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.