Analysis – The surprising facts about Kroenke’s spending on Arsenal’s transfers

The surprising facts about Kroenke’s spending by AndersS

Despite facts to the contrary laid out here many times, it now and again occurs, a comment, or even articles by prominent writers, are based on the myth that Arsenal are a low spending club. Sometimes the argument is put forward alone and sometimes in connection with the accusation that it is Kroenke’s fault, and sometimes in connection with defending our lack of PL titles in Wenger’s later years as manager.

After all, if you hold Wenger in the highest esteem, it could be very hard to accept the view, he only did well in the first part of his tenure and the second was somewhat mediocre.

Even if you can read the actual facts, then Wenger can be excused for not producing results, if the blame can be put on Kroenke for not allowing enough investment in players.

I understand the reasoning to be, Arsenal haven’t won the PL for many years and we are where we are because we haven’t spent enough. “We haven’t spent enough because Kroenke is a greedy bastard, who has handicapped us”. Nothing to do with Wenger or anyone else.

As mentioned, the myth that Arsenal is a low spending club has actually been tried to be put to rest by presenting the actual transfer facts. They clearly show that Arsenal was, also in Wenger’s last few years, in the top 3 to 4 highest nett spenders on transfers.

Nett spend on transfers is the amount spend on buying new players less the income from players sold, and as such nett spend on transfers show the willingness by the owner and the management to invest extra in improving the squad.

I find it strange the myth lives on and keeps appearing as a basic premise in some discussions. But a reason could very well be feelings rather than rational thinking. After all, if your religion tells you Wenger is God and Kroenke is the Devil, it is hard to change.

But if you aren’t a religious fanatic in this or indeed in the opposite direction, then carry on reading. The following might surprise you, as it did me.

Arsene Wenger’s tenure as Arsenal manager was 22 years from 1996 to 2018.

Kroenke became part of Arsenal’s ownership in 2007 and full owner in 2008.

So, by sheer coincidence, it is very close that the first half of Wenger’s tenure was “without Kroenke” and the second half was “with Kroenke”.

Wenger’s PL titles came in 1998, 2002 and 2004 and another highlight for me is the 2006 CL Final.

If I may be so bold to not count FA Cups as major titles, all major achievements came in the first half of Wenger’s tenure. Looking at it this way, we didn’t win a major title in the second half of Wenger’s tenure. Also meaning, still no major titles since Kroenke’s arrival.

But how is it really with the nett spend, and thus Kroenke’s willingness or unwillingness to back Wenger financially?

Kroenke became a new stakeholder in 2007 with 9,9%, and in 2008 he increased his ownership to 20,5% in 2008, where he also became a non-executive director. This means the season 2008/09 was the first where he achieved an important influence on how the club is run.

If we look at Arsenal’s nett spend on transfers in these two periods it looks like this compared to other clubs:

Before Kroenke – 1996 to 2007/08 (including the season 07/08)

In that period Arsenal had a total nett spend on players of £63 m.

10 other clubs spent more nett on transfers in that period.

Most was spent by Chelsea. They spent around 464m.

Among the 10 clubs ahead of us in spending were also Man U with around 248m and Spurs with around 224m.

Seen in this context, it was an incredible achievement by Arsenal and Wenger to get the results we did.

We were the most serious competitor to Man Utd, and in some respects we achieved more.

Sure, you have to give credit to those before Wenger as well, because it is hard to imagine that the above could have been possible if there hadn’t already been a very good foundation to build on. But personally, I believe, Wenger’s skills and revolutionary thinking was the main ingredient, that made it possible to spend so little comparatively, and still get the results we did.

The fact is, in Wenger’s best period, the years before Kroenke, we were only 11th in nett spending in the league.

With Kroenke – Season 2008/09 to 17/18

This is the period with Kroenke’s influence on spending, and if we don’t count FA-cups as a major title, also Wenger’s barren years.

Overall, in that period Arsenal spent around £187m nett on transfers in this period. It is almost 3 times as much as in Wenger’s golden years. But that comparison is not fair, without also pointing to the fact that overall, football clubs, and particularly PL clubs, had a huge increase in revenue from TV rights etc… Also, prices on player’s increased drastically, so anything but a large increase in spending would have been a big surprise.

