Deloitte Arsenal – cause for concern but a way forward can be clear
The Deloitte Money League, an annual report on global football clubs’ revenues, was released in January.
It’s a mix of projections and actual accounts from clubs, and used to show how revenues impact on performance relative to others.
As a global club, Arsenal naturally features highly on this list, and has done for many years.
But then our latest showing has shown us decline, relative to our competitors in England and overseas. This has a number of implications and could affect a number of issues down the line.
This isn’t to be negative, but then instances like this should be seen as a means for us to improve and get better. We’re doing this behind the scenes in various ways. Our sponsorship deals have enhanced. Our training facilities are still acknowledged amongst the best on Earth. And we’ve made changes in the club structure, and on the pitch, which denote progress at the least. Or at the least, a desire for progress.
But then due to some key errors made in recent years, our on the pitch decline is being mirrored by a relative financial decline.
I’m not an accountant, though I have studied business to a post-grad level and have some side businesses of my own. Yes, these aren’t the same as running a football club. But then there are some base principles that one can apply here.
There is a reason why Arsenal has slipped from 6th in the 2018 report to 9th in 2019’s edition.
Our top six competitors have had the following boosts, which we haven’t experienced:
- Higher TV Premier League fees. There are additional bonuses for finishing higher in the league, and we got the least for finishing 6th in 17/18. There are increments for finishing higher in the league, as well as a standard overseas share.
- Of the top six, we were the only ones in the Europa League. The remainder had Champions League football, and thus more TV, commercial and prize money income.
- Due to dissatisfaction towards the end of Wenger, match attendances were lower. Season ticket holders as much as Silver/Red members didn’t attend. This as much as playing in the Europa League lessened match-day revenues.
- The revenues for the Visit Rwanda, Emirates shirt deal, and Adidas kit deal won’t be part of 17/18’s accounting period. The Visit Rwanda deal may be part of this season’s report, though the Emirates/Adidas deals will feature in 19/20 season’s accounting.
Other points include:
- Spurs playing at Wembley has boosted their match-day income.
- Liverpool’s increased stadium capacity has too boosted their match-day income
- Chelsea winning the FA Cup led to heightened revenues.
- City’s record-winning PL season saw them advance financially
Should Liverpool win the league or Man City do well in the Champions League, this would further boost their positions. Manchester United is a commercial juggernaut – and they could well win the FA Cup and accrue more revenues in this capacity.
We could well win the Europa League this season, and thus get monies from this. But our weaker position compared to the others is costing us.
So what are the implications of comparatively lesser revenues?
Spurs in the 2019 Money League only had £10m less income than us. This may even surpass us, once they enter their new ground. Whilst spending will be conservative with high debts for their delayed ground, in time they could afford big name players and big wages.
City and Chelsea are less reliant on their owners as they once were. But then they can thus afford better players with higher revenues.
Moreover, United irrespective of where they finish will gain highly. Arsenal is global, but United is on par with Real Madrid and Barcelona as the elite football clubs on Earth. This is a tall order to compete with.
Liverpool operates on a similar model to us, and Anfield’s expansion with a large corporate facility has helped their revenues grow. A league title win could evidently boost this.
As we’re competing with them for top players and the Champions League, we would be at a disadvantage in this case.
Yes, our sponsorship deals are still good. And our commercial income may improve relative to other clubs. However, we cannot live on our “name” forever. We’re not the only globally-known club in England, and Liverpool, Chelsea and City have similar successes in PL history to draw on their “names”. Certainly Manchester United does, and whilst Spurs comically doesn’t, they in fairness are aspiring to such.
Some years of stagnation and poor management have led to this.
But what can be done to correct it?
We’re competing with the other top clubs for players, revenues, and a competitive edge. This includes high transfer fees and wages. It also means more money, potentially for infrastructure improvements. We’ve recently upgraded the training ground, and the Clock End expansion was announced in 2017. The major implication, possibly, is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be mismanaged, or at the very least stagnate. Liverpool has certainly grown, and even our good friends from the Borough of Haringey have put the pressure on. They’ve also not won trophies that their manager deems “for the ego”, despite them being central to their club’s history.
We’re making positive changes behind the scenes. Sanhelli, Fahmy, and even outgoing people like Mislintat, are all world leaders in their fields.
We’ve made changes to the training ground, stadium, and other key infrastructure. And Emery is a head coach more in the mould of what Wenger was (in his later tenure at the least).
We need consolidation, based on various factors.
On the pitch, we need to continue the defensive improvements we desperately require. We also need to enhance the midfield balance, boosted by Torreira and Guendouzi’s introductions. It’s also vital that the Ozil situation is sorted – and that Auba and Laca continue to score goals.
Off the pitch, it’s good that we’re getting record sponsorships. And have secured ground-breaking infrastructure deals. It shows that we’re still a major brand, but even the Adidas CEO said that we’ve lost our way. However, he did say that he’s confident we’ll rebound and improve. This amongst the other deals is an important track to follow.
Moreover, our squad strategy should be based on what we need to compete in our environment, and culling players who don’t meet this. A number of players have improved under Emery, such as Bellerin, Iwobi, and even Mustafi and Xhaka. However, the latter two remain question marks and could be amongst those to go.
Arsenal is in a lull, and this latest Money League report is something that we need to move up from. We are making moves to do so, and Liverpool is a template, considering where they were under Sir Kenny Dalglish’s second tenure, and Klopp’s first season. They have used steady planning to get back to a potential 19th league title, and one behind their deadly Old Trafford rivals.
Also, why not look at increasing stadium capacity? This isn’t just to rebuff Spurs’ claim as the biggest ground in London. But then it’s an easy means for more money. And to be fair, it’s a better chance for me to get a season ticket since I’m still very high in the waiting list….. If West Ham can get potentially 66,000 in the London Stadium, then what’s stopping us? West Ham is and never has been a bigger club than Arsenal, of course. And we should really be using any edge possible to gain more revenues.
The other top six are showing signs of sound planning – but we need to build on the green shoots of our internal changes to improve our relative position in the future.
If we regain top four, and maybe win the Europa League. then our comparative position would surely enhance in coming seasons.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.