In some ways I think we have to respect the way that Arsenal Football Club is being run and has been run in recent years. When the UEFA rules about Financial Fair Play came in it actually looked for a while as though the Gunners were about to be proved right and helped back to the top of the game but that did not last too long.
If you believe that all the money in the game means that there will always be ways of bending and breaking the rules then I guess the FFP thing was never going to work and when you see what has happened this week in the transfer market, with PSG paying something like £200 million to sign Neymar from FC Barcelona then you could say that anything is possible.
Well it is for clubs that are happy to spend crazy money like that on a player, but Arsenal are certainly not one of those clubs, even though Arsene Wenger has broken the transfer record a few times in recent years and did so again this summer by spending over £50 million to get Lacazette from Lyon.
It is not so much the club’s but the owners and we know that our man at the top Stan Kroenke is not a glory hunter and will never sanction the club spending beyond our means to claim a trophy or two (not the bleeding carcass sort). Maybe that is why our manager has bemoaned these mega rich owners who have changed the face of football in recent years, leading to this previously unthinkable Neymar transfer.
Wenger said, “For me it is the consequence of the ownerships that has changed completely the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years. Once a country owns a club everything is possible.
“It becomes very difficult to respect Financial Fair Play because you have different interest from a country to have such a big player to represent that country.
“I always did plead for football living within its own resources. We are not in a period anymore where you think ‘I invest that, I will get that back’. We are beyond that.
“The number [fee] today involves passion, pride, public interest and you cannot rationalise that anymore. On the other hand inflation is increasing – we were at £100m last year and only one year later we are at the £200m line.
“If you think Trevor Francis was the first guy for £1m [in 1979] and it looked unreasonable, it shows you how far football has come, beyond calculation and rationality.
“We still live with rationality and we are not the only ones – 99 per cent of clubs do that – but of course we cannot compete with that.”
And there you have the big problem, because even Arsenal fans who like the way the club is run want us to be able to compete for a trophy like the Premier League or the Champions League and while we have Kroenke in charge and other clubs keep spending this way it is only going to get harder for us, so for the Gunners to be able to compete do we need a change of owner?