Arsene knows

Arsene Wenger 4th highest paid manager in world football and worth every pence

France Football released their list of the highest paid players and highest paid coaches in world football today and you might be surprised to learn that Robin van Persie did not make the list while Arsene Wenger is the fourth highest paid coach in the world. Alternately, if you have followed Arsenal for any time and have been moderately awake for the last 10 years then neither of those facts will surprise you but they might instead cause you consternation.

One would have to be intentionally obtuse to see Robin’s omission from the world’s top 20 highest paid players as anything other than a function of his career arc combined with Arsenal’s salary structure. There is no doubt that Robin is in the top 5 players in the world right now in terms of quality but the reason he’s not in the top 20 in terms of salary is down to the fact that in the years leading up to this, he spent far too much time injured to warrant a new contract.

Robin van Persie’s previous career high in terms of appearances came in 2008-2009 where he made 44 appearances and scored 20 goals. After the success of that season, van Persie signed a new contract with Arsenal. He then spent the next year and a half sidelined with various injuries, including a broken foot caused by Georgio Chiellini whilst playing for Holland in an international friendly. From June 2009 — when he signed his new contract with Arsenal — to January 2011, Robin van Persie would score just 11 goals for Arsenal in 30 total appearances.

We don’t know what could have been had Robin been healthy for that year and a half. Perhaps he would have scored 20+ goals a season in each of them and been rewarded last year with another, bigger, contract extension. What we do know is that he was injured, he wasn’t producing goals for his team, and that Arsenal had no logical reason to give him the bumper contract.

Until now.

Robin has emerged from his injury hell not only as one of the top footballers in the world but also as one of the best captains in world football. The power duo of Robin and his wife Bouchra deserve massive credit for Arsenal’s turnaround this season. If Arsenal secure fourth or third in the League this season, Robin and his wife deserve a share of the credit.

One final thought on van Persie: Arsenal should take note of some of the salaries on that table and especially the fact that they combine salary with endorsement deals. I know that Peter Hill-Wood said that for Robin “salary doesn’t matter” but if you’re a player and you see Kun Aguero earning £300,000 a week (£16m per annum) you might be disappointed if Arsenal come in with some ridiculous low-ball offer.

Unlike Robin van Persie, Arsene Wenger has been very consistent for the Arsenal board for 14 years running which at least partially explains why he is earning €9m - or £7.5m-  a year.

The temptation is to look at the names on the list of the top 10 football managers and wonder how Wenger is earning his keep when he “hasn’t won a trophy for six years.” After all, you see Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, and Sir Alex Ferguson on there, earning top dollar while winning trophies and it’s an easy association. But here’s the list:

  1. Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) €14.8m
  2. Carlo Ancelotti (PSG) €13.5m
  3. Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) €9.5m
  4. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) €9m
  5. Guus Hiddink (Anzhi Makhachkala) €8.6m
  6. Fabio Capello (England, formerly) €8.5m
  7. Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) €8m,
  8. Dick Advocaat (Russia) €7m
  9. Jose Antonio Camacho (China) €6.1m
  10. Roberto Mancini (Manchester City) €5.9m

If you ignore Pep, Jose, Ancelotti, and Fergie for a moment there are a number  of names on that list who haven’t won much in the last six years. Hiddink is seen as the savior of Chelsea and yet his only trophy for that team was the FA Cup. Capello won la Liga with Real Madrid in 2007 and his two previous trophies with Juventus were both revoked because of the Calciopoli scandal. And Camacho’s only trophy is that he won the Portuguese Cup in 2004.

I would argue that those teams are paying for how good they believe that coach to be and that in most cases the belief doesn’t match the reality. Capello, in particular, is easily the most overpaid manager on that list. For a guy whose job was to manage just a handful of games*, £7m a year is obscene.

With Wenger, though, those who are drawn to criticize the manager will point to his salary, the lack of trophies, and the poor performance in the early part of this season and will say things like “if I performed that poorly on my job, for that salary, I’d be fired!”

The problem with that criticism is that it doesn’t take into consideration all of the factors that are considered for Arsene’s pay package. For example, Wenger’s high salary is almost certainly tied to the fact that he is the most successful manager in Arsenal’s 125 year history, the fact that he has built that success on the back of a financial model which no other coach apart from Fergie could accomplish, and on the financial results he’s able to deliver to the club.

I don’t know too many people who could argue that Arsene isn’t the most successful manager in Arsenal history: two doubles, the Invincibles, 2 more FA Cups, 4 Charity Shields and 14 consecutive Champions League seasons leaves Arsene Wenger peerless among Arsenal managers. That leaves people with the last 6 years without a trophy to beat the man with. Which is fair enough as I’m sure Wenger would criticize himself for a lack of trophies over the last six years.

Wenger would, however, ask you to consider the context of those last six years. It’s been a period of growth for the club in terms of building a new stadium and a period in which the League has seen explosive growth in player salaries, transfers and in the cost of running a Premier League club. In that context, Wenger has been asked to operate the team with a limited budget and in fact, has been expected to turn something of a profit in order to help pay down the stadium debt.

Arsenal’s financial results are well known and freely available for you to download so I’m not going to cover that ground once again. I would just like to point out that operating profit from football (excluding player trading, exceptional items, and depreciation) was £56.8m in 2010 and the profit from player sales in 2010 was £38.1m. 2011 saw a dip in profits from football to £45.8m and in profit from player sales to a measly £6.8m. You can go back through all of the years of Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal and you’ll see similarly strong financial results: the fact is that Wenger’s system of football and his transfer nous delivers massive profits to the club. Arsenal supporters often get bogged down in deals like the one which brought Park Chu-Young to the club and cost a possible £6m when the deals they should be talking about constantly are the ones that saw Adebayor, Toure, Clichy, and Nasri sold to Man City for insane profits.

