Because in 2016, it's not enough to be a fan of the sport and only the sport, now, we get to talk about business! And finances! And all that fun stuff! Yay!
Arsenal announced their semi-annual results for the period ending November 30, 2015 today. While I lack the financial nous of our own Travis King or that of the estimable Swiss Ramble, who gets into more detail about all this here, I will attempt to talk a little bit about some of the interesting stuff:
1. Arsenal are worth a lot of money. How much? Well, not as much as the top tier of the Real/Barca level clubs, but the business that is Arsenal had a turnover of £158 million, up from £148 million over the same period in 2014. Football revenue accounted for £148 million of that, with most of the increase in that number (up from 2014's £135.5 million) coming in the form of endorsements, which jumped from £38 million in 2014 to £52 million last year. This is in large part thanks to the Puma deal, but it was also helped by the fact that Arsenal now have a larger portfolio of regional partners. This resulted in an operating profit of £11 million during the six months ending November 30, 2015.
2. Arsenal are in good shape, debt-wise. Arsenal are currently carrying zero (no! none!) short term debt, and the long-term debt from building the stadium is very manageable - a total of £234 million, down from £240 million in 2014, and the cost of servicing that debt is only £13 million a year, more or less.
3. Arsenal's vaunted match-day income dropped. Didn't drop by much - £2 million - and the drop was largely attributable to only having a single preseason fixture, but still. Match day revenue is, at least for this six month period, only third on Arsenal's list of top revenue streams, behind broadcast rights fees and commercial revenue (sponsorships).
4. Arsenal's total transfer spend was about £100 million, and their wage bill was about £166 million.
5. Arsenal have plenty of cash on hand. This bullet comes with caveats, one of which I will get into in a minute. Arsenal, as with all Premier League clubs, are required to maintain a debt service reserve of £23 million that is not to be used for anything except emergency debt service (to stave off administration) which, clearly in Arsenal's case, isn't an issue. But even when you subtract that sum from the total cash available, Arsenal have a cash on hand balance of about £140 million.
HERE COMES THE CAVEAT!!!!!!
That cash balance of £140 million is not Arsenal's "war chest". They can't go out in July and spend £140 million on players. That sum is an overall cash total for the business, and has to take into account non-playing employee salaries, facility operating costs, and other expenses that a normal business would incur. If they went out and spent all of that on players, the front office staff would have to work in the dark, and the team would have to rehab in someone's garage because the club couldn't pay all its bills.
What portion of that £140 million actually IS available for player purchasing? I don't know, and I wouldn't dare to guess, but I would guess that, as the more lucrative broadcast deals kick in next year for both the Premier League and Champions League, Arsenal may keep that cash reserve somewhere between £125-140 million no matter how much rosier their books look once that money starts flowing, and spend the rest on players. But there's no science or information behind that guess, so take it with a pretty large grain of salt.
Long story short - Arsenal are in very good financial shape, and are well positioned to stay that way for a long time.