The only reason why we have a debate on football economics at least in the Premieship context is Arsene Wenger. The Bundesliga settled their finances a long time ago. And running a football club has again received the spotlight as a group of four, in protectionist mode, made their recommendations to the EPL for a local version of UEFA's financial fair play rules. A more recent parliamentary report blistered the football authorities in dragging their feet on new financial controls and increasing the influence of fans.
Simon Kuper's article on whether the Arsenal manager's financial conservatism goes too far raises some very interesting questions. Wenger is an admired figure because as an economist he believes in true valuations rather than what the market dictates. And he does his homework with a statistician's care. Then came Chelsea and after that City, and it all went awry much to Wenger's chagrin. He seems to have retreated into a sort of analysis paralysis as a number of his more recent transfers haven't worked out. The emphasis on developing teenagers and transforming them into world beaters carried with it the X factor. Who knows whether it would pan out? Some did, many others languish in mediocrity. And Kuper points out that FFP may not reign in football's financial doping.
Practically speaking big clubs have big resources and access to even bigger resources. Their input/ output models can be changed at a stroke with a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal. Kuper points out that winning clubs are positioned to attract even more investments. However, in the world of competing for lucrative commercial revenues, the bottomline is hitching yourself to a winning brand. The self sustaining Arsenal model, admirable at riding out the huge debt incurred by building the Emirates and the distorted valuations of players, has done so carried forward by Wenger's first spectacularly productive eight years. Somewhere down the line if Wenger's second spell of eight dry white seasons continue, it could catch up.