Saturday, 17 May 2014
Dear football commentators, Arsenal, Wenger, Capitalism
In the greasy world of top-flight, professional football, it's not a matter of whether Arsenal have loads of dosh, it's whether they have had as much cash to splash as Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd. It's relative. The only way to evaluate Wenger is not whether he's won things, but whether he did well, given the relative difference. I'm not bemoaning the difference. That's just capitalism in sport. I'm bemoaning the idiocy of commentators who think they are saying something significant when they don't factor in the imbalance when they make their comments.
As it happens, given the imbalance, of course Wenger has done incredibly well. As a sideline, it does also tell you something about capitalism and sport which is not often mentioned. The board members at various points in the last ten years have taken home dividends; board members leaving the club have sold shares for hundreds of millions of quids. The footballers' work and Wenger's work gave them that money. The board members 'risked' very little. The board members did very little. When people like me notice the imbalance between Arsenal and the other clubs, I should always remember that this also involves board members making off home with bag loads of dosh, which of course, they choose not to spend on the club. They're in business, they would say. However, it would also be good, if commentators commentating on the performance of clubs also talked about this stuff. Otherwise it's invisible.