Good morning Grovers! I attended the monthly AST meeting last night to find out what the low down was in the world of Arsenal. Truth be told, there wasn't a whole load of new information if you've followed the snippets we've shared from them over the last year, but that didn't matter. Yesterday for me was more about judging fan sentiment.
I remember the first one of those meeting I attended, any mention of the coaches future was met with jeers. Last night, I said something along the lines of...
'Last year we all celebrated the arrival of a CEO who was essentially hands off. We actively encouraged an owner who'd be business as usual. A year on we're critiquing him for not forcing the hand of the manager in the transfer market. Should the highest paid man at the club need coerce him into buying players? Should we not be questioning whether that sort of manager is right for us?'
Then I was asked what I'd do...
'I've said since last summer he should be sacked'
Not one boo. Not one jeer. Just focus on the question. That's how far we've come.
As for other snippets...
Arsenal are asking for fan opinion on raising prices. They're also canvassing on the 7 cup matches and whether people want them. Many said they wouldn't want to attend Europa Cup games. I say that's a bit poor. I'd go, regardless and I wouldn't want those games removed.
The AST pushing for home credits reward scheme. Apparently 400 club levellers used their ticket once or less last year. Truly disgraceful, but again, a worry for a club so dependent on expensive seats.
Arsenal have the joint highest ticket revenue in Europe. I'm pretty sure we're up there with United.
Only 25% of people take up the option of a new season ticket when offered.
The Premiership sells so well because the grounds are 92% capacity.
As of June we'll have £160mill cash in the bank. Once again it was reiterated that it's not for spending. Well, not all of it... We pay wages out of that and it acts as cash flow for the season.
Wages are up to £130million. Massive eh?
Predicted cash surplus was thought to be £60mill. Arsenal did however pay out a lot in agents fees and loyalty bonuses. Yep, Thomas Vermaelen got a loyalty bonus. Shouldn't it have been the other way round? Bribing players to stay... cheeky. I wish my work gave me a loyalty bonus after a year out sick.
Champions League when it's all said and done is worth £45mill. A mix of TV, gate reciepts and commercial deals. The big question is where that cash comes from if we lose out?
The AST reckon we have two years of float. £50mill this year and £35mill for next years Queensland Property deal.
As we've reported before, there is at least £25mill worth of dross in the wage bill. We can't move them on. This has been compounded over the years by a trick Wenger uses to get around the banks stipulation he must invest 25% of transfer proceeds back into the squad. Instead if buying players, he signs his current ones up to new inflated deals.
We've known about this for a while. I find it utterly disgraceful this has been allowed to carry on.
The fact is, we can afford mega wages. Wenger doesn't have a wage cap. He has an amount of money to play with. The fact he chooses to give JD £50k, Diaby £60k and Denilson £60k directly hinders his ability to pay Robin £160k pw.
United don't pay their fringe players anywhere near what we do. Wes Brown was on £18k pw, he knew he was part of something special though. We have players who are fat off big salaries. Who play for PAYE not glory.
It's a horrible mess people, it really is.
The story of FFP came up as well. Nigel Phillips, like many of our readers believe the club use the ruling to hide behind. City have blatantly breached the rules a number of times and nothing has happened. As have many clubs. The irony of it all is that if any club is in danger of breaching the rules, it's us if we exit the Champions League. Our wage bill will be unsustainable if we're out of Europe.
It was also highlighted that the average age of the board is 73... hence the stagnation and lack of ambition post stadium build.
There was also the absolute refusal of the club to allow R&W onto the board. It won't happen. What people suspect might occur is that Stan could sell up if things get too spicy. He's never sold an asset, but he's never bought overseas. If he isn't welcome at his own Franchise... Sorry I mean club... He could sell out for a massive profit. He's too old to be in it for the long term. Unless his son Josh is a major league soccer fan.
Interesting that Matt Scott of the Telegraph believes Wenger has made himself unsackable. His squad is too full and too highly paid to do anything with over the next few years. He reckons no top manager would touch the job.
You'll hear more from him in a couple of weeks time... in your ears if you get what I mean.
Some other snippets
- The club improved revenue by £10mill last season. £3mill of that was tour money. £4mill was season ticket price hikes. Yet the CEO landed a £600k bonus! Errr... where is the outrage?
- We could have a £100million rights issue and beat FFP if it went against the stadium debt. The reason we won't do that is because Wenger wouldn't spend the money. Previously it was because the other board members wouldn't put their hands in their pockets. They only took out of the club...
- Average attendance to the games these days is in the low fifties.
- We have 71 paid professional on the wage bill (we had 48 when we moved to the Emirates). We also fund Nik B and Denilson. We laugh at City for doing the same with Adebayor and Bridge, we're just as bad... on lower salaries of course!
- The board have got rich off the self sustaining business model.
- We earn £14mill from short sponsor / manufacture. Liverpool earn £40mill
- Nina booted from board for having a Starbucks with Usmanov people.
- David Dein spends more time with Wenger than Gazidis. If he is spending that much time with Wenger, it begs the question what the hell he's talking to him about? 'Errr, Arsene... Squillaci. What the hell were you thinking?'
- Stadium debt is £220mill
- When Dein was booted from the board, Wenger was promised he was in charge. Hence why he was able to pick his own CEO.
- Wenger decides player value, hence why so many deals fall through. That's why Mata isn't wearing an Arsenal shirt.
- Club runs at break even.
- There are only 1200 shareholders left. Geoff being one of them. He's a rarity... he didn't sell out like so many did.
Final fun fact of the evening... There are more Arsenal fans in Nigerian than there are in the UK. Wow! I've always said we get a bundle of traffic from the home of Kanu... I didn't realise the extent of support!
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Thanks to everyone I met and spoke to last night... a great night as always.
So... what stood out for you? Let us know in the comments!