WTTGT Writer: Nicholas Charles (@TNCharles)

I am writing this after our second disastrous away defeat in a row against Swansea which has placed us level on points with the mighty Newcastle. The defeat did not come as a surprise but was the result of 6 years of under-investment within our squad. I have defended Arsenal’s policies for a very long time and argued about the importance of having a club with financial stability but having reviewed the 2011 accounts and researched into our transfer spending I simply cannot defend them any more. The results suffered this season raise serious questions about the ambitions of our board of directors and what plans if any they have for the future of our great club.

The table below (downloaded from provides grim reading about our transfer policy since 2006. This league table shows the difference between the money spent on players and money received from player sales and then ranks teams in order of net spending. It comes as no surprise that Manchester City and Chelsea are the top 2 spenders in the League but for Arsenal to be bottom is a total shock. Is it any surprise that this period has seen us win no trophies? After all how can a team grow if the intention is to clearly profit from player sales rather than to simply buy the best?






2006 – 2011

Purchased Gross



Per Season










Manchester City 




























Aston Villa














Manchester United







Stoke City



































West Bromwich Albion





















Norwich City 














Blackburn Rovers




















You are probably thinking that we have been forced to reduce our spending because of the stadium that we have had to finance. However in the 2 years to May 2011 we have generated £187.2m from property sales and the board have stated in the 2011 accounts that they expect to gain a further £79m in receipts from the sale of the flats currently being built around the stadium.

Our over prudence gets worse; the 2011 consolidated accounts also show that our total cash reserves are a staggering £52m and that’s before you account for the £17.95m in net player receipts from this summer. Our wage bill is only 55.2% of our total turnover so we are well within FIFA’s Fair Play regulations introduced this season. Our Net Assets are £267.955m and our accumulated profits are £211.197m. Although I understand and totally appreciate the requirement to balance the books but why are we hoarding cash and continually striving to earn increased profits?

The fact remains that Arsenal is a business that pretends to be a football club. Our priorities obviously lie outside of football. What is even worse is that it appears that we are budgeting for our non involvement in the Champions League. Our continual refusal to invest in the squad has made it inevitable that this season we will finish outside the top 4. Our Board’s short sightedness will cost our club dearly in the immediate future. They do not realise that without success they will alienate their number one customer – the fans.

The Board have also failed to realise a very important fact that will affect both our profitability (which they obviously care about) as well as our ability to compete as a team (which only us fans care about). At the end of the 2013/14 season our current shirt sponsorship deal expires. Unless our club starts winning trophies we will struggle to attract a large sponsor. To get an idea of the potential money involved please see below the current 3 biggest shirt sponsors in the Premiership (the figures are in millions of Euros per annum):

                                                               €m per annum

Liverpool – Standard Chartered                      22.75

Manchester United – Aon Corp.                       22.75

Chelsea-Samsung                                           15.70

Arsenal – Emirates                                         6.25

This season has highlighted key short comings in our team and our transfer policy. Our board represents an old mans club and clearly lacks someone with a genuine football background. Ivan Gazidis became our Chief Executive on 1 January 2009 but he comes from a law and marketing background. He replaced Keith Edelman not David Dein (he although he took over his roles) and what’s worse is that he supports Manchester City! Unless the following key questions are answered and acted upon then we will continue to fall behind in the competitive stakes:

  • Who is responsible for our transfer dealings in the board room? Who does the deals within our club? When David Dein was at Arsenal he dealt with the finance on all transfers that were wanted by Arsene Wenger. There is still a clear lack of such a person within our existing Board.
  • Why has Mr Usmanov been constantly denied a position on the Board? His company Red and White Holdings own almost 30% of our shareholding and he has a net worth of almost double that of Abramovich. Surely such a man can only be an asset to our club?
  • In 2010 Mr Usmanov requested Arsenal to make a right issue to raise £100m specifically for player transfers. Why did we turn this down? What was the real reason rather than that given to the press? I suspect the answer is linked to my question raised above.
  • We have cash, financial stability and a very reasonable wage structure. So why are we not competing at the highest level for the best players? The current transfer league suggests that we are a selling club but will the Board ever admit to this fact?
  • In the summer we sold 2 world class players, Cesc Fabregas (18 assists and 9 goals) and Samir Nasri (15 goals and 5 assists). Why did we not invest in world class replacement during the summer? Why did we keep the majority of the transfer funds in the bank?
  • How do we intend to compete and challenge for honours if we continue to follow a policy of hoarding cash and making profits from player sales?
  • What is the genuine strategy of Arsenal? To make profits, cash and to simply qualify for the Champions League through the miracle dealings of Arsene or do we want to be the biggest club in Europe?

