The Truth is that Gazidis, Wenger and Arsenal are creating a legacy to sustain us now and in the future – SO BE PROUD TODAY!

The Future Today!

The Future Today!

I would like to thank our friends at Forty Nine Undefeated  for allowing us to post this superb article by Gooner Chris (@AFC_ChrisGooner)

In a world where short term needs and requirements are largely put before long term planning, football is no different.

In fact it is worse, it feels like not a day goes by where a manager is not sacked somewhere in Europe, regardless at what stage of the season we are at. Teams spend recklessly on impulsive signings, sometimes regardless of their age, quality and value in the quest for immediate success. Clubs near the top are reluctant to focus on youth development, as you have seen with Chelsea and Manchester City having no real success, since their take-overs, in developing any youth players to contribute to the first team.

Part of the reason I love Arsenal and Arsene so much is the emphasis on doing what is right for the club. Through constant adversity and criticism they have stuck to their convictions without wavering from relentless external & sometimes internal pressure to change (from players trying direct the club to Usmanov trying to tell them what they should be doing.) They had a long term plan and they were going to execute that plan – no matter what. As Ivan Gazidis put it recently, “We’ve made enormous progress over the last five years. We managed to keep a focus on where we want to go, how we were going to turn through the corner and making sure we could come out of that corner strong and well positioned. That hasn’t happened by accident it has required a lot of hard work and passion by people at the club along the way.”

“We’ve made enormous progress over the last five years. “

Some have criticised Arsenal for what they perceive to be a lack of ambition. I would argue that the move to the Emirates was the most audacious show of ambition seen anywhere in Europe for a long time. To do so, whilst maintaining champions league football year after year, in the most competitive league in Europe is quite frankly astounding.

The only stadium builds that are completed or anywhere near completion in Europe over the last 10 years that can even come close to the Emirates stadium were Lyon and Bayern Munich. Lyon have a 60,000 all-seater due to be ready for the European Championship next year and is estimated to cost £280m once complete. Of that they are getting £125m of public money and £50m from the Urban Community of Lyon. Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, was completed at the cost of £235m. It came at a cost though. Before winning the last 3 Bundesliga titles, they had only won 2 out of the previous 6, including failing to qualify for the Champions League in 2006/07. That fact alone, means Arsenal along with Real Madrid are the only team to compete in the Champions League, every year for the last 18 years.

Only Lyon above and Bayern can compare

Bayern had that period of struggling, in what is largely, a less competitive league and with a stadium cost far less than ours. (£235m compared with the Emirates costing £390m.) The only reason they were able to come back as quickly as they have is due to the other teams having far less resources than them, even after the stadium build. Compare that with us, having a net spend from 2000-2012 of just £57.4m, 9 times less than Manchester City (£523m) and 10 times that of Chelsea (£570m), as well as ours being about 4 times less than United and Liverpool over the same period. Looking at this you can see why it has been a longer battle for us to come back to compete compared with Bayern Munich.

Now I am not saying we are as big as Bayern but that is clearly the clubs aim, with Gazidis recently stating “We are off the shoulder of the best teams in world football, we aren’t at that level (Real, Barca, Bayern) but that’s where we are aiming to get to. To have the infrastructure and the foundations to deliver it to our fans, that’s not something that happens over-night but we are on that journey. That’s what everyone is striving for; we want Arsenal to be in that elite group of clubs. Its long term journey that we are on, that consumes us every day, we want this football club to be at the top of the world’s game. ”

Now whilst the stadium was vitally important, its cost left us lagging behind in other areas, where we previously excelled in. We were unable to invest in other aspects of the clubs facilities, academy and infrastructure until now.

Our training ground, prior to 2000 was leased and it was one of things Wenger insisted on changing, as Bob Wilson recalls “I remember him saying ‘I do not understand. This is Arsenal? It cannot be Arsenal. First in his sights was a new training ground, purpose-built and paid for in an ingenious way. He bought Anelka from Paris St Germain for £300,000 and sold him to Real Madrid for £23million. From that, £12m created the country’s best football training facility. And with the spare £11m he went out and bought another young French player called Thierry Henry. Some business, some brain.”

“Some Buisness Brain” that Arsene

Whilst at the time it was the best in the country that was 15 years ago. It is only now that the short term debt of the stadium has been paid off that we are able to start investing in these key areas again. “We’re investing many million pounds into developing London Colney, our main training centre – our athletic development, our analytics, our scouting. We need to make sure that we’re absolutely ahead of the curve in all of those areas.” Ivan Gazidis stated recently, saying that it is only due to be completed for the 2017/18 season.

