The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) have called on Stan Kroenke and his fellow Arsenal board members to clarify their vision for the future running of the club and to outline whether or not funds are available for Arsene Wenger to strengthen his squad in the transfer market.
The request is made in advance of the release of the club’s latest financial results, which are expected to reveal another profit-generating period, but with concerns mounting over the long-term effects of possible failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Having sold the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Eboue during the summer, the Gunners look likely to see their profits for the six months to November 30, 2011 rise to a pre-tax figure of £45 million.
However, the concern raised by the AST is whether that profit represents money to spend on new players or merely an accounting profit which exists as a future safety net should the club miss out on the riches of playing in Europe’s premiere knockout competition.
Scrutinising the effects of the doomsday scenario – failing to qualify for the Champions League – the AST predicts that in addition to a loss of at least £27 million of UEFA television money, player retention will prove more problematic, the sale of premium corporate seats will drop, attendances will lower, while the value of future sponsorship deals will likely suffer.
It is also believed that falling outside the top four will see Arsenal lose out on other revenue closer to home. The further down the league the club falls, the less Sky will be inclined to show us on television and the less money we get from the Premier League in prize-money. As a consequence, cash we’ve grown accustomed to pocketing will be ceded to rivals.
None of the above is particularly ground-breaking. It doesn’t take a degree in economics to grasp the basics of supply and demand, but that doesn’t make it any less important for the board to at least consider the questions which the AST are proposing.
Have resources been held back in January as a contingency for failure to qualify for the Champions League?
Why is Arsenal’s £130 million annual wage bill not delivering results on the pitch? Are too many average players earning more than they are worth and is this making it hard to offload them? Are there plans to address the wage structure in general, rewarding those who deserve it?
If Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League, might the club fall foul of Financial Fair Play (FFP) issues in 2013 and 2014?
Would a rights issue, the likes of which was offered by Alisher Usmanov in the summer of 2009, be similarly dismissed if offered again this year?
Meanwhile, Stan Kroenke will be in town this week, ahead of the financial results and for the monthly board meeting, each one of which he has attended since taking control.
If there is a public backing of the manager it should be taken at face value, rather then being the ‘dreaded’ vote of confidence suffered by many other managers in the past – and hopefully the owner can provide some direction and leadership at a time when the club really needs it.
The full AST statement can be found here