Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Wenger's German telepathy -Arsenal still have £50m to spend -Arteta breaks record

Morning Gooners.

The team travelled to Germany yesterday without Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky, the pair adding to our already lengthy midfield injury list. However Alex Song and Gervinho are available following their domestic suspensions.

All five of our late summer signings are included in the manager's 18-man squad which means we're likely to see Champions League debuts in the Arsenal red and white for Per Mertesacker and Mikel Arteta and possibly Yossi Benayoun, depending on how the manager sets up his midfield.

Of course the only person suspended for this match is Arsene Wenger himself. He won't be allowed to interact with the team or his coaching staff because of his touchline ban, meaning Pat Rice will have to take charge of team affairs. It was interesting seeing Wenger hand over to Rice on Saturday. Whilst the manager is normally the one who dictates from the sidelines, instead it was his assistant who was barking orders for pretty much the whole of the second half whilst the Frenchman looked on from the bench.

Asked how he would get round the UEFA ban, Wenger joked:
"I will send my vibes and hope they will not be detected by Uefa. I don't think I will be man-marked [in the stands]. If you want to respect the rule strictly, you should be marked by two men – one on the right and one on the left. If one is sitting to my right, I can talk to the guy on my left."
From watching his interview with the broadcast media it was good to see he was in a light hearted mood. There is no doubt he is taking the game in Dortmund seriously though and knows their dangers. He will tell his players what he expects from them in a team talk before they leave the hotel for the stadium. I think even though it would be better for him to be on the touchline and giving the half time team talk, we have experienced players and they know their jobs.

At the moment with the state of our confidence and game I would happily take a draw from the game. The Germans aren't going to be a walk over and in a way I'm happy about that. All too often in previous seasons we've been handed groups which we should and sometimes do easily progress from. This season we've got to work hard for to qualify for the next round and that could help to build our season.

It might get otherwise lost because of the game, but the manager has had a pop at Barcelona and Real Madrid in particular about the way they conduct their financial affairs. He also mentioned Chelsea and Manchester City and their ability to go out and sign anyone they wanted because money is not an issue. This is something which is already well known and Arsenal's hope is that Financial Fair Play will come to their rescue. Of course FFP may not block these clubs spending like they do and Arsenal need to be prepared for this.

Which brings me nicely to last night's Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting. Around 70 committed Gooners turned up to voice their opinion about the club and as always it proved to be an interesting and lively evening. Below I've captured some of the main points.

Fanshare and shareholdings
  • 2,000 members investing nearly £1m in fan shares. However it is hitting major problems because of the lack of shares on the open market. The scheme won't have a future unless either of the major shareholders sell to Fanshare or the club sell directly to Fanshare a set amount of shares which won't reduce the shareholdings of either KSE or Red and White.
  • A pause in collecting new money from members may have to be considered if shares are not made available.
  • Red and White has agreed to sell Arsenal Fanshare the same amount of shares as KSE are willing to sell.
  • Gazidis believes Arsenal are taking a hammering in the press and can't do anything right at the moment.
  • Arsenal board were forced to sell their shares to Kroenke even if they didn't want to.
  • Lady Nina was asking for £15k a share prior to her decision to sell to KSE, for less than she was asking for.
  • The club made £15m profit from the transfer window.
  • This means there is roughly £50m in the Transfer Proceeds Account (TPA).
  • Arsenal out performed where we should have finished in the Premier League because our wage spend was 5th largest and we finished 4th.
  • Abou Diaby on £60k is paid more than Luka Modric on £48k.
  • The summer of 2014 is when the shirt/naming rights and the shirt manufacturing come up for renewal.
  • At the moment the deals with Emirates and Nike  are delivering £15m in revenue, although we had the Emirates cash up front.
  • The market figure for Liverpool/Manchester United is around £50m.
  • Arsenal's commercial income was £40m. Manchester United have just posted results for more than £100m in the same category.
  • There doesn't appear to be a strategy to decrease the gap in terms of wage budget until the Nike/Emirates contracts come up for renewal.
  • Kroenke doesn't appear to be willing to bridge the gap between now and 2014 when the contracts are coming up for renewals.
  • Arsenal's results until the end of May will be announced in two weeks.
  • Gazidis says the club are in a very strong position cash wise, with money to spend.
  • The stadium debt is around £5m a year for the next 25 years.
  • There is no property debt, just stadium debt.
  • £25m is owed to people who have the A, B, C and D bonds.
  • The debt service is fixed at £20m a year.
  • If you were to wipe the debt out you would have an extra £20m from your revenue to spend on player's wages.
  • Three new commercial partners have been signed. Carlsberg, Indesit and Betsson.

  • The managers was happy with the transfer business we conducted in June/July/August when we signed Gervinho, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell and were granted a work permit for Ryo Miyaichi.
  • Arsenal could have brought a £35m player but chose not to.
  • Mikel Arteta will cost Arsenal £25m because he has no resale value. The player didn't take a pay cut to come to move to north London. Arsenal made up the difference by adding more years to the deal he was on at Everton.
  • Arteta's signing is a change of strategy from Arsenal.
  • The club are watching up to 70 players at one time.
  • Arsenal were able to get such an exceptional price for Samir Nasri because of Roberto Mancini's comments to the media about the player to the media. Arsenal could have reported them to the FA for openly tapping up the player.
  • The club say they managed to secure around £10m more than Barcelona were willing to pay for Cesc Fabregas by holding out for as long as they did. This was because neither Barcelona nor Fabregas would play ball with Arsenal.
I hope to be able to go into more depth later in the week about the meeting and what I gained from it. For all the negative vibes coming from what's gone on at the club in the summer, it is good they still communicate with fans via groups like the AST.

If only Arsenal's majority shareholder Stan Kroenke - who won't be sacking the current board - was committed to the club as much as those who attended last night's meeting, the club wouldn't be as rudderless as it appears to be now.

I'll post my team preview later. If you're not able to watch the match, join us for live interactive text commentary of the game from 7.30pm. Set up a reminder below.

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