The end of Arsenal football club

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So here we are people, the end of Arsenal football club as we know it. Silent Stan Kroenke, the evilest man to walk a sports arena, has finally won out. He’s part way to driving out the white knight, Alisher Usmanov, for a whopping £600m buyout of his stake.

This is a dark day for Arsenal.

I mean, kind of.

This dramatic notion that the world is caving in because Stan K is buying up the rest of Arsenal is a little far-fetched. The morbid picture that has been painted is based on a lot of worst case scenarios.

Sure, there could be less transparency around the club, but at the same time, you have to remember a lot of the fan interaction items that were put on were out of generosity, versus some sort of legal obligation. Our family has a share, I went to most of the AGMs before I moved to America, let’s not pretend for a  second you extracted any sort of real insight from those days out. Sir Chips or Peter Hillwood would usually insult the intelligence of the peasant folk, Ivan would tell us not to believe our lying eyes, and Stan would rarely say anything. It wasn’t true governance because the fans had no real power. Not just that, Arsenal offered up additional seats for people at various fan groups because they were being nice. The club has always pushed to be as open as possible. Ivan G has sat through a lot of fan Q&As, the club has opened up its facilities for meet and greets with the staff, we have a lot of access.

I appreciate there’s a lot of love for fans owning a stake. The romantic scenes in Germany and at some clubs in Spain where the fans own the clubs in some way tugs at the heart strings. Representation at board level is a beautiful thing, and there’s no doubt that the good folk at the AST, Red Action, Black Scarf and AISA have done a lot of good in driving fan agenda items like flags at games, ticket price freezes, safe standing, and pushing Wenger to take the League Cup a little more seriously. All marvellous things.

I don’t think those things suddenly go away. If a new CEO comes in, hopefully from another football club, do you think their first move is going to be to cut fans out? I doubt it. We’re important. Why do you think Ivan has been so keen to make the transformation at Arsenal about him? He reads the internet, he hears your hot takes from you at Waitrose, he wants fans in the stadium to shout things like, ‘bloody good transition old boy’, not, ‘HOW DID YOU FUCK UP ALONSO YOU STUPID MUG HE WAS IN THE CAR.’

Usmanov stands to make a heck of a profit, there’s a lot of sadness David Dein (Arsenal’s David Cameron) jumped the gun with Kroenke, because everything would have looked a whole lot more Chelsea right now. Again though, let’s not pretend he was always the favoured oligarch to takeover. David Dein sold out in the hope of leading the club, he managed to get himself fired in the process, then flogged his shares to Usmanov in the hope that Red&White holdings would do something to elevate the club and give the manager the transfer fees he needed.

He was pilloried for that. The fans, the blogs, everyone was against a businessman that apparently did something to someone where a vat of acid was involved. Everyone hated the fact a nasty Uzbek was coming to the party. We liked the cute cowboy hat and understated humbleness of Stan K. We liked the one who ran a ‘proper’ business. Years later, we realised Stan knew how to run a business (a real estate business), but one that lacked any sort of a ambition to dominate.

The biggest disappointment about how folk like David Dein, Danny Fizsman and Nina B sold the club out, is that they moved it on to a company that looked at incremental growth over a 20 years period. Stan K makes his money with the looooooong bets. He’ll invest in property where he knows a big Walmart is going and sit on that property in the hope it blows up over the 20-year stretch. He’s not wolf on wall street. He’s not about the quick buck.

Arsenal for him has been a quite incredible investment. His original purchase of the club, when all the blocks are added sits at about £424m. The club has gone from tinpot entity at Highbury, to £1.8b monster if he buys out Alisher. He doesn’t get returns like that anywhere else. Arsenal is the equivalent of striking oil on one of his ranches 200 years ago. We are the absolute GEM for him.

So what are the main concerns?

Well, he’s taking a loan out to buy out the remaining 30%. How does he pay for that loan? It certainly won’t be out of his own pocket. He can’t do a leveraged buyout like the Glazers dropped on United (take out a loan on the club to buy the club, then use the fans to pay and club profit to pay it off), but he has a number of options to pay it off, and now he has an opaque setup he can hide the details in. His Delaware dealings, well covered by the excellent Matt Scott over the years, are murkier than a night out with Jermaine Pennant.

Putting that to one side, not a lot changes.

