Finishing 2nd to Manchester City would be no disgrace

Last night Manchester City went top of the league with a 5-1 away win against Spurs. It would now be no surprise to anyone if they remain top of the league for the rest of the season.

Whilst this might risk of coming across a bit negative, a bit defeatist, in all honesty, it would be no shame to finish 2nd to this Manchester City squad. A side which has got 34 points out of the last 36. A side which is in contention for the quadruple. A side which Spurs manager has recently – and rightly – labelled as the best in the world.

Arsenal currently sit 2nd in the Premier League table, 2 points behind Manchester City. Some in the media (MOTD pundits) have already started the claims that the cracks are beginning to appear – we are unbeaten this year remember – and that we are a club in a crisis after a single draw. The truth is the fact we have up to this point competed with Manchester City is an achievement, and were we to finish 2nd to them, it would be no disaster.

In a game where money has always been king – in the 1930s we were known as the Bank of England club due to our finances and famously boasted we could out bid any club for any player by £2,000 – Manchester City currently sit on the throne.

Yesterday, Manchester City announced their latest financial results. A £56.1m loss for 2012/13. Their loss has halved for the second consecutive season, partly to do with their way above market rate naming rates for the Eithad Stadium. As a comparator, Manchester City get £40m a year just from stadium rights, whilst Arsenal get £20m a year for both stadium and shirt sponsorship.

Anyway, what was most interesting in the announcement was Manchester City’s wage bill. In 2012/13 they paid £233,000,000 in wages. And this is where money becomes king. Everyone agrees that Manchester City have the best squad in England. They have four strikers in Aguero, Negredo, Dzeko and Jovetic that would all be either 1st or 2nd choice strikers at every other club (bar Manchester United). For £233,000,000 you can buy a lot of quality who will happily sit on the bench.

Arsenal’s wage bill for the same period was £154,500,000. A difference of £78,500,000 a year. Now taking into account that in the period, Arsenal made a £6,700,000 profit, you can start to see how Manchester City’s financial muscle makes the difference. Were Arsenal to increase squad quality and quantity to a similar size as Manchester City, the wage bill would have to be increased to a similar level. Arsenal would need to find an additional £80m, in a  business which made just £6.7m. Obviously Arsenal have signed some new deals recently which should generate a further £30-odd million, however this would barely make a dent.

Going back to Manchester City’s wage’s, their wage bill at £233m is just £9,800,000 less than Arsenal total turnover for the period (£242.8m). Hopefully you are starting to see the uphill struggle we face. Clearly the only way to compete would to have someone bank rolling us – but would you risk having a Vincent Tan or Assem Allam?

Back to that difference between the wage bills. It works out at £1.5m a week. For that, a club could buy 6 players on £250,000 a week, or 3 players for £250,000 and another 5 for £150,000. You are starting to get a very expensively arranged 1st team. To think ,that would be 8 new players. Once you add the £150m that Arsenal currently spend, you should be able to build a squad which is running away with the league. Give me £1.5bn over the last 5 years to spend on transfer fee’s and wages and I will win the league.

According to reports, Manchester City currently have 11 players earning over £100,000 a week, and 2 over £200,000 a week. Arsenal have just 3 over £100,000 a week (Walcott, Podolski & Ozil). That is a huge gap to over come. And I have not even begun to discuss the transfer fees associated with closing that gap.

The gap is, however, closing, and without the need to be bank rolled. The new Puma deal will add to our finances. As will the other commercial deals we have recently signed. The extra TV money could become a neutraliser, as the extra cash for Arsenal will benefit us more than it will Manchester City. Extra money for City makes little difference, as they can still only have a 25 man squad and it will be very hard to improve what they currently have, whereas the extra money for Arsenal will see us close that wage gap and buy better players at the top end, whilst the lesser players at the bottom are cut adrift.

You can see already the gap closing. Arsenal attracted Mesut Ozil in the summer, and are due to unveil Julian Draxler at some point in 2014. As long as the club keep working on increasing commercial revenue – in the 2012/13 period, we earnt £70m less than Manchester United from commercial deals – we can continue closing the gap.

We are maybe a little bit too far behind them this year to be disappointed with finishing 2nd, but the gap is closing.

Edit: Manchester City fans, this is not a dig at the money you spend, as far as I am concerned, how a billionaire spends his money is up to him. This blog is about Arsenal and how far behind we are in terms of financial muscle.


18 thoughts on “Finishing 2nd to Manchester City would be no disgrace

  1. Wolfgang

    That is why if MC can’t win the epl ,it will be really shocking.There is absolutely no doubt money plays a significant role.During the 90s,MU signed all the best players and could dominate the epl until Wenger threw a spanner at red face.Now we have two teams bankrolled by immense wealth as well as Arsenal who rely on their own means.
    Hopefully Arsenal can win either the epl or FA.

  2. Rich

    This does not read like a dig it reads like a realistic and sensible assessment of the situation. The reality is Arsenal in their day, United in their day, Liverpool, Blackburn etc all dominated in their day because of money and it is no more true now than it was 100 years ado. City have a very strong squad but I think a lot of credit needs to go to Pellegrini, he has spent less than Mancini did and has ffocused on making the best out of what we have rather than moaning about how we need more players. The change in performance from guys like Nasri, Kolarov has been amazing and he dealt with Hart brilliantly. Pelle also signed cheaper players on lower wages than Mancini or Hughes. For Arsenal to finish above Chelsea and United even if they did come second would be a big acheivement as both united and chelsea in terms of wages and spend dwarf arsenal.