However, we moved up from being No 11 in nett spending to being the 4th highest nett spender for the whole period. Only Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea had a higher nett spend from 08/09 to 17/18.

So, the actual facts are, in relation to other clubs, Wenger was much better backed financially by Kroenke, than by the previous ownership. A real surprise, I must say, as we have regularly been led to believe just the opposite.

When you look at the facts above, a number of interesting conclusions can be reached:


Wenger’s achievements in the first part of his tenure were really fantastic, if you consider, he was definitely not spending more than teams in the middle of the league.

As we from 08/09 to 17/18 were 4th in nett spending, Wenger’s achievements in the second part were for a number of years more or less “on par” with the money spent, until his last 2 seasons, where we underachieved.

Personally, I believe his methods, which were once revolutionary put us ahead of clubs spending more for some years, but were gradually caught up with, and eventually overtaken, by other clubs and coaches who could get more out of their players. Clubs like Liverpool and Spurs actually spent less than us from 08/09 to 17/18, but still managed to go from generally being behind us, to being ahead of us in the league. Liverpool even created a foundation to become not only best in England but best in Europe as well.


Having Kroenke as an owner has not dragged us down in spending. In fact, it is just the opposite! Because not only did we move up from being no. 11 in spending before Kroenke, to being no. 4 in the Wenger/Kroenke period. And if you look at the following seasons 18/19 to 20/21, we are now 3rd in nett spending. This is with Kroenke as 100% owner. The only factually based conclusion is that Kroenke has actually increased our nett spending quite a lot compared to other clubs, and not the other way around, as the myth will have us believe.


I think it is right for us to expect more than what we are achieving at the moment, just as it was right to expect more in the last few years of Wenger’s reign. Our nett investment in new players, should really put us in top 3 or 4 in the league, if money was the only factor.


Spending most is not necessarily the most important thing. Having the right manager at the right time seems to be at least just as important. Wenger’s first period shows that more than anything else. But it is also shown by Liverpool’s transformation with Klopp. Could this have been us, if we had made the bold choice to sack Wenger in 2015 and gotten Klopp instead?

I know it is easy to look back and say what should have been done, but I do think, those who were already back in 2015 calling for a change (not myself), were right. If we had gotten the right manager at that time, we could possibly have prevented the slide, that we have seen. Only, it is easier said than done to get the right manager. Just look at Man Utd, who have not only been spending much more than us on players since Sir Alex, but they have also gone through a number of managers without achieving what they really should, according to the spending.


As for Kroenke’s ownership of Arsenal, I think the total picture is still a bit mixed. All talk about him not spending enough is pure nonsense in my opinion. Only 2 clubs, Man City and Chelsea have until now had owners who have spent large sums from their personal wealth on “buying championships”. All other clubs in the PL are more or less competing on a level playing field, where the mixture of being a successful business goes hand in hand with your ability to compete. The owners of Man Utd, Spurs, Liverpool, Leicester etc. are not dipping into their personal pockets to outspend us. We are really only being outspent by 2 private persons/clubs and then Man Utd, who basically are running a more successful business than we are. The rest we have been beating in spending.

Personally, I think Kroenke was too absent during his first 7-8 years as an owner. From a distance everything seemed rosy. Arsenal was a good business for him. He had one of the most respected managers in the World running it for him and the financial results were satisfying. But he didn’t see what was gradually happening. Our competitors were steadily improving at a faster rate than us, and change was needed if we were to stay ahead.

He missed it, and I would think he regrets that. Because Arsenal is no longer as successful a business as it was. It also seems to me that he has changed his approach. He is much more “hands on” now, especially through his son Josh, and significant investment has been made to get us “back on track”. He has also changed the management set-up, so no one person has the power that Wenger did. I think this is very calculated, and a sign of lessons learned.

