Premier League – Arsenal: No cash for Wenger
Arsenal will not adopt the Chelsea model of pursuing success on the pitch regardless of the cost, according to director Danny Fiszman.
The Gunners failed to win a trophy last season but are determined not to seek a Chelsea-style benefactor such as billionaire Roman Abramovich in search of silverware.
Arsenal ran out of steam in both the Barclays Premier League and Champions League as Chelsea pushed Manchester United all the way.
But Fiszman has signalled Arsenal’s determination not to go down the same route as Chelsea, whose pursuit of the Premier League and Champions League saw them ultimately come second best to United in both competitions.
Fiszman told Arsenal TV: “We don’t believe in the benefactor model.”
Arsenal’s financial strategy is linked to revenue generation from Emirates Stadium and also involvement in emerging markets for the football club.
Fiszman added: “It is not a question of a one-time infusion of cash to buy player x or player y. You actually then have salaries that are connected to the players.”
There are associated dangers of spending big on players, something Fiszman and the Arsenal board of directors are wary of.
He said of big-name players: “What if they don’t work out? Do you go and buy another two or three players? Is there any end to it?
“So I think everybody, including Chelsea, knows there are limits. Chelsea were not big spenders last summer certainly – they got our old player Steven Sidwell on a free transfer.
“We believe in the end the self-sustaining model is the right one, the one we have adopted and will continue adopting.”
The Gunners followed a similar strategy when it came to contract talks with French midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who eventually decided to leave in favour of Italian giants AC Milan.
And Fiszman believes the club were right to stick to their policy over player wages.
He continued: “We made a substantial offer to Mathieu. It was considerable and in line with our wage structure but he chose to go elsewhere.
“We wish him luck, thank him for what he has done for the club and wish him all the best.”
Fiszman also believes Arsenal’s wage structure is not out of line with the others in the big four Premier League clubs, with the exception of Chelsea.
“If you look at our total wage costs you will see they are virtually the same as Manchester United and substantially more than Liverpool,” he said.
“Of course we are all a little less than Chelsea who are in a world of their own. But compared to Manchester United and Liverpool we are good payers.
“We believe it is a team sport and we do well but we don’t want the disparity between the top and bottom earner being too big. It takes 11 people on the pitch to deliver.”
Fiszman claims the future of the club lies with identifying new markets and also different uses, such as staging rock concerts, for Emirates Stadium which has now been operating for two seasons.
He explained: “I think our expansion abroad is where we’ll see the main increase. That is with sponsorships, affiliations that we have made in Thailand and Vietnam.
“We are looking for a variety of sponsors in the Far East that want to align themselves with Arsenal.”
But despite his optimism for the future Fiszman admitted the Gunners were disappointed they surrendered the lead in the Premier League title race to United last season.
He said: “The football we played through the year created expectations, and the fact we had a five-point lead (over United in the Premier League) created even greater expectations so I think everybody is sad and deflated.”
Fiszman also admitted the failure to win a trophy had been a big disappointment for the Gunners.
“In the end that is what we all strive for. We can’t win every year and hopefully it will be our turn next year and for many years to come.