TRAVEL BUDGETS + THE CHANCE TO RISE FROM THE ASHES – Le Grove – The Arsenal Opinion Blog

Oh my daaaays, what FUN we had on Sanction Day.

Chelsea landed their delicious comeuppance. Their fans were sad. Every other fan was happy. The memes were very good.

So today, let’s talk about some of the interesting points, particularly the travel budget thing because if true, they are in big trouble.

A travel budget of £20k is an absolute pittance by any Premier League standard. But when you move into the world of elite level athletes who have lived under sugar daddy privilege, it’s really, really sad.

Now, when you read this, don’t frame these ‘problems’ through your normal life. I don’t want to read things like, ‘well, the Premier Inn does do nice hashbrowns’ because these football players are not about that. Luxury is expected, they’ve had it
Their whole lives, and disruption to that is going to ink into their season and maybe their futures. Any sort of disruption to the way things work will have a negative impact on their psyche and feelings towards the club.

So the basics.

This is roughly the staff that travel with a football team.

Average run of people that travel: 45

  • 20 players
  • 5 media people (PR, photographer, social media nerd)
  • 3 kit managers
  • 3 medicine
  • 3 performance analysts
  • 1 Keeping coach
  • 3 Massagers of Humans
  • 2 Doctors
  • 5 Coaches

These people do not share rooms. They do not stay in cheap hotels. They need to be fed (good food), watered (always sparkling), and have rooms for meetings.

So let’s talk numbers:

Coach travel to and from airport: £10k

Big clubs send one coach up with all the gear, then they pick the players up, there’s usually catering on the coach. It ain’t cheap. They have collection at point A and point B.

Chartered Jet: £30-50k

I don’t have access to a lot of details here, Roman Abramovich might have his own jets, regardless, Chelsea won’t have them now. You’re looking at minimum £30k for a flight domestically, that could go up to £80k for away days in Europe. Will the government make special dispensation for chartered jets for a club owned by an oligarch when the UK populous is struggling the manage horrendous inflation? Who knows. It wouldn’t be a good look.

45 rooms 5* hotel @ £500 p/n: £22,500

Clubs stay in nice hotels like the Lowry. They often stay in hotels the night before travel to get their shit together, so I’d imagine the 4 seasons or a fancy spot in Shoreditch is often used. Nice hotels cost big money, even with a rate reduction.

Food + meeting rooms @ £200 per head: £9000

3 meals a day. Meeting room catering. Meeting room charges. It ain’t cheap in fancy hotels.

Minimum bill here is £71k.

When you factor in European away days, you could go up to £120k because you might need security etc.

Chelsea has been allowed £20,000. They cannot make that work unless players take coaches everywhere, pay for their rooms, and forgo all luxuries.

Now, I don’t know how tight the Chelsea squad is, but I’d imagine if the choice is the Holiday Inn or pay your own way… the players will pay their own way. That leads to the break-up of the pregame process and rituals.

Imagine the difference between zipping up on a private jet to Newcastle versus a 6 hour coach ride. Just think about how you feel, in your thirties, going to a music festival to chase your youth, and your tent leaks, then you wake up to someone high on mushrooms doing something disgusting in your pots outside… you don’t need this bullshit at a time in life when you have the money to live a better way. It is very, very difficult to downgrade your standards once you’ve tasted opulence.

Now 10x that feeling and you might get close to how pissed players are going to be when Petr Cech is having to be the tie-breaker in an argument between Lukaku and Kai Havertz over who gets speedy boarding on Easyjet.

Bigger picture here:

Players are creatures of deep routine, that’s why they are good at what they do, this whole thing, if it happens, will lead to grumbling.

Their manager is German, he is now being associated with an Oligarch that does the bidding for a dictator that bombs pregnant women in maternity wards. That picture of the woman lying on the watermelon sheet haunts me. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that after those images flooded the internet, the British Government leaned in on sanctions. Anyway, I can’t imagine a hypersensitive man like Thomas Tuchel is unaware of what he is now associated with. I cannot imagine his job is a point of pride for him. I imagine his family feels the same, there must be a social pressure involved here.

