Why would you want Arsenal to spend like Chelsea and Man City?

The way we achieve success is important by Bryan

As we approach the January transfer window the inevitable demand of supporters from all of the Big-6 EPL teams to their club owners will be, ‘open the bloody cheque-book and get us some title-winning players.’ But is this really the uncouth position Arsenal fans should be taking? Do we really want to be breaking transfer-fee records and signing the shiniest new player out there in an attempt to purchase the EPL? I suggest that approach is NOT Arsenal, and we can return to winning ways in a much more dignified manner.

In June 2003 Roman Abramovich became the owner of Chelsea FC and changed the direction of English soccer, probably for many years to come. His injection of cash at Stamford Bridge brought almost immediate returns. Chelsea finished runners-up to The Invincibles in that 2003-2004 season and went on to win or come runners-up in six of the following seven EPL seasons. In a not dissimilar vein, in early September of 2008, the Abu Dhabi-based group took over at Manchester City. The return on cash injection was not quite so rapid as the Chelsea/Abramovich marriage, but by the 2011-2012 season City had secured the EPL title and went on to win or come runners-up in four straight seasons. Obviously that massive injection of cash and flaunting of UEFA Financial-Fair-Play rules continues to fuel an otherwise unlikely dominance of English football in recent times.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but if I was a fan of Chelsea or Manchester City, I’d find these ‘accomplishments’ about as shallow as any accomplishment could be. Questionably-gotten gains used to purchase and pay the wages of the most expensive guns-for-hire is not my idea of sport. Real sport is talent coupled with toil. Real sport is a club nurturing homegrown talent. The purest remaining sport on this planet is Gaelic Games in Ireland; its athletes competing for their county against other counties, for nothing more than the honour of victory, often in front of 80,000+ fans. The Olympic Games was this way for some time before becoming tainted by commercialization. The worst form of sport is the American draft system employed by the NBA, NFL and MLB where the lowest team of the previous year (no team ever gets relegated) gets the first pick of young athletes coming into the league. . It’s America’s paradox — the most capitalist country in the world using the most socialist method of sporting team selection. Football is somewhere between Gaelic Games and the NBA, but I fear that may be changing. Football is on a much worse trajectory than any other sport on the planet.

The question then becomes, ‘does Arsenal need to participate in football’s financial cancer?’ I argue that we don’t. There’re great examples out there showing there are alternatives to the Chelsea and Manchester City way.

The first example is Barcelona, a club owned and funded by its supporters. Yes, can you believe that? . . . it’s not owned by an oligarch or a sheikh, it’s owned by the 140,000 members of the club. And how can they compete you might ask? Well, quite simply, a combination of a 100,000-seater stadium and a fantastic youth development system that has produced the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Puyol, Guardiola, Hernandez, Busquets, Pique, Arteta, Fabregas and Victor Valdez. Has the Arsenal youth system produced even one player of comparable ilk?

Let’s look at a completely different example, one much closer to home . . . that of Liverpool Football Club. Similarly to us, they are owned by a US-based entity (Fenway Sports Group) who don’t have infinitely deep pockets. Yes, they are run as a business, but isn’t that far more palatable than being funded by immeasurable amounts of questionable money? Isn’t it far more sporting to win by coupling the grit and determination of your homegrown talent with the cunning and intellect of your leaders? Yes, Liverpool have bought great players, but they’ve funded those purchases by the sale of other players such as Coutinho, Sterling and Suarez, and combined it with youth development in the form of Gerrard, Owen, Fowler, McManaman, Carragher, Alexander-Arnold, Sterling and others. The track record of Fenway Sports Group is admirable . . . immediately after taking over the Boston Red Sox they won four Baseball World Series in 14 years, breaking the supposed ‘Curse of the Bambino’ — an 86 year stretch with no titles between 1918 and 2004. It’s no fluke, these guys know how to run a sports organization. Liverpool are on the verge of success not because of huge injections of cash . . . they are on the verge of success because of the actions of Fenway Sports Group, not last of which was the appointment of Jurgen Klopp as manager. Liverpool are another great example of a successful youth system couple with intelligent leadership.