For you, as a fan, we’ll still be a club that’s run sensibly. We’re never going to behave aggressively in the transfer market. We’re never going to break FFP rules. The club has been built to operate under its own steam and I’d imagine that’s what it’ll do moving forward. Arsenal is boring, but remember, we’re a club that can offer up a lot of steam. We generate massive match day receipts, our commercials are moving in the right direction, and there’s huge potential at the club.

My hope is if Stan has learnt anything over the last few years, it’s that neglecting a Premier League football club by not investing in capable talent is a sure fire way to lose money on your bottom line. I know the top folk at Arsenal are embarrassed they’re not in th CL. That’s a big deal. I’m hoping that Stan is realizing first hand that running a football club is not like running a franchise. The fans are crazier, the cost of being shite is greater, the difficulty getting back to the top is harder, and not investing cash in players is elite players is an absolute fools game with a market so flush with money.

Look at the positives. We’re all happy with the backroom hires. We’re all happy with the reshaping of the squad. We’re all happy with the general direction of the club.

Stan owning another 30% makes no difference to that direction. It’s just a feelings thing. It’s just a ‘what could happen’ panic button everyone is pushing. For me, you can worry about the implications of the ‘what if’ when you’re watching the institutions of democracy being attacked. You never know who is coming in next and it’s a constant rotation of power. Stan K is going to be here for 30 more years. We’re going to be the most consistently run outfit in world sport, it’ll just be dull.

So let’s not be dramatic. Arsenal is the star in Stan’s portfolio. For him to grow that star, he has to have a competitive team. For all the major owners to move TV revenue to the next level, they have to continue to invest in the product. We’ve been doing that, our wages bill is £200m+ and we were the 3rd highest net spender in the league over the last 5 years and we’ve outspent Madrid from a net perspective since 2010. Stan needs a competitive Arsenal, so nothing is going to change on that front, the club will move on without Alisher, it’ll move on without Gazidis who has chosen to ply his trade with Milan, and it’ll move on without fans being literally invested in the club.

It’s a bland set of circumstances, but let’s not kid ourselves anyone has the best option. No ownership of a football club is romantic or ideal. Every club comes with its visa issues. Our biggest worry is that Stan is a bit boring. But overall, bar the love-in for Wenger that went on far too long, the club is pretty well run and it’s moving in the right direction.

It’s a sad day for shareholders who have to sell up, but it’s also a massive payday for them.

Stan is a safe businessman, and he’ll always be that way. The only way Arsenal make it moving forward is having the best football staff in the game, working budgets harder, and working our players smarter than anyone else.

It’s always been a struggle being an Arsenal fan, and it always will be. Let’s just enjoy the ride. x

475 Responses to “The end of Arsenal football club”

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  1. raptora

    Firmino is much of a complete footballer than Auba. Now if Auba could do what he does but on Henry level, it would go his way by far. But as things stand Firmino can score, combine, fight, is mobile and absolutely never hides. On his bad day he can give you so much. Basically remove him from Pool’s attack and it’s not the same. What Auba really does has lately become a thing that wide forwards do. In CF you need more someone like Firmino. Re Jesus benching Firmino; that was a big mistake by Tite and probably the biggest reason Brazil failed miserably. Jesus is similar to Aubameyang, although not as good as him yet, this type of strikers are not really needed, when you have say Neymar on the flank.

    Last season 27 goals in 54 games, including 11 in 15 in the UCL, for Firmino, means much more than the average tap-in merchant.

  2. Sanmi

    If Auba or lacazette are striking for Liverpool, they will be scoring 30+, dare I say Auba will be leading Salah in goals. He’s that good

  3. Sanmi

    Firminho is an average striker. And lacazette is much more an all rounder. And Firminho has never had a better stats than lacazette in his entire career. What are you even talking about.
    Without Salah Firminho is nohing

  4. Sanmi

    There’s a reason mane had 10 goals last season, he’s such a hit and miss. They create loads for each other, but you just never know when mane and Firminho will put it to bed, they miss loads. Only Salah was reliable.

    Do you watch their matches at all? Or you just fantasize over their attacks

  5. Sanmi

    Mane is a slightly better Gervinho in a very good attack. Remember Gervinho was also always scoring about 10goals a season too.
    Sanchez in his worst season in epl had 9 goals effortlessly
    Mane in one of his best is scoring 10goals.