Investing again in Colney

Including in this will be an increase area for analytics and athletic development. Both areas the club are keen to develop. Whilst the appointment of Shad Forsythe was widely acknowledged, the appointment of Andy Rolls from West Ham as the new head of Sport Science in January 2014 was quite the opposite. Whilst there is still away to go, signs in the 2nd half of the season have shown promise, with less injuries and players coming back quicker and in better shape than previously. It is an area, which continued improvement and investment off the field could very well complete the puzzle for on the field achievements to follow.

Chad Forsyth arrives from Germany

Something else that largely went under the radar was Arsenal acquiring StatDNA, a data analytics company in December 2012 for £2.165m. Not a large amount is known about exactly what they do but Gazids did state “The Company is an expert in the field of sports data performance analysis, which is a rapidly developing area and one that I, and others, believe will be critical to Arsenal’s competitive position. The insights produced by the company are widely used across our football operations – in scouting and talent identification, in game preparation, in post-match analysis and in gaining tactical insights.”

Our first StatDNA Signing?

Interestingly, it was used in the recruitment of Gabriel, although Arsene didn’t want to go into too much detail “I cannot tell you all but he has good stats. We look at interceptions, defensive errors, winning tackles – what we call tackles is committing to win the ball, set piece receptions, these kind of things”

With football becoming increasingly competitive, innovation and good choices and efficiency off the field are key to gaining any kind of advantage possible. Whether it is improving the fitness of the players by improving training facilities or coaches, better analysing performances, better decisions on recruitment among other things, can save you huge amounts of money.

Another area the club are investing huge sums of money is the academy. Whilst the on field results across all age levels have been quite poor this season, the club are early into a long term project with Gazidis saying the aim is to have “best youth academy in the world.” The club are half way through phase 2 of 3 phases to make the Hale End facilities “the best young player development centre when it’s finished in February 2016”

Gazidis went on to say “Our youth development, is going to be the foundation of this football club moving forward, we’re investing millions into leadership & coaching at that level as we go through our transition and also our facilities.”

Investing in Youth with Jonker

One of said coaching changes with Liam Brady leaving the role was Andries Jonker being appointed Academy Manager and bringing a couple of his Dutch colleagues to work with him. Arsenal describe Jonker as “ a vastly-experienced and highly-respected coach, Andries previously spent seven years working for the Dutch FA and two seasons working as a senior coach in the youth set-up of the Dutch Federation. Andries was involved with all the national youth teams from under-15 to under-23 level.”

He wasn’t a popular choice with everyone. Terry Burton was one of the casualties of his appointment stating “I still think they’ve made a big mistake. I think if it wasn’t me, there are good people out there that they could have put in. It’s a massive job. There’s a lot of work to be done there. Arsenal, with respect, have fallen behind.”

Whilst the academy has contributed more players either produced at the club or signed early on at ages 15 or 16 than any other of the top 4 teams in the country (Gibbs, Wilshere, Szczesny, Bellerin, Gnabry, Ramsey, Coquelin and Walcott all have been at Arsenal since aged 16 or below), it is an area that the club and Jonker are keen to improve with Jonker saying “Arsenal want more talented players to come through, because that has been lacking. They want me to develop the players from the academy much better than it was done before. At this moment, considering the investments the club have made, players have hardly been developed properly. This is why they wanted me, a man who can guide the coaches and who can influence the other coaches. Ivan Gazidis wants Arsenal to be the best academy in the world. He realises that will cost money and will take time, but that is his ambition. The scouting must be restructured all over again. It needs to be brought to a level so that we can bring in the absolute best talents from abroad and from England.”

Again it is a project that may take a long time, perhaps even a decade or so. If any club can see through a plan for that long it’s us. The focus on stability, improvement and innovation off the field is a big part of the reason I love our club so much. The way in which we are run, financially and in all the aspects I’ve mentioned above are reasons to be proud to support Arsenal. Arsene Wenger may not be here to see the fruits of the labour completely come to fruition, with the Emirates not scheduled to be completely paid off until 2031 and the academy development may not show its true potential for just as long. Johan Cruyff set up Barca’s famed La Masia academy whilst he was coach from 1988 to 1996 and the Barcelona only saw the complete potential of that unfold a decade later.

Products of La Masia

Arsene Wenger sums it up better than anyone, with this quote, demonstrating his selfless, long term plan saying he wants to leave the club “in a strong healthy position, that means, good players, good youth behind, strong financial position to go further and develop more and I will do that believe me. The guy who comes in after me is a very strong position to develop something exceptional.”

