Arsenal's on-field failures are hurting the Gunners' bank balance

IAN HERBERT: Arsenal once held bold ambitions to emulate Bayern Munich as a spending power, but on-field failures are hurting the Gunners’ bank balance

  • Arsenal have slid into the second tier of clubs financially over the past decade
  • The Gunners hierarchy had bold plans to become a spending powerhouse 
  • However, a lack of Champions League football has hurt the club’s balance books
  • Spurs are eclipsing the Gunners in key financial areas ahead of Sunday’s Derby
  • Mikel Arteta’s spending power will rest heavily on how they end the season 

Arsenal technical director Edu was presenting to the club’s owners this week. He laid out plans to reorganise the club’s worldwide scouting and recruitment operation and compete for the best young talents, as Arsene Wenger and his chief scout Steve Rowley did, in what now seems a different universe.

The problem is money. When former chief executive Ivan Gazidis spoke in 2013 of Arsenal becoming a spending power like Bayern Munich, the club were in the midst of a 19-season run in the Champions League.

But as the directors congratulated themselves on what a good job they were doing, Arsenal subsided into the second tier of clubs. They’re now blowing a small fortune just to stay there.

Arsenal chief Edu has bold plans to make the club a scouting giant, but money is a problem

In 2013, the Gunners were plotting to become a spending powerhouse like Bayern Munich

Arsenal’s financial results, published last week, revealed the eye-watering detail. After 16 straight profitable years, during which they enjoyed a £393million surplus, they have reported two successive years of losses, in which a cumulative £86m drained away.

As financial analyst Swiss Ramble’s examination of the figures showed, Arsenal now trail other members of the Big Six — most symbolically Tottenham, who they meet on Sunday.

The £17m TV money earned after their last-32 Europa League knockout compared with £69m for Spurs, who sit two places above them in the latest Deloitte Money League having driven £51m more in revenue.

However, Arsenal’s slide down the Premier League table has dashed those old ambitions

Their on-field woes are hurting the bank balance, with lack of Champions League a heavy blow

Arsenal are now outside the top 10 in that league. In 2013 they were sixth, ahead of Manchester City, Liverpool and 13th-placed Spurs. Arsenal are now the second-best north London team for matchday revenue — a financial realm where once Spurs could not remotely compete. Income is £79m, while Spurs’ new stadium has lifted them to £95m, the Swiss Ramble study shows. Arsenal are eclipsed in all areas: sponsorship, hospitality, merchandise.

The Premier League’s 10th-placed club have been fumbling around in the dark for three years, desperately trying to map a route ahead, just like Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson left.

Hence the revolving door of new executives in that time.

A number of executives have come and go as Arsenal have fumbled in the dark (pictured: former chief executive Ivan Gazidis (L) and former head of recruitment Sven Mislintat (R))

One by one, they have left, for reasons never spelt out. Gazidis, head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, then Darren Burgess, who had been appointed to great fanfare to work as the club’s performance director. Manager Unai Emery’s sacking cost Arsenal £10m. Raul Sanllehi, the head of football, and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy have followed him out the door.

Wages soar when panic sets in and here is one field where Arsenal outdo Spurs, with an average £104,000-a-week offering compared with Tottenham’s £84,249.

Profit of £40m from player sales has helped Arsenal. So has cancelling the contracts of Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. A further £16.5m on this season’s wage bill has been staunched by loaning out Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock.

Edu is hoping that contacts in South America can help land the region’s stars of the future 

But the Swiss Ramble comparative study shows Arsenal are still running the third-highest losses in the Premier League, surpassed only by Everton (£175m) and Chelsea (£112m.)

Edu’s PowerPoint presentation is not the only solution being formulated by a club who have received no funding from owner Stan Kroenke in the past five years, at a time when seven sides in the Premier League have been given £100m or more.

It is thought Edu’s contacts in Brazil and Argentina will help the pursuit of teenage prospects who, with senior games behind them early, pose fewer visa complications. Contacts in France and Spain going back to the Wenger era remain strong.

But the club will also have to focus on keeping hold of the burgeoning talent they have already

Folarin Balogun, 19, has impressed a number of suitors in Germany but has had limited minutes

The financial headache could have a huge effect on Mikel Arteta’s transfer budget this summer

KEOWN: Stop gifting goals, Gunners! 

I said at half-time in Arsenal v Olympiacos that if they were going to slip up in this tie, it would come courtesy of an error they made themselves.

It had been one of the most convincing first halves we’d seen from Mikel Arteta’s side in Europe. Then, in the 58th minute, they went from a position of comfortable possession to giving a goal away.

Bernd Leno played an unwise pass into Dani Ceballos, Olympiacos took the ball and scored. Arsenal cannot afford to keep making these mistakes. It needs addressing.

Arteta likes to build from the back and doesn’t want his players to fear this philosophy. But it’s about picking the right moment and right passes. It’s risk and reward.

They cannot continue to be their own worst enemy, especially not in a match of such magnitude tomorrow.

Whenever Arsenal and Tottenham meet, serious bragging rights are at stake.

They got the Olympiacos job done in the end, despite allowing the Greek side back into the game. Now play smart — and don’t go offering Tottenham any gifts.


Incoming head of football operations Richard Garlick will be part of a set-up designed to ensure panic contracts for Ozil (£350,000 a week) and Willian (£200,000 a week) are consigned to the past. Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s academy is coming to the fore again. The club are interested in Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey and will look to extend the contracts of Folarin Balogun, 19, and Emile Smith Rowe, 20.

But pressure is on to convince Arsenal’s young players there is a route to first-team football. Liverpool have been looking at those youngsters about to fall out of contract, as have German clubs. Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart are monitoring Balogun.

From the outside, some of the 55 non-playing redundancies designed to stem financial losses looked baffling and ill-judged. They included popular supporter liaison officer Mark Brindle, who communicates with the club’s 250 fan groups. After a protest to chief executive Vinai Venkatesham by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Brindle is now staying.

The episode demonstrated the uneasy path Arsenal are treading to balance the books.

Arteta was pressed hard before the Europa League match against Olympiacos on how much of a problem financial losses could prove come the summer transfer window. ‘We don’t know yet because we have so many things to do,’ he said. ‘Everything we are planning is for this club to go back to being sustainable.’

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