Gunners confirm Reorganisation of Wage Structure In Search For “Top Talent”

Speaking at the recent Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting, Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis confirmed that the club are in the process of reshaping their salary structure in order to better accommodate “top talent”.

This summer it would seem that Arsenal are in the the search of a few world-class players, rather than our recent habit of padding out the squad with players who are paid a lot of money to sit on the bench/ in the reserves (e.g Park Chu Young & Maroune Chamakh).

However, superstar players come with a superstar wages – the most obvious example being only a few miles away at Chelsea, who have just signed Eden Hazard on a deal worth £170,000 per week.

Arsenal had apparently been following Hazard for several months (along with several other Premier League clubs), but Chelsea swooped in at the last minute, no doubt aided by their recent European successes. In my opinion, bringing Hazard to Arsenal was always extremely optimistic; Arsène Wenger would never have agreed to the £32 million price-tag, let alone such ridiculous wages. A similar situation arose last year. Arsenal were odds-on to complete the signing of Juan Mata, only for Chelsea to come along with a lot more money.

The figures being bandied around suggest that Arsenal’s  top earner (Robin van Persie) currently earns a basic wage of £70,000 per week. With Robin now in the last year of his contract (and so far unable to agree terms for a new deal with Arsenal), Manchester City are apparently willing to more than tripple his wages to £250,000 per week. If Robin move to Manchester, he will no doubt say that it is for “footballing reasons”; having just won the Premier League, Manchester City seem to be well equipped in the search for silverware. I am sure that the fact that he would be earning an extra £9 million is only a minor detail.

In contrast to world-class players like Van Presie, fringe squad members at Arsenal, such as the aforementioned Chamakh and Park (not to mention Manuel Almunia, Sebastian Squillaci and Abou Diaby – who made a combined total of 10 appearances last season), apparently earn somewhere in the region of £50,000-£60,000 per week. Another thing to mention is that players who graduate from the Arsenal academy seem to earn significantly more than their counterparts at other Premier League clubs.

At the AST meeting, Gazidis branded our current wage structure as inefficient, but seemed to be pretty sure that with a few tweaks the club can challenge for the League title next season:

“We have inefficiency of spending in our squad – but we are moving towards as efficient a model as possible.

“Our wage structure has been based around a flatter salary structure – that is part of a team ethos the manager develops, it’s about interaction between players – not superstars.

“But we have looked at this carefully and we have to make adjustments for top talent. They are earning a lot of money and I don’t think that will slow down. We have to adjust our model.

“That is what this summer is about and that is what we are focused on for next year.

“We have a good team, we have a good young core of players and we need everybody involved to have belief so that we can push forward into next year and make a run at the Premier League trophy and for the Champions League.”

The current wage structure is apparently based on one Arsène Wenger’s oldest philosophies.  The rationale behind Wengers system is that if all players are earning similar wages regardless of squad status then this creates equality within the team. No player is seen to be more important than the others. However, I would argue that this system is ridiculous. If somebody does their job better than somebody else then they will earn more money. It is hard to argue that the players who are in our starting XI shouldn’t earn much more than those who are on the bench or have just graduated from the academy. That is just how the job market works…

Obviously £170,000 per week for Hazard and £220,000 per week for Yaya Toure is just stupid money. I wouldn’t want Arsenal to offer any player that much, regardless of how good they are. Throwing money around is not the Arsenal way and we would lose part of what makes our club so special. Arsenal are one of the only Premier League clubs to be running a more sustainable business model and not making a loss, which will obviously see the club better off in the long-term. The suggestion is that by losing some of the less-used players and renegotiating certain contracts, Arsenal could cut as much as £23 million from their wage bill despite offering some players (and new superstar signings) higher salaries.

The introduction of the Financial Fair Play rules should make a big difference and will give Arsenal back some of their pulling power. However, gone are the days when players would sign for us just because we are Arsenal. Arsenal look set to offer van Persie a contract of around £120,000 per week, which is significantly higher than any player has ever earned at the club. Whether will choose to go elsewhere in the search for silverware or simply because he can earn double the offered salary else remains to be seen. Until recently I hadRvP down as a Gooner through and through, but as contract negotiations continue I am increasingly considering revising my conclusion.

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Ben Montague

Author/Editor at Straight Talking Gooners
A University graduate in French & Spanish with an interest in all things Arsenal (and Formula 1). Founded Straight Talking Gooners in 2010.
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5 thoughts on “Gunners confirm Reorganisation of Wage Structure In Search For “Top Talent”

  1. Charlie

    This explains to me why RvP hasn’t signed a contract. Arsenal need to change their wage structure in order to offer him what he is worth and that is not achieved overnight. They don’t yet know how much they can afford to pay him. I can see the point of a flat wage structure but it’s not the way to win trophies. Your stars will be offered so much more money elsewhere that you can’t blame them for leaving and every successful team has its’ superstars. It looks like the blame can definitely be directed towards Arsene and the board if Robin doesn’t sign.

    Reply
  2. James

    But you neglect to mention that any deal Arsenal make with RvP will be equivalent to any deal Man City will offer over the same period. Arsenal will, like they did with Fabs, offer a signing on fee to the tune of 5m, combined with increased wages of 20k+ that should see him through.

    So we need to show ambition.

    Reply
    1. benmonty Post author

      That’s true. A £5m signing on fee, which (over a 4 year period) would be the equivalent of around an extra £20,000 per week. Add that to the £120,000 a week, and he would earn double his current salary if he stays at Arsenal.

      Reply
  3. Dgob

    Another armchair manager:

    “However, I would argue that this system is ridiculous. If somebody does their job better than somebody else then they will earn more money. It is hard to argue that the players who are in our starting XI shouldn’t earn much more than those who are on the bench or have just graduated from the academy. That is just how the job market works…”

    A little niave. Any football team only wins trophies because they defend, compete and attack well. Secondly, look at the importance of team equality and fraternity in the case of RvP. At Arsenal he’s fed and scores at will: with Holland not so… Thirdly, “our starting XI” is not as fixed as you seem to suggest. Form, injury, fitness, focus, type of opponents all affect the best starting eleven. Fourthly, “should earn much more than…” fails to suggest ‘how much more’ or how that will both compare and compete with the highest wage offers of other more affluent clubs. Fifthly, the Academy is faced with the challenge of recruiting the best players from around the globe (an issue of heightened importance on these fair shores with our crippling geographic limitations for finding recruits). If you consider the young players that have gone for better offers and the importance of the likes of Cesc, Szez, Jack etc, you can see why we need to try to secure their loyalty. Six, you cite Diaby as among those not needed despite everyone with any knowledge recognising that along with Jack (as Arsene has noted on several occasions) he is likely to be the key missing ingredient for our success.

    What else can I say? Well, at lot actually but that should do for now.

    Reply
  4. Haydn

    I do agree I thought RVP was Gooner a man of integrity but obviously not because as his wife has mentioned when he was doing his Micheal Owen impression in the physio room for 80% of his career collecting wages for a massage and doing the school run would have a bearing about a solid relationship in sickness and health etc but as we have a hard time need some support but this is why I think as supporters we get too attached to players we are the only true Gooners want him to stay but if he was going to he would of said they wanna announce his replacement first to lighten the sting Higuain would help not do but help

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