David Ornstein has been the guest on the Arsenal Supporters Trust lockdown webinar this week.
Former BBC sports correspondent Ornstein, now writing for The Athletic, fielded a variety of questions on Arsenal from AST members as they watched online on Wednesday evening.
With social distancing rules still very much in place, online anchorman Akhil Vyas played host, aided and abetted by AST stalwarts including Tim Payton.
The pair gave an insightful summary of the AST document released earlier this week detailing the potential impact of Covid-19 on Arsenal’s finances over the 2019-20 and 2020-21.
In short, our club could be staring down the barrel of a £144million debt by the end of next season although this comes with the caveat of no one knowing what is actually going to happen beyond the Premier League’s meeting on Friday in terms of football, or indeed anything else.
David Ornstein offers some hope on Arsenal’s finances
David offered some succour by reminding us that even in the worst case scenarios Arsenal are in a comparatively healthy financial position compared to many. It is perhaps not over dramatic to suggest that some clubs such as Reading FC, whose wages easily exceed 100 per cent of their revenue, face potential oblivion given the scenarios of continued lockdown and the prospect of football played behind closed.
That said, in the shadow of the past few seasons of underperformance, Arsenal’s bottom line is not looking as healthy as other top six clubs.
David explained that the decision to cut players wages by 12.5 per cent, dependent upon European (non) qualification, was clearly motivated by the kind of financial projections that AST have made.
With more than 130 AST members watching, a caller called Paul, brought a warm and homely reminder that Arsenal’s move to take the initiative and negotiate players’ wage cuts is nothing more than us Gooners would expect - The Arsenal, doing the right thing, the right way, the Arsenal way.
David Ornstein on Thomas Partey’s possible transfer to Arsenal on the AST webinar
The meeting was heavily dominated by conjecture about the immediate future of domestic football. For those of us who would like to see the current season ended, whenever that may be, before a new one begins, it was reassuring to hear that the 2019/20 ‘null and void’ option has not been on the table. However, ultimately David summed it all up by saying, “your guess is as good as mine” as to how things will proceed.
It was with some light relief that David was pulled into the next best thing to on field entertainment – transfer speculation. He said that indeed there has been contact between Arsenal and Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid but this is by no means nearing agreement. Neatly, the prospect of Partey playing in Arsenal’s No5 shirt could work, given that our current incumbent, Sokratis, was mentioned among a clutch of players who are likely to be listening to potential offers.
But like everything these days – it’s all just pure speculation.
AST are planning more webinars in the future, to make your voice heard why not join them. Click here for more information.
Follow long-standing Arsenal season ticket holder and AST member Guy Wiseman on Twitter.