So, what do you pay a manger who not only fields a team which is competitive on most fronts (they beat Barcelona in the Champions League last year) but who also delivers massive profits to the board in player sales and in gate receipts? I don’t know but if you just look at player sales between 2010 and 2011 and divide it by his annual salary of £7.5m, he’s paid for 7 years of his own salary just in player sales — in those two years alone. And that was before the debacle of this summer with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

There are more complicated metrics by which you can measure how valuable Arsene Wenger is to the team and the club. For example, Zach Slaton’s M£XI metric suggests that Arsene Wenger is one of the top performers in the Premier League in terms of squad costs** per point. If M£XI is correct then Wenger is not only performing in terms of profits for the board but also in terms of getting maximum value from the players he uses on the pitch in terms of points per game.

So, what do you pay a manager like Arsene Wenger? The guy who is the most successful manager in the history of the club both on the pitch and in the board room? £7.5m doesn’t seem like a stretch at all.

In the end, the issue of Robin van Persie and Arsene Wenger’s relative salaries is not going to go away any time soon. I suspect that for some the arguments I have laid out here will be nothing more than brickbats for which to beat the manager, the team, the club, and the board. But for me, I see the logic why each is paid what they earn.

Oh… and one last thing: please, pay Robin whatever he wants. There’s nothing wrong with a little illogic every once in a while. As they say, “all things in moderation, even moderation.”

*I’m fully aware of a national manager’s other responsibilities: watching to games, learning English, giving interviews three times a year, doing stuff for the whole national team set up. It must have been very taxing — especially when you consider that a real football manager does all that, plus manages 50+ games a year.
**Most people use the Soccernomics model of salary v. League position, Zach’s model uses squad value instead and it’s intriguing in the results he shows. Read the entire article and look at his back catalog if you have the time. Full disclosure, Zach and I are supposed to do a joint article on this topic which I was hoping to have out before the France Football list of top earners but which was sidelined.

71 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger 4th highest paid manager in world football and worth every pence

  1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Djofils

    Just a quick comment. I LOVE YOU (No Homo) for writing such an amazing peace of post. In Arsene We Trust

  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Frode

    Regarding the Van Persie contract situation I found this blog interesting:

    Explaining a study of wage structure in Italian clubs it says: “The authors estimate that if a team changes from everyone being paid the same wage of €600k pa (the average in their sample) to a superstar earning €1.5m pa and everyone else in the team getting €510k, the chances of the team winning a game falls by 20 percentage points. That’s almost as big an effect as having to play every game away from home.”

    I have been critical of our wage structure because I haven’t really seen any evidence suggesting it works, but this study is very interesting in that respect. The cost of inequality is potentially huge, so in that light, what amount of pay is really acceptable for Robin?

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @Frode, Agreed. Think of it terms of any working office. Sure, there are some pay disparities, but when those disparities become extreme, those on the lower end of the scale naturally become more despondent and less productive, feeling (often quite rightly) that their either being under-valued or simply abused.

  3. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

    Mother of God. You appear to be lauding Wenger and justifying his salary partly because of the amount of money he makes for his employers.

    Dont you see that very issue is the heart of the lamentable lack of ambition at the club?

    Because Arsene makes money for his bosses, he is insulated from any pressure from above. They dont give a toss if we never win anything. Just that they get richer.

    The fans, on the other hand, dont care how rich they get, as long as we win something. Yes we all know that in the disgusting capitalist model that governs football, the bean counters will, with justification, point to making money as a measure of success.

    But Aresenal is the ONLY club where many of the fans have bought into a corrupt immoral and downright evil philosophy. At every other club, applauding this greed is good vicotry would end in the offices of the bean counters.

    The fans at any other club would be asking ‘but what has he done for usto justify the salary’. But because of the manages cult, many fans will simply be punching the air because their beloved frenchman is getting richer and richer at the same time as his bosses.

    At the same time, not a single trophy emblem has been added to the Emirates since we took up residence. Arsenal as Londons top club has been allowed to perish with the demolition of Highbury, while a Frenchman and some Americans get rich.

    Im glad this makes you happy.

    1. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Ugh. Where to even start with this ill-informed mess?

      I did laugh at “downright evil philosophy” though.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        Its all right to disagree. But please point out one place where my comment is ‘illinformed’.

        Its up to you if you want to disagree with me, but you comment is purely a throw away insult, instead of engaging with the point. Again, if you dont want to engage with it, its no skin of my nose. But your comment is just facile.

      2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        Meh. None of your opinions were backed up with any evidence, either. I’ve seen a lot of throwaway comments in the last many years about how our board is corrupt, but nothing to back it up, and certainly nothing that suggests our club operates with any more or less a “capitalist” model than any other. The only thing that distinguishes our club from other top clubs is its commitment to self-sustainability, which aggravates some, but it’s certainly not “evil.”

      3. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        What kind of evidence do you need? We may not have access to the books, but we know enough to see how the club is run. We are a club who has refused investment from one of the richest men in the world and who is owned by the 10th largest landowner in the States, married to the Wallmart billions. And yet we see no investment. – oh apart from the investment screwed from the fans that is, who, I might add, are not as well off as the Kroenkes and Usmanovs of this world. So the mega rich are happy to see money being paid in, as long as its not their money.

        So for the record, in my opinion, the committment to ‘self-sustainability’ is a hoodwink, a con and as close to evil as a financial policy can be. It means the share price stays high in the short term beause our coffers stay healthy be selling players and not paying top wages. If they believed in true ‘self-sustainability’, they would, at the very least, bridged the gap until 2014, when many of our sponsorship contracts are up for renewal. Champions leage means big contracts. No champions league means no big contracts. 2014 will decide the future of our club in the medium term. The so-called ‘custodians’ have done nothing whatsoever to convince me, or anyone else, that they are up to meeting that challenge. So we will see where ‘self-sustainability’ (and indeed Stan Kroenke )is in two years. My bet is they sell up. If not, to keep the self-sustainability lie in place, we will be flogging Jack to Wileshere.

