After an entire month of equivocating between spending money and standing pat, Arsene Wenger did very little in the midseason transfer period to give Arsenal fans a reason to be happy. This summer, things had better be different.
According to Owen Gibson of the Guardian, Arsenal FC announced a £17.8 million profit for the “six months to the end of November 2012.” In other words, Arsenal is thriving, but the money isn’t being put to use.
Gibson also reports the Gunners have £123 million in cash reserves, and it’s no secret fans want that money to be used toward improving the product on the pitch.
Wenger was scrutinized time and again for failing to bring in big talent in January. To be fair, Wenger did claim the club was ready to “spend big,” but two weeks without much movement to close out the transfer period was enough to bring that motivation into question.
The Gunners currently sit in fifth place in the tables, 21 points from leaders Manchester United. Winning the Premier League is likely out of the question, but just two points separate them from Chelsea and the top four—and only four points from third-place Tottenham.
Standing pat and not making any big moves during the transfer period may have ultimately doomed Arsenal this season, and Wenger has to look ahead to this summer with a new strategy in mind.
Wenger took a picky approach to transfer dealings in January. No player was quite good enough to improve the squad, though a fifth-place standing now says otherwise. If Arsenal is to make a run at the Premier League next season, Wenger and the Arsenal brass can’t sit around waiting for the right bargain—especially with them sitting on a healthy profit.
According to Gibson, the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust is unhappy with the news of the club’s profits, considering the lack of investment in on-pitch talent. He quoted one of the trust’s spokesmen as saying:
These figures contain few surprises. They show that Arsenal yet again made a profit from the sale of their best players and that the club has large cash reserves. Arsenal fans have contributed to this financial health through paying some of the highest ticket prices in world football. A further improvement in the club's financial strength is expected when new TV monies and commercial deals come on stream in 2013 and 2014. AST members want to see this money used for more, and better, investment in the team.
As long as Arsenal fans continue to support a team that has come up short of a trophy in the last eight seasons, Arsenal should be willing to use their money to improve the product on the pitch. This summer will be an opportunity for the club to do so.
The Gunners aren’t that far off, but they haven’t been able to break through the barrier that minimal spending creates. Wenger must make it a priority to spend this summer in pursuit of a championship that has eluded Arsenal in recent years.