Archive for July 6th, 2008


“Arsenal are a selling club…” everyone panic.

News men abhor a vacuum.  If a news vacuum temporarily occurs, they will report conjecture, innuendo, false translations, and sometimes even straight out lies to get people reading the newspapers again. Last night, News of the World printed a story which seems to have all four negative elements.

In an “exlusive” interview News of the World claims that Arsene told them that Arsenal’s strategy is to buy low and sell high, that Arsenal have to do this to pay for the stadium debt, that Klaas Jan Huntelaar is an Arsenal target, and that Usmanov can save the day.

First off, buying low and selling high is just smart business strategy.  As is using your debt to build your company. I know a lot of people out there wished it wasn’t so, but Arsenal (all football really) is a business.  They invested wisely in their stadium, turnover has increased, and in the long term the business outlook for Arsenal is very, very good.  Why do you think Usmanov is so eager to get his grubby, fat, fingers in our pie?  So, I cannot for the life of me understand why Wenger saying that we buy low and sell high in order to service our debts is a bad thing, unless you’re one of those people who thinks sport should not be a business.

What’s odd here is that strictly speaking, Arsenal aren’t a normal business: they don’t pay dividends, they aren’t really in it to make profits, and there’s a sense of history and love of their supporters that your typical business only wished that they had.  So, it’s not like they are buying low and selling high in order to line the pockets of their shareholders.  They are doing it to remain competitive in what is a drastically changed business atmosphere.  You’d think that would appease the anti-Sport-as-Business people, but no.  Some people won’t be happy until Arsenal buy every developed player in the world from the pocket of some rich guy who does it just for the love of the club.

Meanwhile, with Chelsea’s owner treating the club like an American Express card, Liverpool’s owners taking massive debts to buy the team, and Manchester United so insanely indebted that they can’t even pay off the interest on the debts that they owe I have to say that the Arsenal model is the only one that makes any sense.  Arsenal are using their debt wisely, they are capitalizing on the insanity of the market (£30m for Adebayor?  that’s nuts), and they are still playing competitive football.

So, even if what Wenger said is an accurate quote, who cares?  Arsenal have the quality to win both the Premier League and the Champions League; they were just a few horrible calls away from the Champions League semi-final and one horrific tackle away from the Premiership title.  So, who cares if they buy undeveloped players and sell them on for huge profits?

Now, will the team sell Adebayor?  Yes, if Barcelona offer £30m.  Will they use the money to buy Klaas Jan Huntelaar?  I rather doubt it.  For a week, I’ve been saying that if they sell Ade and Hleb they will bank the money.  Arsene keeps making it clear that he wants to develop the young talent of the team and given his track record, he will.  Think about the young players they have coming up through the ranks: Vela (£2.5m), Ramsey (£5m), Fran Mérida (£2m), Kieran Gibbs (free), Jay Simpson (free), Vito Mannone (>£1m), Håvard Nordtveit (£2m), Henri Lansbury (free) and Mark Randall (free).  With Wenger’s patient hand, he’ll turn those free players into Pounds Sterling. So, as much as I liked Klaas (before he started talking about how much he loves Man U), he doesn’t fit the business model and he doesn’t fit with Wenger’s love of developing young talent and watching them succeed.

And then, of course, as with any time Arsenal’s finances are mentioned, Usmanov’s name is dropped as the potential savior.  Arsenal don’t need saving and they don’t need nothing stole out of their coffers neither.  Usmanov is not the answer.

So, accurate or not, this is a non-news story and is just a stop along the way toward the real stories: will Ronaldo go to Real, and how much did Chelsea offer for Kaka?

Sigh… how long before the season starts up?


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