Back in 2002, Arsene Wenger spoke about how money in football simply had to run out soon.
There had to be an end game, he said, and clubs had reached their ‘maximum‘.
How wrong he was.
2002 wasn’t actually a bad time to be Arsenal manager.
We were still playing at Highbury, we’d won the 2001/2002 title, as well as the FA Cup, and had a squad which boasted the likes of Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. However, that didn’t stop Wenger from being nervous about the future of English football.
“Football relies on television — and the money is getting shorter for TV companies,” he said at the time.
“Clubs can’t get much more from advertising or selling shirts. Everyone has reached nearly a maximum there.
“Now the increase of TV money also looks to have reached the maximum.
“It cannot go further. It can only go down. All the clubs have reached a limit.”
Well, that went well.
The boss was banking on the money running out, on the playing field to level back out financially and clearly that didn’t happen. In fact, it’s grown worse.
Holding Wenger’s more recent comments up against these is sobering and slightly disturbing.
This is 14 years later and the money in English football has only become more ridiculous.
“You could say that today in Europe you have two markets,” the Frenchman explained ahead of Arsenal’s Leicester clash.
“One for the English clubs and one for the rest of Europe. The danger of the English situation at the moment is that the English clubs can suffocate themselves in the long term. Why? Because they buy players at a very high price. That means there are very high wages linked with it and if they are wrong, they will have these players with high wages who cannot move anywhere else.
“You start the first period now of English clubs having to pay massive wages. Even when the players go out, they have to pay their wages. In the long term, that will mean that the financial advantage the English clubs have will drop because they will be on their wage list. They pay for 10 or 12 players who have gone somewhere else because the clubs they go to cannot pay their wages.”
You do have to wonder, when will it end? What’s the tipping point? Is there one?