        Perpahs corrupt is too strong a word for it – sharp practice possibly, as I suppose we have no reason to expect anything but disintrest from these people. But as sure as hell the club is being run for the benefit of the owners only. They hide behind Wengers popularity with the fans, but even that is being stretched.

      4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        Oh dear jove, this is dull. The thing about conspiracy theories is they aren’t falsifiable. How convenient for you.

        I’m having trouble separating the cliches from actual thought. Can we at least agree that if I’m facile, then you’re a giant bore regurgitating crisis columns from the last six years of red-top copy?


    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Dick Swiveller


      External pressure is far easier to deal with than internal pressure imo, did Wenger on the sidleines last season (when our Cl place was pretty much assured) look like a guy who was thinking ‘I’m so glad I don’t care about any of this as I’m making my money and we can all laugh at these red-and-white clad morons who think we’re actually running a sports team’? If you can answer yes to that question, I’d advise a lesson in body language, if it’s no then I think I’ve made my point.

      I’m not exactly punching the air on the habitual capitulation of my team, but given a reversal in that trend and a different mixture of scary talent and calm experience that seems to be working, I think most people are a little more optimistic and can see the light at the end of the tunnel; he may not have earned his 7.5m every year but looking forwards he’s given us a hell of a base to work with.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        @Dick Swiveller,
        Please dont get me wrong on this. Whatever my opinion on Arsene staying or going, I didn’t write this to have a go at him. I don’t think for one minute that Arsene is ‘laughing all the way to the bank’, and your are very astute to point to his body language as evidence of this. The very opposite in fact.

        My point is that, because he is keeping his bosses rich, they leave him alone when it comes to imposing pressure. I think you are absolutely spot on – most intelligent, conscientious people will, in the absence of pressure from above, put pressure on themselves to succeed. And this may be one of the side issues – because there is no declared aim, other than to finish 4th, Arsene has created for himself a challenge to ‘create a winning team against the odds’. This, as we have seen, is just not possible. If the club functioned properly, Arsenes targets would be dictated to him, and, in some ways, this might make his life easier. A very good spot on the body language, and something that is not made enough of.

        But that is not really the point here. The utterly ludicrous love/hate of the manager detracts from the issue. And, quite simply, based on this article, I would have to challenge the tone of congragulations. And that is for the simple reason that making the owners and the club wealthy should not be anything other than an after-effect of a winning team. No fan worth their salt should ever take that into account when weighing up their manager, except, as I say, as an incidental after-effect of on-the-pitch glory. For some Arsenal (or should I say Arsene fans) this has become their last refuge. This is not to have a go at Arsene Wenger. Because this is not, never has been, and never will be, about Arsene WEnger as an individual. It is about a manager of the mighty Arsenal, whoever that might be, who has gone 7 years without winning a trophy. In my book, unless he managed to cure cancer in those 7 years, he cannot, with that record, be seen to be worth that kind of money in the latter part of his reign.

      2. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author


        “No fan worth their salt should…”

        Loving a football club is like loving a wife; no one else gets to tell you how to do it.

        Everton fans have put up with 10 years of David Moyes who has only even got them to the big dance twice (FA Cup and Champions League) and never won a single trophy.

        Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has provided the best football that Arsenal have ever played, 7 major trophies, 4 minor trophies, and 14 uninterrupted years of Champions League football. Oh, and the Invincibles. You will never see a team go 49 games unbeaten the the Premier League ever again.

        In the last seven years he has fallen short in terms of silverware but not in other metrics: in the metric of getting the best from the team he can afford, Wenger is among the very best if not the very best in world football.

        He is worth every penny of £7.5m. To me. And I count as much an Arsenal supporter as you to.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      @Sleepinggiant, you didn’t read the whole article where I say his salary is a combination of many factors, including the one where he makes money for the club.

      But if you’re anti-capitalism then that’s fine. So ve it, nothing I will say will change your mind that that ship has sailed and that football is now a global business, with a global audience, and run by global capital.

      I am curious, though, about the odd xenophobic attack on Stan Kroenke and Arsene Wenger. To date, the only people who have gotten rich from Arsenal are David Dein, Lady Nina, Danny Fiszman, and the other members of the board who owned stock before Dein brought in Kroenke and Usmanov to fight over the price of Arsenal’s shares and thus drive the price up to the point where they would be multi-multi millionaires for doing almost nothing other than shaking hands and hiring Arsene Wenger.

      Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has earned his keep and the Kroenk has put a massive amount of his own money into buying the club. From all accounts, Kroenke hasn’t taken a single dime from Arsenal FC.

      I don’t know, but it looks like your xenophobia is preventing you from seeing clearly who the real villain was here.

      1. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        Firstly, there is nothing remotley ‘xenophopic’ about calling an American an American and a Frenchman a Frenchman. There is nothing in any way pejoritive, even in this day and age about using somebody’s nationality to describe them. The point is made to show that both owner and manager originated a long way from the once great highbury Stadium that is now destroyed. The staduim where Arsenal used to win things. Get a grip. This mealy mouthed half accusation is borderline offensive. I am not, in case you are wondering, English myself.

        Secondly, we all know that football is a ‘business’, but by lazily throwing this at me, you show that you have not read my comment. There is nothing wrong with making a profit. But when a football club is being praised for paying a manager whose sole success over the last 7 years has been to make a profit, then there damn well is something wrong. Because football clubs employ accountants, chief executives and money men to make profits. Even in this day and age, the football manager is employed to take care of the football success. In my humble opinion, Arsene Wengers spectacular financial success has led him to take his eye off the ball in his real job. I dont blame him for that, just the absentee landlord who doesnt give a damn as long as the share price remains high. Whatever way you look at it, it does not do the fan any good to see another hefty balance sheet, or massive paycheque for a 7 year trophiless manager being paraded, when all we get is a team who cannot win. This is not to say Arsene Wenger is at fault or a bad manager. The point is that this is a hell of a dubious way for a fan to have his manager judged.

