Wealthy football club owners; whether you love them or hate them they seem destined to stay within the modern fabric of the game. Much criticised for their carefree spending and reputations as ‘non-football’ people who don’t know the game deep down, their escalating influence in football is likely to be quelled somewhat by FIFA’s new Financial Fair Play Regulations. Aimed at forging more long-term responsible spending and assuring a more level playing field, the rules which are planned to come into operation for the 2013/14 season, are likely to decelerate the passage to success such as Manchester City are discovering.
Sheikh Mansour’s investment has revolutionised the Citizens into a title chasing outfit and in direct comparison, old established top four outfits such as Arsenal, who maintain a more sustainable business model, are now struggling to catch up.
So we ask ourselves, can the new regulations really aid Arsenal’s cause in their pursuit of long-term success? Has Arsene been correct all along?
At the route of the issue is club debt and teams spending way more than they earn in the chase for short-term accomplishment, which indeed may hamper their long-term standing within the game. Last November, the Telegraph reported that Manchester City posted a record-breaking loss of £194.9 million with wages amounting to £174 million.
Similarly, Paris Saint Germain finds themselves in a comparable position following the clubs venture with the Qatar Investment Authority.
The new rules mean that high spending clubs are allowed to make a loss of £37.5 million over a two-year period, followed by £25 million in the three years following, with the longstanding aim of breaking even.
Compared to City’s recent loss, FIFA’s prescription is minimal, and clearly represents the cost cutting measures that will have to be made by trophy contending clubs such as Mancini’s side.
Of course, trimming the playing squad is the most obvious and damaging effect the new regulations pose for the carefree spenders, paying credence to the arguments of Wenger and Arsenal. Although their fans may be fed up with the clubs transitional state, Wenger’s careful stewardship could eventually pay off.
Criticised by some for running a business instead of a football club, Wenger has always prioritised paying back the debt as created by the move to Emirates Stadium. As increased gate receipts allowed wages to rise sustainably so Arsenal could remain at least competitive on the pitch, Wenger has maintained his steady business plan not breaking the bank for players deemed overpriced or overrated, much to the growing disgruntlement of the Emirates faithful.
When the new regulations do come into operation, it is comprehendible that Arsenal may be one of the main beneficiaries. Part of a dying breed of sustainable clubs, Arsenal have at least managed to remain in and amongst the top end of the Premier League, competing on many fronts, most notably the Champions League.
This achievement has been deemed remarkable by ‘glass half full’ Arsenal fans who accept Arsenal’s long-term future as more important than short-term trophy hauls. But the overwhelming majority of ‘glasses half empty’ Gunners are now tired of the clubs slow evolution and want more assurances over the clubs ambitions going forward. Fourth spot is not a trophy Arsene.
Everyone knows Arsenal pay their players less than they could receive at other clubs. The top earner in Robin Van Persie earns a reported £80,000 a week and the Dutchman could easily improve his pay packet with a transfer, but with the majority of the squad on more responsible wages than elsewhere, Arsenal could be the best of the rest to cope with the new rulings.
In Szczesny, Vermaelen, Song and Van Persie, Arsenal does possess a competitive spine, albeit inferior at present to their rivals in the current state of the Premier League. But it will be interesting to see the ramifications upon clubs like Manchester City following the Fair Play rulings and just whether Arsenal can rise again and compete to where their fans believe they truly belong.
Will FIFA’s Financial Fair Play Rulings give clubs like Arsenal the edge going forward? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989