Last night’s Supporters Trust meeting has confirmed most Arsenal fans’ deepest fears about the current state and future of the, dare I say, once great club.
Arsenal find themselves in a position they have not known for the near two decades under Wenger’s tenure. They are out of all four competitions they strive to win each and every season. The Gunners are out of both the Carling and FA Cup competitions, they find themselves 17 points behind top of the table Manchester City in the Premier League and face an insurmountable 4-0 deficit to AC Milan in the Champions League.
It’s a travesty.
Football is a much worser place without a competitive Arsenal team and I say that not just as an Arsenal fan but a true lover of the beautiful game.
Regardless of who you support and whatever you feelings towards the club may be, no one can argue that Arsenal play the game the right way, and perhaps better than anyone else in football.
This philosophy as implemented by Arsene Wenger set the world on fire in his first decade or so with the club, but of late has failed to return any silverware.
Most Arsenal fans were lenient towards Wenger and his inability to produce acceptable results given the new approach of the team to generate financial profit and re-build through an approach to integrate and trust youth within the squad. That leniency has been stretched to it’s absolute end and 7 trophy less years later you can find but a small minority that still believe this is the way forward.
The easiest thing for people to do is to blame Arsene Wenger and that is exactly what the majority of the media, opposing fans and even Arsenal supporters have began to do. The media has been calling for his head for some time, the irrational supporters of opposition teams continuously make jokes about Arsenal’s barren run, but I never thought I would see the days when the consensus among Arsenal fans was to let go of the man that has taken the club to heights it had never seen before.
I am not going to sit here and list off what Wenger has done for the club nor am I going to try to convince those of you who disagree why he is so vital for the future of Arsenal Football Club because that is not what is important.
I will be the first to admit I have lost some of my faith in him and I think his stubbornness has hindered the progression of the team since it’s move to the Emirates but I do not see any good ridding the club of the one constant it has had over the duration of it’s golden years.
Let me make one point before I finish. Do not believe everything you see, everything your hear and everything you read. It is the easiest thing to blame the figurehead of the company, of the franchise, of the club. It takes no intelligence, it takes no awareness and it certainly takes no balls.
For those of you so quickly to jump on this particular bandwagon can we all try and do something that is perhaps the hardest thing for a passionate sports fan to do?
For those willing to do so read on, for those not, thank you for reading.
We, as passionate sports fans, are by nature, irrational. We are knee jerking, we are over sensitive creatures driven only by results.
What we need to do is separate the emotion from reality. It is by far the hardest thing for us to do, but it is by far the most important when truly assessing a situation.
The media largely do separate this, or at least you would hope they would, but they choose not to for the sake of selling newspapers or attracting website traffic. They are the last people to turn to.
Let’s separate emotion from reality within this crisis at Arsenal.
Yes the club has gone 7 seasons without a trophy and yes that is so far below satisfactory it can no longer be dismissed. No Wenger does not and has never spent big money in a transfer window to secure an elite player. Yes it is no longer in the best interests of the club to invest solely in youth and plan the future of the team around players that are several seasons off contributing at a level acceptable to the Arsenal Football Club.
As I said before, the easiest thing to do here is to blame Arsene Wenger. I give him some blame, but not nearly enough to contemplate moving away from the man.
It was clear to be, even before yesterday’s Trust meeting, that Arsenal’s ageing, ignorant, arrogant, stubborn board was the catalyst behind the steep regression of the club.
The board have a lot of money invested in the club and have put aside the on field success of the club to ensure their own financial gain off it. Necessary funds needed to sign players, offer contracts and attract sponsors have instead been used to buy holiday houses, luxury cars and increase their strange hold on a club that prides itself upon its morales.
Yes the club is still in debt following it’s move to the state of the art Emirates stadium, and it is wise to set aside a portion of revenue each year to help pay this off, but that is no reason to jeopardise the future of the club and it’s fan base because the board have become over paranoid and over selfish with money.
The board forced out David Dein because he was against this greed. He was Wenger’s closest ally on the board, he took care of transfers for Wenger and backed him up when the manager needed monetary decisions. The board saw him as a threat to their quest for selfish wealth and ensured he no longer stood in their way.
As for Stan Kroenke, well there needs to be said very little. He is the leader of this pack of ravenous wolves. He saw Arsenal purely as a way to make easy money rather than to help take the club to places it has never been before. The board voted in confidence of Kroenke over Usmanov because the Russian had a strong relationship with David Dein and feared this would lead to their downfall.
Many Arsenal fans are bewildered at the lack of involvement Kroenke has had with the club since he became the major shareholder, and I have no answers for that. All I know is that Usmanov is more than willing to give Arsenal the money and the devotion it needs to return to the pinnacle of football once again. Kroenke cannot and will not do the same.
Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, the latest to be exited from the board was too seen as a threat to their greed, as she was reported to be discussing the sale of shares with a member from Usmanov’s company, Red and White Holdings. The board has rejected cash injections from Usmanov on several occasions, fearing he will become the most influential member of the off field business and ruin the environment of selfishness they have created.
For those keeping tabs, the average age of Arsenal’s board is 70 years of age. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know right there then I am wasting my time. These men and women have no idea how to operate in today’s footballing climate and they have ensured a majority shareholder takes control of the club who shares their impassion for the club and their passion for sustaining personal profit.
Arsenal’s current sponsorship deals are a result of this poor management. They earn around 14 million pounds per year from Nike jersey advertising, whereas the lesser Liverpool earn 40 million pounds. I won’t even mention Manchester United or Barcelona. Off field commercials Arsenal brings in about 30 million pounds, whereas the Red Devils generate over 100 million. You see where I’m going.
Given the numbers offered by Arsenal, they should have around 60 million per year to spend on transfers and increasing salaries. They are, by their own reports, a growing club in terms of profit, so that should technically increase. That is including average player sales. How much of this is being spent? Not nearly enough. Has there ever been a time when Arsenal needs to spend the money more so than now? Absolutely not.
So hopefully you understood the points I was trying to make centred around the theme of this article.
As sports fans the last thing we want to and the hardest thing for us to do is to separate emotion from reality. Blaming Wenger is the tip of the iceberg in the reality that is the crisis of Arsenal. Please do not vent your anger at the man who has fought tooth and nail to ensure the club sustains the highest level of success it can under the business model that has been provided by his bosses.
They hide behind him and he is more than willing to take the blame. That is why it will take a lot more for them to fire him.
I cannot tell you the way out of this mess, because the club has dug itself into a hole that will take some time to climb out of. Unless there is a major change or personnel and/or business philosophy, it may not be possible for even me to keep emotion separate from the reality of the situation.