When Love Breaks Down
The club’s financial results remain firmly in the picture, this week will see the interim results published which includes the sales of Fabregas and Nasri. For once though, myths are being laid to rest. Arsenal does spend money; the net revenues from those two were spent bar £12m following the signings in August. How wise the investments were is a different matter.
Once more the issue of transfer funds is being clouded by cash balances. Few, if any, clubs pay the whole of a transfer fee up front. Most deals are structured like an HP agreement paid off over years. There is nothing new in this; indeed following the sale of Nicolas Anelka to Real Madrid, the next set of Arsenal accounts noted that the club had been caught up in the Galactico meltdown with the Spanish club missing a payment deadline and breaching the sale contract.
A key concern to emerge is whether or not the club will fall foul of Financial Fair Play (FFP). The loss of Champions League revenues cannot be underestimated. Currently, the estimate is £45m. Arsenal think this is a situation which can be carried in the short-term and indeed bluntly putting the loss of revenue in the frame is misleading; there are ancillary costs which will reduce as a consequence. For example, bonuses reduce, the same with stadium and travel costs to name but a few. It is the profit which will hurt most in the financial sphere and that is still a significant sum.
This is before we consider whether or not the club will actually fall foul of the FFP regulations. The headline losses over a period of time is well-known, it makes good, sensationalist copy. Provisions exist that show a flexibility to Uefa which signals that club’s are not going to be barred from participating unless there is a clear and present danger of financial collapse. That laymen have come to such conclusions tells you all you need to know; when lawyers get involved, kiss FFP goodbye.
A fuller summary is on the Arsenal Supporters Trust website.
The fundamental issue is the feeling that trust is lost between the supporters and club. That is a grand, sweeping statement and not representative of all views. Some will disagree, others varying along a ‘trust sliding scale’. Sometimes it manifests in seemingly peculiar instances, positively irrelevant issues blown out of proportion, for example the argument over attendance figures. Note that the club do not even speak of them any more.
Essentially, I wonder if the level of trust we believed was there, actually existed in the first place.
The AST serves an important function, alongside the AISA. Both represent the views of fans to the club; with issues such as ticket pricing, the consensus opinion is needed to be put forward and even the club are aware of the need not to price supporters out of the ground. Not that this is anything new.
When the North Bank Stand was needed under the terms of legislation, the Independent Arsenal Supporters Association, the forerunner of the independent supporters movement at Arsenal, received a letter from Peter Hill-Wood noting the concerns about ticket prices but that the board’s hands were tied by legal requirements. Expecting to stave off long-term increases is deceiving yourself, all the two can do is keep the pressure on the decision-makers to ensure they are aware of supporter feelings on the matter but don’t expect significant concessions.
At what point does a stand be made? Arguably if there were ever a time to do so, it would be now. On ticketing prices, I do not think there would be much opposition to a stand. Except nobody seems able to keep matters to a single issue in such circumstances; too often causes are hijacked with playing matters or become convoluted, lost in the maelstrom of demands.
How this sits with KSE or the board is another matter. There is an arrogance in the belief that they have to listen to us; it is as meaningless as the promises Arsenal make that the manager is accountable to supporters. In fact that latter comment by Ivan was infinitely more dangerous since it engendered a mistaken sense of entitlement. In some respects, Arsène is accountable to us but only in justification of performances.
The key aspect of managerial employment is out of supporters hands, rightly the sole responsibility of the club’s owners. And before anyone argues on that, remember the owners are the employers not the fan base. Can you imagine trying to get any consensus on that issue? The United Nations cannot find solutions to the multitude of bigger problems in the world…
And this is where fan organisations falter: when they observe that they represent the views of the support. Quite simply, when it comes to on the pitch matters, they cannot. It is too much of a broad church and cannot be subject to the same ‘democratic’ process as issues such as tickets and benefits. They cannot be; the only person who represents my views is me. I will find consensus with others on some issues but there will be a number of conflicting views as well. That is fine, it is how it should be.
Supporters need to unite on some issues but commenting on playing matters? We can’t even agree on the issues that we disagree about so that we can have a full-blown disagreement.
Prescient or coincidence? Arsenal On This Day is the end of days in 1995.