give him credit for, maybe he is aware of the new commercial deals that the club have, maybe he is aware that we have a bigger “transfer kitty” this summer than we have in the recent past and maybe he is aware that the stadium debt is manageable to a point whereas we have gone way past tipping point and because of that he feels we are “nearly there”. My opinion, for what it’s worth is the club are in a better position this summer than they were 2 summers ago and will be in a better position in 2 summers time. I tend to think we are “nearly there” too. Maybe, just maybe Silent Stan and Ivan The Terrible have got this? Only time will tell.

    • Geoff, I know what Gary Neville’s talking about, but I don’t believe when it comes to finances that Gary Neville knows what he’s talking about. You are free to interpret his words any way you want, but I’m not putting any interpretation on his words about debt, I’m just taking what he said at face value because like anyone else I can only guess his intention – and why should I guess he meant something other than what he actually said? That seems an odd thing to do.
      As for praising Arsenal, that doesn’t bother me at all, and equally it wouldn’t if he criticised, as long as either way he is accurate on facts. He can give any opinion he likes on how well placed Arsenal are compared to anyone else, and it’s just his opinion, but if he’s basing it on a false premise I’m at liberty to object to that. Maybe he should just stick to on the field opinions, which I think we all agree he is generally good at.

      • So basically, you’re saying that we have to take words as they are and not read between the lines? Because that doesn’t really work in real life. If that were the case, Arsene’s never heard of 50% of world’s superstars, let alone try to buy basically anyone in the last 5 years or more we got.

  13. Perhaps the point Neville wanted to make was that, as compared to before, the asset (including the new sponsorship receivables) vs liability (stadium debt) ratio is now much more manageable. The amount to be received in the next few seasons would be close to the total debt amount that is repayable in many more years. In other words, the only concern the board should have now is of current expenses, excluding debt expense that is almost all but covered for many years to come. This frees up profit and current asset for transfer spending. This is coming from a graduated finance student specialized in fund administration.

  14. As far as I can see, your figure of £19 million per year on the stadium debt is wrong. Arsenal’s statement of accounts 2011/12 says “Net finance charges have been reduced to £13.5 million (2011 – £14.2 million). This reflects the scheduled repayment of stadium finance bonds, leading to a lower interest payable charge.” So it’s £13.5 Million per year, which seems relatively small by today’s football standards, particularly as our income has been growing recently.

    http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/documents/oct_12/gun__1349166617_ARSENAL_HOLDINGS_plc_ANNUAL_RE.pdf

  15. Phil,
    I get your point and you put it in context well. I do think Neville meant well. I met him at the IOD some months ago and expressed my amazement at his conversion from the voice of SAF and a slavering lapdog thereof to a balanced,objective and considered commentator. I think disengaged from playing against Wenger’s teams he has begun to appreciate what Wenger has done in the overall sense.
    I’m far from an AKB but the financial achievements of Wenger are remarkable. Just think back to late 1996 and the state of the club then and fast forward to now. I noted we have the highest co- efficient ( 6th) in the Champions League of all those in the qualifying competition. We have been the 6th most successful club in European competition based on total results ( sadly not trophies) and whatever you think of Ashburton Grove it is a phenomenal achievement to have built it and manage the repayments reasonably comfortably.
    I won’t list the downside of Wenger as time doesn’t permit but it underlines points made elsewhere that nobody gets it right in the transfer market all the time and the quality of Koscielny, Jenkinson and Cazorla are evidence he hasn’t completely lost it.
    So please people try to understand what Phil is saying and realise that doesn’t make Gary Neville a bad person OR an authoritative financial pundit

  16. It’s true to say that the debt isn’t ‘nearly paid’ off as the fixed rate long term bonds are still in issue (there are also some shorter term floating rate notes) but it isn’t quite right to claim that the debt can only be paid off if you repay all the interest due until the bonds mature. The club can simply buy back its bonds at their market value which fluctuates as it is determined by interest rates available elsewhere. It’s not impossible that if interest rates increase sharply they can be bought back relatively cheaply. Therefore extrapolating a debt of £342m simply on current payments is as misleading as Neville claiming it’s nearly paid off.

  17. There seem to be an awful lot of people apologising on behalf of Gary Neville. It appears that he didn’t say what he meant. I think the word is “ironic”.