Whilst almost every single member of personnel has changed since he has been at the club from chairman, CEO’s, to owners, to board members, Arsene Wenger has been the one constant and it is his drive, determination and vision that has carried us this far and yet even with him knowing he is unlikely to be the biggest benefactor of the changes, he continues to plan for the clubs long term success, something that is very rare indeed.

As the famous quote goes; “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” In which case, we need not worry about the future of our great club.

Just sit back and enjoy the ride my fellow Gooners – @AFC_ChrisGooner


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16 Responses to The Truth is that Gazidis, Wenger and Arsenal are creating a legacy to sustain us now and in the future – SO BE PROUD TODAY!

  1. Rich June 4, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    It’s a nice article and I agree with the sentiment.
    1.Arsene lowering debt and increasing our bank balance has really only helped increase Stan’s original share price by almost double.
    2. We’re now a profitable club with the only billionaire owner who wants to take out, despite the fact that he’s already made potentially huge profits on what he paid for his shares.
    3. Why should I celebrate a sustainable business model? I want PL and CL trophy’s.
    4.FFP looks like it’s being scrapped just as it was about to bite, so we’ll still be behind the elite and the sugar daddy owned clubs unless we start winning the big trophy’s that will enable us to secure sponsorship deals similar to that of the ones Utd+Bayern have just secured
    5. There’s no parades for a sustainable business model
    6. If the club don’t secure 3-4 players who will instantly improve our first 11 this summer we’ll finish third or fourth again.
    7.Arsene can be very proud of the work he’s done, he’s performed miracles
    8.but….could the club have done more to win trophys over the past five years? And has our inactivity and refusal to compete really benifited anyone but our greedy owner?

    • Chris June 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

      Disagree with most of what you said. If you look deeper a large majority of the cash reserves used to pay wages, pay stadium debt and interest amongst other things. The figures are announced after season ticket renewals so the figure is naturally higher then & has to last all year. Kroenke doesn’t take money that was used to pay one of his companies for services rendered.
      You obviously don’t understand the long term philosophy. Doesn’t make you right. Off the field will help on the field.

  2. DAMI ODUN June 4, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    I dont thnk we need any addition to win the PL AND CL.. Wot we have failed to do are (1)controlling and minimising the amount of injuries we do suffer over d last decade of seasons (2) ensuring there is defensive balance in our profound artistry.. Our squad depth is reasonably strong at d moment, failures in ds 2key areas wl cost us trophies whether or not we add more quality. Jekinson should not be loaned next season, he has d intensity and physicality similar to Le Coq for our type of DMF (a speedy ball-winner, un-egoistic, silent hero, hard worker), he also has d brain and hunger to improve his technicalities wt game times under his belt. Unlike Diaby (lacking d intensity), Arteta (lacking both d intensity&physicality) and Flamini (lacking d physicality).. Jekinson as backup to Coquelin is a DMF success story for d next half a decade or so.

  3. GoingGoingGooner June 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    @ Rich Of course if Mr. Kroenke decides to take all his money out or require some crazy dividend this whole plan would go nowhere. FORTUNATELY, he has given no indications that he will.

    1. Decreasing debt means decreasing interest payments which means more money to spend on players like Alexis and Oezil
    2. Taking out a reasonable amount of money is not unreasonable. Crashing the teams finances would be.
    3. No sustainable model equals instability at the club which decreases the possibiities of PL and CL trophies.
    4. FFP…we can’t control whether it is kept by UEFA…if our survival DEPENDS on winning the championship then we should start buying lottery tickets. Even Citeh with all its wealth went backwards this year.
    5. You want parades…join the military. The article was a positive look at our future.
    6. Absolutely sure that we need 3-4 new starters? Must be nice being a football manager genius.
    7. Agree AW has performed miracles.
    8. Hello, we built a stadium…they cost money…now we are able to spend more money. Did you read the article about how even Bayern fell out of the CL because of a stadium build…we didn’t…we have not been inactive, we have done our all to be competitive.
    9. Live must be tough with the half empty glass of yours.

    • Chris June 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm #


    • Segzeal June 21, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

      Thoughtful. Good points

  4. Chris June 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    Hope you all enjoy the article. Feedback on twitter or here always welcome. Also, which part are people most interested in? Whilst I find all the behind the scenes going on at the club of interest, particularly for me was the way stats and analytics are being used more in sport, not just at Arsenal.

