Arsenal in Crisis

Stagnation beckons

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The imminent shock departure of Sven Mislintat to, probably, Bayern Munich could be more devastating for Arsenal Football Club than the departure of Arsène Wenger. To label this a crisis is not hyperbole but an honest analysis of where we will be left. When Ivan Gazidis left for AC Milan, he must have had an inkling that the fortunes of Arsenal Football Club would depend upon the efficiency of the new managerial structure he had put in place. Previously we had just one autocrat in charge. Arsène Wenger’s micromanagement and absolute control laid the seeds for this need for change and restructuring. Yet it never used to be like this. Arsenal had a prized managerial heritage which mirrored its classy culture, encouraged by devoted family owners.

Arsenal FC used to have the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman (David Dein) and the Managing Director, together with the largest shareholder from the Board and Ken Friar, ex-club secretary, essentially running the club. Ken Friar and David Dein ran the transfer policy. The Managing Director in concert with Danny Fiszman ran the day-to-day policy. MD Keith Edelman was the real brains behind the new stadium project at Ashburton Grove. Credit was given to Arsène Wenger, yet if we see the problems that Tottenham Hotspur are having at present trying to finish their own stadium project, and their anticipated lack of transfers, then Keith Edelman’s role is even more to be admired. Yes, we had a property portfolio in Queensland Road and the property project for the old Highbury Stadium, which provided valuable millions, but they still had to be delivered in an unpredictable economic climate. Edelman’s negotiation of the low-cost business loans enabled the club to survive.

Fast forward to the eventual 2007 departure of David Dein, which had its roots in his fall-out with Danny Fiszman. Arsenal could not afford to lose Arsène Wenger, a close friend of David Dein, and for a few months it seemed likely that Arsène would walk. The lure of being in complete control fed Arsène’s ego and the rest, as they say, is history. The appointment of Ivan Gazidis from the United States MLS was as an ally to American Stan Kroenke. Ivan Gazidis must have sensed that the buck would stop with him after Wenger, so he recruited a number of individuals who would prevent an autocrat coming in again and having absolute control. Arsène Wenger was against the appointment of a director of football, yet the control that he exercised proved to be too great, as the handling of player contracts became a farcical mess with players being able to leave on a ‘Bosman’ as contracts expired, and over-priced buys being made when those players left as free agents.

Ivan Gazidis saw this mess and in good faith was not going to allow this to happen again. The club recruited Raul Sanllehi from Barcelona as head of football relations. Sanllehi would be in charge of player negotiations alongside ex-Team Sky’s Huss Fahmy as head of contracts. The appointment of head of recruitment, Sven ‘Diamond Eye’ Mislintat from Borussia Dortmund, was considered to be a major coup. Mislintat was also a risk, as he had the reputation of being very single-minded. Who knows if his personality might be a factor in his departure, as it is rumoured that he coveted the role of ‘technical director’ that the club have reputedly offered to ex-player Edu? So the decision to approach someone else to this position following the departure of Gazidis must have jarred. The recruitment of Unai Emery alongside these other appointees should have heralded a period of stability for the club, with the promotion of Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham, who originally came to Arsenal in 2010, having helped with Olympics 2012 before becoming the Chief Commercial Officer under Gazidis.

Now the future for our club is very uncertain. Arsenal was a football club valued at £1.9 billion in 2018 with a share price of £37,000 as compared with its previous value of £731 million and share price of £12,500 in 2011. Our value as assessed by Forbes and Deloitte sees us now behind Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City. If you consider that Paris St Germain are next in this list, and also consider the calibre and value of the Category A transfer buys of all of these clubs, then you can understand why I label this a crisis. The inflated value of the club might help Stan Kroenke’s property portfolio, and any business negotiations with regard to his worth and the possible levering of Arsenal FC as collateral, but for us, the fans, it is yet another ritual humiliation. No money for transfers, or for funding the return of loan players is more embarrassing. The wisdom of chasing of ex-Gunner Edu, Brazil’s technical director, in the aforementioned role of technical director, presumably responsible for all player transfers is a little perplexing.

To lose Gazidis is unfortunate, but to lose Mislintat, widely regarded as the best in his field, is utter carelessness. The club is now privately owned by Kroenke, who appears unwilling to invest in his prized business asset, which means that Gooners must now turn their fire upon Josh and Stan. These Americans seem to have a greater loyalty to the Stars and Stripes and their Stateside sports franchise values than our own transfer needs. So Arsenal are truly in crisis. We can look forward to stagnation under the Kroenkes, so now the only options for change are the club falling from grace in the Premier League to a near-relegation position, with falling season ticket renewals and empty stadiums, or even a Blackpool-style boycott, unless some Arsenal fan with immense pockets could buy the club for £3 billion, a value that would seriously tempt the Kroenkes. Not even the Nigerian billionaire and self-confessed Arsenal fan, Aliko Dangkote, would be willing to pay that sum, and his valued worth is more than Stan Kroenke’s.