        And by the way, for a generally excellent and well informed blog (even if I dont always agree), how can you make the ridiculous assertion that Kroenke has not profited from this? As long as the net worth of the club is expanding, his net worth is expanding. For somebody keen to point out some of the facts of capitalism, you should be aware that not all wealth is what is liquid and in the palm of your hand. Arsenal is a goldmine for Kroenke. I am a little perplexed why you try to obscure that fact.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        @Sleepinggiant, it’s xenophobic because you single the Frenchman and the American(s) out for being the greedy party when it’s actually the English men and women on the board who are the only ones to have ever cashed out a dime in stocks, thus taking money from the club.

        I read your comment and I completely disagree with every aspect of it: from the casual xenophobia to the condescending to tell us how to support the club.

        And finally, Kroenke’s wealth is tied to a great number of things, one of them is Arsenal. I can see your point that Kroenke’s shares in Arsenal have been inflated through his latest acquisition and thus his “net worth” has risen, though.

        Basically, Kroenke’s battle with Usmanov has driven up the share price for Arsenal and I suppose if you want to count that as him being richer, you could. But the only ones who have actually directly benefited (i.e. cashed out) from those inflated stocks are David Dein, Lady Nina, Danny Fiszman, and the other English members of the board who owned the old club’s shares: what Peter Hill-Wood once called “dead money”.

        As for whether or not WE have enriched Kroenke? I would completely disagree. Most of the enrichment of Arsenal happened between 1996 and 2006. Unless we start winning the Champions League year after year, there’s not much growth left in this club. And I can’t see Arsenal winning Europe over and over when we are competing against 10 teams which spend money that Arsenal will never have.

        You know what? Maybe we will. But if we do, it’s going to take a manager like Arsene Wenger, someone who is fiscally conservative and who gets the absolute top value (on the pitch) for the players he buys, to do it. Because we will never have money that teams like Man City have at their disposal.

      3. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant


        Against my better judgement, I am going to defend myself against your xenophobia accusation, because this is becoming a serious matter.

        The Frenchman mentioned is Arsene Wenger. He is included only because the whole article is based on his status as the 4th highest paid manager in the league and the question whether he is being paid over the odds.

        The American mentioned is Kroenke, who, whatever you say, is the powerbroker behind the club. They are the two parties most relevant to the matter under discussion. However, if it will somehow lift this smokescreen of xenophobia which you are using instead of making an argument,then perhaps I should include the other American (Gazidis) the Englishmen (Hill-Wood and company) as greedy sods. But I doubt it will, because there’s nothing new-media types like better than to try and hang somepoor fool who strayed onto their blog out to dry. I say again, there is nothing xenophobic in any way to describe somebody by their nationality. I will say no more on this matter. I personally couldn’t care less if you as an individual consider me xenophobic or anything else, but it is a poor show, a really poor show, to make accusations such as this online.

        The rest of your reply is bewildering. So you think Kroenke bought Arsenal for the good of his health? If your figures are correct, then he will simply have seen an upward trend in share value, said ‘Ill have some of that’ and hopped on the bandwagon. For the record, the recent share purhcases valued the club at over 1 billion! While there are caveats to such things, I would imagine that is damn near double its value when Kroenke bought it. Its certainly significantly mor than its value at the time. And are you kidding me that there is no growth left in Arsenal? What? I doubt there is a football expert on earth who agrees with you. In fact, if there is a single club with more untapped potential on earth I would be surprised.

        Your last line also….we will never have money that teams like man City have…… I think you would have said the same about Chelsea, PSG and Malaga And who is that Usmanov pauper who wants to buy the club? Whether its a good thing or not is for another day. But it is an undeniable fact that we are the one club who could join the mega money brigade in the morning. I think its a very strange move indeed to write the possibility off.

      4. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        @Sleepinggiant, Ivan Gazidis was born in Johannesburg South Africa and he went to primary school from aged 4 in Manchester, UK. He also graduated from Oxford.

        Ivan Gazidis is a South African.

        Usmanov has nominally more wealth than Kroenke, though it is entirely tied to his continued good graces with the Russian government.

        That said, there are rich guys out there who could rival the money that City spend. Sure, you’re right. Carlos Slim from Mexico comes to mind.

        For the time being, however, and for the time covered in this article, there were no such people.

        Talk to you later.

    4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerDave

      Sleepinggiant -
      Like it or not, we need financial success to grow and to compete. Our board took no divedends either, so although the money wasnt spent on players, at least its still ours!
      Calling the policy of the club corrupt and evil is silly.
      We need trophies though, we really do. Id like to see us being more competitive in the CL and also for the full duration of the domestic season.
      Go and read the accounts. The money available to the manager was far less than we all thought.
      We play great football, have a nice big, new stadium, state of the art facilities, top youth set-up etc.etc. We are primed for an assault in the PL, either next season or the season after.
      Im unhappy that we have no trophies too. Every Arsenal fan is.
      But Arsene Wenger is worth his weight in gold.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        Hey I know we need financial success to grow and compete. But its not quite so simple as taht. Our club seems geared to finanical success at the expense of footballing success. Praise Wenger if you like. Marvel at what he has done. But for the love of everything, dont praise him for making the club and owner rich. A winning team would take care of that. Investment would take care of that. But our club seems to think that making a quick buck(.ie the giveaway of Fabregas), the short term money in the bank solution, is worth it. A smaller profit in the short term will pay out a hell of a lot more in the long term if we keep our best players.

