Around £80m by now.
Now before all the Arsène lovers get up in arms about this and jump straight to the comments to insult me, let me first say that I’m presenting this only as a quirky fact (I won’t go as far as ‘interesting’). In terms of value, there’s a good case to say that the money paid to Arsène over the years has been well worth it – certainly was for the first eight, anyway. But let me tell you the full story.
A couple of days ago on Twitter, the subject of why Arsène Wenger is Arsenal’s highest paid employee came up (personally I believe a good manager being the highest paid in a club is justified), and @Invinciblog questioned whether anyone at Arsenal had ever been paid more than AW.
After five seconds’ thought, I’d say looking at each year individually only one person: Thierry Henry in his last year, when he got a £5m upfront fee for agreeing to stay.
Then it struck me that given Arsène’s wages and longevity in the role, he must easily have earned more money than anyone else in the club’s history – or to put it another way, made more profit.
So I tweeted this:
No single person in history has taken more money out of Arsenal than Arsene Wenger. Must be c£80m by now. (I’m not judging value BTW)
Note the last bit: this was not a judgement of value, just a numerical or monetary fact. Some chose to take no notice of that.
Immediately I got several responses regarding shareholders cashing in, but the fact is they only took money from each other, not the club. Lady Nina got the biggest profit – or certainly the biggest in one lump. David Dein and Danny Fiszman may both have profited more than Arsène as a result of their Arsenal dealings, but they sold shares at different prices and different times, and I haven’t done all the maths. Either way, none of them took that money from the club, which would have curtailed its spending in other areas.
Some of the other responses I got were:
What was Arsenal worth as a club when Arsène arrived and what is it worth now?
The monetary answer to that is probably that going by share price Arsenal was valued at well under £100m, whereas it’s now around £1bn.
The alternative answer is: Who cares? An increase in share value is only a benefit to the shareholders, not the club itself. The only possible benefit I can think of is that a business perceived as more valuable can borrow money more easily. In any case, every Premier League club is worth a lot more than it was 17 years ago – TV has seen to that.
I know you’re not judging value, but how else can Arsene’s earnings be judged?
Well as a direct numerical comparison with everyone else. When you compare goalscorers, you tend to just look at the number of goals. Mostly you don’t even bother with goals per game, never mind whether the goals won games or points. It’s just a numerical comparison, that’s all.
Arsène has made big profits on selling players – much more than his total pay.
This is true, but he does buy players as well, and pay them handsomely – sometimes too handsomely. He probably gives a better result than other managers at similar sized clubs, though.
Are you comparing the amount paid to Wenger with the amount paid to Chapman?
Yes. Yes I am. And also to the amounts paid to everyone else. That is the whole and only point.
Have you considered inflation?
No. Again, the point is I wasn’t doing that. Similarly, when a new movie breaks box office records and becomes the highest grossing movie of all time, do they take inflation into account? No they don’t, because it’s a simple numerical comparison.
By that logic the contractor that built the stadium has taken more out than any other.
They may have grossed more, but didn’t make more profit – and in any case I said single person, and they’re clearly not one.
My favourite response was this:
What a stupid post.
I’m guessing the responder is a big Arsène fan. He clearly infers I am attacking his hero, but that doesn’t make my tweet ‘stupid’. I replied:
Explain the logic underlying that conclusion please.
Him: He hasn’t taken money out as such he’s been paid wages. Do you consider yourself taking money from employer?
Me: Yes – everyone does. They [employers] have the money or I have the money. If I have it, they have less. Value, as I said, is different.
Him: He’s taken zero money out. It’s the way you’re wording it.
The conversation ended there, as I didn’t feel it was likely to develop in a constructive manner. To me it’s obvious that given a finite amount of money, the more a company pays to its employees the less is available for anything else (investment, repayment of debt, distribution to shareholders), so in every sense I can think of employees do take money out of the business they work for. I’d honestly have thought this was completely indisputable. In my case my wages are small change to my employer, but in the case of an employee who takes over two per cent of the turnover of the company as his wage, it seems even clearer. It’s up to both parties to ensure that value is given for the money taken out, but that isn’t the subject under discussion.
I did get some support too. For example:
The ability to read something to suit own bias amazes me.
It used to amaze me too.
You can’t say anything about Wenger without someone jumping down your throat.
Yep. It’s another example of people hearing the same information and projecting their own emotions on it to reach a different conclusion. Just because I point out that Arsene has received more money from Arsenal than anyone else doesn’t mean I don’t like him or don’t appreciate what he’s done.
For further intellectual debate and petty nonsensical disputes, follow me on Twitter: @AngryOfN5