Twitter@GoonerRocky

 

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18
comments

  1. peter wain

    Jan 24, 2019, 17:17 #112989

    how does a drop in wages help us get rid of Ozil. It means he will stay for the length of his contract giving the yank the perfect excuse not to put finds into Arsenal. The soon the yank goes the better.

  2. markymark

    Jan 24, 2019, 11:25 #112980

    Don Howe - I remember when I was in the mortgage game there was a major deal going on for a central London development . The Emirate Prince pulled out and top of market was effectively called. It does have the feel of those days again. We can add Man City facing possible player embargo and I suspect the billionaire owners probably wishing for a kick back against player power. It’s quite possible that the boom is over. As always if it does crash it always reveals criminality , fraud and general structural weakness. As for the players , I’m sure they could survive on a mere 50k per week.

  3. Don Howe

    Jan 23, 2019, 20:21 #112979

    Listening to the radio the other day they described player stagnation because teams could not really afford the top £200k plus a week wages and couldn’t shift those players when they don’t work viz Ozil. We need a collapse in wages and transfer fees. The EPL can’t find a new boss because the tv deal is at its apogee. The gulf states are mostly oppressive regimes ripe for toppling and China is about to go into recession. Russia is subject to sanctions. Spain is bankrupt. Everywhere you turn the supply of gravy is about to turn off. We have shot of Wenger, a decent coach who has told Ramsey and Ozil to get lost, a reserve team full of good youngsters, Koscielny, Sideshow Bob, Pitbull Torreira, lacazette and Obamawang and aesthetically pleasing shirts. We even have an owner whose money isn’t bent. Ergo we face an uphill climb, but we are still in the game.

  4. markymark

    Jan 23, 2019, 14:10 #112978

    There would have been less of a crisis if the rank poor Ivan and Arsene had actually speculated when the decline set in I.e Higuain 4-5 seasons back , Saurez etc. Wengers complete loss of touch with the new French generation is simply perplexing. He and Ivan could have had us rolling in money. Over recent years it’s been player asset inflation that has pushed Chelsea and Liverpool whilst we’ve been the nice new stadium infested with Japanese Knotweed and unfortunately unsellable. Anyway it looks like Sahenlli has won he does his business by his contact book and agents . That in turn is costlier than the Mstinlat money ball strategy. This could get in interesting as Raúl needs money to operate his model. I wonder if we’ll see a splurge in 2019-20 ?

  5. TonyEvans

    Jan 23, 2019, 12:21 #112977

    Cornish - you can add Supermac and Charlie Nick to your list of stellar 'statement' purchases - I always thought our problem was, having struggled to the top of the tree, investing in the squad to try and stay at the top. You're spot on re Kroenke; I just can't see much good ahead, in terms of really getting Arsenal back to the glory days, until the yank has ridden off in to the sunset.

  6. mbg

    Jan 22, 2019, 21:31 #112976

    From Back on track to Arsenal in crisis in a couple of days, wow, i don't think so, although there's those who do, remember we were in deep crisis and certainly stagnating when TOF was running us into the ground, and it was widely accepted by us all that would continue for a few seasons under the new manager. I don't think we're in crisis, if the manager is given time and support from us all he'll get it right.

  7. CORNISH GOONER

    Jan 22, 2019, 19:23 #112975

    I'm not a history student of AFC's finances but I'm not sure the claim that the Club has always "wanted success on the cheap" holds up. I am pretty old however & can remember some big money, "chequebook" signings from way back. In no particular order Mel Charles, George Eastham, Alan Ball etc ? Whenever they needed to buy they generally did - I can remember Wrighty being offered to us fans as a specific declaration of ambition. No, what we have here is a highly contagious infection known as Kroenke's Syndrome for which there is, at present, no known cure. He is the one standout guy among the 20 PL Club owners - couldn't give a rat's arse about the footie.

  8. Bard

    Jan 22, 2019, 14:59 #112974

    I think the relevant issue is why he left not that he cant be replaced. We have an astute and classy manager but we have to give him the tools to do the job and by that I dont mean paying £100m for players. For a club like Arsenal to say they can only afford loan players with 3 of the squad out for the season and another leaving on a free, a reserve on £350 grand a week is a ridiculous state of affairs. Debating whether it's a crisis or not is missing the point completely. Its mismanagement on a grand scale, which of course dear old Ivan knew and in my opinion its why he jumped ship.

  9. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 22, 2019, 12:44 #112973

    Rocky: The graveyard is full of irreplaceable people, If we are getting Edu back, I for one am delighted, he was a class act, the team had a lovely rhythm when ever he played. He is currently coordinator of the Brazil national team so he is no lightweight - sounds like a great move to me, bring it on.

  10. David1

    Jan 22, 2019, 11:53 #112971

    @Arrgee - spot on. Ever since the 'Bank of England' tag of the 1930s, Arsenal have always wanted success, as long as it could be done on the cheap. David Dein's ambitiousness was an aberration, but even he didn't dare fly too close to the sun. When the fat-cat sugar-daddy option was on the table - which was clearly working for Chelsea - he chose to back Kronke, and only supported the fat Russian when it was too late. It's still not clear why the board persisted with AW for so long. Bigger than the club? Fear of the repercussions if a new manager failed? They genuinely believed he could still deliver with FFP? Happy with the dividends of top four finishes and CL participation? Kronke liked him? Maybe it is as simple as this: Arsenal's core identity at boardroom level is about success on the cheap. If it can't be done cheaply, then it's not worth the cost.