        So, if Arsene wins the leage next year and the champions leaguthe year after AND we are still making money for the owners THEN praise him. But at the moment, it seems like only the clubs heirarchy are benefitting.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

        @Sleepinggiant, The club is geared towards financial stability and success on the pitch may or maynot come as a result. No financial stability and we loose our ‘edge’ that separates from all the other clubs and keeps us competitive.

      3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1craig

        While it seems like plenty of people have addressed you, I did want to point out the disingenuous nature of your arguments.

        Repeatedly you start out in a reasoned manner, and then throw in ridiculousness:

        “the giveaway of Fagbregas” as an example of the club trying to make a quick buck. This is ludicrous. The club could have made twice as much by selling him to anyone else. Of all the bizarre claims about Fabregas’ sale, I’ve never seen anyone try to say it was to profit the board/shareholders/Wenger before.

        “football clubs employ accountants, chief executives and money men to make profits” – which conveniently ignores that the manager decides who to buy and who to sell, and plays a large role in how much to pay… making it impossible for him not to be involved the profit or losses.

        “Arsenal as Londons top club has been allowed to perish with the demolition of Highbury, while a Frenchman and some Americans get rich” – you threw in an irrelevant fact – Wenger’s nationality in no way changes his role or deeds for the club. You clearly were trying to use the fact of his and others’ nationality to slander them by tying it to an emotional event.

        And then of course, your entire opening statement was ridiculous, inflammatory, and offered no factual grounding. Calling out the way others argue, when you take such liberties with reality, is pretty ridiculous.

      4. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Sleepinggiant

        Ok, I will try to be brief. We simply couldn’t have made more money on Fabregas. HE wouldnt have gone to anyone else except Barcelona. The club should have called their bluff and said no. End of story. Fabregas had years on his contract, we keep on hearing that we dont need to selll, so we shouldnt have sold him. Never mind the rhetoric of an unhappy player. Better an unhappy player than no player at all. This was an astonishing move, both in terms of the timing and the fee. In my view the ill will towads Nasri concealed all of this. Truth is, we had to sell Nasri, but equally we had to keep Nasri, particularly given the derisory fee we were offered.

        Your next point is entirely wrong. It may be that different managers get involved in transfers to different degrees, but there is not a single commentator who will disagree that Wenger has unparalleled influence over transfers. In my opinion this is unhealthy, both for the club and the manager.

        The nationality of the individuals does not slander them. My point was that these people are making a lot of money out of a club which was formerly pretty much the only football club in the city, at the same time when it is struggling on the pitch. These people proably grew up without knowing anything about Arsenal, and the net result is they might not suffer the same shame when they see us being left in the dust by another club from our city. If thats emotive, well hell, tough! Its not slander and certainly not, as sombody else is disgustingly accusing me, xenophobic.

        And I’m really sorry but I cant even remember my opening remarks.

        One final thing, none of this is being disingenous in any way. These are my views. Thats all. Take them or leave them. But I’ll tell you this – as sure as you are of your views, I am just as certain of mine.

      5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

        @Sleepinggiant, Would you honestly have forced both Cesc and Nasri to stay? I, for one, am more than happy that both are out the door (one with somewhat warmish wishes, the other with none at all). After the initial shake-out, we’ve come back stronger and sharper than we ever would’ve been with those two moping around (and one of them the Captain, at that!).

        If, as you’ve argued, you want to ignore (or at least play down) the financial aspect of things, then you have to admit, not insisting on the full-value of Cesc and Nasri worked out quite well for us in the end.

      6. Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerDave

        I dont really see how my comment marvelled at Wenger, but its open to interpretation. I certainly admire him a lot, respect him and am grateful for his hard work.
        Why do you think we have a God given right to win all around us once we invest? What if we spend heavily and dont win? Surely it makes more sense to build from the bottom. If we have our finances in order, then invest, we can at least try again and again. Your method really only gives us one chance, and in the face of mega money clubs which we can never compete with financially.
        Sometimes I wonder if the split between all of us Gooners is simply down to patience V impatience.
        The best things come to those who wait.

  4. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ogban

    RVP will be rewarded with a huge deal, I’m sure. But he should remember we stood by him all these years. We want him to lead the Arsenal trophy assault which kicks off next season.

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1TSAVO LION

    first its not fair to compare rvp’s wages with that of a mercenary like aguero,rooney would be more appropriate.people maligned rooney 4 rejecting bad deal but we have to remember that like rvp this season,he carried man u throughout 2010,also all the money he was demanding is made through football by the teams performance on the pitch and not by some truck drivers in moscow/dubai so he had every right to demand a fair deal.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      @TSAVO LION, I thought about Rooney but the reason Rooney’s money is so high is because of endorsement deals. Kun doesn’t get nearly the endorsements that Rooney does.

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Sam

    Unbelievable!!! Value for Money – I mean football value, Beckham must be with the lowest ratio.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

      @Sam, Beckham’s value goes beyond the pitch. He’s a marketing dream for his team, MLS, overseas tournaments and his team did win the league title.

      How does a FB (Lahm) rate making this list. Bayern Munich’s hierarchy (Rummenigge) always has something critical to say about other teams finances. Lahm is a decent player but he is not driving the good ship Bayern to any titles.

      Dario Conca ?

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Sam

    Dario Conca – Haven’t heard of him at all Surprising to see him in the top 20.

    What would Cesc be earning in his boyhood club ?

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    Tim, one of your respondees should really, really read the “rangerstaxcase”! Where an owner spent millions in order to win the European Champions League. Of course, Glasgow Rangers went from paying wages of £280.00 per week in the middle ’80′s to £30,000 per week for several players. Glasgow Rangers won 9 Scottish Premier League titles on the trot in the 90′s and many other trophies. Glasgow Rangers in Europe were a make up the numbers team! Glasgow Rangers are now “bust”.