  18. I love this blog, very realistic and the required cynical point of view.

    Its also hilarious how the AKBs jump all over everything you write, and even try all this “No……this is what Neville actually meant” culminating in the embarrassing post by Zack, saying that Neville was actually referring to the Asset vs Liability ratio.

    LOL, so Gary Neville is now a Bloomberg analyst? I suppose next he will be talking about AFCs effective use of currency options to hedge fluctuations in Euro denominated UEFA payments?

    Neville knew what me meant, he was mistakenly, like most Arsenal fans, under the impression that we have been making advanced payments from money generated for players sold, which isnt the case.

    We have paid about £5.5m off of the £260m debt annually for 7 years now, so you can do the maths.

    theres also a few misconceptions in here:

    “Just a quick calculation but please tell me where I’m wrong (probably everywhere). Stadium cost = 390m over 25 (?) years is 15.6m a year + interest. So, if we’re paying 19m a year that works out at 18% interest. Not really a competitive rate imo”

    No, the cost is £260m (we paid £130m of it pre-construction). Now you clearly dont only pay interest on the 15.6m you are repaying that year. You pay interest on the whole £260m. Therefore in year one we payed close to 6% on £260m, which is 15.6m plus bond repayment of about £5m = £20.6m in year one.

    The next year we pay 6% on roughly £255m, the next year 6% on roughly £250m and so on.

    Gradually the bond repayments rise, and the interest naturally falls, in a struuctured manner, so half way through the 25 years we are paying more of the bonds off than we are now, and the final payment in 2031 will look something like £18m bonds and £1m of interest.

    Also theres a misconception in terms of the total payment that will be made.

    The stadium cost £390m, of which £130m was paid for, and £260m was financed at £19m per year for 25 years.

    So assuming no early repayment, we will pay £130m + (25 x £19m) = £605m for our shiny new stadium.

    • But the Arsenal accounts for 2011/12 don’t say we paid £19 Million. They say ‘£13.5 million for scheduled repayment of stadium finance bonds.’ Where does the £19 Million figure come from?

  19. Perhaps if you took the time to properly respond to people who disagree with you rather than only to the trolls, or with ‘witty’ putdowns, we could arrive at some sort of understanding. Instead you seem to prefer to draw a caricature of every argument you don’t agree with, use that as a straw man, and knock it down.

    Was Neville wrong on the specifics? Of course. The debt is not nearly paid off. But was that the main thrust of his argument? For someone who’s claiming pride in the usage of the English language (I don’t know why a lack of English language skills should be grounds to invalidate someone’s arguments), you seem to miss the point of what he was actually saying. But that doesn’t really matter either.

    As you yourself say, your point is that Arsenal are less than completely honest. Well, of course they are. They are hardly going to reveal everything. They are a business and they have their trade secrets to consider, as well as their image. Anyone who gets offended by that needs to have a look at the world they live in, and more to the point, look at the world Arsenal live in, and consider whether it would actually be beneficial to Arsenal to do things differently.

    As for your example of the banking crisis brought on by professionals. The thing you fail to consider is the structure of that ‘organisation’. The idea that you can compare the operation of global economics, with the running of a company like Arsenal, and suggest that they suffer from the same structural flaws, to me, just sounds bizarre. Everyone, professional or not, are liable to get lazy or complacent. The question is, what in the management structure would promote this laziness, and what evidence is there that this is happening? We could go into specifics from this point, but even you seem to agree that the club is well placed in general. Which would make the discussion fairly moot it would be thought. Disagreements about certain specifics, even mistakes being made, do not show incompetence or complacency.

    • @Shard.. Perhaps the problem with Arsenal is that they are being run too much as a business and not enough as a football club. As for this blog author’s use of hyperboles and over the top analogies , I seriously doubt he would be able to tell if the pilot was negligent, unless said pilot was getting a blow job from from the co-pilot , while the plane was in the downward spiral. But there’s something to be said about incompetence and complacency at Arsenal. losing to lower league opposition in both FA and League Cup might be the proof of former ,and Wenger himself using the C word on more than one occasion , the proof of latter. The eight trophy less seasons is what has gotten people on the edge ,and if Wenger is half as smart as I think he is , he will spend the 70 million he supposedly has for transfers to the last penny and win a trophy next season, which would be great for the fans and business alike because I don’t think there’s a whole bunch of young fans in Asia rushing to by Arsenal shirts because Arsenal just pipped Tottenham to a fourth spot and have the CL high co -efficient.

