Will he stay or will he go? Has been the word of mouth since Arsene Wenger said he will announce what he plans to do in future “very soon”.
The long-serving Arsenal boss has come under increased pressure after a string of bad results.
A record 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, followed by losses to top four rivals Liverpool and Chelsea, seemed to be the last straw for fans who feel the Frenchman is holding back the club due to his frivolous nature in the transfer window.
Wenger has always defended his policy in the markets and put forward the argument that the money simply has not been there.
Per Wenger, building a new stadium at the cost of $500 million has always hindered the London side’s push for another Premier League title and can be blamed for their inability to see past the European sides in the Champions League.
While their lack of success is frustrating from a fan’s point of view, it is understandable why the Arsenal hierarchy have stuck by him for this long; and will continue to stick by him so long as top four football is achieved.
Who better than a man with a masters degree in economics to lead you out of the red and into the black in a matter of years.
Since the Gunners finished building the Emirates in 2006, their revenue has continuously increased every year, according to Forbes.
The year after their move from Highbury, their matchday income doubled the first year and in the last three years amounted to £130 million.
But matchday sales are not something a club of Arsenal’s stature could rely on for profit, they would need to do more to balance the books.
“Le Professeur” as he is sometimes known as, had the solution, and one that could not have come easy for a man driven by success.
He began selling his star men that had gone the full season unbeaten and this soon became a policy of Arsenal’s.
Selling their best players was not simply about making a profit, however, but rather skimming the wage bill and trying to lower expenses.
In 2006, the ratio of turnovers to salaries was at 63% which would not be sustainable over a prolonged period.
The ratio since then has simmered to below 60% apart from a brief jump in 2013 which correlates with the signing of Mesut Ozil.
The failure to replace players such as Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie frustrated fans, but worse was Wenger’s seemingly lack of spine in the transfer markets.
The Frenchman seemed unwilling to loosen his purse even as profits increase- and when he did- he was criticised for buying mediocre players.
Despite this, he has repeatedly put forward a team capable of getting top four football.
In football terms, look at Wenger’s lack of trophies in the past ten years and one would begin to agree with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho’s description of him as a “specialist in failure.”
However, in business terms (for which football is now more than anything), Wenger has been an unprecedented success.
With the increased revenue from TV deals skyrocketing the prize money for Premier League clubs, Arsenal would have averaged £90-95 million since 2010 for finishing in the top four.
Last year, Arsenal earned £100.8 million for finishing in second place – £6 million more than the champions, Leicester City.
In fact, the difference between finishing fourth and finishing first is so minimal, that in business terms, success in the trophy sense, is not vital.
Therefore why would Arsenal want to get rid of Wenger?
All football fans care about is the success on the football field, but football is no longer just a sport, it is a business, and Arsene Wenger is good for business.
This brings upon the biggest decision in the club’s modern history and the end of the season may reveal a dark truth about the club no matter the outcome.
If they stick with Wenger, they have put business before the sport – but if they get rid of Wenger- fans may need to adjust to the possibility of no top four football and so will the business.