Everyone knew an extended period playing behind closed doors would be damaging but 55 redundancies have no parallels among the club’s peers
Club owners are expected to make decisions responsibly but in opting to cut 10% of their permanent staff the Kroenkes have sold Arsenal’s short.
When Arsenal announced in April that the majority of their players and coaching staff had agreed to take wage cuts, a section of their statement shed telling light on the tone of the negotiations. “In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family,” it read.
The squad believed they would be helping to protect other employees, most of whom enjoy nothing like footballers’ levels of financial security, from being plunged into a job market whose brutality seems likely to be unmatched in modern times. So it is no surprise that eyebrows have been raised, to put it mildly, among Mikel Arteta’s players at the news on Wednesday that 55 redundancies are proposed across the club. The players can argue they have done their bit off the pitch – and on it to a certain extent, through winning the FA Cup and reaching the Europa League – and are entitled to question what has changed.
That is particularly the case given, in April, Arsenal could foresee a certain degree of the medium-term hit they would take during the shutdown. They knew their matchday income, which was around £96m in the 2018-19 season, constituted a quarter of their revenue and that no other Premier League club could point to a similar reliance on that cash stream. With that, they were aware an extended period playing behind closed doors would be damaging.
While nobody knows how long it will be until the Emirates Stadium corporate suites are wining and dining again, there was never any serious suggestion they would be back by the start of next season. The hospitality department is one of several believed to be in line for cuts when the details are fine-tuned.
There is a point at which raking over knowns and unknowns becomes harsh: in a global pandemic of indeterminate length it is hard to plan with confidence. But club owners should be expected to take decisions responsibly and it is no surprise many feel that, in opting to cut around 10% of Arsenal’s permanent staff, the Kroenkes have sold theirs short.
The knife taken to the scouting department has occupied particular attention, and will apply to a number of the roles that are being discontinued. That may prove to be part of a longer-term plan, regardless of the logic and much as it is no comfort to anyone affected. But it is striking that, viewed en masse, these redundancies have no parallels among Arsenal’s peers and perhaps the more relevant question is how has it come to this. Continue reading