Many Arsenal fans would love to have the opportunity to sit down with manager Arsene Wenger or chief executive Ivan Gazidis following the season The Gunners have just had. Why did the Samir Nasri saga go on for so long? What was to blame for such a horrendous start to the season? Is Robin Van Persie likely to sign a new deal? Well on Wednesday night, members of the Arsenal supporters trust were given the opportunity to put forward such questions, as they met with club figure head Gazidis.
At the meeting, the 47 year old announced the board’s plans to re-structure the wage system that is currently in place at the Emirates. In an attempt to save up to £23million on the wage bill, Gazidis put forward their ‘more economical’ way of spending money. The hope is that boss Arsene Wenger will have more money to spend in the transfer market, attracting big names to North London.
This kind of wage reformation, which is likely to see fringe players at Arsenal shown the door, is expected by the Gunners chief executive to make them competitors once again.
However, increased competitiveness is not a given. There are obvious disadvantages in making such dramatic changes to the wage structure. Lower wages may make for a competitive budget in the transfer market, but frankly there could be a failure in meeting players’ wage demands. Big transfer fees may tempt clubs into selling, but the needs of the individual may not be met with Arsenal’s new strategy.
It comes as no surprise for Arsenal fans that there is a clear out of fringe players expected before the new season. Captain Robin Van Persie may be top earner on an impressive £70,000 a week in comparison to other Premier League big earners, but fringe players such as Marouane Chamakh and Abou Diaby are not far behind, on £50-60,000 a week each. The attempt at saving £23 million comes from cutting these less involved players wages, or showing them the door altogether.
Whilst the likes of Manchester City, PSG and Malaga are demonstrating the kind of extortionate wage structures that other teams try to compete with, their success hasn’t been immediate; and is not as easy to achieve as one would expect – certainly in the cases of the latter two. Arsenal are hoping that a more competitive financial structure, combined with their already inherent strong footballing ethos, can lead them to compete for trophies again.
Gazidis however, has been known to talk a good game before. For three and a half years now, Arsenal fans have listened to the American talk passionately and succinctly about his vision for the club. What is less apparent is any of his ideas being put into action. Amongst Arsenal followers, their chief executive is gaining a bit of reputation as an ‘all talk no action’ kind of guy. Of course, there is no denying that his ‘Arsenalisation’ idea was a success, making the Emirates stadium feel more like a home for the Gunners. But beyond that, Gazidis has failed to impress.
A reformation of the financial structure at Arsenal may be just what is needed: it could be what finally makes them into challengers for major trophies. It will not come as a guarantee though, and there are implications to what they are trying to implement. Fans may be happy in what Gazidis is promising, but should he carry out his promises there will be even more delight.