Arsenal last night revealed that they have made the decision to propose 55 redundancies following the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The news came just five days after the club’s FA cup victory against Chelsea.
If, as a neutral, you have ever wondered what it is like to be an Arsenal fan in recent times, then the events of this week will surely sum it up for you. The ecstasy of winning football’s greatest domestic competition for a record 14 times ruined by the distressing news that the club, who incidentally have a billionaire owner, will ensure that 55 people are out of a job for the upcoming season. Happiness has been clouded by frustration and sadly, the situation seems so avoidable.
The week started so well as fans were delighted to see Mikel Arteta lift the FA cup- his first trophy as Arsenal Head Coach. A win emblematic of a renewed hope at the club and a strong sign that they are moving in the right direction on the pitch. Many believe the win could also help persuade best player, and club captain, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang to sign a new contract. Arteta wants to build a team around his top goal scorer in order to help propel Arsenal into a successful new era.
Fast-forward just a few days and once again there’s a sense of disappointment amongst supporters. Everyone knows that COVID-19 impacted the club badly, like it did to any other. The issue most supporters have is that it seems as though Arsenal is simply a business to Stan Kroenke- nothing more. Already frustrated by his clear lack of investment in the current squad since taking over, Kroenke has now ruffled even more feathers amongst the fanbase by making a move that is certainly preventable.
As a billionaire owner, saving the 55 jobs would almost be like spending loose change. Assuming there is roughly an average wage of £30,000-35,000 per annum (it is likely more for most staff), it would cost Kroenke no more than £2million to keep people in a job. The business first mentality is ruining the connection between the Kroenke’s and fans; that distinct lack of care is spoiling ‘classenal’.
Fans cannot wrap their heads around the morality of the decision or how it will help boost transfer funds and future spending. We were told how important it was for Arsenal to win the FA Cup and qualify for Europe if they wanted to improve their squad come the end of the season, which alone is understandable. However, if you can afford to offer Chelsea’s Willian in excess of £100,000 per week for three years, whilst offering Aubameyang an additional £100,000 per week on top of his current deal, then surely you should be able to afford a much smaller amount to help prevent people losing their jobs.
“These proposed changes are ultimately about ensuring we take this great football club forward, creating the right organisation for a post-Covid world, and ensuring we have the resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe”, said Arsenal.
These cuts will likely have a very minimal impact on Arsenal’s post-Covid world. At least for now, the decision does not seem like it is taking the club forward but instead making a mockery of its core values and the sacrifices made by the players.
One proposed change by Edu, alongside the 55 redundancies, is an overhaul of the current recruitment network. The most high profile scout to lose his job is Francis Cagigao who helped notice the likes of Cesc Fabregas and more recently, Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsene Wenger so often spoke about looking after the entire organisation. One not just made up of a board, manager and players but an Arsenal family with more than 600 devoted employees. Sacking a servant of more than twenty years, who has been so successful during that time, arguably ridicules the values the great man proudly praised.
The squad are also said to be frustrated by the changes.
The Athletic reported yesterday that they plan to confront the ownership in an attempt to force them to change their mind. Most of the players and senior staff agreed to a 12.5% wage cut at the beginning of the pandemic, after being given insurances that this would help to save jobs.
Understandably then it does feel like Kroenke has opposed the agreement of their pay cut.
Mesut Ozil initially refused to take the cut as he wanted to understand the full financial implications of the virus and see what the club would do with the money they received from the players.
Many criticised him for this as a cut from his £350,000 a week wage would have helped the club save a great deal of money.
That being said, it now seems as though he was absolutely right to question them and any said criticism was extremely undeserved.
Admittedly, we cannot predict how this might play out in the future. But for now, we surely have to question how this whirlwind of change has happened in the space of less than a week.
An already dampened relationship between the Kroenke’s and fans is continuing to crumble. The weekend marked a period of optimism, today marks a period of doubt. We must all agree, what a strange, chaotic week it has been at Arsenal Football Club.