Whether he/we now have the people in charge who will bring us back remains to be seen. We can hope and even believe, but I think the conclusion is pretty obvious. With the right people in charge, it can happen. Luckily this is also very much in Kroenke’s interest, if he wants Arsenal to be a very successful business in the future…

Med venlig hilsen/kind regards

Anders S

Tags Arsenal nett spend Kroenke


  1. The issue is quality not quantity. Chelsea and City changed the game when they started spending big money so comparing net spend to anything before Chelsea started spending big is pointless imho. The difference between the other teams and us now is that we pay over the odds for average players. The last big star we got who was proven was auba imho. I know we payed £72M for pepe but it was a gamble and hasn’t payed off. That same money could have and should have been spent elsewhere and or saved. We spend money on big contracts like with willian. I mean what a joke.

    Sometime being a arsenal fan is like watching WWE. It feels as if it is a script where we do the opposite of the most obvious thing. We hire arteta instead of conte. We buy pepe instead of Zaha. We give a washed up willian huge wages when we have reiss nelson sat on the bench needing game time.

    It’d like watching the big show, kane and the under taker being beat up by rey mystereo absolutely ubsrud and anyone with half an ounce of sense wouldn’t allow it.

  2. The problem was Wenger was still playing all out attack without strengthening or drilling the defence.At one Keown had a spell as a defence coach and the defence conceded few goals.
    When Keown left the fm saw no need for a defence coach.
    Can you imagine the gunners getting hammered repeatedly not once but many times and finishing bottom of the top 4/6 all the time.
    With Arsenal leading NU 4-0 and drawing 4-4, I believe it was the final straw for RVP.
    With MA in charge, I am more hopeful the defence will improve compared to the arrogant fm, Anyway thanks for the memory

  3. Kroenke has obviously supported his managers with enough transfer funds

    According to ESPN and Transfermarkt, Arsenal have spent a total of £687.4 million in the transfer market under Wenger, since the summer of 1996 to 2016. Kroenke has also spent £150 million for Arteta, although today’s player value inflation is much higher than 2007

    I agree with your personal opinion about his absence. Apparently there are a lack of supervision, complacency and leniency since he bought Arsenal, although he’s been trying to get more involved now

  4. It’s our management that has let the fans and owner down to be fair….yes the owner has a say in the manager so it works both ways but our selling is terrible and has been for decades.

    The reality is we hold onto valuable players for too long in utter desperation until they become a poor investment.

  5. Too true colossal wages on average players We never buy star players always shopping in mediocre stores instead of Harrods. Wasting money on players like Pepe Soares 4 year deal Arteta buying players then later on selling them the very same players he bought where the sense in that, and we are carrying too much deadwood. Klopp or Pep would never do that they would be gone one way or another

  6. Great article. Sometimes the hyperbole doesn’t match the reality. I think you illustrate that is the case here.

  7. It is easy to cherry pick data and form your stories…
    From 07/08 to 13/14 we have almost had positive income from transfer market. Arsenal only started spending big in Wenger’s last 3-4 seasons, in which our players quality were way behind the likes of chelsea, city, man u…..

    1. Please don’t accuse of cherrypicking like that.
      07/08 Arsenal did sell players for more than we bought. But that only underlines my point, as 07/08 was before Kroenke. My split of the years are in line with and without Kroenke, and the fact remains:
      In Wengers years without Kroenke, he had much less financial support, than he had with Kroenke.

      1. Hi sorry not trying to accuse u. There was some truth to what you mentioned as his last 3-4 seasons bore not much results even though he at last got some financial backing from the kroenkes.

  8. I must say that for some fans, it’s not been the owners spending that was the issue. I think it is fair to say the facts are there, it’s just some fans dont want to listen.

    If you take these clear precise points you cannot come back with an arguement otherwise
    1. The owners said the club will spend what it makes.
    Whilst fans chose to ignore this because other clubs did the opposite…chelsea, man city. Some fans just assume a foreign owner = free money to spend!
    2. We have spent €80m on one player.
    3. We have given out €400k per week contracts.

    Only the top clubs can do point 2 and 3.

    The real issue was the period of a lack of investment because of the loan repayment costs (also coinciding with chelsea under Roman) and slowly the very top players were wanting the clubs who paid them handsomely..
    It was this cycle which was the real issue. I have to, for this reason credit us for getting Ozil and Sanchez and Auba.

