David Conn’s article on the finances of the 20 Premiership clubs is a continued portrayal of clubs living beyond their means. Some are better geared towards fulfilling the requirements of UEFA’s financial fair play rules set to kick in next season. Amongst them Arsenal is held up as a standard because of their self sustaining model.
The snapshot above provide flattering numbers because the Highbury real estate sales (apartments/ retail) netted the club an additional £156m. This is a one off item and one can’t look forward to this source for further revenue.
The 6.5% increase in ticket prices should partially offset that loss but with a dispirited fan base Arsenal might struggle with increasing gate and match day income. Another note of concern is its wage bill the fourth largest in the Premier League. The £110m forked out in salaries is almost borderline criminal with the club so shorn of success.
Arsenal is one of the four clubs that have zero owner contribution. The owners of the remaining clubs have picked up the £2.3bn tab mainly to pay out transfer fees and player wages. Very little has gone to capital improvement or building a new stadium.
However Arsenal’s desire for a balanced budget could be under duress because clearly there is need to go into the transfer market in a big way to bolster Wenger’s faltering experiment. Andrey Arshavin’s potential move to recoup the £15m paid to Zenit St Petersburg and Cesc Fabregas’s almost certain departure might represent the last season for high priced cash outs. Alisher Usmanov has tempted with past offers of paying out of pocket with a quid pro quo of a seat on the board. This summer could see that tussle renew.