Arsenal are already lagging behind their rivals in terms of financial health – and the COVID-19 disaster could be the final nail in the coffin.
It has now been over 3 years since the last time Arsenal played a Champions League match. In fact, the last memory Gooners will have of their team in the famous competition will be a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich at the Emirates. The 2nd last memory will be yet another 5-1 demolition at the hands of Bayern Munich in the first leg of that very same tie, during the 2016-17 season.
While Arsenal was tortured at the time, I’m sure they’d much rather be back in the Champions League and getting hammered by Barcelona or Bayern Munich than stay in their current state of consistent Europa League football.
Arsenal’s inability to qualify for Champions League football – a failure that looks likely to occur once again this season if the Premier League finds a way to wrap up the campaign – has seriously hindered them on the financial side of things.
The Gunners have fallen behind in terms of pulling power, especially after legendary manager Arsene Wenger left the club, and they also don’t have the financial muscle to be able to match any of the biggest clubs in world football anymore. While they can stay afloat and stay competitive on a Europa League budget, especially since Arsenal is still a famous club in world football, getting back into the Champions League has been their main goal for quite some time now.
Well, they are about to fail again in their quest for top 4, and now the COVID-19 disaster that has halted all football for the time being is going to give the Gunners’ bank account yet another hit – and one that might take even longer to repair.
At the moment, Arsenal relies upon matchday revenue for a big chunk of their income. In 2016, Arsenal had the highest matchday revenue in Europe. While this figure has fallen in recent years, it’s still a critical part of their income. With no matches currently being played, and with a squad full of expensive stars to pay, Arsenal are going to be running a massive deficit in the coming months.
Although the Premier League is looking to finish the season, it’s looking more and more likely that this will happen behind closed doors. In that case, Arsenal will have to refund their season ticket holders – which also won’t come cheap.
If the Gunners were consistently in the Champions League over the last few years, their financial health might have been in a place where it wouldn’t be too affected by the COVID-19 crisis. But now, with their financial capabilities already lagging behind, Arsenal might end up in a place of no return.