Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Does Arsenal Pretend to be Poor?

Here's the Forbe's top-ten list of wealthiest sports franchises (according to Soccernet.com, here):

1 Manchester United - £1.43bn
2 Real Madrid - £1.20bn
3= NY Yankees - £1.18bn
3= Dallas Cowboys - £1.18bn
5 Washington Redskins - £1bn
6= LA Dodgers - £895m
6= NE Patriots - £895m
8 Barcelona - £838m
9 New York Giants - £831m
10 Arsenal - £825m

Arsenal has the fourth highest market value of soccer clubs in the world, behind only Man U, Barca, and Real Madrid (but apparently ahead of Man City an Chelsea, which is surprising). So, why is Arsenal losing its top players year-after-year to Man City and other supposedly (but not actually) richer clubs? (1) Arsenal have a wage scale to which the club has adhered at least since Arsene Wenger's arrival in the early 90s; (2) Arsenal refuse to "overspend" on players, based on some kind of moral-economy (as opposed to market-based) assessment of value; and (3) in contrast to other clubs, which may make losses as tax write-offs for their wealthy owners, Arsenal insist on showing annual net profits to shareholders. In other words, the Arsenal brass are more concerned about the financial bottom line than the footballing bottom line. In principle, it is an admirable position to take, but while it puts pounds in the pockets of directors and shareholders, it does not put silverware in the trophy case. And that is why Robin van Persie is leaving.

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