The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow over everyone in every country, in every walk of life and every profession and sport has suffered as a result. Week after week, the speculation as to the effects on football clubs at home and abroad has been rife and Arsenal, always seems to be at the centre of negative press. However, it now seems that their neighbours Tottenham are not far behind as the pandemic pushes the club into financial distress.
There’s a double problem when Arsenal are concerned, firstly, they are victims of their own incompetence handing out big money contracts without being able to compete in the Premier League and without Champions League football, but the other is the reluctance to invest to get back on terms.
You could say that massive wages have created a more frugal approach and that one problem has created the other, but with access to such large commercial opportunities, Arsenal should be able to compete on the pitch and in the transfer market but somehow the lines have become blurred.
With the season about to reboot, you can’t help but feel for Mikel Arteta, whom it seems has bitten off far more than he ever contemplated chewing, at a club that has as much sense of its direction as a sniffer dog with a snout full of pepper.
However, the problems seem rather less concerning than those of their rivals 4 miles up the road. Tottenham currently have a financial headache that could see them in the same position as Arsenal were after their move to the Emirates.
Having just moved into a stadium that ran wildly over budget and was beset by problems at the cost of around £1bn, the club lost all its projected revenue streams from gate receipts, sporting events, and concerts that would have gone some way to keeping the wolves from the door.
They have an average annual pay of £3,961,043, which equates to an eye-watering average weekly pay of £76,482. That’s less than La Liga giants Barcelona with an average weekly pay of £188,993 and Real Madrid (£171,611).
Tottenham Stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli are said to be on £200,000 a week and the special one is scooping up another magnificent sum (£15m) for his particular brand of old rope per year. One suspects the inevitable compensation package will be enough to buy an island in the middle of nowhere.
So I think you’ll agree that right now, Chairman Daniel Levy must be losing considerable amounts of sleep when he’s not on the phone to his councillor or the club’s creditors. The most recent news is that the least successful club in North London has just had to borrow £175m from the Bank of England to ease their financial problems due to the pandemic and have to repay it in April 2021.
It’s just another blow for Tottenham, just when it seemed they were destined for big things in the so-called battle of North London. The last few years have seen them become the darlings of the media under Pochettino, but he failed to keep the train on the tracks by winning silverware with the Premier League club.
Suddenly, it all went wrong after the Champions League final in 2019. It was a result that saw their manager pay the ultimate price for failure and is in some way, partially responsible for their losses of around £200m. It’s clear that those figures can’t be sustained and that they may have to sell assets in the future to make ends meet.
This will all sound very familiar to Arsenal fans who were trolled on social media for being in the same position and Tottenham won’t be the only Premier League team to end up in this position.
Arsenal found it almost impossible to hold on to its players when there seemed no chance of success and the club headed into the doldrums, buying cheap and inferior players. This will be the same for their neighbours if this trend continues.
Its football’s problem in general from now on, after years of living the champagne lifestyle with guaranteed commercial revenues, the wheels have suddenly come off the wagon. Only the clubs with oil-rich benefactors will be able to prevent the desperate measures facing the majority.
Chairman Daniel Levy revealed that the club were eligible for a COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF), repayable with a 0.5 percent interest rate. He said:
“We have always run this club on a self-sustaining commercial basis”
“In all my 20 years at the club, there have been many hurdles along the way but none of this magnitude – the COVID-19 pandemic has shown itself to be the most serious of them all.”
This is the first sign of just how much impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on a Premier League club but it won’t be the last.