Their players will also have issues being associated with something so grim. What are the costs of this whole mess if this issue isn’t resolved soon?

The biggest problem out of all of this is uncertainty. Players have short careers, bad decisions kill them. If the kid working in the merchandise shop can lose his shifts, what about the players and the coaching staff? The gossip will be a big issue and a distraction. Don’t take my word for it, just read what Thomas T had to say on the matter.

Some players will feel uncertain. Some maybe will be a bit frightened. Some will be concerned. It’s normal. And not only the players.

We have a lot of people on the staff, in the club who are maybe also worried and scared and uncertain.

Sinking ships, small mammals… well, that’s the hopeful assessment.

I’m also exceedingly happy about how the selling process is going. The Candy Brothers, two fans, that work in real estate, are putting their name in the ring. You know the bid is a joke because they are talking up fan representation and really rich people don’t have time for that when it comes to the Premier League. That’s what bidders who don’t have money are going to do.

‘We can’t give you money like Roman, but we can give you a seat at the table.’

How many folk in real estate do you know that aren’t up to their eyeballs in debt? Donald Trump has gone on record many times to say that it’s a suckers game to use your own money in those deals.

Then you have the American buyers. I don’t care what the PR says, there is no one from America that is going to come in with ‘fuck you’ money to keep the consistency going. They will have their own people, their own ideas, and they will change Chelsea in the longterm.

There’s no good solution here because Chelsea can’t sell the club to someone that is trying to wash their reputation and those are the only folk willing to burn money on something as trivial as football. They have to come back down from La La Land and operate like a normal club.

I suspect their biggest issue as fans isn’t their lost wealth, it’s that the Saudi’s have been doing worse things in Yemen for longer and their owners are more directly involved… but because we don’t see it, they get a free pass.

So what does this all mean for Arsenal?

Well, if we play the patience game, things could be looking pretty good for Arsenal in 2-3 seasons time. They say timing is everything, well, you don’t have a genius to see that the tides are starting to shift into the Premier League a little like they did shortly after Spurs and Liverpool got their act together around 2015. Football goes in cycles , if we play it right, we could be dominant in the next one.

Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to last beyond 2 seasons. He’s been on record before talking about players getting bored of him. I suspect a new challenge will pique his interest and he’ll move on, handing the controls to Stevie G.

Pep G won’t be at City beyond 2 seasons. I think once he wins a Champions League, he might exit that project. He’s on record as saying he’d like to do it at International level, he’s never managed in Italy, I don’t think he’ll go on forever at City. When he goes, no doubt City will come for Arteta, he’s the closest in terms of continuity, the hope is he’s backed well enough and he sees the danger in being the guy that goes after the greatest manager in the world.

Spurs might make top 4 this season, but their project is doomed. Antonio Conte is a bad mismatch and we know he’ll burn the club before long.

Chelsea is in big trouble. The percentage chance that this sale moves them to a better place is less than 2%. They have 3 big defenders that are seeking deals elsewhere on bosman exits. They also have Kante, Jorginho, Thiago, Barkley and Alonso down to one year this summer. That’s 8 major players that need upgrading just as Daddy exits the country. They are about to enter serious rebuild territory and they are in absolute turmoil.

So where does that leave Arsenal?

In good shape. We done the heavy lifting on our squad over the last 2 years. We’ve chopped our wage bill in half, exited the old dross that was clogging the arteries, we’ve signed up young, dynamic, hungry players… and the stadium is rocking.

In 3 seasons time out players will be entering peak… we’ll go from an average age of 24 to 27 (where Liverpool and City is now).

Saka will be 23, Odegaard 26, White/Gabriel 27, Saliba 23, ESR 24… think about how good those players will be by then?

The job Arsenal has to do now is basically: don’t shit the bed.

Stick to the strategy. Dream big. Tie down your best young players. Sign players that fit the profile we nailed this summer. Continue to add the right profile of player and keep building towards winning the Premier League when the opportunity presents… because mark my words, the opportunity is coming.

Right, I’ll end on that one today, then we can speak tomorrow!

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