    Arsene has put us on a great long term journey, really excited for the future.

  5. Fontinini June 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    Well for me AW and others have done alot! I would wish that they buy a striker-benzema and DM and release diaby,arteta,and flamini only!

  6. Alex Field June 4, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Its Funny chris you only agree with people that agree with you how vain but them that’s what this blog is ultimately about the writers vanity.

    And i do think its wrong what has happened and all this pay down the debt at the teams expense why couldn’t Mr Kroenke put his hand in his pocket as do other owners?

    what the hell was that 3 million quid for last yr?

    Yes WE the fans Built a stadium Arsene and Gazides didn’t our Season ticket prices are quite high we have been letting go selling our best players as well to fund the soulless structure full to the brim with tourists

    So suddenly we have won the FA cup back to back and all is rosy in the garden and the back slapping starts well when we win the CL back to back Along with the EPL you can then say you don’t have to pay huge amounts in wages and transfer fees to win big as i am sure your example of Bayern Munich have done at least once while buying their home

    • Bash June 6, 2015 at 9:56 am #

      Yes, Bayern did it but is it against the team with ManC, ManU, Chelsea stature? I believe that we might have won 1 or 2 League title if there is no sugar daddy club like Chelsea or ManC.

  7. victor June 4, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

    what I need to see at Arsenal is efficient and superb finisher /striker.we lack a proper striker.Arsenal need a very lethal striker.Giroud is not delivering.

  8. Cane Ngatia June 5, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    1.Truth Be Told Arsenal Have Been Of Late Very Weak Against The Big Clubs In Epl,,even The Just Concluded Season We Only Managed To Beat Man City Who Were Also Not At There Best..Can You Do Something About It Please?..2,arsenal Players Have Not Been Taking CL football very seriously especially 1st leage, you see them struggle in return match, can you do something about it?..3,where are these palyers..Eduardo, Denilson,and Villa, Believe Me They Made Me Love Arsenal But Cant Be Traced Now What Hapenned?..4, I Am In Africa,its True We Love Arsenal And We Want To Be Like A Farmily, Is There Projects You Can Extent Abroad So That We Can Feel Nice Being Close To Our Club?,,lastly Ramsey Visited Kenya And I Saw Him, It Was Wow And I Know He Enjoyed Being Here,, Now Why Cant Other Payers Just Come And See The Overwhelming Surpport And Funbase Here, Maybe It Can Be A Motivation Thankyou.

  9. Sudarsh June 5, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    I am a liverpool fan and I can tell you this simply. Good things happen to those who wait. Look at Arsenal. They have substantially decreased their debt. Other side of London, Chelsea’s debt has hit 1 billion. Manchester City has gone as close as that. Man United,thanks to their deal, have also been profitable. Mark my words, Arsenal in the next 5-7 years will become one of the most threatening teams in europe.

  10. uk June 21, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    where do I start?
    1. 1st let me get this off, Bayern built a stadium, fell out of CL for a season, isn’t that being ingenious? so the Milan clubs, man utd, Dortmund, barca, Ajax, Valencia, juve, chelsea, liverpool, did they all also build stadiums in the years they failed to qualify for the CL? you have a bad season and you miss the CL simple. besides teams like juve, Bayern, Southampton have new stadiums, even man city paid good money to use d city of Manchester stadium and all seem to have done better for it, better than arsenal I’d say. @least you won’t hear Bayern fans blaming the stadium move for anything. so all this unnecessary excuse making is quite shameful. I’ll be back

  11. uk June 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    2. I’m not saying arsenal haven’t done well (note that I say arsenal, not arsene or gazidis, because when its time to praise, AKBs say arsene, but when its time to criticise, they say it’s the board, players, other teams, FA,FIFA, platini, FFP etc). the truth is that the stadium debt won’t be paid off until about 2030, debt repayment and interest stands at about £23m yearly. the increased revenue from the stadium move (and increased tickets cost) covers that. yes arsenal was hit by d stadium move financially due to long term commercial deals that it signed so as to get cash upfront. I think the best way to know if we had cash was to compare our cash reserves and those of other teams. my theory is, arsenal was probably hoarding cash in anticipation of a burst in the football world, that it can capitalize on to dominate.

  12. uk June 21, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    3. I don’t believe people should boast or write serious articles about what gazidis or Wenger say they will do. I think its best to allow them work on those things and when they work out you can praise them to heaven. we’ve had gazidis especially say lots of stuff that wasn’t followed through with action.

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