Dear Mr. Hill-Wood,
I read your statement regarding the comments made by Mr. Usmanov and they made me very sad. It wasn’t because it reminded me how expensive the Emirates was and how I probably won’t be able to afford to see a game there any time this decade, no, it was because it hammered home just how incredibly out-of-touch you are with the average Arsenal fan.
I’m sure the view is very different from the boardroom, but you cannot honestly expect the average fan to see things from your perspective. To the average Arsenal fan, this is how things look:
Arsenal is one of the few elite football clubs that manages to operate in the transfer market without spending in the red. Over the last five years, several elite players have been sold for large sums of money for a variety of reasons, but the fans aren’t privileged to see where that money goes. Some of that money gets re-invested in players, but a lot of it doesn’t, and as far as the fans are concerned that money could be going directly to buy you a fancy new jet-ski, or something. Yes, I know, a lot of it goes to the stadium (which I’m starting to think has a stand made from pure platinum), but to 99% of fans, it really doesn’t matter.
You say finances are all well and good, but your love of the club comes first. You really love the club? You want to see it win some silverware? Then maybe let Alisher Usmanov come to a few meetings and chat about spending some of his $18.1 BILLION DOLLAR FORTUNE on some players. Oh dear, the integrity of the club’s financial righteousness at stake! You need to stop acting like running in the black and making yourself a tidy profit is some kind of ethical issue that matters to the fans. It doesn’t make you a paragon, it just means you can stand on some imaginary moral high ground and also semi-coincidentally have a nice summer home in some English county I probably can’t pronounce. Do you think Chelsea fans look at their Champions League trophy and bemoan the deficit spending that got them there? Do City fans avert their eyes from their first EPL trophy in decades because it bears the taint of oil millions? OF COURSE NOT.
The club, as you’re currently running it, isn’t going to win a trophy any time soon. They’ll be delightfully fun to watch at times, absolutely enraging at others, and will settle comfortably into their role as a very-good-but-not-great club that can’t hold on to their elite players.
Not every club can spend tens of millions on players every year, but not every club has Uzbekistani billionaires waiting in the wings, begging to rethink the frugal strategy that equates distant third-place finishes with a trophy. Stop acting like Usmanov is trying to burn Highbury to the ground with Tony Adams tied to the goalpost; he wants to see the team win, and he has the resources to make it happen. To the fans, at the end of the day, seeing the team win is what matters.
A very mopey Arsenal Fan