It’s deja vu all over again. The Arsenal accounts to the end of May 2015 are out today, and given the seeming reluctance to spend on new signings, most eyes turn to the page that reports the cash balance.
Once again it’s a new record, and as usual it’s by far the biggest cash balance of any Premier League club. Why so big? Well as I’ve said before, there’s always been a generally conservative stance on the part of the Board when it comes to spending, but more importantly there is 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.
There may be a third factor: perhaps Stan Kroenke is insisting on holding ever bigger amounts 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. Matt Scott, Arsenal fan and journalist, has written about that on insidefootball.com, reproduced recently here on Le Grove.
There’s an advantage for Stan Kroenke anyway in having large piles of £50 notes around. Not only is it comfy to sit on, good insulation and useful for lighting cigars at Board meetings, but a business with £200m-plus in the bank would command a higher price than one without, should he wish to sell to, say, a passing Uzbek billionaire. In the meantime, with that much money sloshing around, who will notice if he takes £5m out for miscellaneous unnamed services, following last year’s £3m?
Here’s a handy table showing how Arsenal’s pile of cash has grown since 2006:
Yes, we know.
“The balance in May is just after all the season ticket money comes in.”
Most of it, yes.
“Top class players aren’t available.”
All right, shut up now.
The point is, Arsenal is a football club. It was brought into existence for the benefit of players at the Woolwich Arsenal and their colleagues. As soon as it turned professional the players were paid by the people who came to watch – literally the supporters. So the club should be run for the benefit of those supporters. That’s what all clubs are supposed to be. That’s what a club is, it’s in the title.
So what’s all the cash for? If the Board and manager don’t want to spend it, give it back to the supporters in cheaper tickets and other initiatives. Give it to charity. Buy everyone in Islington a pie and a beer. Any of these would have more meaningful purpose than hoarding. For whose benefit is Arsenal run now? The majority owner and some highly paid employees, by the look of it.