  9. Let me elaborate. Data taken from transfermarkt:
    06/07: -2M
    07/08: +26M
    08/09: -14M
    09/10: +37M
    10/11: -15M
    11/12: +13M
    12/13: +10M
    13/14: -37M (Ozil)

    Now u ask again. Is it a coincident we stopped winning major trophies after 2006? I cherish Wenger not only because he gave us the invincibles. The man fought for us like dogs when we were at our worst. Sure his last 3-4 seasons was not the best but will never justify the ridicule he got.

    1. There are several things you can draw from my article, i.e. these 2:

      1) Wenger did an unbelievable job in his first 10-11 years, before Kroenke arrived on the scene. Despite we were only 11’th in spending we were arguably no. 1-2 in results.

      2) After Kroenke arrived, we actually overtook many in spending and since his arrival we have been no. 3-4. Unfortunately we have not won any championships and we are maybe no. 4-5 overall in that period.

      I don’t think many here will ridicule Wenger in any way. But my conclusion is, he could make us overachieve (compared to spending) in the first half of his tenure. But not in the second part.

  10. A very interesting and informative article AndersS.As I have alluded to on many occasions, where Kroenke has failed is in the appointment of high level Management who have proved to be incompetent at considerable cost to our Club.That includes those in the recruitment team which ,until this year , has let us down badly.Thankfully, they are no longer a laughing stock and seem to have finally got their act together.Thank you for providing an oldie with an insight as to how we compare with others in the net spending league.I assume these figures exclude the vast sums paid out to sacked Managers .If there was info on the “price of failure”, I suspect Chelsea and Man Utd would be the top two in that League, but who knows?

    1. Agree 100%.
      Kroenke’s fault was not be on top of the management, and I also see a change for the better.
      The huge sums spent on changing managers are not included 😉
      Only nett spend on transfers for new players.

  11. Brilliant article. Very interesting and nice to have some cold rational analysis without all the gratuitous negativity. I suspected for some time that “Kroenke not spending” is a bit of a myth. Wenger was stuck in his ways, which were revolutionary at the beginning, but outdated by the end. Rather like Mouriho’s recent stints in the Premier League are showing he is now outdated after also once being revolutionary.


    Good analysis but very biased, against Wenger.
    “In August
    2018, Kroenke’s offer of £550 million for Usmanov’s share
    was accepted, and Kroenke bought out the remainder of the
    shares to become the club’s sole shareholder”.-Wikipedia

    Personally I started judging Kroenke since he took over full ownership and I will say he has been doing an okay job. When it comes to investments he has done very good since he took over full ownership, especially this past transfer window being the highest spenders. When it also comes to management of his business he has not only changed managers( Arteta being our 3rd manager in that space, not adding Freddie the interim of course). Also on management he has changed things upstairs, moving from Wenger Gazidis to Don Raul and Milistant (Eagle Eye), then to Vinai, Edu, Arteta. 55 redundancies, scouts network decimated and reassembled, a whole lot of structural changes. Now to being hands on, he has his attorney on board who helped to send Don Raul packing. In addition to that his son Josh seems to be very involved. The ownership is now more interactive, though not up to a level we fans want yet but there is an improvement. The ownership in their letter actually announced Xhaka’s new contract, though Xhaka’s contract isn’t part of the interaction we fans want. Also credit to AST for their pressure on the ownership and and a very big credit too to Arsenal fans who protested in thousands against the Kroenkes during the Super League drama, it forced their hands.

    Now going back on track, according to Arsenal’s official website, Kroenke became majority shareholder in 2011.
    Personally I would start from 2018 when he had full ownership but at least, all I’m saying is if you want to bring up the Wenger/Kroenke spending talk, then at least start from 2011 when Kroenke became majority shareholder not 2007/2008 when he had no significant influence over the affairs of the club.

    1. I didn’t claim Kroenke became full owner in 2008.
      You need to read again.
      I have also adressed he became full owner in 2018.
      The conclusions are quite obvious:
      It is a false myth, that when Kroenke became owner, our spending got reduced. The truth is just the opposite. Therefore, claiming Kroenke’s reduced spending has led to us not winning major titles in Wenger’s later years and indeed in the last few seasons after Wenger is a false accusation. The reason lies elsewhere.

