By Desmond Ekwueme
Last week, “Massive Attack”, ignited another debate over Arsene Wenger,s remarks that Manchester City’s exploits this season is as a result of ‘petro money’ that is not sustainable.
Arnold Spleen a British writer cum philosopher described life as “a business concern”. He went further to say that “man by creation is an enterprenuer”. Everything about life is centred around giving mankind or humanity a meaning. “Life therefore is all about profit”, he hinted.
He added that “you marry expecting to raise good children. You send your children to school expecting them to graduate someday to pick up rewarding jobs. They work with the expectation of acquiring experience to perhaps sometime in the future set up their own individual establishments, companies or businesses.”
Suffice this to mean that everything in life itself is anchored around making profit. Sports is not left out. In fact, the real essence of any sporting concern or venture is to make profit hence the marketing and sponsorship department or unit of every sporting interests must be manned or handled by experienced goal-getters with proven integrity, skills and tact. Once money is coming in, the venture runs like an autopilot. This means that profit oils every business setup.
However, in making money or profit there must be a determinant factor. This factor measures or weighs the quantity of what goes out and what comes in. It is a leveller. It is a sort of equilibrium. In sports business profits are expected just as laurels, awards and trophies are required to determine the efforts and expenditures put into the business, of course, with the mindset of making money.
In the NBA for instance, a club spends hugely from sponsors funds made available for a season, and by the end of the season, the sponsors want trophy to show for it.
Football is not differenct in this regards. Each season, club owners or sponsors vote millions to buy players, kits, to go on training tours, settle wages, bonuses and allowances among others. They expect that by the end of the season, there will be a major trophy to celebrate with.
This is why major stakeholders always appeal that managers get as much funds as they want to get the best players needed to strengthen or beef up their squads for the new season.
This is paying off with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. He spent close to £300m in the last transfer market having offloaded the likes of Samir Nasri, Joe Hart, Kelechi Iheanacho, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas and Willifred Bony among others to gather close to £200m used to augment for the purchase of new players
The former FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has remained unbeaten in the EPL as at boxing day. History beckons on him. It is no longer whether The Citizens will win the EPL title rather it is about if they will win it unbeaten.
This is Guardiola’s second season at the Etihad and he is about to pick his first major title. Money well spent, sponsors will say by the time the EPL title lands at the Etihad. The performance of Manchester City in the EPL is further boosting their dream of a better outing in the Champions League where they have held their heads high so far even as the competition enters the knockout stage.
Sure, Guardiola’s performance in the EPL and UCL has further helped to cast a dark shadow at the inability of Arsene Wenger to win the EPL title. But for the FA Cup Arsenal secured last season, it would have been tales of woes in the last 12 seasons at the Emirates.
This is the reason why many fans of the club have insisted that the only way forward is to ask Wenger to step down as manager for a fresh breath of life to come into the team through a new manager.
Yes, Wenger has made so much money for the club and board but the latter is even worried and secretly grumbling of this “loads of cash without trophies and fun” situation Wenger has put it. The old era, theory and tactics of buying talented teenagers for peanuts and developing them into superstars who are later sold to big spending or buying clubs is over. It is over because it is only bringing in the cash but leaving out the trophies. This is why the “Wenger Must Go” protest will gather momentum by the end of this season if Arsenal fails to win any trophy. Already, the club is out of the EPL title range thus, leaving it just with the Europe League dream. Anything short of the Europe League trophy could spell doom for Wenger.
Top clubs buy established players to boost their squads to push for trophies. PSG broke the bank to secure Neymar Jr for a staggering €222m from FC Barcelona. They also got young French sensation, Kylian Mbappe. These buys are meant to strengthen the team to win not just the Ligue Un title but most importantly the Champions League. Interestingly, Real Madrid’s President, Florentino Perez is discussing with Neymar Sr on the possibility of another crazy world record transfer for his son from PSG.
In the light of this, it will be right to say that in as much as clubs are thinking of making profits at the end of every season, their ultimate goal is to win trophies to justify their huge spending in acquiring players or selling youngsters to bring in more funds to the club.
It is an open secret that once Guardiola wins the EPL and performs comparatively well in the UCL, he would be given an open or blank cheque to storm the transfer market in June 2018. Winning trophies is the major reason why the multi-billion dollars Arab, American, Chinese and Russian business moguls are storming Europe big Leagues to buy clubs but most especially England to buy EPL clubs.
No trophies, no joy for both the fans and the board of any club irrespective of how much they have or how much the club is worth. Sadly, with all the profits Wenger has made for Arsenal through players sales and his the top four finish over the years, Arsenal are not the richest club in the world. They are far behind the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich among others. So what is the need and all the noise about merely making profit.
●Desmond Ekwueme is a Lagos-based journalist.
Editor’s Note: The question really is; how endurable is the culture of excessive spending on players acquisition without a corresponding balance sheets? The Arabs, Asians and Americans buying European clubs are being driven by profit motives. Without profits the big investors will pull out in due course and these clubs buying success with money will be back in the wilderness.
Winning trophies will no doubt increase the market value of clubs, but laying a sustainable foundation that will guarantee profits and laurels is the way to go.
• Till next week, keep attacking.