LONDON UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 22: Arsene Wenger the Arsenal manager watches from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic at the Emirates Stadium on January 22 2011 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The world according to Arsene Wenger, economist: Chelsea's money causes football to suffer. Isn't that nice? The Arsenal manager really isn't saying very nice things about us, and while it's tempting to simply blast him it's probably a good idea to figure out whether what he's saying actually has any merit. For all his flaws, Wenger's a pretty smart man. TO THE QUOTES!
A club can buy players like PSG has done or Manchester City or Chelsea, with unlimited resources, but overall football suffers. Look at the activity on the transfer market since the start of the summer... Europe at the moment is like the Titanic but we live in football like nothing matters. More than ever we have to run our club in a strict way because it looks like everybody suffers in Europe.
I would be surprised if football is not touched by it at some stage. If you look at debt in football across Europe at the moment it is quite massive and we have to be responsible. We have to be ambitious but also make sure we are not getting in trouble financially. It is difficult for us because the wages in some other clubs are very high. But of course our players quite rightly compare themselves to the players of the other clubs.
-Source: The Sun via ESPN Soccernet.
The first sentence is a head-scratcher, but it makes more sense when you realise that Wenger is probably talking about the early days of the Roman Abramovich era, when Chelsea were spending like... well, they had all the money and nobody else did, suckers. Still, it doesn't make that much sense. Why does football suffer when money becomes injected into the game? Surely the rise of Chelsea in the Premier League has led to an increase in overall quality in England? And the inflated fees that the Blues spent on players mostly stayed within football anyway.
But then we get to the real problem in football: the massive debt taken on by clubs in an attempt to upgrade their playing squads. It's not difficult to see this as an indirect result of Chelsea and City's 'money-doping' -- their spending makes everyone more expensive -- but actively associating a real problem with what Chelsea are doing is frankly weird. Roman Abramovich gave the club money, the club spent it, and are now looking to break even. There's no real debt crisis at Chelsea. We're not going to go all Rangers or Portsmouth anytime soon, and we're not being funded by, say, the Spanish taxpayer.
So, long story short: Wenger's fears about the debt problem in football are entirely well-founded. It's just a bit weird that he's calling us out rather than clubs that are actually contributing to it.