Arsène Wenger said yesterday that he would not allow Arsenal to "go bust" by caving into the wage demands of players such as Mathieu Flamini – and, again, hit out at Chelsea's spending by claiming it was "morally not right" to behave in the way they have since Roman Abramovich's takeover.
The Arsenal manager also stated, somewhat implausibly, that he was not aware of why managing director Keith Edelman suddenly departed the club on Thursday starting the search for what one source said would be a "young, dynamic chief executive who will probably come from outside football".
Wenger did not appear comfortable when discussing Edelman's situation and, clearly, over the past six weeks there has been a lot of soul-searching at Arsenal as to why their season has disintegrated. Wenger himself has to take some responsibility although he continues to maintain that the club, despite its move to the Emirates Stadium, with match-day revenues of £3m a game, doesn't have a great deal to spend.
Edelman had disclosed earlier this season that there was, in theory, £70m to spend on transfers and wages although that claim now doesn't appear to be quite so correct. The disclosure is understood to have rankled with Wenger and senior figures at the club who are afraid that others will demand the premiums for players that both Manchester United and Chelsea have to pay, often 25 per cent more, because of their financial clout.
Chelsea's approach has long been a bugbear for Wenger. He once described them as "financially doped" and returned to the theme yesterday when asked if Edelman's going was in any way linked to the positioning of potential sugar-daddies – Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke – on Arsenal's lawn.
"The club works with its income and not by someone who comes in by parachute into your court and brings you a huge amount of money," he said. "For me that is not workable and it's not right." But, when asked why it has apparently worked at Chelsea Wenger added: "But it's not right. Morally not right. Everyone should work within their natural resources."
For Arsenal, according to their manager, those resources will increase dramatically – but only once the "£360m of debt" outstanding for the new stadium is paid. "Despite what people say we have to respect the wage structure or we will go bust," he said. "We can't afford not to do it."
It appears that Arsenal have around £25m to spend in transfer fees this summer (from the £70m mentioned by Edelman £25m is committed to debt repayments and £20m to outstanding transfer fees) although another £50m for player purchases will come soon from the residential development at Highbury Square.
Wenger said yesterday that he had extended the deadline imposed on Flamini to sign a new contract. It now passes on Monday morning. "It will be sorted out over the weekend," Wenger said, although sources claim the player already told team-mates that he has signed for Milan. "He's not linked by contract. That means if he gets £2m here, £4m somewhere else then you can go to the one who gives you £4m. We are not naïve enough to feel that it's not linked with money."
Dixie Dean feared for life after record
Dixie Dean was so overwhelmed by the possibility of being mobbed when he scored his record 60th league goal in the 1927-28 season – for Everton against Arsenal, 80 years ago this weekend – that he left the pitch seven minutes' early, telling the referee to explain to anyone who asked that he had gone to the toilet.
As the two sides prepare to meet again tomorrow, the extra-ordinary tale is revealed in previously unpublished recordings, now available.
"I went up to the referee right away," Dean (above) told the former Independent writer, John Roberts, in interviews taped for a book in 1977, but unheard in public until now. "I turned to the referee and told him, 'Look, I'm going off if you don't mind. Tell them I'm going off for a Jimmy or something'. I got out, and that was that, because I would have got murdered."
The Legendary Dixie Dean – The Forgotten Tapes, TM Sport Media, £9.99.Reuse content