I’m going to stray in to territory where I’m not exactly 100% comfortable or an expert in today. This is my disclaimer to let you know that what I’m now about to say is based on my opinion and so is both open to interpretation, bias, as well as potential factual inaccuracy, although if so I haven’t done it on purpose, just my understanding.
That disclaimer out the way, we should probably talk about the latest news from the club and in the absence of stuff happening on the field, eyes turn with more focus to it happening off the field, most namely the club’s latest set of accounts and decision making on season ticket prices. I’ll deal with the season ticket prices first as it impacts the smallest number of the Arsenal population, with me included within that.
The club announced a 4% increase in the price of season tickets yesterday, citing the general rising cost of things, in the aim of returning to break even for the club and as one of a number of revenue streams the club is looking to increase it’s finances to claw back some of the losses that were achieved during COVID. They also cite that prices haven’t increased for seven years and that is of course true. As a season ticket holder it’s frustrating that those of us who have been unofficially deemed ‘Legacy Fans’ by people at Arsenal (no doubt with an American accent and a view of Arsenal as a global asset) are being asked to delve in to our pockets to help add an additional couple of million in the coffers. I’m not happy about it, you’re not happy about it if you too are a match-day going fan, we can all acknowledge that. But what can we do? I am not going to stop going to The Arsenal because of a price rise. I’ll pay the costs for next season and be there come the first home game of August.
I’m lucky. I have a job that means that price rise doesn’t really impact me too much and when I see general cost of living increase and inflation rising, I understand that the club probably does need to increase prices. But in the grand scheme of things Arsenal’s revenues are such that the additional couple of million pounds the club will make from this, will probably not have that much of a difference. Well, that’s what I say now, but if the club came out in six months time and said “with the money we have made from the season ticket and general admission prices, we were able to do X” I’d probably find it a little easier to swallow to be honest. If the club told me that the collective increase has paid for a number of the stadium upgrades I’d probably be ok with it. But I’d probably want to know what they plan to do after those upgrades are in place because those amends are a ‘one time’ purchase, our season ticket increase will be forever I suspect.
This leads me in to the second bit of news, which was on the financial results as a result of COVID. In the 2021 financial year it was £107.3million loss that was incurred, an increase from the previous year of £47.8million. So, if my understanding is correct, that is debt currently on the club and something that we have to find the cash for, given the statement about season ticket prices and trying to find other revenue streams. The KSE refinancing of the stadium debt was a fairly big chunk by the looks of it (tied in to the £39million ‘exceptional costs’) and to my untrained eyes it doesn’t look like there has been any golden ticket pay-out from KSE to keep the club ticking over. Now, they may not need to state that in any accounts – like I say I’m not an expert – but when I read these top line figures I look at what I’m seeing and what doesn’t become clear to me is the narrative that KSE have dug Arsenal out of any holes. Quite the contrary, Arsenal as a club is trying to dig itself out of the hole that was caused by the pandemic and KSEs role in all this has been to what, tell the relevant authorities that they have the money to bail Arsenal out if needed? I doubt it.
I have never wanted KSE in charge, I have never believed some narrative from fans that they are doing a good job and I still am completely unconvinced by their pedigree as owners. They were a big part of the failed Super League attempt and for that I have not forgotten, nor forgiven. The narrative that KSE have come to Arsenal’s rescue – and yes, I have seen that from Arsenal fans – is wrong to my eyes and unless we see some kind of evidence to the contrary, no Arsenal fan should be thinking that KSE have been any kind of white knight at any stage of their stewardship of the club. The people the run the club here, in England, are the ones who are working tirelessly to ensure we can be competitive, that we try to fix our finances, that we get back to being a sustainable club. KSE aren’t any kind of heroes and should never be seen as that. As far as I am aware at this moment of time, they are still to invest a penny of their own money in to Arsenal and we should all be very aware of that.
Of course these financial results are from May 2021 and maybe the big spend up of last summer was helped by KSE. But I won’t be having any kind of expectation for that and until I see otherwise I continue to associate them with absent ownership (until their own botched efforts for the Super League forced them to engage), little or no investment, no real sporting knowledge brought to Arsenal to improve the way we are run. I am here to have my mind changed and open to it, but as it stands today, I remain very firmly disappointed with their management. Let’s see though.
Right, that’ll do me for today. Back tomorrow with some more Arsenal thoughts – hopefully on field focused stuff.
Catch you then.
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