Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Arsenal and the Emirates Stadium

I know I have written a lot about Arsenal recently but it's difficult to stay from the subject as a) it's been front page news for the last week or so and b) is the club I support in England. In an attempt to be more succinct and have less waffle, this shall be a fairly short post. 

Everyone from supporters to media to pundits to "experts" have been going on that Arsenal have not won anything for six years. That the team has thinned out, that there is a lack of quality players and investment. That Wenger does not want to spend money, or alternatively taht behind close doors the board won't allow it. With Nina Bracewell-Smith selling her shares to Stan Kroenke rather than to Alisher Usmanov he is not releasing the necessary funds that the manager needs to strengthen the squad. Everyone knows that Arsene Wenger prefers to invest in good young players and mould him to his team ethics and ethos.

What no one has mentioned yet, at least I have not seen it anywhere at all, is the fact and Wenger embarked, successfully, in the monstrous task of building a state of the art football stadium that ensures the club and the team and indeed its supporters have a modern venue to show and practice their football. This stadium was not cheap. The Emirates Stadium cost the best part of £500 million (770 million dollars according to Forbes) the most expensive stadium in the world, built by a football club. Indeed the third most expensive football stadium in the world behind only Wembley and the Stade de France built by their respective FA's, with the French one built specifically for the World Cup Final of 1998.

Is it really any wonder that the team's recent decline is directly linked to this? There is a direct correlation between the stadium's construction and the lack of silverware. Let us not forget also that Wenger has a degree in Economy, he knows how to manage money and how to work with the board to manage the club's finances and ensure the club grows. Arsena'ls turnover has increased immensely and I am sure its profits have as well. So it looks like I'm contradicting myself, if Arsenal is in profit why not spend the money? Well, Wenger will buy players if he thinks they are right but he will not allow himself and the club to be held to ransom and break the bank. In fact, over the last ten years Arsenal is the team in the Premier League that has spent the least money in new players, and that is all the clubs not just the top teams. Yet the team has finished regularly in the top four, progressed through the Champions League group stages, and even managed to be close to fighting for the title.

Arsenal is still a team that is competitive and as good as any other in this country, despite spending little money and having great players and more potential than anyone else. And last year was very very close, the team buckled under the pressure and there were players that could have done better. Of course, six years is a long time, and the squad is reaching a tipping point. Arsene needs to rebuilt the squad. Unlike Manchester United who added a couple of players, Arsenal needs a overhaul, under performing players need to go, players that are only interested in money need to go, and new players that want to win need to come in. And who else but Wenger knows this better than anyone else, is better positioned to act and is capable of turning it around? With the exception of perhaps Ferguson and Mourinho there is no one in world football better than Arsene Wenger.

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