When the Forbes list of the richest clubs in international soccer was released last week it was no shock to ?nd Arsenal third on the list. Coincidentally on the same day Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger came out with the not so surprising comment that despite the likely availability of transfer funds there would be no major changes at Arsenal this offseason. This of course was met with the understandable fan reaction of disgust that the current underperforming will again return next season for yet another encore performance. However there is another attitude amongst Arsenal fans, one that is spoonfed by the club that is lapped up by it’s more “loyal” fans.
The Arsenal hierarchy often point to the remaining debt from the move to the Emirates as the reason for the club’s frugality. However the truth of the matter is this is merely club propaganda. When you consider that even most successful businesses operate with some level of debt, Arsenal by most accounts is and should be the model for how to run a successful football club. That is of course unless you are a fan. You see the key to running a successful club as a business is to remain competitive while keeping operating costs down, mainly by not paying high salaries and transfer fees. Wenger and Arsenal are the best in the world at this when you consider they challenge every season for the Premier League title and qualify for the Champions League, an honor that brings even more income to the club. The actual winning of a championship would be an added bonus of course but it is not worth enough economically at the cost of raising payroll.
So why is it that Arsenal fans defend a philosophy that is all about maximizing pro?ts for the club while only providing a competitive product on the ?eld? This attitude would bother me less as a fan of a team I knew to be limited ?nancially, but this just isn’t the case at Arsenal. They are a global brand with a growing following here in the U.S. Where the Premier League is enjoying a level of success that has not been seen for soccer in this country since the Cosmos. I will never understand the mentality of the Arsenal fan who points to the clubs ?nancial standing as a badge of honor. I don’t feel the fans should be content merely with being competitive when being elite is clearly within their grasp. This will only elevate this transfer period if Cesc Fabregas, a long rumored target of Barcelona, is sold to the Spanish giants. If this happens and the 30 to 40 million pounds is not reinvested in the club, maybe then people will realize what is really the long and short term goals at Arsenal.
Also making things even more complicated is the impending takeover by now majority shareholder Stan Kroenke. How will his philosophy and vision for the club mesh with Wenger’s? Hard to believe this wouldn?t be a match made in heaven. Wenger is any owner’s dream.