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The so-called “Arsenal model”.

Posted on June 25th, 2009 | 33 Comments |

No, not that sort of Arsenal model!
No, not that sort of model!
As I was sat at my breakfasting table this morning, fending off a dog and two cats who had designs on my bacon sandwich, my thoughts turned to the subject of models. Not the size zeros that act as clothes pegs on the catwalk though – I’m talking about football club models.

In Mike Ashley’s statement following the Keegan departure, he tried to defend what he called his ‘Arsenal Model’ for the club but, as the last bit of my bacon sandwich disappeared into a grateful dog, I realised I was a bit bemused by what the Arsenal Model actually is.

In terms of finances, I can only see two models for a football club. Either you look to make a profit (or at least break-even) or you have an owner with deep pockets who doesn’t mind funding things at a loss. If you’re going to try and make a profit then it makes sense to look for young up and coming players you can get at a decent price who either give you good value for money as your future stars or you sell them on at a profit. There are ‘in between’ scenarios where for example you might borrow some money against future success but ultimately you either make a profit or have a rich owner who doesn’t care. I am not sure how clubs like Liverpool, who reputedly owe many millions, are going to achieve financial balance.

The idea of an Arsenal Model sometimes also seems to imply a Director of Football, but I don’t think that’s particularly relevant. That’s just an operational decision designed to provide consistency across managers by dividing up responsibilities. A club with a DoF still either has to make a profit or have a rich owner.

I’m beginning to think that the term ‘Arsenal Model’ comes about merely because Arsenal have been particularly successful at installing a (relatively) prudent financial plan at their club, scouted some decent youngsters and have managed to secure regular top 4 finishes as a result of it. It’s not that there’s any new, dynamic business principle that Arsenal have discovered.

As far as Newcastle is concerned, under Freddie Shepherd we often seemed to be running the rich owner model, but without actually having a rich owner, which is a major flaw in the plan. Then when Ashley came in with his Arsenal Model idea we were simply in too much of a mess to implement it. In fact, we seem to have operated our own ‘Newcastle Model’, which appears to involve buying expensive players on big wages with money we don’t have, allocating them a bed in the injury room and then selling them on at a huge loss. It’s not a model that will win many business awards.

Our new owner, whoever it turns out to be, is unlikely to be the sort who’ll simply finance anything at a loss because such owners are few and far between. We’re much more likely to get someone who’ll want to operate a sensible financial plan, although that doesn’t preclude investing some money up front in lieu of future returns of course, which they’ll have to do if we don’t want to go into administration or end up playing Division 1 football next season.

So I suspect we’ll end up with an ‘Arsenal Model’ anyway, inasmuch as one can call it that. We may even end up with a Director of Football as I seem to remember reading that Shearer wanted to install a football person in the boardroom. How financially successful we are – and indeed how successful any football club without a rich owner is – depends a lot upon how good the management team are at spotting a bargain. Good scouts are probably worth their wages.

Anyway, my point is that I don’t think there really is such a thing as an ‘Arsenal Model’, at least not in any specifically Arsenal way. Perhaps I should have just said that in a comment and saved a lot of electrons, although then I wouldn’t have had an excuse to include a picture of a pretty girl!

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen

I’m a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called ‘scrumpy’. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he’s not worth 10).

Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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33 Responses

  1. Great Post Hugh!

    “As far as Newcastle is concerned, under Freddie Shepherd we often seemed to be running the rich owner model, but without actually having a rich owner, which is a major flaw in the plan.”

    Fat Freddie played both camps, spent money and signed us up to wages we couldnt afford and he didnt have, BUT decided to make us look profitable to pay himself dividends as profits AS WELL! lol

    And I wonder why I despise him!

  2. I suspect somewhere there are Toon fans who would welcome Freddie Shepherd back, but I’ve yet to meet any.

  3. Some Gadgie on Ed’s blog reckons that TalkSports North East reporter is under the impression the club has been sold and Due dilligence is now underway. Reckons Shearer is going to London to meet Ashley and be told who and what is happening.

