Arsenal Release Financials to a Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Usmanov, your money is no good here

But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth — Matthew 8:12

Some things are easy to explain, some things are difficult to explain, and then there’s the financial dealings of a multinational, multi-million dollar sports corporation. It’s not only difficult to explain what’s going on inside these giants but it can be downright maddening. Take the Colorado Rockies as an example, they were asked once, a long time ago to open their books and when they did the famously showed a loss on beer sales. At Coors field, the Colorado Rockies couldn’t make a profit off their beer sales.

So, you’ll pardon me if I take today’s latest report of mega profits from the board with a huge grain of salt. I’m not accusing anyone of cooking any books and actually for the remainder of this blog, I will be operating under the assumption that everything they have said in their report is true. In fact, I will be operating under that assumption that everything they have said over the last few years has been true. Still, in the back of my mind something seems off.

So, what are the assumptions?

  • Arsenal reported a cash reserve (cash on hand) of £99.7m — this is consistent with their previous reports, though the amount it grew (£6m, £3m of which is from interest, despite record profits) is not.
  • Turnover up £90m over last year to £313m, partially from increased match day revenue (£5m) some from commercial and retail and the largest chunk from property sales.
  • The debt on the Highbury Square development has incredibly dropped almost overnight from £133m to a mere £47m, that remaining debt has been refinanced and is not due until 2011 and the board are talking about profits again.
  • Profits after tax, and crucially before the sales of Adebayor and Toure, reached an astonishing £35m.

Eye popping stuff, really. No other club in the Premier League posts profits as far as I know and certainly no other club has shown the profit that this club has shown. And they have each and every one of us to thank. We buy the season tickets, we’re red level members, we buy shirts, we watch them on the TV, and so on: a large portion of that £100m that they have in cash on hand come from our pockets.

You’re welcome. Now, what are you going to do with that huge reserve? Ivan Gazidis gives the club’s best answer in the form of a free video on the club’s web site:

The club doesn’t exist for the sake of having sound finances. That’s not an end in itself. The financial stability, the financial health of the club, forms the platform for on-pitch success and actually the focus is really on the team having success.

The club has a philosophy of re-investing all of the money it makes back into the club. Money is not taken out in the form of dividends to shareholders so, it’s important to understand that all of these financial results that we are talking about benefit the club. I think that there’s a little bit of a miscinception that we haven’t invested in the club.

It’s at that point where the free video cuts to Arshavin, Vermaelen, and talk about paying the current squad as a form of re-investment. My regular reader knows that I am not going to take the piss out of anyone on this squad. I like them all, even if they have poor matches, and I think they all are a vital part of this team. But I still think we’re a bit shy in certain areas of the pitch, and I’m not alone in this.

I love Alex Song, I’m even thinking that his might be the shirt I buy this year (more money to the club!) but when Alex leaves for the ACN in January who will patrol our midfield? I’m not taking anything away from Diaby or Nasri or Denilson, they are all fine midfielders but none of them can go toe to toe with a big center forward like Kenwynne Jones, or drop back into the center back spot (as Song does) when Vermaelen or Gallas go forward.

And at the center back spot, the word “thin” doesn’t quite describe the situation. Due to injury and lack of spending, at this point we are forced to play Gallas and Vermaelen in every match. Yes, we have Senderos as cover, but after Senderos, then what? Silvestre? I guess we’ll see of TV5 and Gallas can play in all 50 matches.

All that said, this is all old ground. Obviously the money was there and wasn’t spent but we all knew that. The club has £100m in cash in boxes in the board room, plus the £40m from the sale of Ade and Toure, and I too wonder what they are doing with all that money? I understand, deeply, the emotional position that some fans take over this issue but I guess that unlike some people I’ve just resigned myself to the knowledge that they just aren’t spending the money.  I don’t know why, they won’t say, but they aren’t.

Insanely frustrating, I know.