      • @Tomas

        Thanks for the reply.

        I believe the board have been cautious in spending money, although the real problem has been player retention, and until our revenues increased, there wasn’t much that could be done about that. To pay for the stadium, and to grow as a club (which we have done in the fallow years) we needed to focus on the money side of things.

        Perhaps they have been too cautious, but that is a judgment call, and only those who know all the facts can make an accurate judgment either way. To me, if we were complacent as a club, we would never have moved to a new stadium. The board could have lived off the Invincibles era, kept paying higher transfer fees for a while (until the oiler clubs became more numerous) , and then sold to an oiler themselves, made their pile, and ridden off into the sunset. Yes, they’ve still profited, but they sold at a lesser price, and I believe they sold their shares only to stop Usmanov gaining control, and the catalyst was Fiszman’s death. This move has been almost 12 years in the making, and only now are we entering the next phase (note that originally it wouldn’t have taken that long, but nobody could predict the impact of oil money on football)

        The time for caution is now over because not only do we have money in the bank, we also have an assured payday coming for the next 5 years. On the business side of things, there’s a lot to be optimistic about,.

        As to the football side. It follows the business side mostly. ManU’s success has always been founded on their wealth. As are of course CHelsea and CIty. Could Wenger have done better? Of course, but when is that not true for anybody? In a situation where the financial reality was that Arsenal had to tighten belts, he lost great and good players constantly, yet maintained us at a level that some other clubs dream of getting and spend to chase after it. I think he’s done a tremendous job, even if it has shown his weaknesses to an extent (every manager has weaknesses) The defeats to Bradford and Blackburn were the first time Wenger’s Arsenal have lost to lower league teams in the cups. I wouldn’t say complacency is a general problem with us. Confidence more like it. But hopefully the run at the end has built that up. And now, with additional funds, we can also build the team up to one that can truly challenge. Because a core is there.

  20. I have been more impressed, informed and entertained by the commentators than this article which exposes the author as an inherently negative person who doesn’t want to be criticized for his views (I.e, expressing them) but continues to express them. Can’t wait for the comments following the next piece of bile!

  21. I dont see the controversy.

    Neville was flat out wrong about the debt being paid off.

    He’s a good pundit but not exactly an expert on Arsenal finances.

    If is fair to assume that he meant that Arsenal have improved spending power not making a precise point about outstanding debt. Fair because that was the import of his debt comment. That Arsenal can now spend.

    I am sure you understood that. And I am sure you only took issues with it because it goes against your narrative. Your narrative of course, is that Arsenal have long had money, and Wenger has chosen not to spend.

    Let’s just be sensible. Whatever you think of our cash reserve, there is exactly NOBODY now claiming we don’t have money. So let’s work with that new-found consensus and stop trying to snatch disagreement from the jaws of consensus.

  22. Arsenal’s annual debt repayment is a small fraction of annual revenue. Less than one tenth. Less in proportion (and in amount) than Man U’s debt repayment and probably less in proportion than a whole host of other big Clubs. With this implicitly understood, Gary Neville’s presumption that Arsene must ‘go for it now’ – that is, spend big this summer – makes good sense. The problem (as Gary, former employee of the Glazers, should know) is that the owner of a Club, not the manager, dictates financial policy. And what seems ‘good sense’ to a footballer or a fan, might not seen as such by a Glazer or a Kroenke.

  23. Pingback: That Sums It All Up – Money | Talking out their Arsenal

  24. Hi Phil, in response to your tweet: “@PoznanInMyPants Well not that I mind, but why refer to my blog or the money at all then? Why not just concentrate on the celebration?”

