Friday, 19 September 2008

Arsenal - the best run club in the world

Morning all. Its been a turbulent few months off the football pitch for the business world, but it is perhaps worth taking stock of reports (The Times) that Arsenal are set to announce impressive financial results for the year ending on 31 May 2008, including turnover figures up over 12% to £225m, which generated a profit of over £50m.

It was rumoured over the summer that Arsenal's finances were not as steady as they could be, and that this was the explanation for AW's reluctance to go into the transfer market. However, these figures, along with Danny Fizman's confirmation in August that AW would be given whatever financial resources he asked for, show that the rumours of Arsenal's demise were somewhat premature.

This also confirms that whatever dealings AW makes on transfer activities, they are really his decision alone. I don't believe for a minute that the club has limited AW's activities on transfers. This is a stark contrast to other clubs who have someone in the "Director of Football" role, whatever that might be, such as Spurs (who have Damien Commolli), Chelsea (who have Frank Arnesen and Peter Kenyon) and the Toon (who bizarrely have Dennis Wise), who seem to be hell bent on undermining their managers' wishes as to transfers. We should all be thankful that the board of Arsenal Plc places sufficient trust in AW that it does not feel it necessary to have a Director of Football and long may that continue.

Whilst this is pure speculation, it may also explain why Arsenal have struggled somewhat to find a new Chief Executive, as the job is clearly mainly a commercial role with limited direct authority on footballing issues, on which AW makes all the decisions. You can therefore understand why someone who wants to meddle with the transfer activity would be reluctant to join.

Strong noises were made at the end of the Summer expressing their doubts that AW was still the man for the job at Arsenal. Whilst that debate may well still run on, I am happy to pin my colours firmly to the mast and say that the day we replace AW, Arsenal will almost certainly have to find two people to replace him - a first team coach and a director of football. Its a recipe that no-one seems to be able to work properly and I hope it doesn't ever happen to us.


K man said...

I don't think any of this is new. We have known that Arsenal are a well run club for ages (financial results have been good for the last couple of years) and Arsene makes the footballing decisions (he always has). The problem I think we have is that we cannot compete for the Premiership and Champions League titles while our rivals continue to add to their squad at a higher level to us (Man U - Berbatov; Chelsea - Deco). I think we now have to accept that we will continue to be a well run club but probably not challenging for these titles. Given the current economic climate that may be no bad thing. One other thought - these excellent financial results will only make us more attractive to a buyer. Just how long will Arsenal be able to avoid a takeover?

Ted said...

I agree we look attractive to a buyer, but as you well know, the answer to that question lies entirely with whether the shareholders will sell or not. I expect there is a story to run there.

However, I disagree that we cannot be competitive. We almost won something last year and I don't see any reason why will not be competetive again this year when it comes to trophies.

Can we match Chelsea and Man Utd's spending off the field? No. Can we beat them at football on it? Yes we can.

1979gooner said...

Interesting piece.

The director football role is a great example of how some people have copied others without thinking.

In England the 'manager' has traditionally overseen the coaching/training/tactics etc and done a lot of the management, having several coaches beneath them. Thus our manager has traditionally been nearer the director of football role.

Hence when English clubs combine a traditional English manager role with a director of football you have a recipe for absolute disaster, as both roles overlap so much.

For example Arsene could be renamed our 'director of football' and pat rice could be our 'manager', and if their names changed but their roles remained the same then we would be no differently off.

However if you have the 'manager' selecting the team and deciding on tactics, while the director is in charge of buying/selling then you have a recipe for disaster.

The blurring of roles and hence accountability is never good.

Ted said...

Nicely put 1979.

My other tuppence worth is that the rise of the idiot money-bags investor, who knows practically nothing about running or owning a football club (such as Mike Ashley, Daniel Levy or indeed, Roman Abramovich)has led to the rise of the Director of Football role.

Mr Idiot Money-Bags comes with their "advisors", who tell them that they cannot have two much power in one place - i.e. a manager with unfettered access to the bank account, hence you try and have a two person system as a means of checks and balance. Except human nature gets in the way, both believe they are the real boss, and they always fall out in the end.

In many ways, for non-idiot owners, the Chairman plays a more active role than signing cheques. PHW - the old school English Chairman of the Plc board is alive and well, makes appropriate noises when needed, and AW is happy to (conveniently) blame the board (no doubt with PHW's blessing) on salary negotiations - think of Cashley and Flamini being told "that's your lot, take it or leave it."

1979gooner said...

good point.

Ashley is a good example of the ultimate idiot in charge of a football club.

He clearly has no clue and I hope the price he gets for Newcastle plummets in the current financial climate.

K man said...

He's lost a ton of money on the collaps of HBOS's shares already and come back from the Middle East without a buyer.

I feel sorry for Newcastle fans but they are not making things any better by protesting and hurling abuse - why would anyone want to buy a club when they see that unrest...

I think the director of football role might work with the young managers coming through but not with the old timers used to doing everything. It works on the Continent but that is because that's the way clubs have been for years.