The one really good thing that came out of all this financials talk was an explanation from Gazidis as to why the club didn’t just sell Highbury to a developer. It’s something I speculated about last week and here he hits all the notes that I sounded then:

The club, in keeping control of the development, made sure that 93 years of Arsenal history, all of that heritage that imbue every stone in that building will be preserved, forever. So we have the marble halls, we were there last Thursday looking around and seeing the way this has been really done with respect for the heritage and tradition of the building. We can now say with confidence that all of that history will be preserved forever and I’m not sure that would have been the case in the same way, had it been given to an outside developer.

This is why I just plainly trust them, I guess. No one on the board is taking a profit from the club and they clearly love this club and the history behind it. They are Arsenal fans, probably bigger fans than you or I, and they clearly want to the club to be successful, in the trophy room, not just in the safe deposit box.

I just wish they would tell us the plan because as it stands, with the squad thin in two key areas, £100m on hand, £40m added in from Toure and Ade, the Highbury Square development looking like it will make a profit, and the club generating some £30m a year in after-tax profits… something doesn’t seem to add up.

Fulham 0-1 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Good to see Cesc Fabregas excited about a goal!

Sorry about the late blog today, I had some kind of problem with my router this morning and I spent the last hour repairing that. Since that took me an hour, my daughter woke up and well… no need to explain further, let’s just get on with it…

Match Video

Arsenalist has both the goal and match of the day highlights for free, but if you’re an ATVO subscriber, they have the whole match available for download.

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Robin van Persie let his football do the talking with a well-executed second-half winner as Arsenal beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage – where young Gunners goalkeeper Vito Mannone had an inspired match.

Telegraph: He has the name and the looks of someone more at home in The Sopranos and Fulham will certainly feel there was something criminal about how the 21 year-old from Lombardy, the third-choice Arsenal goalkeeper who has, until now, been a bit flaky, pulled off the kind of display that can shape a career.

Blogger at the Match

Goonerholic: Fulham remains a real football day out, I am delighted to report. Where else can you park your backside at a pub table overlooking the Thames (morning Tim!) for a refreshing pint? A bit of food and a stroll through the park down the towpath. There is no ‘atmosphere’ or ‘edge’ here. This is the place to bring kids, and quite a few have.

Mouth before the Match

Danny Murphy is a former Spud, a man who since he was replaced at Liverpool has spent the remainder of his entire career being beaten by his big brother just up the road. So, it’s no surprise that he felt the need to shoot his mouth off before the match. Speaking to the World’s Least Reliable News Source he needed to remind everyone that Arsenal don’t have Patrick Vieira anymore and that means that Arsenal are no longer feared.

We’ve all heard that before and… it’s true. You gather fear from your opponents by winning things: winning games, winning trophies, etc.  And how do you win trophies? You win trophies when you get 3 points on off days. So, for me, the quote of the day from Danny Murphy isn’t about how we aren’t feared but rather this:

I do respect them now and they can turn us over if they play well and we don’t. But they were simply better quality in years gone by. I can’t remember a weak link in that team. They were solid at back, big, strong lads, all good athletes in that team.

Hmmm… what about when you play well and we don’t? Can we turn you over then, Danny?

It seems like we can, because we have quality at every position on this club. Supporters tend to look at Bendtner and complain about his wastefulness, but it could be worse, we could have Bobby Zamora!

That’s just it, on a night when Bendtner misses chances, when Cesc has an off night, when Diaby has a nightmare, when Arshavin looked jaded, and when Rosicky is still gaining match fitness, Arsenal needed just one moment of brilliance and for Mannone to have a great night to secure three points.

Man of the Match

Alex So… just kidding, this is a unanimous choice and for good reason. I think Wenger sums up the performance best:

I believe we will give him 10 out of 10 because everything he did was right. For a goalkeeper that is most important. He stopped everything he had to stop, didn’t make any wrong decisions and overall he has shown he has the potential to be a very good goalkeeper.