    As you say, I referred to the blog. I referred to the 40+k clicks; I referred to the disappearance of anyone then talking about the 95% of the rest of Neville’s exhilarating defense and endorsement of our club; our future; our “doing the right things.”
    Firstly, at the bottom of your original blog you basically said “Bring it on.” Very George Bush, that. Secondly, as you’ve shown again in our debate, your a good sport.
    And thirdly, and beyond…
    I didn’t say the blog was wrong as it was not my intent to debate the merits of its arguments. I did imply we had just disappeared up our own backsides over a narrow debate on the meaning of “nearly there.” It was very Clintonesque of us. And very Arsenal.
    As you stated somewhere in your blog, it was about old battles that were continually being fought in the eternal, internal Arsenal blame game.
    I, personally, stayed out of all “political debates” on twitter for a week just to enjoy our end of season success, a conscious effort to savour the moment before another year of finger-pointing began.
    And as the week went on, I kept asking myself: “Where did that bloody Gary Neville moment go.” To me, that’s the kind of thing we would normally have enjoyed and savoured, just like the Bayern away win, at the time and many times after. When you sup on thin gruel, do stop to enjoy the occasional lump.
    My grievance was broader than a specific blog. It was the fact that when we won CL “qualification,” all the pundits mocked us for celebrating like we’d won something. And then Gary Neville, top pundit, makes this brilliant defense of us and our club. And before we have a few minutes to feel good about ourselves, that gets killed off or lost in what, for me, seemed a very narrow, internal debate about old issues.
    Couldn’t we feel good about ourselves, our club, our performance, on and off the pitch, for 24 or 48 hours before we went back to the old debates.
    Here is where I refer to the blog:
    “@angryofN5 ie Phil of the AST, did a whole blog on those 4 words. I think he said it had 40+k clicks. Fuck me. The shit that trips our switch at Arsenal, eh?!
    Many others decided that because Neville was clearly so poorly informed that we should dismiss the validity of the rest of the statement. And all future statements we don’t like, I’d imagine.”
    I was really referring to that obsession and what I thought was a distraction, a wasted moment. Even you were blown away by what turned out to be a lot more than 40k clicks. It wasn’t simply the blog, it was the huge reaction to it and the vacuum beyond it.
    I thought about not mentioning your blog but a. who was I kidding b. it was front and center in the debate c. you’re a big boy who can handle it, as a cow flicks off a fly with its tail d. the blog DID seem to have sucked up all the oxygen so how could I ignore it, given my topic.

    I decided to refer to the blog without saying what I thought of the arguments within because, to be honest, you covered so much ground in the blog, it wasn’t remotely feasible.
    I then immediately talked about “many others” (which actually included, but was far from limited to, Tim Payton but I didn’t want to get into the whole Tim-bashing thing) who rubbished Neville for talking about things he didn’t understand and not knowing his facts, while many others said the same or agreed. It was verging on Ad Hominem ie “he’s not that smart outside of the tactics stuff so ignore him.”
    The reaction to my blog shows me there are a huge number of people fed up with the prevailing correctness of slagging off most things the club do, even when done with a cheeky bit of humour. Many people are fed up at feeling bad about feeling good about their club and welcome someone (GNev) championing their club, which they genuinely feel is doing a lot more good than bad, and are sick of it getting pilloried in the media etc. And they expect better of their own, too. Many others feel less positively about their club than that, but they have lots of voices in the media and the blog world criticizing the club on their behalf right now. They are having their day already.
    At some point in yesterday’s blog you seem to imply I was somewhat blindly optimistic about Wenger and the club and human nature. I could tell you stories, my friend, of the life I have seen and the things I have been through. I have no naivety left in me. But I am unapologetically positive because I believe that’s how we, humans, operate at our best. It’s a practical matter. As JFK said: “I’m an idealist without illusions.” Well, I am a Positivist without illusions. I have a pretty clear view what drives Stan, Ivan and Arsene. And it is not love of mankind. Nor is it Mammon.
    And were it the case that I felt there was just too much positivity going on around our club, I would write more critical stuff. But the stores are full of critical stuff. The shelves are pretty bare over in the “things we like about our club” department.
    So that’s what I write about every time I get a burning desire to redress the balance.
    The response to the blog confirms my own feeling that there is a massive, pent-up demand to hear something other than all the ways the club is screwing up.
    In my opinion, focusing on highlighting the “overall positives” is honest because it is true and because it attempts to redress the balance. We already have the criticism bit more than covered. Way more than.

    In my view, you need more positivity when things are tough than you do when things are going well. Yet, we tend to do the reverse because of how we are feeling inside. That’s where leadership (GNev and any one of us Gooners) comes in ie someone who says: “wake up you dumb bastards. There is more good than bad in this situation and the future is there to be won. Go for it.”

