Amongst the many interesting things that Ivan Gazidis said to the gathering of supporter tribes last week there was the issue of the ownership situation at some other (unnamed) clubs.
In a general discourse about the dire financial situation that many clubs find themselves in, he said that there were current owners of clubs who were anxious to ‘bail out’ but who were unable, in current or foreseeable circumstances, to find anyone willing to buy at an acceptable price.
This means that, even if FFP comes in at full force (and Ivan seemed more confident than ever that it would), these owners still see their clubs as being too far behind others in terms of revenue to be able to compete and unable to see a future where that is going to change.
Unfortunately, potential buyers see the same thing and the club(s) in question have, on and off the field, nowhere to go – or at least little chance of moving forward. The implication is that, even if they can produce diamonds from their academies, such clubs will face the prospect of never being able to hold on to them long enough to make a real difference for long enough to create an upward curve of success in all its manifestations.
Higher revenue generating clubs (even under strict FFP guidelines) will always win out. If you currently own one of those and can protect that position sufficiently to stay ahead in the future then you don’t need or want to sell. If you don’t then no one in their right mind wants to buy (at the aforesaid acceptable price) knowing that they won’t be able to use their financial muscle as Chelsea and Man City have.
What’s more they won’t be in a position to be able to tempt anyone to lend them the money to build a new stadium from which they can generate additional ticket income and, of course, significant stadium sponsorship fees.
The only solution is to buy a club and to completely finance the new stadium yourself. Which only makes sense if you pay little or nothing for the club in the first place, don’t have to spend to improve the team, and have a ‘guarantee’ that the new stadium will produce the revenues to warrant the effort.
For that to happen you need a current owner willing to take a very public bath on their existing investment (very ego/bank balance damaging) plus an existing manager and squad with real potential to deliver lucrative performances long into the future.
Plus, of course, a site for the new stadium that is economic to develop. Economic, that is, in very difficult to predict financial future.
So, given that Arsenal are a million miles away from having any of that uncertainty surrounding them, who might Ivan be referring to?
Published with permission from Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News. Supporting the Lord Wenger; coach of the decade.