      1. Anders, although I don’t agree with absolutely everything you’ve postulated, as I’ve spoken at great length about the issues you’ve attempted to address and drawn slightly different conclusions, I do give you big props for pursuing this particularly divisive narrative

        to be frank the differences between the inferences you’ve made and my own personal beliefs is rather minute, in that you have laid some blame at the feet of ownership, due to their abject indifference at times, and have hinted at the fact that Wenger is culpable for his actions or lack thereof when it came to acquisitions and asset management-related issues, whereas I would suggest that ownership conspired with our former manager, visa vie the stadium “ruse” and the supposed fiscal necessity of adopting a “self-sustaining” model, to create a situation that cared infinitely more about their particular “interests” than the best interests of this club as a whole

        this problematic union meant that Wenger got what he ultimately wanted, full control, thus enabling him to make countless poor decisions regarding personnel for his own selfishly-motivated reasons, without the necessary checks and balances, and Kroenke was allowed to use our organization, which he functionally invested nothing towards, in real world financial terms, as a portfolio “fluffing” entity

        this is when our systemic “lowering of standards” came into effect, as once our overwhelmingly beloved and innovative leader became the functional “Pied Piper” of this ruse, any chance of correcting this organizational misstep went out the window…his endorsement was golden and as such mediocrity crept in, slowly but surely, under the guise that if we would simply pay more and expect less in the short-term that at some point in the fictional future we would compete with the best and the brightest

        the fact remains that Wenger’s overly inflated ego and his growing dislike for “superstar” players and/or those with a strong vocal presence led him to the false belief that he mattered infinitely more than the players on the pitch and that his increasing fragilities, regarding his capacity to manage, should be catered to even if it negatively impacted our potential to compete for the highest of honours…in a nutshell, this, along with our despicably absent owner, are the reasons we are where we are presently…Cheers

        1. Thank you for really thinking about the article, and for an interesting response.
          Yes, we agree on Wenger’s failings in his later years.
          Only, I don’t believe there were sinister conspirations behind it. I rather believe the following:
          Wenger, being a very intelligent man with many other skills than manageing a football team, got himself too much involved in the whole business, including the Emirates Stadium project. His focus got lost, and he didn’t develop as a football manager. I also think he probably got a bit set in his ways, and I think he had a personal dislike, and thus a blind side, for the inflated prices for players, preventing him from maximising profit for sales of players, and a reluctance to pay big.
          But, I admit, it it just guesswork, as I have no personal knowledge, apart from what you can read here and there.

  13. Read your article again and you will see where you wrote he became full owner in 2008, but that’s okay, I’ll take it as a mistake. One thing I failed to address, why did you discredit the FA cups? No that’s not good, The FA Cup is a huge trophy, not just in England but in football as a whole, according to Wiki it is the oldest national football competition in the world. I get what you were trying to do but not by discrediting the FA Cup

    1. Yes, I stand corrected. There is a line, where I incorrectly have written 2008 and not the 2018.
      I agree, you can rank the FA-cup as a major trophy, if you like. But I really, don’t think it changes the fundamentals for the basic points.
      The claim, that Kroenke has dragged Wenger and Arsenal down by not spending is false. Before Kroenke, we were spending much less compared to other clubs.
      In wengers early years, we achieved great things despite spending relatively little on new players, whereas in Wengers later years and indeed now, we are spending much more, but achieving less. Maybe because other clubs, i.e. Liverpool have been better managed and now find themselves in the position, we were in, when Wenger was the “X-factor” .

      1. Well on Kroenke spending or not, I totally agree with you. With Kroenke we have spent more, I see that’s the point you are trying to explain, which you are correct. The problem is the club has has been poorly managed in comparison to the likes of Liverpool.
        But hopefully brighter days are coming ahead.

    2. While I take your point, winning the FA Cup is no longer seen as an indication of success or of Managerial competency , although the euphoria on the day is still magical.League position is seen by some fans as the only way we can evaluate success regardless of any mitigations and indeed Arsene Wenger himself put finishing in the top four ahead of winning the FA Cup. Qualifying for the Champions League, with the financial benefits involved is the main priority .

