“Winning isn’t everything,” says Tom Fox, the Arsenal commercial officer. And that is all we needed to confirm that Arsenal are no longer a football club, but rather a business who use the sport as a device to grow financially.
Maybe that’s not always the best way to paint the picture; plenty of clubs, whether they’re football teams or clubs of other sports, drive to become stronger financially. But the need has always been to invest in order to grow on a number of different fronts. It just seems to make very little sense to sell a losing club as a fantastic model for which others should follow.
Where does Theo Walcott come in? Well like every season gone past, and starting with the year Ashley Cole moved to Chelsea, the club have seen little value in rewarding and keeping it’s best players. I’m firmly of the belief now that the Walcott ship has sailed and the player will be off come the end of the season. ‘Its not about winning’ is just a method to paper over the impending disappointment of losing another player for whom many supporters can identify.
Yes the player has been frustrating for so long, but there are very few fans who want to see the player leave. At the other end of the scale, many, many fans want to see the player as a regular member of the starting XI following his good performances up until this point.
Naturally, Fox, Ivan Gazidis and Richard Law’s job descriptions are likely to be rife with terms that keep the club’s finances in check, and that just sums up where we are with Walcott.
Arsene Wenger seems determined to keep the player, although it’s difficult to say how much influence he has over the matter of the final wages offered.
There is no ambition other than to sit on as much cash as possible—from the board’s perspective, not Wenger’s—even if it means the best players move on. There’s no concern for strengthening your closest rivals while you continue to decline.
Gazidis came from the MLS and Stan Kroenke owns franchises in America, but do any of them know how to properly run a football club? It’s all about working to a wage structure that is unrealistic of what the club needs: Champions League football.
It worked for so long because players were in place from a previous regime, but slowly and without remorse, the current figures at the club have helped to disband a squad who were the only alternative to the heavy spending of clubs like Chelsea. Now that Walcott and soon Bacary Sagna remain the final few to be forced out the door—because I’m not convinced either of them want to leave—where do the club go next?
There seems to be absolutely no method to the madness, at least from a footballing perspective. Perhaps that is why there is such an emphasis on the club retaining Wenger, for he appears able to keep the club at the highest level. It’s maximum revenue from competitions and match days, but extremely little spend when in comparison to others. At some point or another, the well will run dry and the club will have no answers.
On the pitch, Walcott is one of the team’s most dangerous players. He makes the team come alive and helps them raise the tempo, something which is absolutely key for the style of football they play. But he’s so much more than just an important figure in the squad. It’s players like Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who you want representing your club. Yes there’s the English factor and the sense of connection with the fans, but it’s also the role models and the players who know how to speak in front of the camera.
None of that is taken into account, and yet the club think they’re standing in a reasonable position when offering £75,000-per-week. Theo Walcott may not be worth £100,000-per-week or just shy for his abilities on the pitch, but everything that adds up including the morale at the club is so important. Yes he is worth more than the reported wages he’s been offered, but the club do not see it that way and they never will.