I am genuinely fed up of having my intelligence insulted by Arsenal’s board of directors who always talk a good game but who actions show that they value money way above becoming a great club.


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  1. January 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Pretty damning that

  2. January 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Makes you realise how well Wenger has done over the last 5 years even keeping us competitive.

    A big problem at our club is that we don't get anything like we should in terms of overseas commercial income. If you study it closely we don't have massive profits to spend at all. Last year we made a net loss.

    Another problem is the high wages that we pay across the board to all squad members, without being able to pay higher individual wages.

    Saying that though, I don't think its in any way 'inevitable' that we will finish outside the top 4. It's easy to get negative after a defeat but if we beat Chelsea at home we'll only be one point behind them.

    The club needs to do certain things to improve, for sure, but there's still a great deal to be proud of at Arsenal and at least we haven't whored ourselves to a sugar daddy (and Usmanov is NOT looking to give money away to Arsenal, people close to him know that he is only here to raise his international profile to ensure that nothing can happen to him like what has happened to other Russian oil billionaires who have 'gone missing' 😉

  3. January 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I have been banging this drum for four or five years now and on numerous occasions been abused by fellow fans. Whilst a prudent approach to managing a football club is sensible a results business does not thrive on constant losses and a severe lack of investment into our team. Sunday and the fulham game were an utter disgrace. I believe almunia diaby arshevin squillaci fabianski rosiky are 1 million woods worth of wages alone. Gazidas is none existent until we need to be told to support Wenger or how arsenal can cope with no champions league football due to our budget! How can that be acceptable to the fans who pay the highest season ticket prices, expected to buy a new shirt every season. The fans need to make a stand NOW and tell the club that we will no longer put up with this situation.

  4. Afrika January 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    HAHA! Arsenal is bottom! Well, on one hand this table obviously is no measure of the success of a club – among the top 6 only one of these teams have won the EPL in the last five seasons. On the other hand, assuming Arsenal buy the least amount of talent are still among the best clubs in Europe, let alone England. Meaning if they'd be at least mid in the table they would be a much stronger team than now, so it might be a matter of “buying the right but expensive player”. But I must say I don't think this table has much to do with it because we are bottom due to selling Fabregas and Nasri. The problem with Arsenal is that some few years ago Wenger started a youth project that actually worked out very well, appart from the unlucky end of last season, and then decided to sell the backbone of that project (Cesc and Samir, Clichy can be included as well) and the holes that were left were all patched up in one day by good (not excellent) players. I think he was supposed to stick with his project especially when those players enter their finest years. This year Arsenal is back to square one, fighting for a top 4 finish so they can burst onto the scene in 1 – 2 years time.

  5. January 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Very good article.
    I dont think there is much can be done since the american is in control.Usmanov cannot join at his will because Kronke will keep him out.
    It is by the miracle of Wenger that Arsenal are still surviving at te top level.Kudos Arsene.
    To realpse and understand how Wenger his hands are tied just look at our summer shopping.

    Park—We heard that this guy has been snatched from his hotel while he was awaiting to do a medical for another french club .They land him in london done his medical ……………….. bench warmer for six month and continues to be.
    The same goes to Myiachy the Japanese.
    After we lost two terrific players one would expect replacewment like for like.Ok ! i sound a bit greedy and might be accused of not taking into account the club debits.
    Isn`t it a bit ironic to pay two brand new pkayers for six month just to train in them with the first team ?Why oh why we have to pay the salary for player will not use.

