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