  11. David1

    Jan 22, 2019, 11:53 #112972

    @Arrgee - spot on. Ever since the 'Bank of England' tag of the 1930s, Arsenal have always wanted success, as long as it could be done on the cheap. David Dein's ambitiousness was an aberration, but even he didn't dare fly too close to the sun. When the fat-cat sugar-daddy option was on the table - which was clearly working for Chelsea - he chose to back Kronke, and only supported the fat Russian when it was too late. It's still not clear why the board persisted with AW for so long. Bigger than the club? Fear of the repercussions if a new manager failed? They genuinely believed he could still deliver with FFP? Happy with the dividends of top four finishes and CL participation? Kronke liked him? Maybe it is as simple as this: Arsenal's core identity at boardroom level is about success on the cheap. If it can't be done cheaply, then it's not worth the cost.

  12. arrgee

    Jan 22, 2019, 10:00 #112970

    Sven was a glorified HR man. And Wenger was well past it. As for the prized heritage, give me a break, Arsenal have been run on the cheap since WWII. Dein was the only one who moved things forward. Neither George Graham nor Arsene Wenger had a big transfer deficit. As it stands, Arsenal are worth £2 billion and in the top ten clubs as far as money is concerned. The Kronkes must be delighted with their investment. As for the fans, we were sold a pup. There was no benefit for us by moving stadium back in 2006. Had we stayed, we would probably have been closer to Chelsea and Man United before the petro dollars of Man City blew everyone away. Chelsea ain't moving cos there is next to no benefit in it. Spurs will be like us in the next year or two.

  13. Wengerballs

    Jan 21, 2019, 20:20 #112968

    Dramatic with the overused and abused 'crisis' allegation, that wouldnt have been written after the Chelsea game. Idiotic statement here:"...could be more devastating for Arsenal Football Club than the departure of Arsène Wenger." Wenger leaving was tge

  14. CORNISH GOONER

    Jan 21, 2019, 19:35 #112967

    Rob, and pigs might fly! There probably isn't such a thing as a benevolent billionaire but at least most other such PL owners seem pretty committed to pursuing success - like the fans. Stan, Stan Toxic Man.

  15. Rob1971

    Jan 21, 2019, 16:05 #112966

    The LA Rams are in the Super Bowl. Would be good if they win (tho the Patriots will be favourites) and maybe winning a super bowl would encourage Kroenke to splurge??

  16. RobG

    Jan 21, 2019, 14:33 #112965

    Have to say, this is a bit overstated. There's a short term and a long term way of seeing matters. They plainly intersect with each other but are often treated as separate entities. The long term bit hinges on the Kronkes. As is said, they love Arsenal, because of the cash revenue and the share value. But those things rely on full - ish stadiums and on field success. So they can't let everything fall by the way side. The short term bit hinges on Unai and the latest set of result. The current situation with no room for incoming transfers is plainly bad. But with the Adidas deal and other things kicking in, we will have some purchasing power in the summer. We are dealing with the hangover of some really bad mistakes - signings and contracts - from the latter part of the Wenger/Gazedis era. The crucial thing is the Unai gets three years to turn things around and that he doesn't walk away. If he did - then 'crisis' would ring true. Equally if we haven't advanced or gotten back into the CL by the end of that period, then he and we will have failed. But until then, we have to soldier on. I honestly think - signings or not in this window - we are better than we have been for the last three or four years. I hope Sven stays but if he goes it won't be more than disruptive, in the short term.

  17. Rocky the King

    Jan 21, 2019, 13:13 #112964

    I agree with your final assertion, which therefore begs the question what was Sven Mislintat given as assurances for the purchase of new players? It suggest a lack of transparency somewhere by someone if this is really the case. A matter that Gooners might like to reflect upon. Indeed if such high calibre appointees cannot be told the real situation during confidential negotiations, then the Arsenal website is a forum for fake news and all of the statements from the directors of the club CANNOT be trusted. This reflects the arrogant autocratic way that the club is being run in by the owner and his cronies.

  18. Bard

    Jan 21, 2019, 09:27 #112963

    Good article Rocky. I agree it's a crisis albeit a result of power struggles in the management team. The problems result from financial mismanagement and lack of money. I dont think the self sustainability model is remotely workable in todays football climate. What it makes clear is that Stan sees Arsenal as nothing more than a 'security' for other projects. What I think has changed is that I dont think the Arsenal fans will stomach this in the medium term. If the protests get going its going to damage Stan's brand. He can say all he likes about not caring a jot but when there are swathes of empty seats and protests, he will change his mind. We have a good manager and he backing in the transfer market. My feeling is that Sven is going because it's impossible to find players if he hasnt got a decent budget.