    In my view, our blogs were about different sides of the same die. And my point was: “What happened to Gary Neville’s message, everyone? Didn’t you notice what he just said to a worldwide audience? Did we just kill it off, still-born?!”

  25. This article completely fails to grasp that you cant actually evaluate the performance of a fixed-rate long term loan until the end.

    “….Stadium debt repayments are at £19m a year until 2031. That’s 18 more years at £19m a year, and no, that is not negotiable – early repayment means paying the full amount of interest due anyway. That’s the terms of the deal in order to get a low interest rate and a fixed schedule for a very long time…”

    This commentary seems to completely discount (pardon the pun) the possibility that over the next 18 years, there may also be times when this fixed interest rate is low relative to the prevailing rate at the time.

    Which goes back to the main point: its a stadium, a huge long term investment. WTF is it with every amateur business pundit presuming that they can judge everything now – 5 or 6 years into the journey of an asset with lifespan of probably up to 50 years if not even more? Do you think the people who build railways decide after 5 years if it was all a bad idea?

    Can all the would-be critics please keep the jizz in their pants and wait?

  26. In answer to one comment of course I can’t leave to support another club. Been a season ticket holder since 1968 and always will be whilst have a pulse. Those of us with history have seen the Club in bad times footy wise. Also have had the glorious moments. That’s football. I think the problem now is the lack of ambition. Some of us have known 10th or worse in the league, or the horror of 94/95 when we finished below them. At least then we started each new season with hope. Now we start with the Grail of 4th as our prayer. It seems now that the popular belief is there is money. Let us wait and see. Heart hopes for marquee signings, Head says Sanogo is about the level we are at.

    By the way all the finance talk is a bit misguided. £13.5 mill finance charges maybe. What about capital repayment? Maybe that explains the difference in numbers. Until proven otherwise we are and have been for some time Arsenal PLC not FC.

  27. Have read enough. None of you have a bloody clue about the clubs current finances. Unless you can prove your silent Stan you’re spoofing. Phil has demonstrated some knowledge of the shares situation and as far as I am concerned anything else is schoolboy economics . Next subject please

    • It’s not the Club’s current finances that people are clueless about – on the contrary, they are detailed in Chairman’s statements, company accounts, announcements of commercial deals, etc – it is the majority owner’s intentions for the Club which are the big mystery. If you happen to know them, Noel, perhaps you’d let the rest of us know.

      • Here we go again peddling the old “mysterious owner” line. Stop it please. The guy paid half a billion for the club – clearly he aims to earn a return on his money, as he hasnt registered it as a charity. As for how, well winning on the field always helps, but clearly the club cant really afford to spray money like water, as its little kitty would be gone in about 5 seconds if it was stupid enough to get into bidding wars with the Abu Dhabi royal family or with Abramovic. But clearly money wasnt the be all and end all this season as we could have actually been ahead of them if we had started better. So clearly the plan is to compete without going nuts financially. This is what Arsenal has always done.

        For this, you seem need a public speech from the owner? Seriously?

  28. Aren’t you peddling the same old defeatist stuff? Yes, Kroenke spent several hundred million to acquire a controlling majority and yes, it’s fair to assume he is looking for a return on his money. Does that mean we should say ‘thank you’ for anything he cares to dish out? A restaurant owner can serve what he pleases: would his customers accept spam fritters at filet mignon prices? I guess your meekness must have gone down well in feudal times. And exaggeration does not hide the presumptions in your post, for example, that Arsenal has lacked the finance for major signings. I ask you the same question: if you know Kroenke’s intentions for the Club, kindly let the rest of us know. Or don’t you believe it’s our affair? It’s ironic that a man who comes from a country whose mission is to spread democracy does not allow any view except his own. We need some glasnost. We need representatives of Red and White and AST with seats on the BoD.

    • No one credible who has looked at the numbers has ever claimed that we really money for more than one superstart at most. And the club did offer that money to Van Persie, as well as bidding 30 million on Goetze a year ago, which was turned down by Dortmund (who probably regrets it now as he has gone to their top rival in Germany).

      The problem with football fans is they havent a clue about life. The players know what the game is about today: money. Van Pesie and Nasri hadnt the slightest compunction about grabbing every last penny, meanwhile you are sitting here like a medieval peasant looking for signals from you “lord”. Seriously….

