Good financial results invite more questions

Posted by Sam Limbert

The last week has seen a lot of people scrutinise Arsenal's on-pitch performances. However on Monday, there was news about Arsenal's off-pitch financial performances.

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Overall, it's hard not to be impressed by any club making a profit in modern football, and in Arsenal's case, it was a pre-tax profit of £17.8 million. Part of the announcement also included that the club has cash reserves of £123.3 million.

All of this looks good on paper. That's where the concerns of fans come in. Does the good look on paper translate to looking good on the pitch? In the current climate of football, the club should be proud of the results. However, the club shouldn't be just about making money. The challenge is to make the successful business side of Arsenal turn into a successful team.

I suspect that there will be many supporters who could feel slightly disillusioned by these results. There is an obvious frustration that the team can't produce footballing results that match the financial footing the club are building. The figure of £123.3 million cash reserves will annoy people who were calling for money to spent in January, and during the last summer to immediately replace Robin van Persie. As someone who doesn't fully know the ins and outs of the financial side of a football club, to me that looks like a rainy-day fund should something bad happen to the club. Arguably, selling your club captain and leading scorer was a worthwhile reason to dip into that fund.

The figures from player trading make for interesting reading, considering Arsenal's big departures last summer with Robin van Persie and Alex Song leaving, yet the club still made a profit there. Arsene Wenger can clearly argue that he has invested in the squad with over £40 million spent on players. However, fans are still dubious given the money remaining from previous years of player sales to add to those cash reserves mentioned.

“Our desire is to make everyone connected with Arsenal proud of the club," Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said of the results. "We know that comes through winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will remain our constant guide.”

It's difficult to argue with the sentiments of Hill-Wood's statement, as there is still a lot of pride in the 'Arsenal way' of doing things. Fans want to see that way of running the club bring them success on the pitch, because for many it is one of the things that drew them to Arsenal in the first place. There is a strong sense of us vs. them for many Arsenal fans as they do, as Hill-Wood alludes to, take pride in the sustaining way the club is run.

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty ImagesPeter Hill-Wood should continue to take pride in the way Arsenal is run, but the performance on the pitch should match the financial results.

However, given the difficulties that Arsenal have had this season, the financial results should act as the basis for the club enabling fans to have pride in the club through winning trophies that Hill-Wood talked of. Those who support teams who have won trophies recently, but aren't run the same way as Arsenal, might not have pride in the behind-the-scenes work of their club. Although they forget about that quickly when the team is winning on the pitch.

I'm not suggesting that Arsenal need a change of strategy as it is impressive to see what they have done financially considering the stadium move. However, making money isn't the be-all and end-all of a football club for fans. Questions will continue to be asked unless the footballing side of the club works in sync with the business side to create a winning team.

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