Angry fans quiz board on lack of spending


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The Independent Online

The Arsenal Supporters Trust is demanding to know if Arsène Wenger has been given all of the club's cash reserves to spend by the board, amid increasing disquiet at the team's direction this season.

In a financial paper issued at an AST meeting of record attendance last night, and ahead of next Sunday's Emirates derby with Spurs, the trust stated the club has roughly £50m in available cash reserves. Given frustrations with the limited transfer activity, the trust plans to ask point-blank whether Wenger was allowed to use that money.

"Did the manager have the option to use all or some of these cash reserves in summer 2011 and January 2012?" the AST will ask, "or are resources being held back as a contingency for failure to qualify for the Champions League?"

With Arsenal in fourth place in the league, and effectively out of all cup competitions, supporter disquiet is higher than it has ever been under Wenger. Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke (above) is expected to be at Thursday's routine board meeting, along with Wenger. The AST will meet club representatives soon and its members hope to meet Kroenke.

Last night's paper also condemned Arsenal's wage spending as "inefficient": player salaries for the 2010-11 season totalled £124.4m, the fourth highest in the Premier League and a 12.4 per cent rise on the previous year. "In the view of the AST," the paper ran, "there is clear inefficiency in wage spend evidenced by poor performances on the pitch and the number of players the club have either on loan (i.e. who can't be sold) or deemed not good enough to play in the first team."

The worrying contrast for them, clearly, is with Spurs. Now 10 points ahead of their local rivals in third place, Tottenham had a wage bill of £91m for the 2010-11 season.