    Portsmouth ? bankrupt, Leeds United – bankrupt, Plymouth Argyle ? – bankrupt. Swansea ? were bankrupt and now doing very well indeed.

    Thanks to ФК Зенвт and Андрей Сергеевич Аршавин and their versions of the transfer to The Arsenal, I know 2 sides of the story BUT I do not have the full Arsenal version!

    Tim, football transfers were bad enough with the Football Manager and the serf. Arshavin’s former agent was playing both ends against the middle, with Tottenham in particular, Chelsea and The Arsenal. This character, Denis Lakhter an Israeli, was employed by Arshavin to facilitate his transfer to the West. Needless to say Ken Friar was not amused and both sides resolutely spoke to the player alone. Lakhter was looking for €5 millions for himself, out of the transfer fee!

    Too many bloggers actually know very little about the machinations of the players’ representatives! As for the finances, how many supporters manage their own financial affairs?

    There are many foolish people in the football fraternity, only too willing to spend their money on “useless trophies”.

  9. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    We should all be amused that Metro still thinks Crashley is still an Arsenal player:

    They do get it right in the text. They also made no mention of Darren Bent.

    Muamba is off the ventilator and communicating which are all great signs at this point. The cardiologists will need to get to the bottom of why he had a cardiac arrest in order to prevent it from happening again.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @ctpa, I swear, I want to fly to England just to introduce my daughter to his son. That lad has some serious never-say-die DNA I want propagated in my line. Good on Fabrice. I hope he makes a full recovery after this. What a story that would be!

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ace

    “fact that he has built that success on the back of a financial model which no other coach apart from Fergie could accomplish,…”
    im disinclined to concur with that statement Tim.even fergie can’t accomplish what wenger achieved. Apart from that blip, top draw post once again.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      @ace, I mention that because Fergie’s success per pound spent is actually very good. If I remember right, he’s better than Arsene.

      Please don’t kill me!

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Little Tripoli

        @Tim, The one time Arsenal’s playing costs came close to United’s in the last 14 years was during the invincibles season. They’ve had an advantage of about 15-20% each season since we moved to the Emirates. though, we’ve been coming fourth and they’ve been winning titles, so depending on how you measure success per pound spent, you could be right. My theory is that Chelsea and abrahamovich crowded out Arsenal (and Liverpool, and anyone else before Citeh) as credible recurrent challengers). And the economics of the wider European game dictated that as soon as Arsenal, Liverpool, or (this year) Tottenham threatened those two, their were denuded – check out Arsenal ’08 vs two years later and Liverpool ’09 versus ’11. It’ll be fun watching Tottenham keep hold of Modric, Bale and Adebayor.

    1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      @xJane, Sorry, I thought Bouchra’s role was well known. Basically, she helps organize events for the other WAGS and helps build community in the team. From what I’ve read, Robin leads in the dressing room and she leads in a dressing gown.

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    Cheers Tim, good article, no arguments. The biggest surprise for me is how ‘low’ SAF is on that list. I’d have expected him to be above Wenger, for sure. Richer club, been there longer, won more. Interesting.

    A lot of the other names there are from the new moneybeds in football – PSG, Man City, China, Machakalacha. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Malaga, etc. not too far behind. This as opposed to ‘older’ football powerhouses like Bayern Munich, the Italian teams, Liverpool.

  12. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

    Great discussion and great post today.

    Sleepinggiant highlights the most important gap that currently exists between the club and the fans, and he is right. The club’s priority is profits. The fans care about winning and ‘dreaming’. The club cares about winning, play quality, etc. only to the point that it helps them in delivering profits. If the product is bad, they will be less profitable and valuable. This doesn’t make them evil. It’s just that they will not prioritize winning and the love of football, signing the occasional irrational signing, etc over profits. It’s run like a business. All teams care about money of course, but most not to the level of Arsenal. The real problem is that nobody would care if they were winning. The podium is not as sexy as winning, but the incremental investment needed to go from 3rd to 1st is huge, and it’s one that the club is not willing to make. (i.e. the ROI isn’t apealing to spend that extra money). This goes back to hignlight that their priorities are different than the average fan’s.

    This has both pros and cons. Try to see the whole picture. The opposite of this model are teams with rich sponsors (City, Chelsea, AC Milan, and now PSG) or teams to whom the basic rules just don’t apply (Barcelona, Real Madrid, ManU). No other team can carry the level of debt of those last 3 and get away with it.

    On another note, Tim has a very unique and ‘american’ concept of xenophobia and racism. I hope saying that doesn’t make me a xenophobe :-)

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author


      Another way to put it is that Arsenal prioritize the future, while fans prioritize the present. Hell, as evidenced here, some fans don’t even seem to care about the past.

      Unique doesn’t mean wrong. The guy threw their nationalities into that sentence as a slam on them, there was no other contextual reason for mentioning them as “non-English” except to tar them with their nationality.

    2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Little Tripoli

      @T-Town, Me, I think you mischaracterise the debate – it’s not between “love of football” and profits. It’s between sustainability and using stolen money to buy results. It’s between some nominal feeling of community, and your club becoming an oligarch’s plaything. I think the current board has a greater love for the club and what it means than any kind of sugar daddy* who’ll give us £40m a year so we can buy Aguero. The day Usmanov comes in and starts spraying around his Uzbeki cash is the day I renounce my season ticket and start following AFC Wimbledon.

      *Sir John Hall, Joe Louis, Peter Coates et al obviously excepted. They wouldn’t be able to afford that kind of investment these days anyway.

  13. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

    Regarding Arsene’s salary, I think you all are asking the wrong question. It’s not whether we think he is worth it or not. It’s whether his employers think he is worth it, and if they are paying it. They obviously do. And if you wonder why, it’s obviously because ‘winning trophies’ is NOT what they expect him to do, otherwise he’d be fired. He is doing great at many other things that Tim highlights. That is obviously what is expected of him, and he is happy with his role.

