Keeping up on the pitch to keep up off it

Last night Dave and I attended the Arsenal Supporters trust meeting which had an emphasis on finance, highlighted by guest speaker Andy Green, a United supporting Swiss Ramble-a-like, and his Power Point graphs, facts, stats & figures as well as an overview of the clubs recent financial results from the AST’s Nigel Phillips.

Mulling it all over while I couldn’t get to sleep last night due to the ridiculous amount of coke I drank in the pub before & after the meeting in an attempt to avoid a hangover this morning (To be fair it worked, I don’t have a hangover. I just wished I had managed to get some sleep) some key points stood out for me…

  • During the Kroenke takeover Arsenal Football Club employed Rothschild’s and Slaughter & May as ‘advisors‘ at a cost of £3M. There was no tender from any other financial institutions or law firms which may have provided cheaper advice, the club went straight to the banking and legal giants and in order to be told to either take or leave the American’s offer they shelled out almost the exact amount raised by the season ticket price increase.
  • Red & White Holdings believe that Kroenke borrowed every penny he spent on the takeover and could leverage that against the club at any time. Incidentally, were Stan to sell at the current price of £14k a share he would make a profit of £80m.
  • Alisher Usmanov’s RWH are still attempting to snap up shares and are contacting small shareholders and offering £14k per share, all while the AST Fanshare Scheme edges closer to hitting a brick wall. Arsenal/Kroenke are unwilling to release any shares to the trust and whilst RWH have intimated in the past that they may be willing to do so that is not going to happen if it weakens their own hand. Unless further shares are made available from somewhere fanshare is likely to hit the buffers and take an enforced break within the next few months.
  • Our wage bill is around the £125m mark whilst United’s is closer to £145m, although when you take away bonuses paid by the Manchester club and costs related to MUTV the gap is in reality about £10m.
  • Ironically when we were the side winning trophies a few (ahem) years ago we were no where near as close to Fergie’s side in terms of wage expenditure.
  • The £10m deal United have recently signed with DHL is not solely for sponsorship of the clubs training kit, the delivery firm will have their brands name bandied about all over Old Trafford. Under the restrictions of our shirt/kit sponsorship with Emirates we would be unable to sign a similar deal, it seems that with United there was a loop hole in the clubs main sponsorship deal with AON which allowed DHL to swoop in.
  • Manchester United have twenty-one separate commercial deals, ten of which are with communications companies in Asia. Arsenal believe they are starting to make significant strides and have recently announced new deals with Betsson, Carlsberg, Indesit & Citroen.
  • Our current lack of success on the field has and will continue to have a massive impact on our ability to undertake similar levels of sponsorship. Although as a corporate vehicle our geographical location and London postcode puts us ahead of United and City but it’s our global identity which lets us down.
  • This summers Asia tour was an attempt to boost that ‘global brand’ and whilst we only earnt £2m from our far eastern jaunt it opens the door to further investment and income and increases worldwide commerciability so it’s something we better get used to seeing.
  • The Emirates is making us money – our domestic match day revenue far outstrips that of United, City & Chelsea. So whilst there is still plenty of money related to the initial costs of the stadium move/build it is proving to function as it should – but again, this could all soon change if our on the field performances continue to suffer. Less success equals less bums on seats and money paid.

Right now in the race for riches we are managing to keep our heads above water but other clubs are catching up or in some cases running into an enviable lead by some distance. If we can bring in the kind of money that United do via commercial sponsorship our earning potential and potential to compete with the likes of City and their Manchester rivals would be on a par with any other club in the world. In order for that to become a reality we need to compete on the pitch, no body is going to pay the big bucks to a club that isn’t doing the business season after season. We may have the financial safety net to survive a season out of European competition but the margin for error is so small we can ill afford to sail anywhere near it’s reality.

While we may be the ultimate poster boys for FFP we need it to come into full force sooner rather than later, it would give us a clear advantage over our rivals. But the likelihood of it being enforced to such stringent levels in the short term is on a par with Marouane Chamakh winning the golden boot this season.

So, for all the talk of mega millions, earning potential, commercial viability and financial fair play one thing is ultimately as important now as it has ever been and should ever be – the football teams performance on the pitch is the key to everything…

Lets hope we can start putting that right against Sunderland at the weekend.

If you haven’t yet joined the AST then do so now by clicking HERE – it’ll cost you as little as £2 a month to become a part of this vital vehicle. No other supporters group shares the kind of relationship with their club as the AST do with The Arsenal and that is something we should all be taking advantage of.

Thanks for reading.

Paul

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