Accounting for Arsene: Does Arsenal’s Fall From Grace Hurt Their Bottom Line?

Arsenal are at risk of missing the Champions League for a second season in a row. For Arsenal fans it feels like a punch to the gut and a worry for the future. For neutral fans it allows the banter to continue and a deviation from the norm we have seen for over a decade. For an accounting major like myself, I wonder what the ramifications are on Arsenal as a business. Is a deviation from millions of dollars guaranteed each season something that will hurt Arsenal?

Public companies are required to have annual reports with audited financial statements presented to shareholders. Arsenal are publicly traded but unlike Manchester United, their share price is astronomical (over $21,000 per share) and it is advised by the club itself  to not purchase shares to make a profit. Despite its oddities as a public (I would argue it is a semi-public company with a high share price and only 4% not owned by a select few people) company, it still has shareholders and therefore an annual report, where nerds like me can look at their financials!


Their latest financial data from their 2017 annual report showed revenue of over $590 million. That includes payments made from participating the Champions League last season (and crashing out in the Round of 16) of around $76 million. In the Europa League this season, they could make around $15-50 million, possibly more, depending on where they finish in that competition. Expenses for Arsenal were around $520 million. So, 590 minus 520 leaves Arsenal with a “profit” of around $70 million. The difference between Champions League income and Europa League income could be anywhere between $30 to $60 million, leaving Arsenal still with a profit, if all other expenses and revenues unrelated to participating in the Champions League/Europa League are similar.

One source of revenue negates all of that: the broadcasting revenue from participating in the Premier League. That number will rise for Arsenal around $80 million year-over-year, an addition to the already astronomical amount Premier League clubs receive from these broadcasting deals. That basically negates the loss of Champions League football. Not to mention, as cynical as it sounds, Arsenal save money by not having to pay bonuses for Champions League qualification. If you play Football Manager, you sometimes notice a clause in players contracts that qualifying for a continental competition, in this case the Champions League, allows them to awarded a bonus. Arsenal dodged having to pay that last season, and likely will avoid paying that this season.

Not to mention, Arsenal have cash, and low debt. Arsenal boast around $145 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand. In their May 2017 financial report, they mention that the club has previously fully self-insured against a season without Champions League football. The idea that they could miss out on two or more seasons of Champions League football will truly test if their “insurance” is built to last. It is important to note that the $145 million of cash does not include  cash “designated as debt service reserves.” This means that before Arsenal begin to burn through their cash (if they don’t spend that much on players), then that cash amount will not decrease until their “debt service reserves” are depleted. As of now, and according to my analysis in this article, Arsenal are turning a profit for the foreseeable future, meaning their debt will have no need to be serviced since there is no debt. Please note that player transfer fees are amortized

This article does not take into account things such as lower game attendance, higher player wages, and loss of merchandising revenue as well as other long-term factors of missing the Champions League can affect. When it comes to merchandising it appears possible marginal loss of revenue as a result of a lack of success is completely negated by Arsenal dominating emerging markets. Places where economies are growing: Asia, Africa, India, and so on are being dominated by many big teams. Out of that will come sponsors, supporters, and more broadcasting deals. Arsenal apparently do well in Africa especially in Nigeria, although I don’t have data to support that, it is simply anecdotal.

It appears mega-deals from broadcasting and globalism means that Arsenal, the world’s 5th richest club according to Forbes, are “too big to fail.” Lack of success doesn’t mean that Arsenal will struggle financially. Hell, Arsenal will likely continue to turn a profit and allow Wenger to use his often-mentioned “war chest.”


Ipswich Town Need Change!

It has been sixteen long years since The Tractor Boys last graced the promised land – the Premier League. It was a short but sweet stay, playing in Europe for the first time since the mid 80’s, but the next sixteen years have seen the Blues stuck in the second tier of English football. A new owner came in, but investment has dried up, mid table finishes have dominated the last decade, its time for change at the club.

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Norwich vs Hull a match review

I was invited out by a mate of mine who had a spare ticket to watch Norwich vs Hull, and it sounded like a good match, two teams pushing for promotion. I saw Norwich play before earlier in the season when I was in the away end when Sunderland won 1-3 and I thought they played quite poorly, so was interested to see if they’ve improved.


Well from the first ten to twenty minutes, Norwich were all over Hull, a better final third and they would have been winning by one or two goals, for some reason Norwich throughout the game up until the final minutes seemed afraid to go for it, which frustrated the crowd at times.

Hull started coming into the game however, and they took advantage of Pinto going missing several times during the first half, which led to them taking the lead, with Dicko scoring the opener.


We went downstairs to get a drink at half time and discussed with other Norwich fans who felt similar to us. No changes for the teams when they came out for the 2nd half and it started the same how the first half ended, with hull being the more aggressive team.

The match however was about to change in the favour for Norwich , David Myler was rightfully sent off after a second bookable offence, Norwich then brought on Nelson Oliveira Ira, who is probably their best player, Norwich grew more and more confident as the 2nd half went on, hull meanwhile were playing for time and knew as the clock was ticking down all they had to do was defend. Norwich were getting closer and closer each time. Then the official announced 5 extra minutes, which encouraged the crowd to really get behind the team, Norwich were giving everything they had pushing for that important goal.


Norwich pushing for that all important goal

Norwich and hull fans were both waiting for the whistle to go, both for different reasons. Corner after corner Norwich kept getting, Then they got one final chance, a long throw to Jerome, who flicked it in for  Oliveira, who then slid it into the goal. Cue bedlam, fans jumping up and down, hugging their mates or family, limbs everywhere as they say.


In the end I think Norwich were the better team and with better finishing and confidence would have won easily. The red card did change the game however and I feel that hull would have been happy to sit back and come out winners if that was the case

Norwich fans I will say are still the best fans I’ve seen this season, loud and proud and still fairly noisy when they were losing.

Hull city fans I felt disappointed me, hardly heard a peep from them no proper celebrations when they scored which I felt strange , and the chants I had heard were stolen off other clubs, so no originality there.


Overall it was a really good match and I do think Norwich have a very good chance of getting promoted this season.