With cash cow owners throwing money wildly around. Debt mounting at numerous clubs as they struggle with the ever spiralling costs spending way outside of capabilities; Football needs an example. An example of through time, patience, the right investment and the moulding of a team can lead a club to becoming the best. A squad not thrown together by overinflated prices and wages. A football team who balance the books and keep within their means. That team is Arsenal.
Arsenal obviously does have debt, you will be hard pushed to find any football club not in debt, but it is the manner in which it is handled that matters. When Arsenal took out a £260 million loan from a consortium of banks to complete the Emirates stadium the club was hit with large debt. Bond issues were sold in order to replace the bank loans, much similar to United’s recent £500 million bonds sale. This though was extremely manageable for the club as Arsenal were tapping into a massive source of income which Highbury was holding them back upon. With Highbury holding just over 38000, it has a massive waiting list for season tickets and Arsenal desperately needed a new stadium. Arsenal took the plunge and built the Emirates.
Since the club’s move to the new stadium the debt has decreased massively due to the implementation of not only Arsene Wenger’s shrewd philosophy and purse strings, but the business decisions the club made. The building of Luxury flat’s upon Arsenal’s old home Highbury has raised a significant amount of cash for the Gunners. Whilst another bank loan of £133 million was attained to build ‘Highbury Square’ it initially hit trouble with the economic crisis, yet has pulled through and generated some real income for the Gunners. Arsenal have sold around two thirds of the flats and believed to have raised around £170 million. Upon completion of the sale of Highbury Square it is thought it will generate the club around £39 million of profit.
Arsenal’s latest 6 month pre tax profit figures say it all about how the club is managing its debt. The club in the six month period up to November 2009 slashed the clubs debt from £332.8 million to £203.6 million. Pre tax profit rose over £10 million from £24.5 million to £35.2 million. They took a manageable risk in taking the large loans to build the Emirates and then invested further building Highbury Square, which is reaping huge amounts for the London club. The rate at which Arsenal is slashing its debt is staggering and they could be debt free within the next five years.
This is why for football needs Arsenal to win the title. A club who have take risks, but controlled themselves financially in other areas. Arsene Wenger has built a team of young players, moulded into his image of a footballer without lavishing transfer budgets. A solid wage structure that is kept within the clubs limit is paramount. It has seen Arsenal miss out on many a signing, but that would have upset the books and Arsenal were not willing to do that. In 2009 Arsenal made a net profit of £5.2 million on transfer dealings. That is including the purchase of Andrei Arshavin at a price of £16 million. That’s astonishing. A title chasing team making profit on transfer dealings is highly unlikely. Manchester United’s £80 million sale of Cristiano Ronaldo this season was a one off. Manchester United rarely ever hit profit on transfer dealings.
In Arsene Wenger Arsenal clearly got the right man for the job. A man who doesn’t want unnecessary money to spend on lavish players that could upset the balance. He is quite happy finding young gems and morphing them into his team. Arsenal need to win the Premier League title to bring some sanity back to the game. To show football money doesn’t have to be the way. A team built over time; with a philosophy and a well financially run background can triumph. Furthermore we as fans need to see a team can be built to win the title without obscene money. Arsenal is our best shot.
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