WTTGT Writer: Nicholas Charles
The week of internationals has given me the time to clear my head, forget about the Spurs match and closely analyse Arsenal Football Club. Our unfortunate recent run of poor results has caused the media and so called football fans to start writing the obituaries of my beloved club. I agree that we have been awful recently and that the league never lies (currently 15th at the time of writing) but I still think that the masses have been too quick to jump on the so called band wagon by overly criticising the club. Mistakes have been made and that is undeniable – our transfer policy has failed since 2005, our wage structure needs to be looked at and the current board of directors lacks someone with solid experience in football – but are these mistakes not rectifiable? Can we really say that based on our current infrastructure that we cannot make Arsenal a genuine European power?
In order to answer these questions we need to assess the facts that surround our club. Arsenal has always followed a long term strategy, and whilst this may be frustrating in the short to medium term, we need to commend the board for establishing such solid foundations for our great club:
- We currently have a state of the art football stadium worth £400m with an outstanding mortgage of less than £100m. For any property investors out there that equates to an amazing 25% LTV (loan to value)
- Our recent accounts show that we made a profit of £15.6m and this does not take into account the £35m profit we made on player sales as our accounting year end is 31 May 2011.
- We currently have about £150m of cash in the bank – although £40m is withheld from the bank as part of our stadium loan deal
- We have one of the best training grounds in Europe with state of the art facilities
- We have one of the best youth systems in Europe that is consistently producing top class talent. Even if these players do not make it to our first team they are sold to other clubs which provides the club with a good stream of income.
- There was a huge turnaround of players over the summer so its only natural that they will take time to “bed in”
- We are still missing world class players through injury such as Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen. Any team would struggle without them.
Yesterday I was privileged to attend the League Managers Association annual conference at the Emirates stadium and one of the guest speakers was the former chairman of Manchester City, David Bernstein who is now the current chairman of the FA. He told us that when Manchester City were struggling in the 3rd tier of the League he approached Arsene Wenger at the London Colony training ground and spoke with him for over 2 hours seeking his advice about how to run a football club. He even confessed that a lot of those ideas were immediately implemented at Manchester City – and that gave the club the platform to be sold to the current billionaire owners.
We should stop and appreciate the simple fact that Arsenal has set the standard for other football clubs to follow. We are a self sufficient, profitable club with world class foundations on which we can build on and we comfortably meet the criteria of the new Financial Fair Play rules which are currently being implemented. How many teams can say that? In fact in 2011 only 4 Premiership clubs showed a profit and guess who was the most profitable?
If we can remain competitive until January when the window opens and buy 3 genuine world class players (a centre back, a central midfielder and a striker) then this could still be a great season for us. Then again I have been asking / begging for player investment since 2005 – I just hope someone will hear me this time!
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