Ivan, Mind Your Foot With That Gun & Sad News
A prime example of Ivan Gazidis’ efficiency and strategies in the squad looks to be paying dividends. Getting Thomas Vermaelen fit and ready for action is key to meaning that Arsène’s attentions can turn elsewhere in the summer.
The Belgian is ready for a first team return which you would have thought, would begin with a substitute appearance at The Britannia this weekend followed by two matches against Villa and Fulham.
Gazidis also observed that the ‘ordinary fan’ is being priced out of football, a situation helped by the price rises at Arsenal. If the ‘ordinary fan’ is at much as risk as he believes, it begs the question as to whether or not the Arsenal model of self-sustainability, is in fact sustainable.
His view that it is driven by wages and transfer fees is an easy and dangerous accusation to make. Easy because there is an element of truth. Dangerous because Arsenal certainly perpetuate the wages by paying the young players in the squad very well.
But Arsenal perpetuate the model to stay competitive. The complaints are hollow as the club will not – and cannot – make a principled stand as it would end their competitiveness in all bar the Carling Cup.
The structure is good in that it promotes harmony as the differential between the pay bandings is not overwhelming, the mid-range and lower earners are not that far apart, preventing resentment.
Yet it does create a problem whereby it is difficult to move players on should the club wish to do so. It requires pay cuts to be taken which is sometimes not palatable to the ’employee’ in the same way it might be for you or I. Just because the sums are bigger, does not make a difference.
Certainly I interpret Gazidis’ words as a warning that this summer will not see the big signings so craved by many. Once more I would re-iterate that Wenger must sign who is right for the club not who is going appease the critics.
Sating the desires of the media is not a pre-requisite; ability is.
The CEO admits that the Arsenal Commercial Department has not been at the races when it comes to exploiting the Arsenal brand. Maybe they have been at the races rather than working which would go a long to explaining why Arsenal habitually lag behind their competitors in commercial revenues.
One point that is good to see him acknowledging is that the property revenues are finite and will not continue. The profit and loss account has seen the maximum benefit from this source already and whilst it is not unwelcome, the additional moneys generated from hereon in are going to be a bonus rather than an expectation.
Arsenal are trying to move away from relying on gate income as heavily as they do now. This is a good move in some respects although it would be naive to believe that Gazidis is actually talking of reducing ticket prices. His aim is to reduce the percentage of turnover from the 40-50% that it has been by increasing the total revenues rather than reducing money collected for tickets.
The concern is whether Arsenal’s policies are robust enough to cope when football no longer enjoys the prime slot that it currently does. Certainly compared to other clubs, Arsenal have been lucky. Outside of the top four, few are regularly putting the ‘Sold Out’ signs up at the Box Office.
Away from this, the extent to which luck can play a part in a season is overlooked. This link from @twistandshout on Twitter shows that had all of Arsenal’s shots which hit the woodwork been goals instead, the title would probably be celebrated this weekend at Stoke.
What might have been has never been so emphatically shown.
On that sad note, ’til Tomorrow.