The disappointment for Wenger and the fans.
Every summer it was the same story. Arsenal FC had a season in which they failed to receive one trophy, and achieving the fourth spot, which allows you to play in the Champions League, was celebrated by the fans as winning the title. The majority of people who watch football laughed about Arsenal. They saw a club which always plays good football , has some nice players, but in width and financially never really could get involved for the trophies.
Things used to be very different with Arsenal. As an example the football year 2003-2004, in which Arsenal won the league unbeaten. Legends like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg and Gilberto Silva formed a unbeatable team in the Premier League, leaving Arsenal without a defeat. In addition, Arsenal had another strong year, in which they managed to reach the CL final. In this final FC Barcelona too strong for “The Gunners”. After this for Arsenal surprisingly strong years, it actually went down hill. Each year, the best players at Arsenal were left and got sold and there were mediocre up to pretty good players bought instead. This resulted in lesser results for Arsenal, and it took 10(!) years to win another trophy.
What is the reason that Arsenal is as far gone? What you often hear is that coach Arsene Wenger is a stingy coach. He would not be willing to spend to strengthen his team. He would rather look for cheap options, which would give him more opportunities than to pay an huge amount of money for a top player. What many people however forgot was that the financial situation of Arsenal was complicated. Before the Emirates Stadium was built, Arsenal played in the beautiful Highbury. The rules around the seats in stadiums in England were at the time changed, this changed the capacity of Highbury, from 63,000 to 38,000. The request to expand the stadium and get more seats, such as Manchester United did with Old Trafford, was rejected. This rule brought Arsenal in a financial disadvantage and also meant that far fewer fans than previously could get in the Highbury stadium. The only solution was to build a new stadium, so that Arsenal could keep their financial situation stable and to expand the capacity in the stadium.
The Emirates Stadium (see picture) was built from 2003 and was ready for the testimonial match of Dennis Bergkamp in 2006. This project was estimated at € 500,000,000. Arsenal knew it could be a big risk, because it is a very huge amount of money, and a rich oil-owner or a Sheikh was not available for Arsenal. Given the aforementioned situation, however, they had no choice and they was decided to start the project. In the early years that the stadium was built, Arsenal still won some prices and reached the final of the Champions League, but after 2004 it took ten years to win the next trophy. Arsenal paid off the Emirates in terms. Nevertheless, Arsenal did it compared to teams which also built a new stadium, very well. I will give three examples to substantiate this.
Southampton: St. Mary’s Stadium is the “Saints” since 2001. They were relegated in 2004, and balanced on the edge of bankruptcy. They returned in 2012 to the Premier League and the capacity of their stadium is only 32.689. One could say, that is half of the cost from the Emirates Stadium. According to Southampton itself, the stadium cost approximately € 45,000,000. That’s not even 10% of what Arsenal had to pay, and yet Southampton was in big trouble.
Derby County: The Pride Park Stadium is Derby’s stadium since 1997. Initially it went quite well for Derby County. But when they were relegated in 2004 and they returned only once to the Premier League. The capacity of the stadium is 33.502. And again that is only half of the Emirates Stadium. The cost of the stadium is estimated at € 28.000.000. Again this is relatively small to what Arsenal had to pay, only 6% of the total cost and yet Derby was in big trouble.
Middlesbrough FC: The Riverside Stadium has been Middlesbrough FC’s football stadium since 1995. But then they got into trouble and were relegated in 1997. In 1998 they returned in the Premier League and it seemed good at first. However, they were relegated again in 2009 and they still have not returned in the Premier League. The capacity of the stadium is 34.998. The construction cost is estimated (about 10 years before the Emirates stadium was built) around € 20,000,000. That’s not even 4% of the cost of the Emirates Stadium.
My point is that Arsenal has done it actually great. A payment of approximately 500 millions in 10 years, still you managed every year to qualify for the Champions League, while your best players got sold to competitors every year. Examples are Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie, Adebayor, Francesc Fabrégas, Gaël Clichy and Alex Song. Compare this with the above three teams, they all eventually encountered degradation or balanced on the edge of bankruptcy.
The new Arsenal
Last season Arsenal finally got their trophy. Arsenal won the FA Cup, a trophy which is highly rated in England. This after a 120-minutes thriller against Hull City at Wembley. Last year the new era started for Arsenal. The number 10 of Real Madrid, Mesut Özil was attracted for a whopping € 50,000,000. The time of not being able to spend seemed to be over, with the arrival of Mesut. The year was still somewhat disappointing for the Arsenal fan, since Arsenal was the number 1 up to January in the Premier League. Eventually they won the FA Cup and hoped for more. The beginning of this hope is positive. For the first time in years Arsenal is spending. The number 9 of FC Barcelona, Alexis Sanchez has been purchased for a whopping € 45,000,000. In addition, the right-back of France Mathieu Debuchy, was purchased for € 15 million, David Ospina, Colombia’s keeper at the most recent WC, was signed to compete with keeper Szczęsny and one of the biggest talents from England, 19 year old Calum Chambers, has been purchased for a whopping € 14-20 million. In addition, there are many players still linked to Arsenal and we still have more than a month to go in the summer transfer period. Of course, there are no trophies won and nothing has been proven yet, but it seems as if the financial situation is stable and the Emirates stadium is fully paid off. These are great times for a Gunner and a year around this time we will see if the purchases and changes, have resulted in trophies.