  6. raptora

    I think I’ve missed maybe 5 games of Liverpool’s 38 in the EPL last season. I have pretty decent observations on their attack. If you think that Firmino is a nothing striker, worse than Lacazette, and that Mane is barely in control of the ball, then I will simply move away.

  7. Sanmi

    Raptora
    How’s an opinion market value better than stats and facts that are irrefutable?
    See the stats for yourself, look at previous seasons.
    There’s nothing prolific about Firminho

  8. Sanmi

    Salah made them look better than they actually are. Watch them before Salah came and in matches without Salah, down to their national teams.
    They are bang average.
    Granted klopp system works for them, even with that they can’t score. I mean Zaha and Mane are one goal apart.

  9. Wallace

    I like Firmino, and Liverpool’s attack is definitely more dangerous than ours at present, but Lacazette was only a goal behind Firmino last season – 14 vs 15 – while playing in the least effective Arsenal side in recent memory.

  10. Wallace

    Aubameyang vs Salah will be interesting this season. and while Mane will definitely outscore Ozil, can Ozil make up the difference in assists to our two strikers?

  11. Sanmi

    Lacazette last 4 seasons stats (league alone)
    27,21,28 and 14 goals (spent half as subs, new league)
    Firminho last 4 seasons 7,10,11, 15 goals
    Aubermayang last 4 seasons 16, 25, 31, 23 (transitioning )

    Can you see the stats? Firminho is as average as they come

  12. Sanmi

    In terms of goals output, Firminho is on giroud level, morataish
    Aubermayang is on Harry Kane, Suarez level

  13. Sanmi

    Just to throw this in, aubermayang had 7 assists last season (4 for arsenal 3 for dortmund )
    Firminho had 7 as well while playing next to Salah that had 30+ goals.
    So where’s the all rounder effect?
    You think just running headlessly is football?

  14. TR7

    Sanmi

    ‘Mane is a slightly better Gervinho in a very good attack. ‘

    You must be trolling. Mane is one of the best 5 players in the league.

  15. Sanmi

    TR7

    Best 5 @ what?

    salah, kane, aubermayang, lukaku, aguero, debryne, sane, silva, Erikson, sanchez, pogba.

    How’s mane better than those? He doesn’t score more, doesn’t assist more, doesn’t control the game more.
    What exactly makes mane in top 5?
    Sterling is even better, Alli has better out put, Zaha will even compete, fucking lacazette has better stats.

  16. TR7

    Sanmi

    I don’t care about stats, I judge a player based on his ability alone. In one vs one situation, there’s probably nobody better than Mane in the league. He has great pace and is very industrious. Take Mane out of Liverpool attack and their team becomes toothless offensively. Salah might have got a lot of goals but Mane has been performing consistently for last 5 years both for Southampton and now Liverpool. He is involved in most if not all build ups. A constant threat in and around the box.It’s mind-boggling you rate Lukaku more who is merely a physical specimen.

  17. Up 4 grabs now

    Scoring and assists are what you are ultimately judged on as a forward player, over a season.
    You can do 20 dribbles a game, be the fastest, the strongest, the most adventurous, but it doesn’t mean a can of beans at the end of the season if you score 10 & assist 5 in 40-55 games.

    Mane and firmino are good players but auba is better by a mile, and laca is better than them as well, but not quite aubas level.

    At the end of the day I’m more worried about our defence.

  18. Sanmi

    TR7

    So stats don’t matter any longer? Because they make an arsenal player look better?

    I understand certain stats are useless, but for a forward, how can goals scores and assists made be useless? Explain that to me.

  19. Henry Root

    We will sign no one before the deadline and Ornstein will be proved EXACTLY right again with his five deals. It winds some people up on here when you say this but Arsenal use him as their unofficial mouthpiece to manage fan expectations. I believe Ramsey will sign soon

  20. El Tel

    I still read Le Grove often but got as frustrated with it as I did Wenger in 2006.

    Le Grove is dull with dull egomaniac FM players commenting on things they know nothing about.

    Spurs pleasers beat ours 7-3 Ha Ha Ha. Liverpool’s forwards better than our. Well we can only compare after a full season with both out prolific forwards and Ozil playing without the weight of the world around his shoulders.

    Paulinho right 99% of the time. Wow.

