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No, Arsenal don't have a £200 million transfer budget

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Believe it or not, the real world still is not Football Manager.

"is there ANY way we could get the board to shut up"
"is there ANY way we could get the board to shut up"
Lionel Ng/Getty Images

Lord Harris, one of Arsenal's directors, supposedly said yesterday that Arsenal have £200 million to spend, and could sign any player in the world not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Not only is this not the case, it's not even quite what Lord Harris said. So what actually happened?

What Lord Harris said

Here's what the Daily Mail says he said.

harris

Here's the actual quote.

Money was tight when we moved to the Emirates but it's a lot freer now...We could go into the market and probably buy any player in the world, apart from half a dozen who are un-buyable. In the accounts, there's over £200 million in the bank. You could say to Arsene we've got no money and he wouldn't worry, or you could give him £100m and he might not spend it.

At the moment there are no plans to sign anyone, unless he finds a real superstar like Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez. He's looking for one of those but there aren't many available. We would back him to break the club's transfer record. If he wanted the man, he could have him. Apart from Messi and Ronaldo, he could have any player. We will probably have to break the club record to get the man he wants.

It is a pretty amazing quote, but the bolded part (the emphasis is mine) is crucial – there's £200 million in the accounts, not in the transfer fund. The two are not the same. Some of that money is available for loan payments, some is a "rainy day fund" to protect against the financial shortfall that would result from failing to qualify for the Champions League. In theory, much of it could be available for transfer fees and wages, but the idea that we'd blow all of it is ludicrous.

What Arsène Wenger said

It came up again today during a Wenger press conference, and he dismissed the supposedly McDuckian transfer warchest. Wenger said of Lord Harris, "he has gone a bit overboard because that's not true." He went on to echo some of the other points Lord Harris made, essentially saying that if Arsenal are going to buy, it'll be a star player because "we're in a position where we have a strong squad, but if an opportunity turns up we'll still do something."

There's still just as much chance today as yesterday that we'll see a major signing come in, but don't expect it to be a £200 million outlay. It's simply not possible.