For a club that hasn’t won a major trophy for a few years, supposedly a unique position if the current media determination to remind us is anything to go by, there’s a strong air of confidence around the club. Certainly the atmosphere at today’s AGM is one of assured expectation.
Only a couple of seasons back as the banking crisis and resulting property crash threatened to undermine years of planning and put back the clubs anticipated financial progress under the weight of property development debts the caution at the club was evident enough. While the noises coming out of the club were that the property developments would pay off in the end the speed with which they would do so wasn`t at all clear. In the summer of 2008 former chief David Dein was encouraged to announce that the club faced ‘a bleak future’ without significant outside investment. Twelve months later and less than 15 months ago cohort Usmanov was insisting only a £100m rights issue would get us on track financially. In the event market conditions over the last year have given a significant boost to the club as sizeable short term debt has been virtually eliminated and the long term debt will be allowed to run down comfortably over the next 20 years or so.
With our own financial uncertainty allayed while upcoming Uefa financial fair play rules begin to impose constraints on less financially ordered clubs and a decade of investments of almost £500m in physical assets; training facilities, academy and stadium behind us yet still in front of a number of others the doubts have been removed.
“We have earned our independence. We do not have to rely on anybody but ourselves for future success.” declared Gazidis as he pledged that future significant property profits still to come over the next few years would be ploughed back into the squad and not used to reduce long term debt.
Perhaps it’s that confidence that allowed Wenger to express the belief that Cesc could stay for a ‘few more years’ yet despite popular forecasts that he`ll be off next summer. Financially there seems to be no need for us to lose players earlier than we need to and every prospect that we’ll have the strength to make it a hard decision for them to leave and an easy one for others to come in.
Does all of this reduce the pressure to get 3 points this weekend? Not a chance. It’s true more than its ever been that, in the modern game, successful football can only be as a result of a successful business but that success still has to be delivered on the pitch. If we can take that boardroom confidence onto the playing field then anything is possible.
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