The beauty and horror of Arsenal’s ‘socialist’ pay-structure
When Arsene called our club’s wage structure ‘a more socialist model’ fans groaned and balked across the globe. Socialism was quickly confused with communism, as many believed that Arsene wants to play every player the same.
This has never been the case, and it is also not what Wenger wants. I reckon when he used the word ‘socialist’, he meant fair, more equal; as in a more equal, fairer model. Arsene believes Arsenal’s wage structure should be economically viable and not see some players paid significantly more compared to others; as he put it: “to pay something that makes sense and is defendable in front of every single player”, and adding: “We make exceptions sometimes but they are not maybe so high. If you want to keep making profit you have to respect that.”
Nobody really likes to read that a football club wants to make a profit; the idea of a football club being an ordinary business is unpalatable to most of us. But it is what it is, and running a football club comes with considerable risks, which need to be managed sensibly. Only those clubs with rich billionaire owners who have a purely ‘charitable’ attitude towards their huge financial investments, can function outside the capitalist reality of having to make a profit, or at least break even – the latter not being very attractive to investors in the club, unless they are fervent supporters who want to help the club as much as possible.
But let me not digress too much. The crux of it all is that Wenger does not believe in paying a few players significantly more compared to the rest. The Telegraph reports that Podolski is apparently on about £100k per week and that many squad players are on £60k. Theo is seeking to get close to £100k as well, and Arsene appears to be dithering about sanctioning it.
Football is a team sport and all have to work hard, and for each other, to get results. I can therefore understand why Arsene feels strongly that the wage gap should not be more than say double between his ‘first eleven’ players. Of course age and experience should be factored in, but more importantly players should be paid for the significance of their contributions to their team. It is fairer and more likely to produce the necessary team spirit.
However, with other clubs being able, and morally prepared, to pay top star players well above the reported £100k per week we pay for our top earner, the club will run a constant risk of losing our best players at the end of each season. The latter is unacceptable, and will simply mean we will remain in transition every season, as we have been experiencing for the last two years.
On top of that, there is a risk that some players are paid above their market value, as Arsene is no doubt a generous person. The Telegraph is reporting that Arsenal’s average wage is only £3000 less than Manchester United’s (£61k per player per week, compared to £64k). Luckily, we continue to see a shifting out of players who have not made the grade – albeit slowly and on loan deals rather than selling them all – which should reduce the total wage bill, although not necessarily the average wage by much.
So should the club ditch Arsene’s honourable ‘socialist’ wage structure and go for Manchester United’s polarised ‘market-value’ system, where Rooney and Van Judas are paid around £225k per week each – £1m per month – while others are paid a third to a quarter, or less than that?
Looking at what Van Judas is currently doing, it is hard to argue he is not worth the money he is being paid. He is carrying the horrible Mancs on his traitor’s back at the moment. But then looking at Shrek’s contributions in return for his £12m per year, and you can see what the risks are of giving somebody a long term contract with a huge weekly wage.
Van Judas has netted twenty times this season, but Rooney only eight times. Hernandez has scored 50% more goals than Rooney, yet is likely to be earning not more than a third of Shrek’s beastly weekly wage. How fair is that and what does this do for team morale?
Van Judas and Shrek have scored 28 goals until now this season, and are paid £2m per month for it. Theo (14) and Giroud (9) – who have not played together much – have scored 23 goals between them and are currently earning a fraction of the Manc’s ugly couple’s wages. I predict that by the end of the season our two strikers will still not be far off, or equal, to the Mancs’ couple.
Van Judas could get injured any time, and the club will have to pay his wages and get nothing back for it. After recovering from his injury he might never be the same, and yet the club have to fork out an incredible £48m in wages plus an additional £24m to Arsenal to obtain his services: this liability will not go away.
I am gutted we let him go to the Mancs; the club I despise most of all. They took an enormous risk in signing Van Judas up but they are currently reaping the benefits. It all remains to be seen whether it will pay off for them long term.
But the fact is, Arsenal let him go, and he deserted us, the fans, for lots more money and the hope for a better chance to win something. Nasri and Song also left to get more money somewhere else, and we are likely to face similar issues every summer as long as Arsenal are not prepared to adjust their wage structure in order to attract and keep the best players.
Maybe the Financial Fair Play regulations will make a real difference, but I cannot see it changing the Mancs and others being able to pay some of their best players huge wages, whilst others earn significantly less. It is more a question of ideology and approach to taking risks than anything else.
I love Arsene’s ideological approach, as morally I am totally with him on this, but in the uber/post capitalist reality of modern football in England, I reckon it will be almost impossible to sustain. Reality sucks.
Written by: Total Arsenal.