The financial implications Arsenal face after government minister’s stadium policy announcement


It has been announced on Tuesday [September 22] that plans for fans to return to stadiums to watch live sports events from October 1 will no longer go ahead by cabinet office minister Michael Gove.

Trials for fans to return to stadiums have taken place already with 2,500 fans allowed inside the Amex Stadium to watch Brighton’s friendly against Chelsea whilst socially distanced in August. West Ham Women hosted the first competitive game of football against Arsenal Women on September 12 with 1,000 supporters present at Victoria Road.

Over the weekend, seven games across the EFL [Championship, League One and League Two] also held trial runs where 1,000 fans were permitted inside stadiums while maintaining social distancing, while Hull City, Luton Town and Morecambe opted not to participate.

“We were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans,” Gove told BBC Breakfast.

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“We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme, but what we do want to do is to make sure that, as and when circumstances allow, get more people back.

“The virus is less likely to spread outdoors than indoors but again it’s in the nature of major sporting events that there’s a lot of mingling.”

As a result, the prospect of fans returning to stadiums any time soon looks increasingly bleak, with the pilot programme also being paused. At Arsenal, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has already taken it’s toll on the club.

Kicking off one of the most difficult periods of the club’s 134-year history, it was agreed between most players, coaches and head coaches that a 12.5% pay cut would be taken to aid staff across the club. That was reduced to 7.5% after the FA Cup final win but the consequences of the pandemic were still evident.

On August 5, the club confirmed they had proposed 55 redundancies to members of staff which included high profile scout Francis Cagigao, who helped bring Cesc Fabregas and Gabriel Martinelli to north London.

As will be the case at any club, now the Gunners will face an even bigger hit in regards to the loss of matchday revenue due to the stance outlined by Gove.

Throughout the Premier League, teams are missing out on a combined £27million a game while matches continue to be played behind closed doors.

As it turns out, during this period, Arsenal have been one of the most vulnerable clubs in the league when it comes to the amount of revenue generated on matchdays as their sum of £96.2million matchday revenue [for the 2018/19 season] worked out to be 24% of their overall income. Only Sheffield United [28%] and Leeds United [26%] depend more on these figures.

Looking at the losses per game, the Gunners are third-highest as their losses per behind closed doors game stands at £3,208,133 currently.

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With the actions Arsenal have already had to take, while trying to act as normally as possible by remaining active in the transfer market [signing Willian on a free, Gabriel Magalhaes for £25m, Dani Ceballos on loan and Runar Alex Runarsson for around £1million], with the Government looking to continue sports events without fans present, the club will likely continue to feel the financial strain that has come over the past six months.

Of course, the club was given a massive boost by their Europa League qualification which ensured them £30million in payments from UEFA for reaching the group stages.

Now, however, an even bigger importance will be placed on the side’s on-field performance as they will not only be chasing the credibility that comes with winning trophies or qualifying for Europe but the financial benefits too.





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