‘Arsenal, Arsenal FC, we’re by far the greatest team the world has ever seen,’ is the chant previously echoed around the Emirates on a matchday. Nowadays, when fans in stadiums was the norm, the chant is merely whispered in comparison to the old atmospheres. But, let’s face it, the lyrics no longer ring true. Over a decade ago, Arsenal were the greatest team in England, and one of the best in the world, but after making redundancies, the club are rightfully facing a backlash.
Yet, fast forward to today’s reality, and the team is no longer great. The fans are far from beaming, and those who run the club are more suited to the role of circus clowns. Though, some may argue, a circus is exactly what the club is turning into.
The 55 redundancies, months after the players agreed on wage cuts to avoid that very consequence, has proved to be the rightful breaking point for many in what is becoming a series of disastrous, untimely and ultimately, avoidable decisions at Arsenal.
Arsenal Are Being Poorly Run, But Who is to Blame?
Mesut Özil: The Scapegoat For Redundancies
Following the heavily criticised decision, many were swift to aim their grievances at Mesut Özil. The German is the highest earner at the club, racking up a staggering £350k a week while rarely featuring in Mikel Arteta’s matchday squad.
So, the queries came. How can the club continue to afford to waste so much money on such a clearly dispensable player yet fail to afford those with far less wage demands? People had every right to demand answers; the players, too, who were told an initial wage cut would prevent this situation, have the right for answers.
Özil Not to Blame
But those answers will not come from Mesut Özil. The German should not be the one questioned; he has an agreed contract and is within his rights to run down that contract whether on the pitch or not.
Instead, the decision-makers should be blamed; those that structure the finances should be questioned; those that agreed such ludicrously priced deals in the first place should be shamed. The billionaire owner, who keeps the German around to do nothing for millions while claiming financial difficulty which resulted in the redundancies, should be ridiculed.
Arsenal sit in the Europa League, yet their wage bills skyrocket to levels closer to a top-four club. It seems they are paying for the services to reach top four despite finishing eighth last season.
The wage bill, likely increasing ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s reported new deal, has been completely mismanaged by the club, resulting in avoidable redundancy for many. It should be said, however, that the redundancies were a choice and not a need by Arsenal.
A Despicably Timed Decision From Arsenal
The redundancies come at an unexpected time. Arsenal have seen out the Premier League season, collecting money from commercial routes along the way. They have just won the FA Cup to bring in £3.6 million and qualified for the Europa League to bring in up to £10 million. Financially, the most difficult times are over; the decision of redundancies was no longer necessary, leaving many disgusted with the news.
The decision should be seen as a regretful one by owner Stanley Kroenke, but it won’t be. The billionaire, who let the players take wage cuts to avoid redundancies before breaking that very promise months later to the devastation of many, and to the undoubted delight of his best suit’s pockets, saw the opportunity of financial gain through the pandemic, and predictably took it to sum up modern-day football.
There is simply no justification in the decision. In total, according to Miguel Delaney of the Independent, Arsenal will save around £2.5 million. 55 livelihood’s have been affected for the sake of the costs of a reserve team player. To top things off, too, Arsenal are set to sign Willian in a contract that, with a signing on fee, will reportedly rise to £10 million.
The violin played by the club over financial concerns must come to an abrupt end. Those that have lost their jobs to save £2.5 million are being mocked by the club willing to splash over double that on a player they don’t really need. They are trying to tell us they can’t afford £2.5 million while spending 10. The decision is the latest of many disastrous episodes in the saga of a poorly run club.