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

    Now the fun video game question:
    Imagine (God forbid) that Arsene dissapears. Who do you pick to manage THIS Arsenal team, given current players, board, Kroenke, players, and most importantly priorities?
    Mourinho does not fit the job. Guardiola maybe? AVB maybe? Hiddink maybe?
    I am personnaly impressed by Atl. Bolbao’s coach as well as Dortmund’s coach.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1hrandjt

      @T-Town, Apart from those already mentioned there is Arsene’s chosen successor Dragan Stojković. I wouldn’t be unhappy with AVB either.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    Tim, I am puzzled by this:

    “The challenge is that for the 70% of the players in the Premier League for which a transfer fee is paid, a wage cannot be paid until a transfer fee has been agreed upon.”

    This is, if I may say, akin to that character who had a lot to type earlier.

    ALL players are paid before a transfer is even contemplated, so why distort the theory of the model?

    I will dig deeper, as this was a reply to a question on wages in the scope of the model.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

        @Tim, Tim, I have checked Zack’s articles:
        Soccernomics Was Wrong: Why Transfer Expenditures Matter, and How They Can Predict Table Position and


        The quote at the outset of this post noted that the Soccernomics wage model accounted for 89% of the variation between wages and finish position, while the MSq£ model accounts for nearly 70% of the variation between MSq£ and finish position. A stronger relationship to wages makes sense. Players’ contracts can be renegotiated or extended to account for improvement or degradation in play since they initially arrived, while the CTPP data used to generate the MSq£ data is a static value that only changes based on overall transfer market conditions and not an individual player’s performance after the transfer. Nonetheless, a transfer must take place before anyone can negotiate wages or play a game for the new team and begin to generate data for “relative contribution” metrics. Paying for transfers is a pre-requisite for getting the talent a team hopes contributes to superior finishes on match day. Combine this with the uncertainty in obtaining reliable wage data versus more public transactions in the transfer market, and a compelling case can be made to look at transfers first and conclude they are the price-of-entry to having a shot at Premier League success. Once a player has been purchased, wages or utilization metrics are better suited to diagnosing actual performance versus expectations.

        Again this rather unusual comment! I have read 2 of his articles and am still looking for the third article!

        I am beginning to understand what he is trying to achieve, but that particular sentence is making me question the validity of the model. As Zack explains salaries for the starting XI are only murky, I would say opaque!

        The Portsmouth administrators’ letter to creditors, has a wealth of information on the then high-earning Pompey players!

  16. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid


    Merely wanted to keep you honest and clarify a few things which were incorrectly stated above.

    1) Usmanov is among the top 30 Richest men in the world with over 18B in value.

    2) His money is not due to Russian largess but is heavily invested in steel, telecom and is one of the largest shareholders in Google.

    3) He is worth more than Kroenke and Abramovich combined.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author


      He’s still a massive patron of Russia. His group Metalloinvest lost nearly 8bn in 2008 and that nearly dropped him from the billionaire’s list. The Russian state has since propped him back up. Here’s his bio from Forbes:

      “Alisher Usmanov is Russia’s richest citizen for the first time. The gap may widen when Facebook goes public. He has a stake in the social network, as well as in Zynga and Groupon, through DST Global, the ­investment firm he bankrolled. The vast bulk of his fortune is still held in iron ore and steel producer Metalloinvest, which got a boost in 2011 when it refinanced its debt. He also owns the biggest Russian business daily, Kommersant and has a stake in the second largest cell operator Megafon.”

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1Zax

    Great post, Arsense deserves every penny he gets…to have kept us at the top table in this age of ‘financial doping’ for 14 years is a achievement that we should all be proud of.

  18. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1BCS

    Thanks for a very interesting post – no arguments here (you had enough from sleeping giant).

    I love your line, “Loving a football club is like loving a wife; no one else gets to tell you how to do it.” That seems to be crux of a lot of blather and so many arguments on some Arsenal blogs.

    And I hadn’t any idea before how much Bouchra was involved. (They are a great “power couple,” – even their kids are cute.) Here’s hoping that RvP gets a big salary increase and that he will continue to lead the team, and thrill and entertain us for years to come.

  19. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Zach

    Wow, what a post. First off… Tim, I apologize for slagging off the other night. I didn’t realize what it was tied to. I don’t know if it would have changed the fact that I had a good bit of work to do, but as blogger myself I can understand what not getting the scoop means. I hope to be able to make it up to you when I finally have time to meet up.