  14. 1….there were players that we could get but wasn’t prepared to pay the wages players demanded……soooo we said Arsenal don’t want to spend..and we believed that………….2..Kroenke can not let the Arsenal brand which is worth a lot go down…Arsenal is his investment…he rather make Arsenal very successful so he can reap the benefits of his investment…………..3..FA Cup is prestige..and it’s better than no cup……………!

  15. Excellent article Anders and thanks for putting facts to the JA family and also admitting the typo error.

    One thing that you haven’t covered enough, in my opinion, is the way Abramovitch, city and media money changed the PL and football.
    We suddenly saw chelsea, who were reportedly one hour away from liquidation, going out and buying players for obscene money.
    This was then mirrored by City and will happen once again, when Newcastle start to spend.
    We had to increase our transfer spend but STILL could not match the money of said clubs.
    That meant that the top players were being snapped up and we had to look to the level below those players…but at inflated transfer fees due to the above.
    This also brought a certain level of “gambling” with unproven players and AW made some awful transfer decisions.
    I don’t believe this would have happened if the playing field was as it was before money swamped any intelligent thinking… as AW ‘s early tenure shows.

    So, we have to take into account this sysmic change and ask – did kronkie react to the changing market sufficiently, as owner of a proven top club?
    Would we have signed the top players, if he had matched city and chelsea’ s approach, rather than looking for second tier?

    Just one note of discontent regarding your article – the FA cup is the second trophy in the list of honours that English club play for and should never be dismissed in a discussion… and doesn’t the fact that every PL manager says at the start of the season, qualifying for the CL is the first requirement, so true?

    Excellently researched article.

    1. Should also have added:
      1. Look back at the players city went for from The Arsenal.
      2. Look at the top players Arsenal had to sell.
      3. That meant we couldn’t just replace one top player for another – it meant we had to buy “two for the price of one” AND they were not the same standard… because city/chelsea/barca/madrid were buying the top players.
      Classic example :Fabregas and Nasri in one swoop.

      1. Regarding the top players Arsenal had to sell.
        I don’t think the problem is selling top players. Liverpool have twice sold their arguably best players, Coutinho and Suarez, in recent years, while they have regained a real top status.
        Our problem is, we haven’t managed contracts well enough to get enough money to reinvest, when selling, and we haven’t been able to sell at a time, where we had back-up players or another system to play.

    2. @Ken1945
      Thank you for taking the time to give the article some deep thought and a strong comment.
      I agree, there has been a big change with 2 clubs; Chelsea and City, and as I write, they are the only 2 clubs with a “bottomless pockects” approach. Newcastle will probably be the third.
      Personally, I don’t think it fair to judge all other owners in that light, and in honestly, I would prefer Arsenal not to “buy championships”. Instead, I would love Arsenal to beat them to championships by better management and fight, at least occassionally. Just like Arsenal did in Wenger’s first half, and like Liverpool have done recently.
      About the FA’cup; I am not dismissing it. But I do think it sevaral years ago became somewhat of a second priority to many clubs, including Arsenal and Wenger, where only the strongest line-up is used in the final stages. Also, I am sure many fans feel it to be true, and my guess is, many would gladly swap a couple of our recent FA-cups with a PL title.

  16. I will be the last person to downgrade a major trophy like the FA or for that matter the Carabao cup. What has happened in modern times is that materialism has taken over sport and the whole spirit of sports has changed. It is no longer winning trophies that matters but the money accruing therefrom! This is the reason people are yearning for their clubs to be bought by rich sheiks, oligarchs, corrupt business people, violators of women rights etc. There is no more soul in sports! The new trend is that the highest bidder takes it regardless of how he/she acquired that wealth. Is it not a shame that soon all the English clubs will be owned by foreigners? How does that reflect on the original owners of the clubs or the English sports administrators? It is actually a trend all over Europe now that football clubs are being taken over by non-Europeans. Where is Europe’s legacy in sports? Is Europe experiencing the Greek fable of Midas touch?
    I am not a European so nobody can accuse me of racism. I am a pure African but I always love to assess situations objectively. If what I have stated is not true I will accept correction.

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