Arsene Wenger: Arsenal must spend new TV cash on players
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists the increased television revenue for Barclays Premier League clubs must be invested in players rather than used to reduce ticket prices.
The Gunners have the most expensive season tickets in the top flight, while also offering the dearest single match-day admission.
The club angered a number of supporters by informing them they face an additional supplement on season ticket renewals as they face Barcelona at home in their Champions League last-16 tie later this month - a move Arsenal scrapped on Friday following a backlash from fans.
It came at a time when the new £8billion-plus television deal has added pressure for club to pass some of their extended wealth on to fans. Reports on Friday suggested Arsenal were one of a number of clubs to vote against capping the cost of tickets for away fans to Premier League games
But Wenger, speaking ahead of his side's vital trip to Bournemouth of Sunday, said the boosted revenue must be invested into improving squads - rather than capping tickets.
"We are a company who on one side want you (the fans) to buy more players," he said. "What will happen is the prices of the players will go up and you will need this supplement of money coming in to buy new players. I believe that the pressure on spending the money will become bigger and you cannot necessarily distribute the money to other people. What we do, we stabilise our prices to give access to other players and we have stabilised now for many years."
Wenger pointed to the vast amounts of money being spent on players in China as evidence the Premier League could fall behind if it does not continue to bring in new talent.
Ramires last month joined Jiangsu Suning for a reported fee of around £25million, with Liverpool target Alex Teixeira following suit for a fee believed to be in the region of £38million soon after Colombia striker Jackson Martinez had signed for Guangzhou Evergrande in a £31.7million transfer.
Chelsea midfielder Oscar was another reported target for Jiangsu, reportedly attracting a huge bid, and Wenger admits the new trend of spending in the Far East could be a concern and drive up the cost of players across the globe.
Asked if the amount Chinese clubs are able to spend on transfers is a worry to the Premier League, the Frenchman replied: "Yes, of course, because China looks to have the financial power to move a whole league of Europe to China.
"We are long enough in this job to know that it's just a consequence of economic power, and they have that. Will they sustain their desire to do it? Let's remember, a few years ago, Japan started to do it and slowed down after. I don't know how deep the desire in China is, but if there's a very strong political desire, we should worry.
"I believe that anyway the inflation is on our doors with the next TV deal in the summer - it will move up again the transfer prices. I am sure that soon the £100million (transfer fee) will be easy to reach."
In the shorter term, Arsenal have attempted to appease fans when it comes to the season ticket cup tie credits. Fans were set to be charged between £7 to £30 as Barcelona's visit is the seventh home cup game of the season, and a high category game in terms of prestige.
But the club have decided to waive that cost after accepting they need to improve "supporters' understanding of how the system works".
"Having listened to their feedback, we are announcing on this occasion that we will not ask fans to pay the additional amount due under our season ticket conditions for the game on February 23rd," Arsenal said in a statement. We remain of the view that our approach to our season ticket package of 26 games is the fairest it can be and is designed so that our season ticket holders pay the correct price each season for the matches they watch.
"However, it is clear that our fans have not been fully aware of the fact that even if we do play 26 games in some years they will get a refund, which happened in 2014/15, whilst in other years they will need to pay extra. This is linked to the teams we draw in the cup competitions.
"The feedback since our communication last night has demonstrated that we need to find a way to create a better understanding for season ticket holders on how their season ticket is structured."