One point from the two most recent matches against our top four rivals and Man Utd is not great. But to take our minds off that, Arsenal’s half year accounts to the end of November 2013 will be out soon. One figure of interest will be the cash balance. Arsenal hold by far the biggest cash balance of any Premier League club, for no apparent reason other than a generally conservative stance on the part of the Board, and a manager who is a one-off in terms of both his control over team spending and his desire to only spend when he considers he’s getting good value.
Unless there’s a more sinister third factor: that Stan Kroenke is insisting on holding ever bigger amounts of cash in Arsenal in order to satisfy his creditors elsewhere that he always has a large supply of cash on tap if he should need to call on it.
If it’s the third one, then it isn’t going to be spent, and we can all forget about improving the squad to a position somewhere close to the sugar daddy boys, and settle for occasional title challenges if we’re lucky. (The team is clearly pretty much comparable to the oilies so far this season, the squad equally clearly isn’t.)
I’m guessing the November 2013 figure as it hasn’t been announced yet. So shoot me.
I get a little tired of people saying there was no money to spend before this season, and as soon as it was there Arsène went out and bought Ozil. Look at the cash balances! It’s been over £100m since 2009! There is so much revisionist BS about what was available when. Arsène-worshippers seize on any half-witted comment from a pundit or ex-player about the stadium being paid off and cash being tight for years before that. Not an ounce of truth in any of it.
What frustrates me is that spending some of the spare cash earlier (or indeed at all) might have been enough to make the difference between ending the season in first place, and coming third after a valiant effort where we led at halfway but ultimately didn’t have the strength in depth of the oilies. Because if there’s one thing that Chelsea and Man City have proven it’s that spending money to win things in football does work.
Just for the record, and to save you pointing it out, I know the following things:
- Arsenal don’t have as much money as Man City or Chelsea, so can’t buy as many players as them (which is not a good reason not to spend what is there)
- Buying players does not guarantee success (it just increases the chances)
- If you buy someone you have to pay them, so that adds to the budget too (so if you’ve run out of dross to get rid of, keep a few mill back for the extra salary)
- Arsenal don’t have a never ending supply of money, and have tended to make profits largely from the sale of players in recent seasons (also not a reason to hold onto nearly this much cash)
- The cash position varies through the year as income fluctuates seasonally, while expenses are largely constant (but we can work out roughly how much is available to spend)
- Arsenal can’t spend all the cash they hold because some is needed as guarantees for the stadium debt, which contrary to Gary Neville’s assertions is not paid off, and bills need to be paid from it
- Buying too many players at once is as daft as buying none – as Spurs have shown – but adding two or three experienced players per season is required to keep improving
- If the cash pile had been spent 18 months or two years ago then it would still be a lot smaller now (still not a reason not to spend any)
2014 is the long-awaited promised land of new sponsorship deals, not to mention extra riches from TV money, so spare cash is going to be a lot higher by the end of the year than it is now. And who knows, a bit of a gamble on a couple of players when we were challenging for the title around 2008 might have been enough to swing it then, and as a result we might be in a far better place now (yes, better than second in the table – I’m talking trophies in the cabinet).
Still, the January opportunity for bringing in players has ended, so the die is cast. We succeed or fail this season with the players we have (plus a crocked Swede and an invisible French U-21 who hasn’t played since signing last summer), and that’s that. If we fail Arsene will blame injuries and ask who was available to buy. If we win the League with this squad it will be a great achievement. I hope we do. But it will be in spite of not spending more than because of it.
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