I’m feeling a little odd this morning. I still have the joy and happiness of the FA Cup final which isn’t quite ready to leave my body and mind just yet, but at the same time I feel a little sad and disappointed, as yesterday the club announced that they have decided to take the tough decision to place 55 people on notice that their job is currently at risk as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. That means that 55 back room staff are going to need to be looking for a new job in the coming months and at a time in which businesses are making redundancies everywhere, it will mean there are people who are having to spend their run up to Christmas (because by the time consultations are finished we’re talking getting in to mid September, which means a few months in the run up to Christmas is job hunting) searching in a market that is going to be very candidate heavy.
I understand that businesses in all sectors are having to make cuts and every day you watch the news to hear about the latest firm to be on the brink of collapse and being forced to make changes. But I didn’t think that would be The Arsenal. I thought we would be better than that and I thought that the club would be able to ride out the storm of the current problems.
That’s because Arsenal are a club with a billionaire owner who spends fortunes on a white elephant new stadium in LA that still isn’t built and is running massively over budget and over scheduled completion time. That’s because we have a collective of footballers who are millionaires and who the club even admitted are a combined wage bill ‘on Champions League wages with Europa League football’. Of course it isn’t the players’ issue and of course it isn’t their responsibility to sort out the finances at the club. You can’t point the finger of blame at players who are offered contracts and take them. Players who – as far as we know – are the only ones to have taken a 12.5% pay cut in order to help the club out.
I’m sure I read somewhere that the players were very sceptical of the clubs motives on this at the time. They were happy to take the pay cut if it meant salvaging the jobs of some of the staff at the club and the players themselves appreciated that given there were so many people on such lower wages than them who worked at The Arsenal. So I think the players have more than done their bit (apart from Ozil who we know refused to give up part of his wages).
There’s also the question over transfers and I think this will bring a few people back down to earth. People thinking we’re going ‘spend big’ this summer will, I hope, take a reality check on the gravity of our situation without matchday revenue that is such a big part of our turnover. The idea that we’re spending £100millio this summer, or even half that, feels quite fanciful right now.
So I’m sad this morning because the euphoria of winning the FA Cup is now tinged with this situation and it is leaving a slightly bad taste in my mouth. It also makes me wonder what some of those players are thinking about the club now too. If I was a player I’d be wondering why I took my pay cut if it wasn’t to safeguard some of the jobs of the people working at the same company as me, which as I’ve said I’m sure I read or heard that this was their understanding, and if that is the case then your trust in the club would clearly be dented as a result of this announcement.
Let’s also remember that the purpose of redundancy is if there is no longer the type of work for you available that there was before. So if you work in a big company that manages offices and you are a facilities manager at one of the offices, then the office is sold, you are made redundant because your job just isn’t there. Which I guess is why we should be waiting and seeing just who the club are going to make redundant as a result of this announcement. There is talk that Francis Cagiago is going to be one of the club’s casualties as a result of this and if true, it means Arsenal’s vast scouting network looks to be part of the cull.
If we are talking about 55 scouts losing their jobs, then my question is what impact that is going to have, in terms of – and I quote Raul Sanllehi here – “outsmarting the market” as we were told when he took over? How can we ‘outsmart the market’ if we don’t have the same infrastructure to be able to find the likes of Martinelli, Fabregas, Guendouzi, etc? Are we going to rely on Raul and his ‘book of contacts’? If we are then it worries me.
However, what I will say in response to that, is that apparently Arsenal’s scouting network is one of the biggest in the world. And we have already heard how Arsenal are looking to focus more on the 16 – 18 age bracket in their search for talent. When we talk about the scouting network we do need to remember that it includes kids, teenagers, as well as those just getting into their 20s and those well into their football careers. So if we are talking about a situation where Arsenal will not look to have as many scouts at different levels because the focus is on that age group just on the cusp of getting in to the first team at around the age of 18, then it makes sense that there may no longer be jobs available.
I guess all of this is still unknowns and whilst I’m sad that there are people who are losing their livelihoods at a club that some of them will love deeply and have an emotional connection with, we have to wait and see just who is being made redundant. Particular given that Arsenal are actually hiring in roles like this and this.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that whilst I am sad that people are losing their jobs, sceptical of Arsenal’s motives, I refrain from properly going to town on the club until we all know just what roles are going to be made redundant.
Catch you all tomorrow.