Arsenal players have been warned the club faces a “very grave situation” because of the coronavirus lockdown.
That was the warning spelt out to the first team squad in the pay proposal seen by Mirror Sport should the season not be completed or if Arsenal do not get the “expected payments from broadcasters.”
And that begs the question: if a club the size of Arsenal fears a financial meltdown, then what hope for the rest of football?
The reality is that Arsenal’s annual wage bill of £230m is huge, one of the biggest in the Premier League.
Now it leaves them facing a black hole with the club concerned that deferrals alone will only move the problem further down the line.
After reporting losses of £27.1m last year, they are asking the players to take a pay cut rather than a deferral which only highlights the magnitude of the problem facing one of Europe’s top clubs.
Arsenal have a huge wage bill – believed to be in the 60 per cent range of their turnover – which has long been a problem since they dropped out of the Champions League.
Another year out of Europe’s elite competition will leave them facing even greater problems because they gambled big on reaching the Champions League last summer – and are in serious danger of coming up short again.
They spent a club record £72million last summer on Nicolas Pepe, but while the repayments to Lille are spread over the length of his contract, it was still money they did not really have.
Mesut Ozil is on £350,000-a-week, top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will only have one year left on his contract this summer, and they are also paying a heavy price of an early exit from the Europa League after crashing out to Olympiacos.
Club owner Stan Kroenke actually guaranteed the club’s expenditure last summer, effectively underwriting the debt because of the complex funding of their Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal had always been cautious when it came to spending for fear of a disastrous season – but could never have imagined it would be this bad.
There is a genuine fear that they may yet have to pay back huge sums of TV cash with the Premier League desperate to complete the season with more than £750m with of broadcasting money at stake.
For a club like Arsenal, the fear of another season out of the Champions League, a big drop in TV cash plus the gate receipts worth in excess of £2m-a-game would be gone if the season is, as expected, played out behind closed doors.
Arsenal was always known as The Bank of England club for its wealth but also its conservative attitude towards spending and yet the reality is anything but.
They have gambled, they have shown ambition and now they are desperately trying to claw the money back which seems unfair as they handed out the contracts in the first place.
It is rather ironic that Gabon FA president Pierre Alain Mounguengui this weekend questioned Arsenal’s ambition and insisted the nation’s star striker Aubameyang should leave the Emirates for a club in the Champions League.
"I don't want to say that Arsenal aren't ambitious, but Arsenal don't have ambitions as high as some other clubs as far as Europe is concerned,” said Mounguengui.
"Aubameyang is a world-class player. But for him, or anyone else in Europe who hasn't won a major honour, football is a collective sport.
"Right now, he's at Arsenal, and he's won nothing here, so it's a collective failing.”
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