Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Friday, December 07, 2012

Arsenal’s football model bound for failure?

By 1970’s Gooner

What is failure really?

The ascertainment of failure can only be made when the comparison is made of the performance achieved against the ‘required’ level.

Is failing to win a major title for seven years considered as a failure? Is it enough to sack the coach for example?

The decision on whether Arsenal are failing is, these days, made when comparisons are made against those teams that have finished higher than Arsenal (or won titles). It also has to do with what the supporters’ expectations are.

I remember when Arsenal went 17 years without winning anything until 1970 when the then Fairs Cup (now called Europa League) was added to Arsenal’s trophy board. We didn’t complain much before because our expectations were influenced by those barren years and hence anything won was a real bonus.

The opposite is happening these days. Wenger walked into Arsenal all those years ago and started winning one title after another. The fans expectations were raised to another level. And anything less than that has been and is considered as a failure.

Then however two significant changes occurred which altered the balance of power in the Premier League and made Arsenal take a back seat in the race for titles and glory.

Firstly Roman Abramovic and his roubles changed the rules of the game. It no longer was and is enough to rely on your own generated funds along with the genius of your coach to win titles. Money talks and this trend has now been accentuated with the new owners of Manchester City and is also taking place outside England with the investment in PSG in France.

Manchester United have been relatively less affected by this as they can generate funds from revenues earned world wide as they cash in on their global brand name. Something which no other club in England can emulate.

The second change that has occurred almost at the same time with the inflow of the oligarchs is the strain on Arsenal’s finances placed by the borrowings needed to facilitate the move to the new stadium, The Emirates.

This has starved Wenger of the funds to invest in the team and is the major reason why the football model adopted at Arsenal switched with significant emphasis placed on youth development, astute buys in the transfer market and becoming a selling club in order to fund the instalments for the stadium loans.

The result is that Arsenal has not won anything during this period. Are you really surprised? I am not.

In fact it is a major, major achievement that Asrenal Football Club finished in the top 4 every season, so far….

If Arsene Wenger were to leave the club then the financial and football model he will leave behind will collapse. This is because it is his managerial, coaching and astute buys in the transfer market that can make this model workable. No other manager could make this model work.

Will financial fair play rules change all that?  No not really. The only thing that can change favourably is Arsenal’s finances through better deals with sponsors and more revenues from the football league.

Then anything that Arsenal can make over the 20m that is needed to pay the annual payment to the bond holders can go towards the transfer fund. The bond issue was in 2006 and is for a 25 year period!

Note on Arsenal’s debt

Interest on the £260 million debt was set at a commercial fixed rate over a 14-year period.To refinance the cost, the club planned to convert the money into a 30-year bond financed by banks.The proposed bond issue went ahead on 13 July 2006. Arsenal issued £210 million worth of 13.5-year bonds with a spread of 52 basis points over government bonds and £50 million of 7.1-year bonds with a spread of 22 basis points over LIBOR. It was the first publicly marketed, asset-backed bond issue by a European football club.The effective interest rate on these bonds is 5.14% and 5.97%, respectively, and are due to be paid back over a 25-year period; the move to bonds has reduced the club's annual debt service cost to approximately £20 million a year (from Wikipedia).


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