Tom Fox, Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, believes the Gunners can achieve success on their own financial terms but admits securing silverware is a big challenge when the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea continue to fund their operations from considerably deeper pockets.
Acknowledging that a Premier League title would help the Gunners secure more lucrative commercial deals, the American made clear that competing for players against the riches of Gulf States and oligarchs was nigh on impossible.
Manchester City, who currently sit one point behind Arsene Wenger’s side, have benefited from over $1 billion worth of investment in the last five years – securing an FA Cup and league title in the process – while Chelsea have been firing the £50 notes almost non-stop since Roman Abramovich parked his tanks in West London a decade ago.
Speaking at the 3rd Leaders Sport Network breakfast yesterday morning, Fox continued to back Arsenal’s self-sustaining model: “Winning and doing it on our terms, in a self-sustaining way, I think [would be] incredibly powerful.
“It would create a completely different environment and it would be an easier environment in some ways to do business.
“We believe that we will be successful running the football club the way we’re running it — despite a whole host of other issues, whether it’s the economy at large, whether it’s the make-up of the ownership.”
Despite smashing the club’s transfer record in the summer with the £42.5 million acquisition of Mesut Ozil, Fox also clarified that the Gunners are not set-up to make similarly bold moves on a window-by-window basis.
“Almost by necessity, we have a financial model that doesn’t allow us to go into the market every summer and buy all of the best players that are for sale.
“We are competing against oligarchs, we are competing against nation states, we are competing against clubs all across Europe that have sources of funding that are significant, that make it very difficult for us to compete.
“You can’t compete against that. We’re a football club in London and we are a global brand, but we would never try to compete against the financial resources of a country [like Qatar].
“I just don’t think that’s a very realistic thing for us to do…trying to chase those types of owners. Obviously it’s just not possible.”
There’s not much new in what Fox has said. He’s right; we still can’t compete with Qatari cash and Russian Roubles even though we’re more flush than was previously the case.
Of course, that’s where UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules were supposed to help out…but so far Platini’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along legislation appears more impotent than a room full of stoned eunuchs.
That being said, we can still compete on the pitch because money alone doesn’t win you trophies (yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the wage/trophy correlation).
We’re more than holding our own at the top of the table right now and with an impressive squad that seems hell bent on ending the club’s trophy drought (and a bit of luck) we might just do it this year.