Cash reserves, money, wages, prices tags and so forth. These financial aspects are what now symbolise the modern game, football has become a brutal business in which money is far and away the most significant factor.
The power money has brought to football means that clubs such as Manchester City can be dragged from the doldrums after being injected with some oil money and go on to win major domestic titles, the same can be said to a lesser extent with Chelsea.
For a club like Arsenal the current financial climate is something both us as fans and the team should have great concern about, we are a club who operate with rather strict financial principles while other clubs shatter transfer records and offer astronomical wages.
The system has sadly changed and Arsenal are a club left in slight transfer limbo because the players available for the prices that fit into our system simply do not meet the required standards of the club while the players that do would not fit into our financial structure – a catch 22 of sorts.
Ridiculous money is now common place in the Premier League
Let’s just glance over some of the recent business made by our other Premier League rivals, Manchester City have barely broke into financial sweat throwing around £50m transfer fees as if they were mere pennies.
Raheem Sterling for £49m? It might prove to be a wise investment for the future but it is still a deal which represents financial ridiculousness. Kevin De Bruyne for £55m? A player who in my eyes has not performed anywhere close to the standard to render a transfer fee of that size but it is no stumbling block for the flexible financial model of City.
Arsene Wenger’s economical management has been spectacular at Arsenal, providing finances to pay of stadium debt while also ensuring the team has enough success in order to bring in the required financial rewards – basically by ensuring Champions League football every single season without fail.
He has established an effective financial system with a fair wage structure which reflects the importance of the player, Mesut Ozil being our current highest earner and he is of course arguably our most important player – he brings in around £140,000 per week reportedly.
If we look at some of the wages paid to players at our rivals it tells a different story. Wayne Rooney is reported to be on upwards of £300,000 per week while Manchester City and Chelsea see £200,000 per week for star signings as almost ritual rather than reward for their efforts.
So of course the stars of the modern game will go where the money is larger and this means Arsenal often miss out. De Bruyne is said to be on wages which significantly break the £200,000 mark so of course Arsenal cannot offer a player a contract which greatly eclipses that of its highest earner. It just doesn’t suit the system and therefore we fall behind the competition in this respect.
City, Chelsea and United have found it easier to recruit this summer because of the financial flexibility they possess. We perhaps bulked at the fee and wages required to sign Schneiderlin whereas United completed the deal without skipping a financial heartbeat.
The way we have recruited big names in the last three summer transfer windows has simply been desire to play for the club. Ozil and Sanchez both cited Wenger’s leadership as the most crucial factor in their moves while Cech didn’t want to leave London and saw us as the perfect platform for high-quality first team football.
The image of the club and the principles we operate with can often be beneficiary in some cases but unfortunately it is costing us when it comes to the transfer market, do we need to change it?
Tight wage control is hard to change
In essence to change this system Arsenal football club would be affected hugely, new contracts would have to be dished out to our star players and the atmosphere at the club would almost certainly alter.
Wenger has brought about almost a communist wage structure at Arsenal which focuses more on equality and doesn’t allow for contracts which single out somebody as of far higher standing than the rest of the squad.
Unfortunately this leaves us with only a set amount we can actually pay to players of genuine star quality which could strengthen our squad and in most cases these players would choose to seek larger pay cheques.
If we had completed the signing of Benzema what wages would we have had to offer him? Probably upwards of £200,000 per week which would disrupt the model Wenger has worked so hard to establish, I strongly the doubt the deal was anywhere near as close as it was claimed to be because of these facts.
Its simple economics and it could be the reason why we never seem to be the team making these offers which get the whole world talking, instead we operate much more covertly, often nurturing from within or conducting shrewd business.
We are a club of principle and class but sometimes these factors do not equal success. We seem on the brink of something special but perhaps it is our financial model which is the thing holding us back most, food for thought.