    Don’t believe it like, we hear so much rubbish, nobody really knows so the papers make these stories up.

    Heres hoping though. We just need somebody, anybody to take control of the club!

  4. Stuart 79

    ‘Heres hoping though. We just need somebody, anybody to take control of the club!’

    Anyday now we can all breathe a sigh of relief and watch the club shake off the apathy that has surrounded it for too long

  5. BBM

    I’d not be complaining too much if we finished mid table.

    I just think it’s going to be unbelievably difficult to get promotion with the way things have gone.

    I would imagine alot of Shearers targeted players will have tied deals up somewhere ele and we might be left with the rabble!

    Unless were somewhere near in January and we can get some players in then….

  6. Newspaper reports in recent days had led to renewed optimism that the SJP log jam was set to clear and new owners would be announced – along with a permanent managerial appointment.

    However we’re now given to understand that talk of an early conclusion to the sale is premature and that the claims of Alan Shearer meeting Ashley etc. are false.

    As things stand, pre-season training will begin next Wednesday with Chris Hughton at the helm. And as to who will be deciding which players are present – your guess is as good as ours, but we will be holding a mass protest tomorrow at 12 oclock out side st james park ,so bring your bed sheets the protest has been organised by stardust thank you for your support.

  7. I’ve got a pretty distressing gut feel that Sheperd will get back in and it’ll be slightly underwhelming for some and distressing for others.

    It would also be something else for people to mock us about, both because of what he’s like and also because it’ll seem like a giant step back.

    Imagine that scenario?

    We should be overjoyed at Ashley’s departure and instead in walks Sheperd with his crazy business acumen and corrupt and indecent ways and the excitement about a new owner will be immediately dampened.

  8. bowburnmag says:
    June 25, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    “I’ve got a pretty distressing gut feel that Sheperd will get back in”

    I don’t believe he can do it on his own, Bowburn. Not without Hall, and his development company is a pale shadow of what it used to be. If anyone will lend him the money, or have him in a consortium; they’ll either be completely radged (not the banks in the current climate), or even more worrying than Shepherd (can’t believe I just wrote that!).

    Then again, my mind is working overtime trying to rationalise why Fat Freddy just can’t come back. :-)

  9. worky – totally agree, I just think he’s wily enough to convince someone to fund it or help him fund it and for him to get his feet back under the table.

  10. Workyticket

    ‘I don’t believe he can do it on his own, Bowburn. Not without Hall, and his development company is a pale shadow of what it used to be. If anyone will lend him the money, or have him in a consortium; they’ll either be completely radged (not the banks in the current climate), or even more worrying than Shepherd (can’t believe I just wrote that!).’

    Then again, my mind is working overtime trying to rationalise why Fat Freddy can’t come back.

    Hope hell freezes over before we see his face back at NUFC. I can’t tell you how horrifying a feeling it would be to see his face gloating from the directors box again.

  11. Heartbreaker

    Well actually that’s a song of his.

    But he has had a heart-attack.

    Is it official?
    There’ll be pandemonium!!

  12. BBM

    It’s all over the net but no official announcement. Bl**dy hell!! If it’s right, he died same day as Farah Fawcett Majors ex Charlies Angel who died this morning.

  13. geordie deb Farah Fawcett was a decent person pet and that is a shame but m jackson i wont lose no sleep brilliant entertainer but we all know what he did

  14. Batty

    ‘geordie deb Farah Fawcett was a decent person pet and that is a shame but m jackson i wont lose no sleep brilliant entertainer but we all know what he did’

    Agree Batty

  15. batty says:
    June 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    “official he,s died”

    At least the papers won’t try to link him to the Newcastle United “closing down sale” then.

  16. Reet, I’m away to bed. Early start and a long day, then copious drinking in the garden til all hours on Saturday morning and then up early to play (attempt to) golf with work down in Yorkshire.

    I expect to be well and truly fubar’d on Sunday.