During the liveblog I made mention of David Seaman’s famous save (and match) against Sheffield United in the 2003 FA Cup Semi-Final and how I thought Mannone’s performance last night was equal if not better than Seaman’s. I’m not trying to jump the gun on this kid, because I agree with Wenger that consistency is key to greatness, but I think it’s OK to celebrate a magnificent performance and the comparison stands. I’m not saying that he’s the next Seaman, he’ll need at least a year to grow a proper pony tail, just that last night was the best I’ve seen from an Arsenal keeper since Seaman made this save:

After the match, the boss said that for the next match Mannone is Arsenal’s #1. Too bad for Almunia, but Vito earned it on the back of yesterday’s performance.

The Good

“Chocolate leg” my ass. I can’t remember the last time Robin scored with his left leg, can you? Anyway, it was a moment of magic from one of the few players on this team who have it in them to produce magic.

The Bad

As I have already mentioned, Arshavin had a bit of an off night but more concerning than a single off night is that there’s obviously some kind of problem with him and Clichy. In the attacking third Clichy doesn’t seem to be able to ready Arshavin and defensively, Arshavin, well, to be frank, Arshavin doesn’t do defense. Especially in a 4-3-3, everyone needs to defend and work hard, even the Czar of Anfield. In the pre-match interview he seemed full of energy and ready to go but yesterday he looked just a bit listless, so maybe we can put his lack of defense down to that.

Cesc too had a poor game, but I’m putting that down to the fact that Arshavin and Diaby’s poor matches (more on that in a second) allowed the Fulham midfield to overrun and harass Cesc all match. Plus, you can’t really say a man had a bad match when he set up the game winning goal, can you?

The Ugly

I bet there wasn’t a single Arsenal fan who didn’t wish that Denilson was healthy, unfortunately, he isn’t. In fact, Denilson won’t be back until at least the 17th when Arsenal play Birmingham.

That means that for the time being, Diaby is what we got. As much as I wish it wasn’t true Rosicky is not ready, crusted as he is with a thick scale of rust.  Rambo is not ready, crusted as he is with a thick layer of inexperience. So, we got Diaby and I’m going to support him as long as we have him.

Here’s my only complaint(s)/suggestions:

  1. Track back, EVERY PLAY.
  2. I don’t mean jog, I mean run back with as much intensity as you run forward
  3. Now that you’ve tracked back remember, when you have the ball in your defensive 3rd don’t fuck around with the ball. GET IT OUT. Cesc can fuck around with the ball, you? No. Stop it.

That’s it, three simple rules. I don’t care if every pass you make is wrong, if you do those three simple things, then you’ll be aces in my book.

Conclusions

Win pretty, lose pretty, win ugly, lose ugly, what order would you put those? I think a win is a win and we should always be happy with a win. Some folks won’t be happy until we win every match 6-1. Sorry but this isn’t playstation. Fulham are a damn good team, well organized, and they will fight for all 100 minutes so a 1-0 win is a damn good result.

It’s an even better result when you take into account the fact that Diaby had a nightmare, that Arshavin looked rusty, and that Cesc had to carry the midfield load.

Yesterday’s result proved that this team just needs one or two stellar performances and we can win. Hopefully they can carry that belief forward and grind out more wins, because we’ll need that belief when we go to play those famous “committed Northern teams.”

Liveblogging Fulham v. Arsenal

The Full American: Eggs, hash-browns, and soy sausages.

Good morning, few little bits and bobs to get to before the match. First off, congratulations to the Carling Cup Kids for drawing Liverpool in the next round. At the start of the season I openly hoped that they got an easy schedule but the reality is that unless you get insanely lucky, you’re going to have to play a top club on the way to any trophy. Since you will eventually play a big club, then what you really hope for is a home draw. So, the congratulations are not because they drew a top club, but because they drew another home match.

