Early Chelsea stuff, financials + Arsecast 249

Hello and welcome to Friday.

Plenty to be getting on with today. Arsene held his pre-Chelsea press conference yesterday, the club have released the financials and Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond have gone to that great Nandos in the sky. I mean, on loan to Colchester.

We’ll start with the team news ahead of tomorrow’s game and really, there isn’t any. No new injuries, thankfully, and the promise of the return of Sagna, Wilshere and Rosicky growing ever larger. Bac is back in full training but needs another little while before being considered for first team action, Jack will play with the U21s on Monday as he steps up his comeback, while Tomas needs another two weeks or so before he’s ready for his first football of the season.

Wednesday’s win over Coventry might give the manager a thing or two to think about. Does he keep Gervinho as the centre-forward, hoping his movement and willingness to run about the place like a bee-stung warthog will pull the Chelsea defence hither and thither, or does he start the newly confidence filled Olivier Giroud who you’d feel is more likely not to smash the ball into the Hubble telescope when given a chance? He could, of course, play both of them.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played well in midweek and scored a belter while Theo Walcott’s two goals could give the manager pause for thought. Walcott, despite the baggage he’s carrying at this moment in time, has a good record against Chelsea. Who will ever forget his ‘Look, I’ve fallen over my own feet now I’m up again while you’re standing scratching your head and hahahaha I’ve scored!’ routine at Stamford Bridge last season?

I suspect the boss will be looking to press Chelsea high up the pitch, we’ve had a good measure of success with that in recent seasons, and I’m not sure Walcott is the best man for that particular task. As it’s a game against a high quality team, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he picked the same team that played against Man City, but this is all stuff that can wait until tomorrow’s blog when we do a full preview of the game.

In the meantime, the club have released the financial results for the year ending May 31st and they are, as you’d expect, healthy. There are those with a better grasp of these things than I have but two things stand out to me:

1 – The increase in wage costs from £124.4m in 2011 to £143.4m in 2012. The wage bill represented 60.9% of our football revenues (2011 – 55.2%). It seems that the rise in the cost of wages shows no sign of abating which, to me at least, makes it absolutely necessary the club spends the money as well as it can.

If we accept that there are some players earning money beyond their ability, and others whose contributions to the squad are minimal, it’s also incumbent on us not to throw money around and therefore offers we make to existing players have to reflect that. We can’t benchmark salaries against those that are too high – e.g ‘We should pay X player this much because Y player earns this much and he’s worse’. There has to be some correction and I think we’re seeing that. The club also note that although new staff have been recruited in various areas, it’s player wages that are driving the increase for the most part.

2 – The level of commercial income is incredibly low in relation to our competitors. The report says ‘Revenues from football increased to £235.3 million (2011 – £225.4 million) with commercial activities contributing £5.6 million of this growth.’

Obviously a lot of work has gone into this particular area with summer tours, a number of new commercial partners and so on, but until we can renegotiate deals will run until 2014 we’re going to lag behind in that regard. When United can get £20m a season for their training kit – an amount of money sufficient for Ferguson to quietly un-ban the BBC – you can see how we’ve got ground to make up. The good thing is you can see how that increased income will benefit us.

Interestingly, the club are investing in infrastructure with a planned re-development of the Hale End facility used for youth training, and Ivan Gazidis has made it clear that when it comes to spending the money we have Arsene is in charge. Anyway, the full PDF is available as a download from the official site, with quotes from the Chief Executive and the Chairman, and if you’re not already following @SwissRamble I’d suggest a look back through his timeline for more details.

Beyond that not a great deal going on. Andre Santos has been banned for driving for a year after being caught doing the speed of light during rush hour. I particularly liked this suggestion for an alternative means of transportation for the Cuddly Maverick. And, as I mentioned earlier, both Sanchez Watt (What?) and Craig David Eastmond have gone to Colchester for three months. That’ll teach them to not do whatever it is they did again.

Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and joining me to look back on Coventry and Man City, as well as some discussion about Theo Walcott and more, is GilbertoSilver from Gunnerblog. Also in the mix, Arshavin, a look ahead to Chelsea and some courtroom drama.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here (26mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://podcast.arseblog.com/arsecast/arsecast_episode249.mp3]

And that, my good old friends, is that for today. Have a good one, more tomorrow.

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