By our guest blogger @Swales1968
You probably get where I am going to on this, in fact you could
probably open up many a blog or Arsenal forum and read words to this effect on most if not all of them. Well, I am going to stop you right there, what are Arsenal doing wrong, what is silent Stan doing wrong, why in 2013 are Arsenal in the position they are.
Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture, football as most of us know it has changed so much in the recent past. When I started watching I stood on the old North Bank of the Arsenal Stadium, the peanut seller would walk past and to get a drink well it was some little hut up the back somewhere. The football was average at best and the crowds apart from the London derby’s and the odd Manchester United or Liverpool game were sparse to say the least. What did we look forward to a good cup run and beating Spurs that was it Arsenal’s
season in a nutshell.
Then in 1992 a monster arrived and changed football forever, money was the new thing and lots of it. At first football clubs thought they could just plod along as they have been, but as the years past clubs had to change. The more money came in the more money went out through wages, transfer fees and agents some clubs realised the need for change. The Arsenal was one of these clubs then with the help of a spectacled Frenchman they looked to the future they saw that The
Arsenal Stadium was not big enough and the income they gained from it was not enough to sustain the club. So, ambitiously they decided to move, not far but move they did. The world was in an economic boom house prices were high and so were land prices, but by some good dealing with the banks Arsenal finally got the finances together.
To help, Arsenal decided to build flats at the Arsenal Stadium the money they hoped would help cover the shortage in funds for the playing staff, but as we all know the crash happened and Arsenal were lucky to come out with a profit. The new stadium opened to a fanfare but all was not as it seemed the sponsorship deals were loaded in favour of the sponsors due to the Arsenals need for upfront cash. Arsenal for all intense and purposes were broke belts needed to be tightened and kept tight.
Prudence was needed; buy to sell was the mantra live within your means, which would have been fine except another dark cloud popping its head over the horizon. The money was coming bigger and larger than was ever seen before and it swept most away. The wages grew; the transfer price grew could Arsenal keep up with the belt that tight just by the skin of their teeth they did. With all things something had to give the buying to sell began to flounder the quality was not there to replace the quality leaving and time is against the young
learning their trade.
So, where this leading you ask and what has this got to do with the bigger picture. Well, here’s the thing Arsenal have a new (ish) stadium state of the art it holds 60,000 (ish) fans every other week. There are clubs in the League that would cut their right hands off for that. Look down the road what do they need more than ever to keep up,take a look up in Liverpool, Everton a biggish club unable to move,can't redevelop stuck. If they do move to a new 50,000 seated stadium they will make £4 million a year extra, in the grand scheme of things that is peanuts (roasted peanuts). That is where Arsenal could be at this very moment still at The Arsenal Stadium looking over our shoulders at what could have been.
Yes, but I hear you shout we might have this new stadium, but we are paying the highest prices for tickets and have very little to show for it and a board that does not put a penny towards the club. The incoming of the mega owner has I think twisted the way fans look at what a board should do. Back in the day all they had to do was spend some money on a player, higher or fire the manager the cost to themselves was small and affordable to them. Now with the Russian and Middle Eastern money being pumped into clubs the general thought is that every owner board member etc. Should put huge chunks of money into their teams, but how many really do and how would they get their money back.
The cost of tickets is high, but how many teams in Arsenal's position would not do the same would Spurs not have high ticket prices to fund a new ground (their ticket prices are not that far behind at the moment) the only way Everton could make more money from the move to a new ground would be to charge more. Liverpool has announced an average 6% rise in ticket prices next season and I would expect more clubs to
go the same way. As much as some do not like it football is a business and as such needs to be run as one, some seem to think all clubs can run like Chelsea or Manchester City.
The cost has been high to you me and the club, but I see the club moving forward in 2014 both shirt deals were due to be up, the Emirates deal has been extended at roughly double the deal Arsenal had before if the same can be done with Nike or Adidas then Arsenal will be in a good position. 2014 is also the end of Mr Wenger’s contract is this a coincidence two major sponsorship deals and the manager's contract up in the same year or have Arsenal been playing the long game giving Wenger the task of keeping Arsenal in a champions league place while keeping the club afloat and raising the cash levels to a height that would secure the club for the future.
Two things can happen in 2014 Wenger can stay and carry one with rebuilding his side or a new manager will be signed and will be given a large sum of money to spend on players. A sum of money that without the work that Wenger and the rest of the club have done in the past years would not be there. Tom Fox & Ivan Gazidis are looking at changing the way Arsenal run as a business looking to cut real wages, but increasing the personal sponsorship deals they are also looking at building a bigger sponsorship portfolio for the club along the lines of Manchester United. This is where Stan is doing his job changing Arsenal from the inside changing them from a club that needed the money in quick to a club with long-term planning, looking to the future and not the here and now. To do this though is taking time strategies have to be put in place and lessons have to learnt.
So, where are Arsenal now well to me at least they are where they should be a team fighting for the last Champions League position. Should they be higher maybe with a bit more quality but the position that Arsenal have found themselves in its difficult. Arsenal is in the position of buying that slightly unproven player or the player that needs training on where as Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea can pay for the fully fledged article. Yes we and the other clubs fighting for that 4th position can go out and pick up that one great player, but not the two or three it will take to get you fighting for the top positions. So, you have to do what Arsenal have done pick up the emerging talent and hope they can come on leaps and
bounds or watch as they fall flat on their faces and disappear never to be seen again. Both of these scenarios can be seen in Wenger's reign. The problem with the emerging talent route is the wages you have to pay for promise and if that promise does not pay off then you are left with a high wage for no football on the pitch.
This scenario also leaves Arsenal with another problem of keeping their best players when you are up against clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City who do not really have the time or patience to bring on youth players and want the best no matter how much it costs in wages, transfer fees or agent’s fees it leaves Arsenal as a prime target. Clubs know Arsenal need and want to balance their books.
For me Arsenal, its board and its manager have been looking to the future they took a step back and thought about how the new money in football would affect them and the club. They took a long-term strategy one that was full of danger, one that could have quite easily seen them in an Aston Villa situation but to this point have made it work for them under the guidance of Mr Wenger and the rest of the board. I think they may move the goal posts this summer and spend some
money to keep themselves in the 4th or 5th position but the situation is not as bleak as many self-proclaimed experts suggest.