    Pedro, you are expert at marketing so you need to bring Le Grove up to date. It took too long for your Wenger out campaign to come to fruition and now you have posters who clearly are not devoted to The Arsenal coming on here to do us down.

    I read earlier that our pre season was shit against teams playing with their reserves, yet not once did we play with OUR first team in any of those matches.

    Madrid got beaten and so did Barca. The Mancscum were awful and the Chavs average. The only team who looked like they were flying were Liverpool. Yes the Team that after Spurs always get plaudits for winning not a League title between them in Almost 30 years.

    Klopp is a good Manager and a great character but they are flaky like our team ha e been since 2006. As for Spurs. Let’s get real. They have bang average players playing for a Manager who has a system. They are well organized and set up to do well in the EPL with their giant players who get stuck in and do. It get punished by the Officials because they are mostly English.

    I laughed at the English in the WC from the start but it got even funnier when we were hearing how great our players were until of course we played a decent team, a very tired decent team who ended Spurs, Oops sorry Engerlands little run.

    When we won the FA Cup a couple of years back it got downplayed because we had an easy run. We still won it though. Engerland had the easiest run in our WC history and still didn’t make the final.

    I am not going to compare players we have signed against other teams as I haven’t seen them play and do not play FM computer games. Time will tell if we signed well, time will tell if our Manager is going to be any good. I hope He gets a run at it before the dissenters dig him out.

    The Kroenke issue. My take on it is let’s see what He really does for the Club. I have seen great Arsenal sides being dismantled since the late 60’s great Teams broken up for the Directors to take the money. We have been a massive Club since the 1930’s yet still sell our best players whenever we have a decent team. It is not a new thing. Charlie George/ Ray Kennedy anyone? Liam Brady/ Frank Stapleton? Many more before and after them.

    Maybe Kroenke sees how big The Arsenal can really become and He has a plan to get us there. The biggest team in the biggest capital in Europe. Forget the Chavs and Spurs you have to be under 20 years of age to think Chavski have been relevant before A ramovic and the Spuds have had 2 decent seasons in EPL history.

    We had good players last season playing for a stale Manager who clearly forgot how to plot against the better teams. The players were rudderless and imo were THE biggest reason Wenger was finally dumped. They simply had enough. Look a the training sessions and how hard they are working yet they look very happy. The Manager has had only hours with this team and already they look like they are going to enjoy the football. The one thing Wenger did get right is that players don’t play to lose or honest good players don’t anyway. They don’t need the money as they are rich so they need the glory of winning.

    Raptora. Go watch Liverpool fail again and stop trolling us Arsenal fans.
    Paulinho. Don’t believe in your own hype. Ramsey is average and Xhaka is not as bad as you like to tell everyone.

    Trippier better than Bellerin. Not in my opinion and I really don’t rate Bellerin.
    Erickson or Alli better than Ozil, yea righto.
    Kane should be compared with Alba not Lacazette. Auba is His equal right now so let’s see what the end of season brings. Lacazette v Son. Now that’s not fair and Laca is far superior.

    The Keepers are equal and Spuds have better CBs but that is only because they had a better tactical plan NOT because they are better players. Dyer v Xhaka. Xhaka for me. Dembele maybe beats Torreira as Torreira hasn’t kicked a ball in anger.

    Pick the bones out of that little lot and convince everyone that the Arsenal are shit. If we hadn’t lost almost all our away games last season we would have been close to second. The act Wenger was tactically shot to shit. Did not help.

    Last season was our worst in more than 20 years. Let’s see if Emery and Kroenke can make the points difference to lift us into the top four again.

    I am optimistic.

  21. Andrew

    Your Comment Here
    Good article. It encapsulates well the reality of business investment and long term planning and sustainability. This is in stark contrast to the short term fix (financial doping) we often see at clubs that enevitably blows up in everyone’s face at some point.

    However, I anticipate most ardent fans will be concerned about the levels of internally generated player investment. How much can they spend on players? Which is increasingly seen as a measure of goodness.

    Even in a Profit and Loss / Balance Sheet / cash flow conscious business there are times when investing ahead of the curve is necessary to enable greater success.

    It is, I guess, the general feeling that those levels of investment we see at other clubs will never materialise at Arsenal because their Operating Model is one of sustainability. We only spend what we earn!