Date: 6th July 2008 at 10:17am
Written by:

An article in the NOTW uses some quotes from Wenger, the context of which is unattributed, to give the impression that Arsenal needs to sell players because of the financial burden of the stadium.

It is the sort of stuff you might expect from a tabloid, especially one as downmarket as the NOTW, but as is often the case the article contradicts itself in order to make a story fit together. The substance of the story is that by selling Adebayor for £30m and buying Huntelaar for £18m the club will make a £12m profit in order to meet the £24m annual cost of the stadium. Yet in the article itself it reports that operating profit, before exceptionals and player trading, is up by almost £40m – in other words the stadium is paying for itself without relying on profits from player trading.

It takes a quote “The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players” as a declaration that the stadium debt forces the policy on the club. Yet it is something that Wenger has done almost every year for the last 10 years ever since Anelka was sold very profitably before stadium finance became an issue. Strategic sales and strategic purchases just indicate that a strategy exists. In any event selling any resource and buying more expensive ones that don`t give a better return is not a viable strategy for any business.

Wenger is alleged to have said in these quotes of unattributed context “We manage at Arsenal to maintain all our football ambitions ? national and European ? while having to free up – for 17 more years – an annual surplus of £24m to pay for our stadium.” and “The club`s strategy is to favour the policy of youngsters ahead of stars and to count on the collective quality of our game.” That sounds more like someone boasting about their financial and tactical acumen rather than the frustration that might lead to Usmanov taking over as the article threatens. It is also very similar to statements of policy that have been made over the last 5 years or so.

Other clubs have other debts, in many cases much larger than ours, to service. To suggest that debt management is unique to Arsenal is sordid, sloppy and mischievous journalism. The context of the quotes are not yet apparent. Arsenal ARE a selling club AND a buying club as are all football clubs. It is just one that buys and sells better than others and one with an unerring knack of adding value to players rather than detracting from them. Something supporters should take comfort in when looking for enduring success.



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