So where to begin. In just a week the footballing world has changed, Russia stunned Spain, with Spain seen as 6/1 favourites to win the whole tournament, England finally broke the curse of penalties and maybe started to allow the nation to have just a little bit of hope… And with England doing so well, back to who each Premier League team should sign (As always, controversy will be ahead). If you missed the first part you can find it, here
Enos Stan Kroenke is the largest shareholder of Arsenal, and partially to blame for them falling out of the top 4 in the Premier League. Arsene Wenger, the 22-year manager of Arsenal turned scapegoat has left the club, with a new manager on the way: former Sevilla and PSG boss Unai Emery. Emery will be the new “scapegoat,” unless he can turn around Arsenal’s recent misfortunes. The best way to turn around misfortunes is with fortune, as in, transfer money.
When I watched that first game against Shrewsbury in 1995, the true importance of the match was lost on me. To me, I had just watched a game of football and watched my home town team convincingly beat their opposition. As first games go, based on that alone it was an amazing experience. When I realised how close the club had come to what would have ultimately ended the club and just how important the win was, it hit me just how great my first game was.
Every fan remembers their first game, it’s the one that sets you on your path to following your chosen team. Whether you support your local club or are influenced by a family member, you become invested in them, and follow their every exploit almost religiously. For me, my first game was 2nd May 1995, when AFC Bournemouth took on Shrewsbury Town in the final game of the season. With Bournemouth having had a fairly terrible season, an upturn in form saw them just one win away from securing their Division 2 status going into the final game.
You look back to the 2016/17 season and you would be easily forgiven for thinking that Antonio Conte was to become THE dominant manager in the Premier League and essentially usurp managers such as Jose Mourinho and even Josep Guardiola in becoming the one to watch as such. They had turned their fortunes around following a 3-4-3 tactical shift whilst reinventing Victor Moses as a RWB rather than the traditional RW position he was used to. This proved to be a masterstroke and with new signing N’golo Kante in the middle, Chelsea looked set for European dominance. Yet this didn’t happen as I will be telling you why.
It’s almost considered blasphemy to even think about speaking ill of Guardiola and his Man City team, but perhaps the praise has gone too far. Now, I’m not suggesting that they aren’t a fantastic team, but to compare them to teams like the Invincibles or United’s treble winning team after 8 months of dominance is, quite frankly, absurd.
Spurs have had a better European season than last season by far, they pathetically crashed out of the champions league group stages without a whimper.
This season they finished top of their group, while also beating Dortmund and Real Madrid. So it seemed promising when they fought back to a 2-2 draw with Juventus.
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.”
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.
A few months back, I wrote about the New York Red Bulls and whether they could finally win the MLS Cup – they didn’t. This off season has seen a lot of changes in Metro land, and I am discussing them in this article.