Perhaps our fortunes can be turned around by courting an oligarch or a sheikh, but is that what we really want? Could things be helped by demanding that Stan Kroenke loosen the purse-strings? Perhaps. But I think there are far more gratifying ways to achieve success that are much more aligned to the core values of Arsenal Football club, and those include greatly improving our youth system and developing the players we already have… in combination with shrewd business in the transfer market. It may not be the immediately gratifying solution some people crave, but worthwhile things are never quick or easy to achieve. They also don’t need to take forever. Arsene Wenger was appointed in August 1996, and between the 1997-1998 season and the 2004-2005 season Arsenal either won or came runner-up in the Premier League (3 titles and 5 runners-up), achieved during Alex Ferguson’s prime years at Man Utd. There’s no reason why something like this can’t happen again. I refuse to believe that oligarch and sheikh money can prevent us from revisiting the success we have enjoyed in the not-too-distant past. There’s more than one way to achieve success and I want to see Arsenal do it the honourable way.



  1. Kingojode says:

    I think I agree with some of your Points, especially where you said that we should model our club on other clubs like Barcelona and Liverpool, but I do not agree with some other points you made.
    We have to buy players to fix the glaring problems and most notably of them is a central defender in the form Manila’s of Roma even if we have to pay more than what is necessary. Just take a look at Liverpool with Van Dyke. This man, with the good performance of Alison Baker, has brought stability to the Liverpool defence. And do not tell me that the fees of Alison and Van Dyke were from the money they got from selling Cotinho, Sterling and Suarez. Where did they get the money with which they signed Fabinho, Keita, Salah, Mane, Lalana, Konchesky, Danny Ings, Lambert, Chamberlain and many others not mentioned here. The club owners simply invested without waiting to sell before buying. Look at the long list of players they have bought in the last ten years and compare it to the number they have sold and see that there is no match.
    We have to invest in high quality defenders; we are seriously in need of them. We are leaking goals. We have not played any match without scoring in the EPL this season, but we concede too easily.

    1. Trudeau says:

      If you look at net spend of the top six in the last two or so years, Liverpool and Spurs are showing the way in terms of self-sustaining models. Arsenal only look good if compared to Chelsea, City and Man United and that bar is pretry low. Arguably we have the worst of both worlds – spending large (in transfer fees and salaries) and getting low returns. For the record I agree with the original premise and don’t want Arsenal to buy a title but a bit more shrewdness upstairs – to be fair we are seeing this with the new regime – wouldn’t go amiss

  2. Tolu says:

    It is entirely your prerogative to “refuse to believe that oligarch and sheikh money can prevent us from revisiting the success we have enjoyed in the not-too-distant past” but the truth of the matter is that you must spend enough from your warchest to get into the top four. Refusal to do so means you are mid-table. Simple as.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Honestly, in football only winners are remembered in football. We were possibly the most elegant ever to grace the EPL but with no trophies.

    Please awaken to the truth – football is about winning.

    No money no honey!

  4. Th14 says:

    You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Stan Kroenke will never be the Sheikh or Abramovich we gooners fans crave for. Like Jon has rightly been campaigning with his sometimes very long and boring comments, we need to take our protest to the management. Arsenal FC is being hampered by a ghastly non caring owner who cuts off the most of the financial lifeblood that ALL SUCCESSFUL CLUBS NEED TO RENEW CLAPPED OUT PARTS and progress.

  5. Innit says:

    A lot of contracts expiring next year..
    Sokratis Papastathopoulos
    Marco Reus
    Angel Di Maria
    Kostas Manolas
    Anthony Martial

    1. stubill says:

      That list isn’t even funny.

      1. Innit says:

        you don’t rate Sokratis and Reus?

        1. stubill says:

          In case you hadn’t noticed Sokratis is an Arsenal player with a contract until June 2021, and Reus has a contract until June 2023.

  6. Kingojode says:

    Maybe against Manchester city, which was our first match, we did not score. That can be forgiven. When ever we play away, we concede goals. A central defender is greatly a necessity now. If anyone thinks otherwise, let the one go and take a look at why dropped points against Southampton and Brighton.

    1. Stubill says:

      As well as a centre back, we desperately need a left and right back, and that’s before we start looking at centre midfield and a wide player.

