This piece from a fan Graham is in direct response to the much read piece from Gary Lawrence entitled ‘Where did it all for Arsene? – It was left in the comments.
The article is an interesting read and highlights some of the issues, but for me it doesn’t paint an accurate enough picture.
The reality of where we are today is partly created by Arsine’s success in his early years, the mismanagement by the previous shareholders and the sense of entitlement many Arsenal fans feel. The sense if fuelled by irresponsible journalists who see Arsine as an easy target and know Arsenal fans will lap up all they write because of the desperation for success.
Firstly, I hear people constantly talking about David Dein. I appreciate he was good at his job, but let’s not forget he was the one that brought silent Stan. I wouldn’t go as far as calling the fallout a vendetta. It was a difference of opinion. Dein wanted us to move from Highbury to Wembley, an absolutely ludicrous plan and Fiszman wanted us to build a new stadium.
I do agree that what is missing at Arsenal is a true football man which Dein was. Alex Ferguson’s success was partly due to having a CEO (David Gill and Peter Kenyon) that understood football and football financing. No one currently at Arsenal understands this so Arsene has to do more than he should. People see him as taking absolute control, but if his employer will not employ someone in that role then he has to do it. This means he is not able to concentrate 100% on football coaching and management.
The role of the previous shareholders including Nina Bracewell-Smith – The financial management for the stadium move was mismanaged and the club had to sell players to keep the banks from the door. Their negotiation of sponsorship deals was also poor in the extreme. I would actually argue that Stan is better than all of them because he is actively trying to negotiate these deals and getting new ones. In terms of sponsorship revenue Arsenal is way behind its main rivals because of the poor stewardship of previous directors and shareholders.
Let me move on to player acquisition. I have seen for several months this figure of £200m mentioned. I am an Accountant and I can tell you this figure can never be available for player acquisition because the difference between our current assets and current liabilities was only £47m, so at most we had that amount to spend. We also have instalment payments to make for players we recently purchased. The reality is that we don’t have as much money for transfers as many fans have been led to believe.
Many fans have also been fed the lie that the stadium debt is fully paid or almost paid. If you call £200m of debt almost fully paid then ok. The reality is that as at the end of November 2015 the club still had over £190m of long term debt associated with the stadium. Why is it taking so long to pay? It’s because of the incompetent management we had at the club for many years. Increasing our revenue and accelerating the repayment is proving difficult. The old saying that good thing can be damaged in an instant but can take many years to repair. I don’t know the exact phrase.
The assertion that the club did not invest is not entirely true. The reason Nasri and others left was to meet a shortfall in our financial commitment to the loans provides for our stadium Arsene said so himself recently.
The article also claims he did not invest in new players when we had all the money to spend. While I am not party to the inner workings of the club do we actually know if Arsene was ever given a sizeable transfer fund? I don’t.
Fans are also unhappy with Stan because he won’t put his hand in his pocket to fund transfers. Why should he? He is a businessman who has acquired a good business with tremendous potential and is cash generating. He is doing what any other businessman will do. Let’s be clear here, he is not a fan and has never claimed to be one. He is going to get the business to a valuation that suits him and sell. If we don’t like it we can all try and acquire the business from him. I don’t like it one bit but it is what it is. He is not Abramovich or Sheikh Monsour who were both looking for expensive toys.
That said, I think there are issues at the club that have been there for a long time and have not been addressed. The first one is the endless injuries we keep having. This has been going on for many years and there appears to be no solution. Another is player scouting. I don’t consider our scouts to be at the level of other clubs that can be considered our competitors in EPL or Europe. It needs a complete overhaul. I think fitness also needs to be improved.
So who is to blame for where we find ourselves as a club?
I think Wenger must share a large part of the blame. He has shown incredible faith in the players he has bought even when they have been shown to be poor and not up to the task or good enough for Arsenal football club. His decision making is also becoming increasingly questionable. However, I will not question some of the so called strange comments he makes. He has to be positive.
One more thing on Arsene – I think he has committed the serious error of becoming a fan. This, in my opinion is also clouding his judgement. It should be a job to him and nothing more. Becoming a fan of the club means he wants the best for the club at all levels, on and off the field. He should be much more selfish in the Mourinho mould and spend, spend, spend.
Those responsible for the club’s finances and the running of the club must also share a portion of the blame. The club’s finance is not as healthy as it should be, but I accept that the likes of Gazidis are making efforts to improve it, but I think this is at the expense of neglecting the football side of the business. Arsene needs a football man on the board, so will anyone that comes in after him.
The fan must also share part of the blame. Season after season or away record is one of the best but our home record is average. This cannot be a coincidence. The players always appear tense when playing at home because the fans are unforgiving of even the most basic error and demand perfection. The level of support is also far less than expected where away fans are louder than us. There is also a sense of entitlement among some fans. They believe we should be winning the league every year, competing for it is not good enough.
Arsene is in his final year and I think he has earned it. This summer he needs to be brave and but quality players that will genuinely improve the team and be less loyal to the underperformers. He also needs to show many players the door and bring a few of the high achievers in the under 21 side to supplement the team