The numbers behind Arsene Wenger’s years at Arsenal
He's just signed a new deal as manager of Arsenal. We look at the economics graduate turned football manager’s decisions to spend (or not to spend)
Arsene Wenger has finally put an end to the will-he won't-he rumours (for another two years at least) signing a new deal to extend his time as manager of Arsenal Football Club.
Wenger has enjoyed some memorable moments in his 21-year spell leading Arsenal. Three Premier League title wins and now a record seven FA Cup triumphs make him the most successful manager in the club’s history. He was also a huge influence in Arsenal’s big money move from Highbury to the state-of-the-art 60,000 seater Emirates Stadium.
But this was his most unsuccessful season at the club yet, finishing outside the top four in the Premier League and outside qualification for the Champions League for the first time.
His 20+ years at the club have been characterised by some pretty tough financial decisions and a lot of the criticism against him has come from the money he spends (or, more importantly, doesn't spend). So let's take a look at the economics behind Wenger's time at Arsenal.
But this major investment meant that between the years of 2006 and 2013, Arsene Wenger had to be very wary of how he spent his money. In what became known as ‘Wengernomics’, Arsenal went through a period of ‘austerity’ where key players like Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were sold in a bid to balance the books.
It paid off. The increased capacity stadium gave a massive boost to club’s ‘match-day income’ – ticket sales, merchandise, food etc. In 2006 The club's match-day revenue was $57 million, rising to $130 million in 2014 – a 127% increase – it stayed at that level in 2015 and 2016.
Record ticket prices made up a big part of this income, leaving a lot of Arsenal fans feeling priced out. Since the move to the Emirates, the average cost of Arsenal tickets has increased by 17%, but it's the increase in ticket prices for the big matches that have shocked most. For a category ‘A’ match against close rivals like Spurs or Chelsea, the cheapest ticket for an adult member is £64, and some tickets can rise to over £100 depending on where you’re sitting.
Wenger’s transfer record at Arsenal polarizes fans. Some of the players he’s signed have been unforgettable, going on to be legends at the club. But Wenger’s reluctance to spend money after the move to the Emirates Stadium left a lot of fans frustrated. By putting financial profit over buying the players he needed to win tournaments, many felt he was on the side of the board. If you look back on Wenger’s 20 years as Arsenal boss, only in the last three or four seasons has he become more willing to spend big on players.
Wages have seen a drastic increase at Arsenal since Wenger paid off the stadium debt. In the last four years, Arsenal’s annual wage structure has increased by over £50 million and this could soar if Arsenal manage to hold down Ozil and Sanchez in new long-term deals.
It’s been a tough financial period at the club, with fans feeling the brunt of Wenger’s decision making and losing some of their favourite players to Premier League rivals.
Now Wenger's got another two years to prove himself, and prove that the club has a long term future at the top of English football.