The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) tonight unveils its analysis of the club’s financial position, following the recent publication of the accounts for financial year 2011-12.
Click here for the full report.
The document is a thoughtful look through the Arsenal’s situation, covering many aspects of the figures. Yet a couple of lines jumped out of the page:
- Arsenal could afford to buy two £25m players in the January transfer window, the AST says, even assuming that both were given six-figure weekly salaries.
- Arsenal pay their top stars around five times the amount of low-end squad members, while “most top clubs” pay over ten times the amount – according to AST estimates.
- The club’s income will burst through the £300m mark by 2014-15.
To clarify on the second point, the AST says it undertook extensive research to look at the wages of leading players (such as Toure, Tevez, Rooney etc.) and compared them to a team’s squad player number 25. The AST has previously questioned Arsenal’s Wenger-inspired policy of having a more equal wage sheet than other teams – “especially when it seems to leave the club burdened with players they then struggle to move on”.
Despite this burden, the AST’s analysis and projections effectively show Arsenal swimming in cash. Despite the club’s profits having recently come mostly from player trading (ie. selling first team footballers) and property sales, the AST calculates that it is still in a very strong position to strengthen the squad.
AST’s analysts estimate that the club has around £70m-£80m currently to spend. This, they argue, could cover two £25m players, plus the extra £5m or so the club would have to pay each of those two players in wages in their first year at the club (ie. this would total around £60m, leaving some cash to spare).
Of course, those players would significantly add to the club’s wage bill over subsequent years, too. Yet the AST says that with a massive chunk of new PL money to come before then, and improved commercial revenue due to the expiration of existing deals in 2014, the Arsenal will be able “to comfortably run a wage bill of close to £180m – a 60% wages/turnover payout compared to the present £143m (61%).”
“Arsenal have significant scope to further invest in their wage bill,” they say, adding: “Close your eyes, Theo.”
And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, the AST reckons Arsene Wenger will have “at least a further £50m a year to spend on his team” in 2014, too.
The issue is, I believe, the extent to which overall wages keep spiking and thus eating into the club’s cash. While a wage bill of £180m per year may seem like plenty to us now, the rapid rate of increase in recent years suggests that it might be more modest – compared to Arsenal’s rivals – by 2014. The club inevitably hopes that Financial Fair Play will arrest this rate of wage hikes.
The AST is presenting its findings this evening. No doubt several people at the meeting will Tweet further details.