    Are this Arsene buys ? NOT IN A MILION YEAR.
    This are GAZIDIS BUY.
    why ?
    To sale some shirts in that asian world is the only answer that i can come and if there is any please somebody explain to me.Six monthes ? DID WE BUY A CROOKED PLAYER ?
    No he pass the medical and is deemed to play because we never heard any sort of long term injury..
    Gazidiaz is doing his best to please the board at the expence of what matters most “the team”.
    It is proven very costly. as we see it.Our style of playing has been degraded substantially and the performance is mediocre and the table does not lie.

  6. January 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    @Nicholas Charles. Great write up we need to spread this story about. Every arsenal fan needs to read this.It just confirms what we already know about the board all they are interested in is making money. its scary to think the heart of the club is not run with or has people at the helm with desire to win or be the best in England or the world. all our history and respect/fear is being washed away by all this profiteering by the board all the while they stand there and watch our club go in decline, and us the once most united fans in football everyone with harmonic understanding of knowing were Gooners WITH A NOD AND A WINK and we knew what it was to be a fan and what a proper club should be like , play and be run like. but now were turning on each other with so much uncertainty there are even factions AKB'S IAWR and a load more. but they honestly think everything is ok because there making profits. every one wants to moan about the sugar daddy's but at least they give something these kind of people we got are much more worse all these do is take and the thing we all know about takers is that they take and take till theres no more they can take get what they can and move on . this is not arsenal fc this is arsenal plc RIP Arsenal

  7. LeytonstoneAccountant January 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    As a chartered accountant I can quantifably say that this article provides no solid evidence on Arsenal F.C financial accounting.

    I would seriously retract some of the subjective opinions you've stated here, you're clearly out of your depth in this field.

  8. Nickerless Bender January 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    How and when was project youth successful? The only player that came through this academy was Gael Clichy. The others all started of as good prospects and then ended up being farmed out for mediocrity except Jack Wilshire. I can name you lists of players that never made it with us whereas I can only name a handful that did? On paper the project seems good, in reality it does not work except in spain when they have B teams that play competitive football. This is why the teams in England abandoned this idea and bought experienced players than wait for the one that may make it. Also, they realised that their core customer's were the fans who do not see the club as a business but as a sport which means winning and losing. Hence why Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City go through managers like hot potatoes. I personally have sat on the fence with how the club is being run, but now enough is enough. This is not about this season, but an accumulation of years since we moved to the Emirates. We were promised the world but I honestly think we are being seriously f***ed over.

  9. January 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Football club should be owner by supporters/fans. Not investment minded shareholders. We have seen people criticizing Chelsea but it is completely different in that a football loving fan owns it.In case of Arsenal it is completely opposite. It is not self sustaining model but investment minded people who want return on their money. So don't expect anything to change in a short span unless Stan's heart changes or circumstances outside arsenal force the ownership of the club or all the fans (us) unite & force the change. None of these seems to be possibility at the moment so all have to bear with weekly frustration with intermittent joy. Arsenal fans pay highest ticket price but we are bottom of the table when it comes to spending. It reflects the arrogance of the board. Is Wenger part of overall strategy? It seems so as if he were football oriented manager, he would not have continued for last 2 years. It is his reputation as best football manager which is going down day by day. For some time many of us thought it is his love for Arsenal but now we all doubt his motive.

  10. January 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    A report like this has been long over due.
    We should do something about it before its too late and we do not have the appeal to attract the big name players.
    Looking forward, whilst Wenger isnt a perfect manager he has done a fantastic job even while we havnt won things and got far more than expected out of many players considered poor before joining us. The problem lies completely with the board and Kronke.
    Lets face the facts, we are not going to convince the board to spend money just by protesting, there are many people out there who have been doing that for 5+ years. We have to take action and stop the spending on merchandise, the overpriced food and drink at the games etc, the new shirt every year.
    If you love the club it is better for the club in the long term to make some sacrifices. I for one will only be renewing my season ticket if our almost inevitable failure to make the champions league is met by anything other than a reduction in the cost of the season ticket (which I doubt 🙁 ). Money is the only language these people understand and I urge the Arsenal internet community to come up with ways to communicate with them in the best interests of the club.

