War chest! Kitty! In the bank!
Words we all know come into play when the transfer window opens as people try to guesstimate how much the Arsenal manager has to spend so they can castigate him for not doing so.
The most recent claim made this summer is that Arsenal have £54m that they will make available to Wenger out of cash assets of £159.3m.
The difference between the numbers has prompted a few to ask why Wenger doesn’t have more, ignoring the some cash reserves need to be held for a number of reasons, not least as we continue to service the stadium debt (£194m).
Also, it’s never a good idea to spend everything you have, whether you’re a business, a football club or a normal human being.
The London Evening Standard get their figures from Ravi Lockyer, author of a report by Collins Sarri Statham Investments. He told the Standard “What we have with Arsenal is a number of expectation gaps.
“First and foremost that is between what the fans expect from the club and what the club could comfortably spend.
“But also another gap between what the club could spend and what they likely would spend, which I expect to be short of the £54.1m.”
I attempted to download the report for myself, but after supplying all my details, the Investment website returned an error (640).
So is this number true? I turned to another expert in light of the download problems above.
How much cash Arsenal have is not hard to work out.
The excellent Swiss Ramble regularly breaks down the finances of clubs based on information that is freely available in the public domain.
Knowing how much of that Arsenal plan to give to Wenger to spend, however, is another thing entirely.
For a start, I think we can all agree that this board would hand Wenger anything he wanted so it would seem strange that they have imposed a spending cap. This would imply that they don’t trust him to know when he’s spent too much, which we know isn’t the case.
If you do think they would impose a cap, then you have to concede that Wenger is not the all-powerful dictator many claim him to be.
Either way, that’s a discussion for another day.
In Swiss Ramble’s last post on Arsenal, compiled and published towards the end of February, he mentioned the same sum in reserve – £159m. This, the Ramble expects, will rise to around £225m – £250m in the next set of accounts, depending on the various staged transfer fees and when they come out.
What this means is that Arsenal have more cash than any other side on the planet. Manchester United come closest, some £72m behind Arsenal when it comes to cash reserves.
As I mentioned above, it’s never a good idea to spend all your money, no matter how shiny and new the latest gadgets are, but it would seem that Arsenal are playing things more conservatively than they might need to.
“There would have to be a monsoon of biblical proportions to justify Arsenal’s current cash levels,” says SR. “At the end of the 2013/14 season, they actually held 40% of the entire Premier League cash balances.”
But even SR concedes that not all this money is for transfers. “Of course, the raw figure in the accounts is a bit misleading, as not all of this cash balance is available to spend on transfers. Once more, for the cheap seats: not all of the cash balance represents a transfer fund.”
Part of the cash needs to be held to pay transfer fees which have been staged rather than paid as one lump sum. It’s a common feature of transfer rumours that Arsenal are, allegedly, a club others like to do business with because they are so cash rich they can pay the fee in one lump sum. But they don’t do that. At the last count, £45m was still owed, but these are figures from before the signing of Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka.
So what do Arsenal have available to spend?
Speaking before £30mish was splashed on Xhaka, SR wrote “It’s clearly not as much as the figure in the books, but we can say with some conviction that Arsenal should have around £100 million to spend in the summer on improving the squad.”
Whether or not Arsenal choose to spend all of it, however, is something that cannot be answered until the window shuts.