      In fact the whole squad needs either new starting players or good back-ups.

  7. Torres says:

    This is nonsense. Your club or rather the shareholders are raking it in every year from the enormous rise in share price due to the simple fact the club doesn’t splash out on players. What is being missed here is the vast fortune that Arsenal major shareholders are building up from the value of their shares improving over years by being stingy on players. They don’t buy players and they have built a stadium for 200 million+ but the main thing is that the shares bought by these people way back when have drastically increased so that when they are sold when these people retire or want out, they make a fortune as they are raking in the money from 60,000 fans every fortnight but not spending it. This was on a major Arsenal website. So the Arsenal directors are preserving their fortunes at the expense of the fans who won’t see a (major) trophy for ages and cry out plaintively ‘we don’t have the money that other clubs have’ which is a lie – the board are simply preserving their investments in the form of increased share value at the expense of 60,000 muppets who want a trophy every now and then. And hte manager be it Whinger or Emery of course goes along with this, either wittingly or unwittingly. Meanwhile the shareholder`s fortunes are amassing but the trophy cabinet is bare. And chairmen like Abramovich who DOES spend his money are treated as bad people somehow. Think again Arsenal fans!

    1. stubill says:

      If you’re going to try and be a troll, at least do a little research into your subject.

      1. Torres says:

        Your reply is meaningless and simply name-calling. Simply check out the cost of 1 Arsenal share and its increase over the last 10 years. What then is your counter-argument and don’t come back with “but the directors don’t take dividends” as you will have missed the point.

    2. jon fox says:

      Yes we have thousands of shareholders, as you say. Funny how almost every one of them is called Stam Kroenke, wouldn’t you agree? Well, you might agree if you knew, which you DON’T, even the first thing about Arsenal, the club you clearly hate, are jealous of, and troll!

      1. Torres says:

        So what does that mean? Yes Kronky is the major shareholder, Usmanov has or did have a good percentage and even Piers Morgan has at least 1 share. But what is your point? How does that negate my original comment?

        1. jon fox says:

          Because you wrote as though many people are deliberately making share price raising money from Arsenal . This is untrue. Kroenke now owns the club outright , though there STILL are a very few held by PROPER FANS, some for generations in their families done for love of club, NOT money as you falsely allege. Kroenke whom all Gooners despise and want out,is trying to force those to sell to him and under laws of the land he will soon succeed. He is a leach BUT HE is the sole one. You insulted and lied about our other few and previous share holders who, unlike Kroenke are TRUE fans. You are plainly naive and wrong, if you think as a rival fan, you can come on here and write lies about our club and NOT be challenged and corrected. Were you a fan of ours rather than having to rely on notoriously unreliable websites you would know the actual truth. And don’t make the naive mistake of believing all so called Arsenal web sites(as with other clubs too) are operated exclusively by Arsenal fans. That would be naive beyond belief! IF YOU COME BACK AGAIN AND TRY TO DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE AND DENY THE TRUTH you will be further slaughtered by us REAL fans! SOME OF US CAN MAKE YOU AND YOUR SORT APPEAR EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS AND PATHETIC THAN YOU ALREADY ARE, SONNY!

          1. Sue says:

            Sonny – love it ?

  8. Things are changing says:

    I’m sorry but Liverpool spend 40 million on Fabinho, 53 million on Keita, 67 million on Elisson and 13 million on Shaqiri this past summer alone. Give Emery that budget for next summer and we will debate again.

    I am of the opinion that you have to do what it takes to build a winning squad. And if you have the money and you play within the rules there is nothing dishonorable about it in my opinion.

    If I were a Liverpool fan or a City fan I would be having the time of my life these past years and I would not complain about the money invested in the squad.

    I do think European football would do itself a favor if it implemented a salary cap or enforced FFP more aggressively. In most countries, we have 2 maximum 3 team leagues and soon the PL could go to a 4 team league. If only 2 or 3 teams ever win the league you risk losing commercial appeal.

    But as long as teams operate within the rules you can’t fault them for spending money to build teams.

  9. Things are changing says:

    BTW you forgot to mention that Barcelona invested 125 million this past summer alone and that Spanish clubs enjoy preferred tax status that the rest of Europe can not compete with.

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