Arse­nal axe 55 but still splash out

Move for Chelsea winger will go ahead de­spite job losses Tal­ent spot­ter Cagi­gao at risk amid shock over re­dun­dan­cies

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean and Matt Law

Arse­nal will press ahead with their at­tempts to sign Chelsea winger Wil­lian, de­spite wide­spread shock at their an­nounce­ment that 55 staff are to be made re­dun­dant.

In a state­ment made just four days af­ter the club’s FA Cup tri­umph, Arse­nal said the re­dun­dan­cies would en­sure they can adapt to a post-pan­demic world af­ter their main sources of in­come had re­duced “sig­nif­i­cantly”.

As part of the re­dun­dancy process, the club are un­der­stood to have ripped up their se­nior scout­ing net­work, with sev­eral key mem­bers of the re­cruit­ment team set to be let go.

In­flu­en­tial re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ist Fran­cis Cagi­gao and longterm scout Brian McDer­mott are un­der­stood to be among those who are at risk of be­ing af­fected by the cuts, the ma­jor­ity of which are tak­ing place in the com­mer­cial and ad­min­is­tra­tive de­part­ments. Cagi­gao is cred­ited with dis­cov­er­ing Hec­tor Bel­lerin, Cesc Fabre­gas and Gabriel Martinelli. Head of foot­ball Raul San­llehi and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Vi­nai Venkate­sham said they have tried to pro­tect the jobs and salaries of their staff “for as long as we pos­si­bly can”. Ear­lier this year, Arse­nal’s ex­ec­u­tive team, coach­ing staff and the ma­jor­ity of their first-team play­ers agreed to take vol­un­tary pay cuts. De­spite the need for re­dun­dan­cies, Arse­nal have main­tained their com­mit­ment to in­vest­ing in the squad in the trans­fer win­dow. Re­turn­ing to the Cham­pi­ons League is seen as cru­cial for their long-term fi­nan­cial prospects and there is an ac­cep­tance within the club that the team must im­prove if they are to be­come fi­nan­cially se­cure.

Wil­lian is be­lieved to be close to ac­cept­ing an of­fer of a three-year con­tract, with the op­tion of a fur­ther 12 months. Chelsea and head coach Frank Lam­pard are still wait­ing to be told of Wil­lian’s de­ci­sion and have not given up on him stay­ing, but they will not al­ter their of­fer, un­der­stood to be for a two

year ex­ten­sion. Arse­nal’s pro­posal is at a lower base salary than on of­fer at Chelsea, but will in­clude lu­cra­tive bonuses based on ap­pear­ances and suc­cess.

The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands they are also in­ter­ested in Lille de­fender Gabriel Ma­gal­haes, al­though they face strong com­pe­ti­tion for the 22-year-old and no for­mal of­fer has been made.

French re­ports last night sug­gested that the Brazil­ian had opted for Arse­nal de­spite in­ter­est from other clubs, in­clud­ing Ever­ton. It is un­der­stood, how­ever, that he is yet to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

Arse­nal’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, which has been se­verely af­fected by their on­go­ing ab­sence from the Cham­pi­ons League, would have been even more chal­leng­ing if they had failed to qual­ify for next sea­son’s Europa League by beat­ing Chelsea in the FA Cup fi­nal.

Like all clubs, Arse­nal have been af­fected se­verely by the loss of match day in­come with­out sup­port­ers. The global eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment has had an im­pact on their com­mer­cial part­ners, too, and there is un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture value of broad­cast deals.

“It is now clear that we will be fac­ing more sig­nif­i­cant and longer­last­ing re­duc­tions in our rev­enue than we all hoped,” said San­llehi and Venkate­sham. “In­di­ca­tions are that we will not have fans back at Emi­rates Sta­dium for the start of next sea­son and fans will only be able to re­turn in lim­ited num­bers af­ter that. The global eco­nomic pro­jec­tions are also very neg­a­tive.

“We all hope there will be no ‘sec­ond wave’, but we also need to ac­cept that is one of the many un­cer­tain­ties ahead of us and plan ac­cord­ingly.” Arse­nal have 590 per­ma­nent and fixed-term staff, and for­mer Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, an Arse­nal fan, last night said that he still hoped they would be able to pro­tect all the jobs.

“I hope they would recog­nise that the club has many loyal staff, some of whom are not well paid,” he said. “I hope that in the con­sul­ta­tion process that fol­lows they will be able to look at ways of pro­tect­ing the jobs of every­one and peo­ple that have served the club so well.”

Arse­nal said they have re­ceived “sig­nif­i­cant” fi­nan­cial sup­port from own­ers Kroenke Sports & En­ter­tain­ment, who have re­fi­nanced the club’s sta­dium debt in or­der to al­low them to be more fi­nan­cially flex­i­ble with their money. Stan Kroenke, the club’s owner, is es­ti­mated by Forbes to have a net worth of $8.3 bil­lion (£6.3 bil­lion).

“We have con­sis­tently in­vested in ad­di­tional staff to take the club for­ward but, with the ex­pected re­duc­tion of in­come, it is now clear that we must re­duce our costs fur­ther to en­sure we are op­er­at­ing in a sus­tain­able and re­spon­si­ble way, and to en­able us to con­tinue to in­vest in the team,” said San­llehi and Venkate­sham. “Our aim has been to pro­tect the jobs and base salaries of our peo­ple for as long as we pos­si­bly can. Un­for­tu­nately, we have now come to the point where we are propos­ing 55 re­dun­dan­cies.

“These pro­posed changes are about en­sur­ing we take this great foot­ball club for­ward.”

In and out: Wil­lian may be signed, but Brian McDer­mott (far right) could go

At risk: Re­cruit­ment spe­cial­ist Fran­cis Cagi­gao (right) and long-term scout Brian McDer­mott could lose their jobs as Arse­nal re­vise their se­nior scout­ing net­work as part of cost-cut­ting

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