    Second, your post couldn’t be spot more spot on. I’ve gone back and forth on Wenger’s last seven years. Here are the facts:
    1) While I may be spoiling a future TPI post, I am going to let the cat out of the bag: No one, and I mean NO ONE, has earned more points when taking club’s transfer spending into account than Arsene Wenger in the post-Abramovich era. NO ONE! His average point haul per match, when taking transfer fees for players on the pitch into account, outstrips SAF, Mourinho’s magical ’05 season, every one of them.
    2) Given (1), the question comes down to whether or not one believes the lack of spending is due to Arsene or the board wanting to run a profitable ship. I think it’s a combination of both. Looking at his transfer spend, Arsene is completely unwilling to pull the trigger on transfer that costs much more than £15M in constant pound basis. I think he’s throuroughly convinced no player is worth that much money, and has been burned by the likes of Theo and thus stays away from such players. However, I think the insistence on running a profitable operation and the wages, transfer spend and other things that must support that come from the board.
    3) Given (2), and the fact that we bet on stadium revenue being key when in reality we just should have gotten a sugar dady like Chelsea or Man City, we’re financially constrained compared to those two clubs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, just someone willing to take in what guys like Swiss Ramble write about. It’s clear that the club is constrained unless it wants to lose money hand over fist. I read Swiss Ramble’s latest post on Aston Villa, and got to the graph where he compares the annual profits losses and it just confirms to me that Arsenal is on the right path. Chelsea is broke, leaderless, aging, and has NOTHING to sell to anyone other than a tempermental owner willing to sack a manager at a moments notice if he tells John Terry to stop dishing out wedgies in the locker room or mooning random women (both stories relayed on from very credible sources). Villa is broke chasing a dream they can’t support. Man City has zero hopes of being profitable, and their contortion act to meat Fair Play rules is going to be interesting. Harry’s got one foot out the door at Tottenham. It will be interesting to see where Liverpool’s financials come in and who they can attract finishing 6th or 7th. Look at the top of that graph, and you see a number of mid- to low-table clubs and two top level clubs with an actual aura and (dare I say it) class: Arsenal and Manchester United.
    4) Given (1), (2), and (3) the team can’t sack Wenger. No one will do better with the money he’s allowed to spend, and in fact anyone else would do far worse. In reallity, I honestly think there’s a bit of turning point this offseason. I get the sense the team has moved on from the youth project, and the slow start to the season was merely the hangover effect from that realization. I wouldn’t be surprised to see far more activity this summer out of Arsene and the club. They won’t go on some wild spending spree, but they my buy more than in the past and continue to buy intelligiently. Keep in mind – Fair Play rules and the effects they’ll have on the transfer market will play right into Arsenal’s and Arsene’s hands. They’ve been value shoppers for years, and now the market will be forced to go the same way.

    Alright, time for me to get off my soap box and get back to studying.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      @Zach, I intentionally left that bit out because it would let the cat out of the bag!

      But you’ve done it now Zach.

      Forever that cat will be out of the bag.

      Thanks for clarifying though, be prepared for lots of questions. I just want to say to everyone that we will get to those questions at some point, but feel free to ask them because they might actually help us write our article.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      @Zach, Great comment, Zach. Also interesting that you mention Arsenal and United as the only two clubs with aura and class. No argument here, but what do you make of Tottenham? I mean, aura and class aside, of course, but they seem solidly run, and seem to spend lots of money on players despite not having a sugar daddy, and without, it seems, going into debt. I’m more curious than anything. Where do they get their money, and are they well run?

  20. Vote -1 Vote +1Zach

    Oh, I forgot my last point. The M£XI metric actually takes into account the average value of the starting XI (in transfer fees) throughout a season. So it’s even more impressive than just the squad cost, as we know clubs like City and Chelsea like to lard up on really expensive benchwarmers.

    The MSq£ metric looks at squad cost, which is especially effective when trying to make pre-season predictions.

    My favorite metric right now is the m£XIR – match £XI ratio. That takes the squad valuations of each side in a match, and divides them by each other giving one side a ratio greater than one and the other a ratio less than one. I’ve then worked out what the ratio buys (or costs) a club in terms of points, while also factoring in home pitch advantage. So, on a match-by-match basis, I have been able to caclulate every club’s under or overperformance vesus venue and starting XI transfer cost expectations. That’s the metric where Arsene is tops in the post-Abramovich era, which just demonstrates his phenomenal value and consistency on a match-by-match basis.

  21. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    Here’s one for you, Tim. Do you have any stats on how many non-home-grown players we (and by comparison, our competitors) have? I’ve got this feeling that FFP and Home-Grown may act like a one-two punch for some clubs. My suspicion is that the main rivals will be maxed out on their non-home-grown quota, meaning that every time they want to go shopping outside the U.K., it’ll have to be on a one-in, one-out basis. The limitation on available squad spaces would mean an increased demand for the “top top quality” players, driving up their prices and possibly bumping against the FFP for certain clubs.

  22. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    Complaining about Arsene Wenger right now is like the guy married to Miss Universe complaining that she has had acne problems for the pass month. Get over it. She’s MISS FREAKING UNIVERSE.

  23. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Arsene Wenger transformed not only the club but English football itself, made the Premier League infinitely more attractive and richer ($). In that, he is a talisman much like the players he creates: Vieira, Henry, Fabregas, van Persie. I don’t think he is overpaid at all.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      @Ssinderias, good point about Wenger CREATING players. I won’t say that all his experiments work, but how many coaches have taken a promising but still largely unproven young winger, turn him into a striker, and have that player go on to become the best striker in the world?

      Wenger has done that TWICE, with first Henry, then Van Persie.


  24. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Travis

    I always wish God would take some years of my lifetime and stop giving tragedy to Arsenal like Eduardo’s accident, then we could have get a major trophy in that year and suddenly those pointless, nonsense arguments and comments about Arsene Wenger’s commitment, the club’s ambition would vanish. It’s quite surprising how 4 points can make a lot of different. It makes keyboard heroes become better managers than Arsene Wenger.

  25. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    I haven’t seen Arsenal lift a trophy live..since I followed them..
    But from my understanding and following of the club..If any of those guys like Reyes, Flamini, Adebayor, Nasri was 10% as committed to Arsenal’s cause as Arsene..we might actually have had won a few trophies..

    Inspite of all Odds (Be it player lack of committment or Financial un-fair play or injury plague or thuggery by opponents) Arsene has proven time and again that he knows how to compete with a bunch of players.

    Gervinho.. who plays in Nasri position has better goals/assists per minute ratio than Nasri. So has Theo. For that matter look at a decision like sticking with Song and not buying somebody like Ramires (for lack of better comparison). Song this season ranks on par with Yaya Toure in terms of performance.

    Yes, Wenger does makes mistakes, at times some of his substitutions and line ups are difficult to understand..but that doesnt make him any less worth.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      @Cliffy, the Gervinho/Nasri comparison is interesting when you consider that last season, everyone was saying Nasri was a chance for Player of the Year. Whereas Gerv has already been written off as shit by a lot of fans. Mind you, those are probably the same fans who say Song is shit too, so fuck em.

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