By a strange set of coincidence, that Carling Cup match falls just in front of the home leg of the North London Derby and that game is followed by another home match to AZ Alkamaar in the Champions League. So, if someone was inclined to spend a week and a half in London on a trip, and they wanted to see a maximum number of Arsenal matches, I really can’t think of a better home stand than this. In fact, I’ve looked and this is the best home stand this season and I can’t remember a better chance, any year, for a foreigner to get over and see a Carling Cup, a League Match (Tottenham to boot), and a Champions League match.

If I had the money my flight would be booked right now!

Back in a minute…

Well, crazy match results today. 6-1 to Liverpool, 5-0 to Tottenham, 3-1 to Wigan over Chelsea, Blackburn over Villa, it’s a crazy day! Arsenal need to take maximum points and gain some space back on Chelsea.

Question of the day, will Phil Brown be back to selling used cars now that his team has only won 2 matches in 29? 9 wins in 44? Ugly!

Oh hey, you can either comment in the traditional manner or use the chat room over to the right. Try it out.

Lineups according to the Telegraph:

Starting for Arsenal: Mannone, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Diaby, Song, Cesc, Arshavin, Robin, Bendtner

Bench for Arsenal: Szczesny, Rosicky, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre, Eboue, Gibbs

Starting for Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Zamora, Andrew Johnson

Bench for Fulham: Zuberbuhler, Baird, Gera, Kamara, Riise, Smalling, Greening

Of course, the Telegraph also has us listed as playing a 4-5-1 so take the fact that Eduardo and Walcott aren’t in the lineup with a grain of salt.

Matt, Denilson should return in early October. It’s a back injury though and we know Arsene’s record predicting returns on back injuries.

Arsenal get us started…

1′ – Arshavin wins a free kick and all the cameras focus on TV5. In the end nothing comes from it, but the threat is there and everyone knows it.

4′ – nervous seconds there as Fulham puts some pressure on our young keeper. He does well to smother and cover.

7′ — Arsenal are starting to find their feet and moving the ball around quite well, still no shots but the right side and Konchesky looks ripe for a plucking. Some injury is forcing a change for Fulham already. Gera on for Duff… Uhhh, Charlie on Facebook predicted Gera would get the first.

10′ — Crap. Gallas and Mannone collide trying to cover a Gera cross. Gallas is down and needs treatment. Come on Willie… I don’t have to remind everyone that SILVESTRE is backup.

13′ — Gallas back on the field, Song back in midfield.

15′ — GREAT SAVE MANNONE! Two saves actually, first off and Andy Johnson header, and then he picks himself up and claws away a second shot. I didn’t think he had it in him. Get in SON!

18′ — Cesc with a wide open shot 10 yards out, blazes it high over the goal. He should have done better, Arshavin was waiting.

20′ — Patient build up from Arsenal, probing passes lead to a 1-2 with Bendtner and Cesc, nipped away by Fulham defender for a corner. The corner doesn’t clear the first defender. Oh my. Diaby needs to show some industry damnit.

Another 1-2 between Cesc and this time Arshavin, looks like Gera got a foot in and cleared the shot, but ref gives a goal kick. Arsenal look really dangerous.

24′ — Bendtner with a shot straight at the keeper.

25′ — Song gives a way a cheap free kick in a dangerous position and Danny Murphy takes a free kick too early and earns a yellow. Song should have done better on the first challenge, it was lazy defending on his part.

29′ — Arsenal getting all the calls at the moment but that’s because Fulham are committing all the fouls! Robin gets a free kick in a dangerous area and just loops it over the goal. Attacking set plays look very poor so far for the Arsenal.

33′ — Arsenal very tidy in the midfield at the moment, Fulham can’t get anything started and are playing route one football at the moment.

36′ — GREAT SAVE MANNONE! Johnson slots in Gera who has a good shot saved by the brilliant Mannone. I have to say that that’s three saves that Almunia might have let in.

41′ — HA! Arshavin gives Clichy the death stare for not getting forward fast enough. Though exactly why Arshaving didn’t have a shot I can’t figure. Fulham are putting two men on Song. Is that a credit to him?

