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Arsene Wenger: King of sustainable

Wednesday 26th April 2017
Arsene Wenger is the master in delivering success with sustainable foundations.

Sustainability can best be defined as meeting the present generation's needs without compromising the future's. In financial terms, it's about balancing the books. Or, better still, delivering a healthy profit.

You might wonder what on earth that has to do with football. Football is about winning trophies, surely, and not money? Nothing else matters in the end.

We can debate whether or not football should be all about money. However, it is all about money, whether we like it or not. Wages have to be paid, to footballers themselves, and the various underbelly of staff who keep clubs ticking day after day, from coaches to marketing managers to stewards. Expenses must also be covered, from travel to equipment to groundskeeping to stadium lighting to hardware and software that sells tickets and merchandise. Money also buys players. Money dictates football; it's a fact.

Portsmouth's fall from the Premier League to League Two is indicative of consequences when finances are poorly run. The same can be said for Glasgow Rangers' travails over the last several years. One should never underestimate sustainable and sensible financial management's importance.

There is this perception among fans that all football clubs are owned by billionaires sitting on bottomless pits of money.  Hardly. When spending exceeds revenues, year after year, clubs will accumulate debt, which, in turn, occurs interest. A negative economic spiral can begin. Again, one should never underestimate how important it is to maintain sensible financial management.

And that is exactly why Arsene Wenger deserves our respect. Every year, fans and pundits tell him to get out the cheque book and go make big money signings. But Wenger does not spend unnecessarily. Mesut Ozil's high price tag was an exception to the norm. Wenger is a savvy transfer market operator, only buying players he feels add genuine value to his team. Credit to him for not bowing down to peer pressure by spending recklessly like many managers.

In the financial year 2014-2015, Arsenal made a £25 million profit, before tax, courtesy Arsene Wenger's sound financial management.
By not buying players recklessly, Wenger has also given his young players a chance. Wenger's fiscal responsibility is partially responsible for Arsenal successfully nourishing so many talented young players during his tenure. Theo Walcott was famously signed as a 16-year-old from Southampton. "Give the youngsters a chance!" is a line you'll often hear fans cry. Wenger listens. Buying players in constantly diminishes opportunity for young players to be given that lucky break which kick-starts their career.

Wenger's sustainable success fingerprints are also all over the difficult transition from Highbury to the Emirates. This season, West Ham has demonstrated moving to a new stadium is not easy. The Frenchman never used that as an excuse, thereby helping deliver success to Arsenal for years to come. Like Upton Park, Highbury was filled with history and atmosphere. If he has struggled somewhat replicating the history, Wenger's attractive football has excited fans and kept the atmosphere going. Slaven Bilic hasn't done the same in West Hams new digs, alienating his most positive player, Dimitri Payet, while offering up mediocre football. Hammers fans are sorely missing the Boleyn Ground.

Before slating Arsene Wenger, consider Arsenal's future. Clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United are quick to splash the cash but nobody can balance the books like Wenger. Believe it or not, that will stand for something in 20 years time. Arsenal are set to be a globally competitive club for years to come. Unlike teams such as Rangers or Pompey, it won't crash an burn. Wenger delivers jam today, jam tomorrow. Never underestimate the importance of sound financial management.
Cameron Broome
Born and raised in West Yorkshire, England, Cameron is a Huddersfield Town season ticket holder and has attended matches since he was five. However, Cameron is a West Ham fan where he has been a club member for several years, regularly attending matches with his Dad. His favourite players growing up were Andy Booth and Mark Noble. Over the years, both of his teams have evolved and he is optimistic about their future. He believes his two clubs have lots in common: both are family-oriented, rich in history and have sensible (yet ambitious) boards of directors.

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