    If the Arsenal board had a spec of ambition they would put the £25m from the champions league on a new player and stave of loosing it next season when they will be under even more pressure to spend the money but have lower prospects of signing a high quality player (without the champions league)……Ow and on top of that we will loose the last of our 3 best players from last season in the summer for not doing it. Nothing could be more blatant than the fact that these guys are at Arsenal to whittle away the cash.

  11. January 17, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    the only reason kroenke won the battle to buy the club is because he offered the board members the most profit.
    Arsenal are the most profitable club in the prem, and we just sit back and do nothing. I think someone inside the club or with some authority in the club, and do something simular to that of liverpool. And bring in usmanov cos he actually has a brain.

  12. January 18, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I know about the transfer league. I have stated the fact that we are bottom of it for a while. This is a well presented article supported with relevant facts and this is the direction we need to go to encourage progress at the club that we love, not the rants about Arsene Wenger being the reason for the clubs' failings. Anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence can see that the lack of spending is the root cause and it is very strange that fans choose to blame the manager for that. After all when has a manager ever asked the board to reduce his transfer budget ?! I am living in China so there's little I can do but I would suggest that after the United game fans stay behind with banners stating exactly what has been said here in not so many words and demanding answers to key questions. It will probably be the most televised match that we'll play in this season, bearing in mind that a run in either the FA Cup or CL are unlikely, so it will ensure maximum coverage. As the saying goes “Silence gives consent” so by making no stand you support the actions of those endeavouring to ruin the club.

  13. January 18, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    @Leytonstone Accountant if you do not agree we would appreciate the benefit of your knowledge to explain why you do not agree. Chartered Accountant or not it's all too easy to tell someone that they are wrong.

  14. January 18, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    This article only goes to prove what all Arsenal fans have known all along. You don't have to be a know-it-all accountant to realise that Arsenal are making a profit and not re-investing in the team, even a brickie could tell you that!

    But let's discuss the effects of Arsenal finishing out of the Top Four. Will that have an impact on Wenger's perfect “financial model” ????

  15. January 18, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    arsene is partly the reason for the clubs failing as he is too stubborn, he needs to realise that the defence dont have a clue what they are doing and he is the reason for that, he is putting to much pressure on himself. he should bring in a permanent defence coach, or even give steve bould the job whilst coaching the youth team. that should help.
    but there is a real problem behind the closed doors, i believe that the board are keeping certain people out of the club to
    stop there secret getting out, why do you think usmanov has been denied the chance on many occasions to join the board, because he knows whats going on but he needs to prove it and joining the board is the only way how.

  16. January 18, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Good thought provoking article. Up until the end of last season I agreed with our financial stance. let's give some praise here and understand that what has been achieved financially has been a miracle in an industry called football where clubs simply live on debt (but would love to copy Arsenal). Which top club other than Man Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea have won the Premier League in the last 10 years. My point here is that if you look at the financial table that means many many clubs have spent alot of money mostly posted as debt and won NOTHING. Therefore, for Arsenal's achievement, winning the premier league, FA cup and always achieving a top 4 spot, is to be applauded; infact it is incredible!
    Every Board of Directors of the top clubs would love to follow the Arsenal model. Further, which club has managed to finance a new ground and remain competitive other than Arsenal……….ANSWER no one has………..again another miracle; so WELL DONE Arsenal's Board of Directors and well done Arsene Wenger!!

    BUT, and there is a but like the author I am too becoming frustrated. Unless there is something we don't know about, the financial work has been done and the self sustaining model works. So now SPEND some of the cash on REALLY talented world class players; it won't guarantee a trophy because ONLY one team can win any trophy but it would certainly give us a fair chance and would not come anywhere near to crippling the club. If they don't want to spend the cash the alternative is a rights issue as already proposed by Usmanov, although once you go down that route it can be never ending especially if you don't win plus Kroenke is the majority shareholder so he rules not Usmanov thats reality.

    In summary my view is keep the self sustaining model, keep the youth development but dont bottle it on BUYING world class players and judge your success on WINNING the premier league.

    Come on you gunners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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