43′ — OK, who is marking Gera? He’s been left wide open to put in crosses all day. He’s got to be someone’s man…

45′ — 3 minutes of added time, is this being played at Old Trafford?

47′ — Well done, Yellow to Zamora for a dangerous tackle. Arsenal are scrambling in front of the Fulham goal — COME ON YOU GUNNERS! Ugh… Fabregas with a SHIT corner followed by a decent attempt. And that ends the half.

Half-time Observations

This match reminds me so much of the Arsenal of last year it’s not even funny. Arsenal with loads of possession, plenty of chances, and no teeth up front. Meanwhile at the back, the high line is being exposed by a team who couldn’t care less about playing the ball through the midfield. Frankly, the only think keeping this match tied is Mannone’s Man of the Match performance.

For Arsenal’s part we need to find a way to get Arshavin in the game a little more, someone needs to kick Diaby up the ass, the whole team needs to pressure Fulham so that they don’t have time to make the long pass, and Wenger needs to put a marker on Gera who is floating in behind the defense after the first ball over the top.

We can do it. We are the better team but we need to step up all over the pitch and protect our young keeper and Center Backs.

46′ — Second half starts like the first, with Diaby jogging back as Zamora has a wide open shot. FOR FUCK’S SAKE DIABY.

49′ — I do want to mention that whenever Diaby has a nightmare, he scores.

52′ — And that’s all it takes. Cesc sees Robin making a fantastic diagonal run, picks him out perfectly, and Robin finishes low and around the keeper. With his chocolate leg! One-nil to the Arsenal. Now, let’s break this shit open boys.

55′ — This is possibly the best job I have seen from an Arsenal keeper since Seaman had a blinder against the Blades in the 2003 FA Cup semi-final.

62′ — Bendtner takes the ball and turns into Fulham’s non-existent midfield, but his shot is poor and doesn’t bother the keeper. We’ve got to get Arshavin in the game.

65′ — Diaby dribbles across the end line, and I have now officially seen enough Abou for the day. Put on Rosicky NOW.

67′ — Mannone comes and punches on a Fulham corner, continuing his absolute dominance in the box. Rosicky comes on… for Arshavin, meaning Diaby is going to get to stroll around for another 25 minutes.

69′ — HA! The announcer says Rosicky is LIKEANEWSIGNING!

71′ — Rosicky has a shot off a lot of hard work from Robin. Diaby has officially been moved back to the “holding” midfield spot. Lol, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was supposed to have been doing the whole time. Of course as soon as I say that he’s up front having a shot.

75′ — Cheap shot by Andy Johnson “challenging” for a header sends Gallas tumbling and onto his back.

77′ — Diaby caught in possession in our final 3rd and then gives up the stupid foul for a really good chance to Fulham.

HOLY INCREDIBLE SAVE! I am speechless over the performance that Mannone has put in. Andy Johnson has a shot at the near post well saved by the Godfather. No doubt about MotM at this point.

79′ — ho hum, another great save from Mannone of the Match.

83′ — @Kevin, it was Diaby’s piss poor marking on Zamora that left him wide open for the header that Mannone pawed off the line. Robin off, Eboue on .

87′ — Eboue misses a good chance, credit to Schwarzer with the good save.

90′ — 5 minutes of Old Trafford time. Nervous final minutes as Clichy has his traditional moment of madness. At least nothing came from it. Meanwhile Bendtner has missed two good chances in the last minute. All the stuff that everyone complains about!

94′ — Eboue inexplicably dribbles into the teeth of the defense and the result is a good counter by Fulham. Fortunately, nothing comes of it!

96′ — Eboue gets the last “shot” of the game, as Cesc sets him up with a perfect pass, which he predictably screws wide. And that’s it folks: one-nil to the Arsenal.

If you wanted Arsenal to win ugly games, you got your wish today! Anyway, I’ve got to take the family to the fair today so this is me signing off. See you all tomorrow for the Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Have fun tonight!