A few days ago, the annual financial report for Arsenal was released, and the club showed extremely healthy cash reserves and a positive profit margin. In today’s competitive market, when several of the biggest clubs are in debt, this is a big positive for the London Club. However, some fans raised questions as to why the cash reserves were not being spent. While we have invested in players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil over the past couple of seasons, the problematic areas of defensive midfielder and central defender have not been reinforced.
This reluctance on the part of Wenger to spend, even though the players are desperately needed, might have been forgiven if the financial situation was dire. But with cash reserves of over £170 million, the reluctance to spend is tough to explain. And the final straw was the decision of owner Stan Kroenke to withdraw funds totalling £3 million from the club.
The American businessman, who is the major shareholder of Arsenal, also owns other sports clubs in America, namely the Denver Nuggets in the NBA and the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Since he has never withdrawn money from any of those clubs, it has caused outrage among fans of the Gunners that he has chosen to do so with Arsenal, especially when the club needs every penny to invest in players.
In a rare interview in November 2011, Kroenke expanded on how he feels this American system works:
We have a whole different philosophy I think in the States, maybe, but I think it’s time for everybody to think a little bit. I think they ought to think about who invests in these clubs. He [Glazer] took money out of the club. So what? [LA Lakers owner] Jerry Buss takes money out of his club. A lot of owners in the US do. No one ever says anything about it.
The American received payments credited to his company KSE LLC for ‘strategic and advisory services’. This is a problem; specially because this season itself the price for season tickets has been hiked by 3%, which coincidentally also totals £3 million. And this hike was despite the fact that Arsenal fans already pay the highest average ticket prices in the Premier League.
‘Silent’ Stan, as he is sometimes known, has always dodged questions on whether he would take dividends when addressing the Arsenal fans in the AGM. Needless to say, this is going to be a major sticking point during this years’ meeting in October.