There has been a lot of commotion from fans this season, about boycotting games in order to prove a point to the Board of Directors: avoid buying tickets to games in order to not line the pockets of the greedy BoD, so that they will learn from their mistakes and properly re-invest funds into the squad.
However, apart from the remuneration figures that have been circulated over the Internet, there is no real proof that the Board, Manager or Owner are the sole perpetrators in Arsenal’s lack of spending over the years. Fans should understand that those in the Arsenal hierarchy are paid their salaries regardless of the increase or decrease in ticket sales, and that not all Board members are salaried in the first place.
In fact, it’s very likely that, in addition to the aforementioned Board’s salaries, the funds from ticket sales are invested in a wide range of expenses; such as building the club’s brand image internationally, player salaries, financing the stadium debt, remunerating the Arsenal employees (remember that there are employees outside of the BoD, players and manager), and maintaining the pitch and other amenities at the Emirates and Shenley Training Center, etc.
My point is that there is no proof that the board are simply lining their pockets with cash and refusing the club to spend money – there are a multitude of expenses at a football club and by no means will a decrease in ticket sales inspire the Board to invest their own funds on player transfers.
A small contingent of fans are attempting to hurt the club in any imaginable way through boycotting games and hoping for the club to lose in order to see change – I will never understand this malice towards a club that fans claim to be passionate about, and have devoted themselves to. Sadly, if we continue to see a decreasing trend in ticket sales, it may only affect the employees that need their jobs and deserve to be paid (ones that are paid to be at matches to sell programs, food, merchandise, take your tickets at the door, etc.).
More importantly, we must be cognizant that a decrease in attendance may adversely affect our players and squad morale as well. There’s supposed to be a considerable advantage in any sport when playing games in your home stadium; the lack of attendance can lead players to believe that the club’s supporters are not as passionate and loyal as they once believed. Aside from direct results in Champions League qualification and title opportunity credentials, this can actually have a minor impact on whether players want to join a club.
Arsenal is known for having a rich history and some of the world’s best and most loyal supporters. Of course, the club is bigger than any player, manager, small contingent of tumultuous fans, etc. But over time, these revolts can wear down a club and its reputation.
However, at the end of the day, the results of our club in the standings and on the pitch outweigh these concerns, and simply put, we have not performed to the high standards we set from 1998-2005.
What then do we make of the man who has become synonymous with Arsenal? For me, this summer marks the make or break point in Arsene’s career at Arsenal.
The stadium debt is now under control; a young core of talents that Arsene developed has recently been signed up to long-term contracts, and several unwanted wages (Squillaci, Arshavin & Fabianski) will be off the books very soon. Arsene must seize this opportunity and sign a world-class player, along with other talented ones to take this team forward into serious title contention. Otherwise, the vicious cycle of struggling to qualify for Champions League will continue, and the club could fall victim to obscurity, similar to Liverpool, Leeds United and Newcastle. Arsene’s current contract expires in the summer of 2014 and another season without silverware will undoubtedly spell the end to a storied managing career at Arsenal.
Bear in mind, I am not proclaiming that Arsene should be replaced if we do not win silverware next year; simply that there needs to be positive progression and considerable improvement in the standings and our on-field end-product, before the board should even consider extending AW’s contract again. Arsene’s reputation and accolades certainly may entitle him to an extension, but 9 years without silverware at a top club is difficult to defend against; especially considering we have been off the pace of the PL champions by 18 or more points in the last two years (this year and last).
Sometimes, change is necessary in order for a club to move forward and for players to feel that their playing time and jobs might be in jeopardy under a new manager. It can eliminate the complacency that has plagued this squad somewhat recently, and inspire players to perform with a full effort for the entire 90 minutes during each game. Of course, the reverse can be true and players can be upset with the change in management, and underperform in the new circumstances.
Despite the lack of results in silverware, Arsene should be applauded and admired for standing by the club in times in which we were placed under considerable financial restraint. I cannot think of another manager who could have done a better job during his tenure here than Arsene, and his work will continue to be remembered long after he leaves.
If Arsene is replaced and we are able to attain silverware afterwards, it should not be viewed as a slight against Arsene or the new manager; AW will always be responsible for Arsenal’s beautiful style of football and for developing and holding onto the young core in place, but the new manager will be responsible for instilling some change that will have guided us there.
I know many of you want to see Arsenal eventually win silverware with Arsene as manager, but at what point is the drought too much to endure as a top club?
Can you see Arsenal turning its fortunes around next season? How do you feel about some fans’ decision to boycott games?
Written By: Highbury Harmony