    I will admit I thought you would crack in november and you have been relentless in winning week after week as we have put in the best run in our history. Chelsea too have been knocking off win after win.

    Exciting times

    1. I.P. from South Africa

      Wolfgang, MC has no debt presently, just like Arsenal and one wonders whether Stan Kroenke is not also perhaps in the league of “immense wealth” as well.

  3. Ifeanyi Nnamani

    If finishing second to Manchester City is not a disgrace then it means your family is a shameful family.
    9years trophy drought.
    Arsenal FC please we the FANS need silver wears.

  4. blueknight

    Adug have owned us only 5 years… in the next 5 years you will see what we are about… we will be the biggest club in the World!… hahaha you say… we are 80 million off Uniteds turnover (271 mil) so right now we are in 6th Place.. ( rm,barca,BM, Rags,PSG,City)

    Have you seen what we are buildin in M/C? the new training area 150 mill.. ready in 6 months time, then the hotels,shops, etc… then the two South american clubs we will be buying,,, to add onto the one in OZ ,Africa, and USA… you hate us now ? i dare not Think what you will Think of us in the future… blue skys ahead

  5. Tony Tango

    Thanks for the high praise in this article and it doesn’t come across as a dig. The only thing I would say is that you are mistaken in regard to our sponsorship deal. Not only does it include the stadium naming rights AND the shirts it also includes the naming rights for our new training and youth complex (the Etihad campus) which is central to our future and the links we are establishing with clubs around the world. The deal also lasts for 10 years and our profile and global support has already increased significantly since it was signed. I’m honest enough to admit the deal is a very favourable one and that it would not have happened if we had different owners but the level of it’s value has been vastly exaggerated in the media. Our losses in the last accounts (£50m+) are of course still huge but we are moving rapidly towards zero losses and this due to many other factors other than just the Etihad deal. I agree that it would be no shame at all if Arsenal finish second particularly as it would mean you have beaten Chelsea and Man Utd, 2 clubs who have been spending and paying huge wages for many more years than us. Can’t wait for the game at your place, though I’ll be sat with my Arsenal mate with the home fans so i’ll have to keep my gob shut!

  6. Cheadle

    Good Article except for on tiny but “big” detail 51 + 1 = 52 and 50 + 3 = 53
    City have a one point lead not a two point lead. Nevertheless The title is theirs to lose and the long awaited Arsenal collapse has now been rescheduled for February if it happens pundits can heave a collective sigh of relief… IF IT DOES NOT HAPPEN THEN HOLD YOUR BREATH TILL MAY!!

  7. Joe is Special

    If fair play comes in Citeh are dead in the water but for now they are the best side in the EPL by quite a distance. I would still rather be 2nd using money we generated then be top through nothing short of financial doping. I’m proud of my club and the way we are moving forward. The inevitable demise of teh $$$$ clubs will see the balance restored.
    Money will never buy class and respect.

    1. Rich

      Class and respect is something spurs and Newcastle fans fall back on because their team isn’t good, so it is funny to see Arsenal fans using it! Class in football is about class players , respect is earned by the way a team plays and behaves ! On this front I think guys like Silva , kompany and aguero have class and respect unparalleled in the Premier league! Arsenal are a bigger and better club than needing to fall back on Geordie arguments to claim some kind of moral victory!

      As for Fair play it has come in, it is the reality and City (who incidentally lost less than Chelsea) will pass Financial Fair Play and next year will be break even. Purely from prem deal and getting to last 16 and new deals already signed we have closed over 50m already.

      Money got arsenal into the league, it made arsenal a big club, Liverpool became what they were with pools money, united with the Edwards etc etc. There is no moral superiority there is only footballing superiority!

      I think arsenal have improved greatly, have easily been the second best team in the Prem and are doing well – they should focus on filling the squad gaps and push on

    2. Bilboblue

      So what did it buy you when as the OP said, you were known as the ‘Bank of England Club’? Hypocrisy much?
      Unfortunately, spending money is the only way to compete for a club that is/was outside the Champions League, get over it, the OP has in writing a very fair piece.

      1. Joe is Special

        Nobody has a problem with spending money mate but it should be money you made. We were called the Bank of England because we were stable and had large sums of money that we generated in the 30’s and 40’s. We didn’t need to dope our way to success as a club we’ve always been self sufficent unlike the oil clubs. When their backers get bored they will sink like a stone.

      2. Bilboblue

        Joe, have you actually researched how Arsenal became the club they are?
        You were ‘financially doped’ (pathetic phrase by the way) way back in time, it’s exactly the same thing, albeit on a bigger scale. Even back in the 1990’s you needed a £50m injection of cash from Danny Fizsman (not a small amount back then) and that helped you be where you are now.
        Arsenal are a great side, and a great club, maybe some of your fans need to wind their necks in, before you look even more bitter than you do now and start to ruin peoples views of that?

        As for the tired old cliche of owners getting bored…. maybe you need to google about the Etihad Campus, you really think he is going to walk away after investing so heavily in the future of the club?

        Anyone would think you wanted to stifle competition and keep a place at the top table (that your club bribed their way on to) for yourself…..

  8. Rolee

    Just FYI shewore, the Etihad sponsorship deal is not just stadium naming rights, it includes shirt sponsorship as well as training ground sponsorship and sponsorship of the campus that is currently being built around the stadium in East Manchester.

  9. Bilboblue

    Decent article. Nice to know some Arsenal fans are not bitter. I remember watching in wonder at the players Arsenal had when hammering us every game, and being awestruck at the style of football being played by players we could never have afforded to sign in a lifetime.

    I guess I know how other clubs fans feel now.


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