Imagine at the London 2012 Olympics that all British runners were given a 50 metre headstart on their competitors. Or at the Singapore Grand Prix later this month, Red Bull Formula One driver Mark Webber was allowed to start one lap ahead of all the other participants in a race to the finish line.
Of course this simply wouldn’t happen as it gives one side an advantage over another and undermines the whole integrity of the sporting competition. Yet in the Premier League, where normal rules do not apply, some clubs have the privilege of working with an unlimited budget as others are forced to bring in free transfers and loan deals ahead of the new season.
The Premier League is currently an unlevel playing field where billionaire investors can provide clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City with vast interest free, unrepayable loans to purchase the best available players available on the planet. This will soon change however after Uefa approved spending plans last year to ensure that clubs will start to get their finances in order from the 2012/13 season. In the further three-years preceding this period clubs must at least break even, and any clubs failing to adhere to this will be kicked out of European competitions.
England’s top flight currently make up over 50% of the total debt amongst clubs in Europe and will have to dramatically change their spending habits if they are to comply with the new rules about to be enforced. Arsenal will be one of the clubs who are likely to benefit from these plans as they are already one of the only few clubs in the Premier League currently running at a profit.
Enigmatic Frenchman Arsene Wenger has won plaudits for continually reproducing teams on a minimal budget capable of challenging at the top during his 14 year stay in North London. Wenger has had to compete with the mega budgets on offer at Chelsea and City, while other rivals Manchester United and Liverpool have loaded themselves with high-interest debt in a bid to keep competing. While The Gunners are also in debt, the club managed to cut this by £132m earlier this year while also announcing pre-tax profits of £32.5m in February. Wenger is convinced the new spending rules will be of massive benefit to the Arsenal over the next few years as other clubs are forced to curb their spending.
“The new rules will be a massive advantage for Arsenal,” claimed Wenger.
“We are fighting against some big budgets, clubs who lose 150 to 200million Euros per year. You don’t deserve a lot of credit for winning a competition, if all the others balance your books and you are the only one who can lose a huge amount of money,” he added.
Wenger has been rightly critical of clubs who have spent their way to the top and has always believed that clubs should live within their own means. Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour at Eastlands were the main two big spenders in the last financial year, posting unhealthy losses of £47m and £93m respectively. Wenger however has continuously refused to spend big, but instead look to safeguard the future of the club.
It is unlikely ‘The Professor’ will still be around to fully benefit from his prudence in the transfer market over the last few years, however Wenger can retire safe in the knowledge he has left a legacy at The Emirates that will be the base of the club’s success for years to come.