It wasn’t so long ago that the Arsenal boss expressed concern that the club could be left behind as foreign investors, and foreign money, continued to flow into the Premiership.
At the time, he said,
“What is dangerous for us is once the financial potential of the club goes above their natural resources by far, we will be in trouble because we don’t have that. At the moment the income basically is the gate, television and sponsorship.
“If the income is gates, television, sponsorship plus private gifts then we cannot compete. At the moment we can do it because only one club has those resources.
“But once three or four have that, are you dead? The pressure on the salaries will be too big. Today the player says I earn less than at Chelsea, and its only one club. But once that becomes the price of the market then you are in trouble because you cannot compete.
With Manchester United, Chelsea and now Liverpool all under foreign ownership of men far richer than the Premiership was used to seeing before the arrival of Abramovich – Arsenal are the last of the Big Four still in domestic hands running off organic income. Arsenal have finally completed their stadium, but just as they look to catch up to the spend levels of their rivals they have gone and raised the bar even further – perhaps out of reach.
Certainly, the takeover has some Gunners reveling in their Englishness. Being the last Premiership club under domestic ownership is a nice retort to all the years of stick they got for fielding so many foreign players. But when Abramovich arrived we heard similar noises from Manchester United, West Ham, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and now Liverpool fans until their clubs were the ones being handed sacks of cash. Strangely, the accusations of Chelsea “buying” their success softened somewhat.
It’s something that is only going to face more and more Premiership clubs and their fans as the sport becomes well and truly globalised, so we may as well get over it sooner rather than later and stop banging on about heritage and the “soul” of our clubs.
Or, simply put your money where your mouth is.