At the Arsenal AGM yesterday, there were questions from the Arsenal Supporters Trust and some of them, inevitably, focused on what is seen as a serious lack of investment in the playing squad in recent years. The recent revelations about the ever increasing cost of supporting the Gunners has only made apparent stinginess even more frustrating.
And with the recent release of the financial figures for last year showing that the club had actually increased it’s cash reserves significantly, while the squad has been left without adequate cover in various areas, Ivan Gazidis was quizzed on the matter.
But as a report by Sky Sports shows, the Arsenal chief executive hit back and rubbished the reports that claimed the club were sitting on some huge pile of cash like Smaug the dragon in the series of films The Hobbit. He claimed that some of the cash balance was being used to pay for recent transfers and that some of it was being kept as a sort of emergency fund in case it was needed. Then the rest, according to the American, had to be kept as part of the deal that the club has agreed with our debtors.
Gazidis said, “There is quite a lot of inaccurate and superficial analysis about the cash that we have available for investment in the squad. That leads to stories for some unspecified reason, we are hoarding a vast cash balance and that is simply not the case.
“There are obvious reasons why we don’t broadcast to the world what our player spending position is, but the position is much more complex than is broadly understood.
“That is £99m in total of the published figure of £207.9m. That leaves us with £108.9m left.
“The second thing to understand is that we have to, always, keep a substantial amount of cash in reserve in order to comply with our debt obligations.
“Most of the remaining cash is needed to run the club across a full season with all the costs, including player salaries, associated with that.
“We do try to keep a reasonable amount of cash available for future investment in the team and we think it is always wise, if possible, to have something in reserve.”
There was also a question raised about whether the reason for Wenger not signing another defender when it was clearly necessary, was that the club did not release enough money. And without directly answering the question, our new chairman suggested that this was not the case at all, putting the ball firmly back in the manager’s court.
Sir Chips Keswick said, “I don’t think that my wish or intention to double guess what Arsene Wenger wants to do – as you know, your board backs him 100 per cent. If he has a plan, we back him, if he doesn’t have a plan, we keep quiet.
“So don’t let’s be in a muddle about who calls the shots about football at the Arsenal Football Club. It is not the chairman, it is not the fans, it is Mr Arsene Wenger.”
So what do you make of this Gooners? Are we being fobbed off or does that answer your questions?