IS WENGER USING MIND GAMES WITH ARSENAL'S BOARD?


I somehow doubt that Arsene Wenger will still be Arsenal manager in the year 2025, but if he's willing to stick around that long then he might just get the chance to spend big money on a recognised world class player.

Judging by his comments yesterday, such a move just ain't going to happen otherwise, which begs the question as to why the club built Emirates Stadium in the first place?

As I recall, the whole idea of leaving Highbury to move to a state-of-the-art new home was to allow Arsenal to compete on a level playing field with other big European clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and of course Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United.

There was no mention made about the club having to wait 20 years before we could compete, but given Le Gaffer's comments to the News Of The World yesterday - that Arsenal are a selling club and that we'll be selling our best players for the next 17 years to help pay back the stadium debt - then that seems like that is the situation we find ourselves in.

 Or is it?

I'm sure we can all recall the headlines last year that proclaimed Arsenal as one of the richest clubs on the planet. At the end of the financial year in May 2007, the club had brought in more than £200 million in revenues, generating a profit of more than £50 million. And that did not include any transfer activity.

Yesterday's News Of The World story quoted Wenger as saying that the club needs to assign £24 million a year to paying off the stadium debt, so quite why we have to contemplate selling players to achieve that is beyond me.

Which brings me to my point. The one thing that Arsene Wenger enjoys, which the Arsenal board does not, is an ongoing friendship with former vice chairman David Dein. A lot has been written about Dein and the way in which his relationship with the Arsenal hierarchy has soured since he brokered ITV's sale of 10% of the club to American sports tycoon Stan Kroenke, before selling his own 15% stake in the club to Uzbeki billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

It's obvious that Dein believes that billionaire investors are the way forward for Arsenal and like it or lump it, there aren't too many people who would seriously argue that Dein is anything but an Arsenal fan. The man brought us Arsene Wenger, lest we forget, as well as setting up the deals to bring players such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and even Emmanuel Adebayor to the club.

To argue that Dein is trying to hinder the club that he loves is a non starter as far as I'm concerned.

That doesn't mean I want to see a billionaire foreigner buying the club to use it as his executive plaything. Far from it. However, Arsene's comments make me wonder whether he is changing his tune about the Gunners' ownership as he faces the prospect of having to break up what is arguably the most promising squad in the history of Arsenal Football Club.

Today chairman Peter Hill-Wood is stating that Alexander Hleb has likely played his last game in an Arsenal shirt, but Emmanuel Adebayor should still be at the club next season. But for how long? And if the club's strategy is purely to pay back the stadium debt at the expense of losing our best players, when should we expect the likes of CescFabregas to leave?

Wenger's well timed comments will not go unnoticed and I just wonder if he is now extending his mind games to the Arsenal board of directors. Footballers are greedy and footballers are fickle, so if the Gunners are truly going to compete with other European giants then I'm afraid the infamous Arsenal wage structure is going to have to be torn up and binned.

And if the only way of achieving that is to allow billionaires to have a bigger say in the club - thus allowing the stadium debt to be wiped at the stroke of a pen - then maybe it's time that people like me take off our rose tinted glasses and wake up to the reality of modern day football.

What do you lot think? Am I talking out of a hole in my head, or is Arsene Wenger deliberately trying to crank up the debate on the club's ownership structure? Perhaps you think remaining a British club is important enough for Arsenal to be resigned to losing our best players on an annual basis? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts