Vinai Venkatesham says Arsenal’s stint in the Europa League is not stopping them from investing in top talent, however, the club is taking a financial hit from not being able to feed at UEFA’s top table and needs to secure a Champions League return soon.
After 20 successive top four finishes under Arsene Wenger, the club is well aware that consecutive seasons in Europe’s second-tier competition has the potential to put a strain on their self-sustaining business model.
The Gunners made around €38 million from last season’s run to the Europa League semi-finals. While that’s not a bad return, in contrast to the riches secured by domestic rivals playing Champions League football – Liverpool (€81.3m), Chelsea (€65.2m), Man City (€63.8m), Sp*rs (€61.3m) – it makes for a comparatively small handout.
Take into account a wage bill inflated by a series of high-profile arrivals and new deals handed to other squad members, and it becomes obvious why Unai Emery’s number one target for the season is to finish as high up the Premier League as possible.
Fittingly, highest Champions League revenue earned by winners Real Madrid €89m, then Roma €84m, runners-up Liverpool €81m & Juventus €80m. Arsenal had by far highest in Europa League €38m, followed by Marseille €23m (#EFC €14m). In fact, #AFC only beaten by 15 CL clubs. pic.twitter.com/ObXL9PUnJ0
— Swiss Ramble (@SwissRamble) October 29, 2018
“We do have a self-sustaining business model so the more years you spend out of the Champions League, the bigger strain it puts on the business model,” said managing director Venkatesham.
“There’s not a final point we get to where it becomes a catastrophic problem and we are nowhere near that.
“We run the business in a responsible way – we know there are at least six teams who have a minimum requirement of being in the Champions League.
“So we have that robustness built into our business model that we can have some seasons in the Europa League and still make the investments we need.”
A 16-game unbeaten run makes for a positive backdrop to talk of a Champions League return and future silverware. However, when you consider our recent impressive run has only seen us climb to 5th in the Premier League table, it underlines just how hard it will be for Emery to secure a top four finish come May.
“It is not going to be easy but I absolutely, 100 per cent believe Arsenal Football Club can get back to where it needs to get,” added Venkatesham.
“The first step we need to do is get back into the Champions League and then we need to start competing and then we need to start winning the biggest trophies in the game.
“We need to be realistic, last season we finished sixth and we had our second season in a row in the Europa League – that is not where we want this football club to be.
“I think it has an impact across the club – it is a material impact, financially, being in the Europa League and not the Champions League.
“It is hard to put a number on it because it depends how well you do in the Europa League and how well you do in the Champions League and it depends on how many English clubs are in both.
“But it is tens of millions of pounds, it is a material impact being in the Europa League – so that is the financial bit of it.”