      Wake up. The game is now a business and you – or more specifically your boundless naivete and wide open wallet – are the product.

      What are Kroenke’s intentions? Who gives a fig. He aims to make a return on his money. We dont come to the stadium to see him, so I have no idea why you obsess over him any more than you obsess over the owner of your favourite pub

      I’m more interested in what are Wenger’s intentions, as he was basically able to complete with Chelsea’s billions, and able to outscore Man City, while on a far smaller budget. That means there is a lot more that this team can accomplish on the field, given some focus and good support, and maybe a bit more ruthlessness from the manager too, which he started to demonstrate towards the end of the season. Will Wenger start cracking the whip and buy a senior goalkeeper and demote our two? Will he cut the cord on Sagna? Will he make up his mind to start using Coquelin – or sell him and buy Capoue once and for all? Will he unleash Gnabry and use him to motivate some consistency out of Gervinho? Will he do the same with Podolski? These questions interest the fans. Nobody goes to the stadium hoping to talk about balance sheets or return on capital or long term strategy. We go for football. Stop whinging and start supporting the players – Kroenke isnt a player.

  29. On the contrary, Kroenke is the MAIN player. You tell us that the pro game is all about money. So using your own criterion, the guy who dictates financial strategy is key to Arsenal’s future. Wenger can only spend (on signings) as best he can the money he is given by his boss. And that (in nett terms) is zero up to now. In fact for the past 4 years, less than zero because a part of fees raised by sales has not been spent on signings. In my view, the argument (that the Emirates debt made austerity unavoidable) is specious. But even if that were not the case, it is unwise to assume that the current owner will ever change his financial strategy significantly. Why? Because we don’t know his intentions for the Club. Mediocrity might suit him fine. It certainly appears to do so with his other five sport ‘franchises’. Now that may satisfy someone like yourself who goes to watch any kind of football – but most of us go to watch winning football. Or, at any rate, a team that are genuine contenders for major trophies. And – despite your catalogue of Wenger’s skills and achievements – no manager (not even him) has won major trophies without major signings. Spending big does not guarantee winning – but NOT spending big guarantees NOT winning. And, on past record, Kroenke is highly unlikely to sanction the cost of those ‘exceptional’ players Wenger told us he needs. So what ARE Mr K’s intentions for our Club? Nobody knows – but I would hazard a guess that he doesn’t actually have any specific intentions for AFC. Or, to put it in another way, his intentions for Arsenal don’t differ significantly from those he has for his other sport outfits.

    • This is empty talk. We all know full well that Arsenal has a bit of money, but not nearly enough money to outspend any of the other top four clubs. Truth is that while we have some money, we cant outspend anybody – which is why Hazard is at Chelsea. They can actually afford to give Lille 30 million for a relatively untested 21 year old kid AND pay the kid 200K per week, before he has ever won anything for Chelsea. Arsenal could of course do this…….but would not be able to withstand the instant rush of half the squad looking for pay parity. Chelsea CAN cope with that effect. Man City can. Man Utd can. THAT’s the difference between being actually rich and being Arsenal i.e. with a few bob in your pocket from having acted sensibly for years and still actually needing to go on acting sensibly in order to stay out of the “working class”.

      For Arsenal to get into bidding wars or even to simply run around declaring “intent to spend” is therefore nothing short of insane.

      Clueless sportswriters peddle the moronic idea that this is what a club should do. I dont know who is senseless enough to believe them. If Kronke actualluy stands up and says “we are giving Wenger XYZ million to spend this summer, WTF do you think the starting number will be in the negotiations for every single player Arsenal targets? Helloooo – get a clue please.

      So, we cannot outspend anybody but we can complete.

      But as we saw this year, even with the team misfiring for the first two months of the season, we were competitive with Chelsea and Man City, and I think we had the most points from something like February to the end.

      However I am not aware of any top team whose best fans spend their time voicing opinions on boardroom matters while managing to simultaneously be one of the most docile home crowds in the league.

      Funny you mention good football. I know what good football is. Some of people haven’t the slightest what good football is. As for good footballers, these same people think that the lives of Van Persie, Fabregas, Pires, Henry and so magically appeared on our doorstep as full-fledged superstars for which we handed over a huge sum of money.

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