Big spending = Success ???

dilshan muthalibContributor ISeptember 12, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Carlos Vela of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers at The Emirates Stadium on September 11, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

On the back of current transfer window some arsenal fans have been disappointed with Wenger for not spending big and signing a Goal Keeper. They argue that we should have paid whatever the selling club demanded for the player and that we must speculate in order to accumulate. They use the recent examples of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea to support their argument. On the other hand our great manager has time and again stated that spending big is not the way to achieve success and further gone on to say that it equates to cheating. Has our great manager got this right again and how can he argue that spending big does not guarantee success when we have witnessed Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea achieve great success over this decade with the big spending policy. I feel in order to get to the truth one has to look at clubs individually and their spending over the past decade to be able to come to some sort of conclusion.



During the last 3-4 seasons they are regarded as the finest team in club football and are enjoying arguably their most successful period in modern history. They spent big on players such as Deni Alves, Vila, and Ibrahimovic and fans and Journalists point out this as a case that proves that big spending does indeed work. However, if one looks at the recent history of Barcelona it paints a complete different picture. From the period 1999-2005 they did not win a single trophy. The table below shows the final league position of Barcelona during this period and their net transfer spending.


Year                                          Net spending ( ₤ Millions)       league postion


+ 5.13



- 24.570













It is staggering to note that despite the amount of money they spent during this period they struggled in the league badly. La Liga has always been one of the least competitive leagues due to how the TV revenue money is distributed and yet to see that Barcelona finished as low as 6th during the 02/03 season is staggering.


So the quick study of how Barcelona performed over the last ten years and how much money they spent on bringing in new players show that there are other factors that have played a bigger part in the success enjoyed Barcelona during the last few years.


Real Madrid


Real Madrid are known for their big spending and are one of the most successful clubs in the history of football. However, in the recent years they have enjoyed very limited success. It is true that the early part of this decade show them enjoy great success both in domestic and European level but over the last few seasons this success has dried up. Let us now compare how they have performed in this period with the money they spent.



Year                            net money spent(₤ million)  League position         CL position   




1st K.O round




1st K.O round




1st K.O round




1st K.O round




1st K.O round


During this period they have achieved some domestic success but one has to again filter in the factor that they only had one real competitor in Barcelona for the league titles and the rest of the league continues to be miles behind the two top teams. The champions’ league position of Real Madrid paints a complete different picture. They have failed to get past the last 16 stage for the past 6 seasons and for a team that has spent such a huge amount of money that surely is not acceptable. This again illustrated that there must be factors other bigger and important factors that influences the success of a football club.


Let us now look at some of our domestic rivals and try to determine if their spending has brought them the success that justifies spending big. The figures below are the net money spent for the period 2004-2009.


Liverpool- ₤122m Loss


Chelsea- ₤186m loss


Spurs- ₤188m loss


It is staggering to note that how much Spurs have spent over this period and have only manage to beat us just once in the league, always finished below us and only once did they make the top four. Liverpool too have spent far more than what we have in this period and somehow managed to drop out of the top four on the process. However, Chelsea managed to achieve success during this period. Another big spending club that has achieved success in the recent history is Manchester United.


From the above evidence one could not argue that big spending brought success to any of the above clubs. There for one must consider the fact that there might be others factors that has influenced the success of these clubs and let us try to analyze the success these clubs enjoyed a bit more to find out what these factors might be.


Barcelona, as I pointed out , went through six years without a trophy despite the big spending and this barren spell has followed by what could be considered their golden age. During this successful season they have had their home grown players such as Xavi, Iniesta and Messi coming into the peak of their powers. Real Madrid enjoyed their great success during the first half of this decade when their home grown talismans such as Raul and Gutti were at the peak of their powers. Manchester United have always built teams around their great talismanic figures such a Nevil, Giggs and during the recent years have seen the immergence of Rooney.


I feel Chelsea were an exception to the norm. When they won two back to back titles both Arsenal and Manchester United were going through their transitional period. The fact that Alan Smith played in the United midfield illustrates this perfectly. Arsenal were also on the process of rebuilding and in the middle of move to Emirates stadium. Theses factors meant that Chelsea were getting huge cash injection while their opponents were at the weakest. We also have to remember that they had in Terry a committed, world class defender leading the team with Lampard.


All the above evidence points out that spending big money does not guarantee success and that a strong core of players who have come through the club, understand what it stands and are committed to the club are better bet to bring success than big money singings. This to me indicated our own golden era is only around the corner.