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
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