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Arsene Wenger and footballnomics

August 13, 2009

Ever wondered why Arsene Wenger still has his job, after years without any silverware? Le Professor, being French and an economist, has his own style. More importantly, he’s helped the club pare down its post-Emirates relocation debt. The club remains profitable at that – no idea what the figures are. Anyway he detests pomposity and pound-splurging transfers. It’s not good for the game.

So how does he do it? Does he play the football market like stocks and shares?  I doubt. Players are human beings: free and thus unpredictable. Remember Zidane’s head-butt?  Yet, Wenger and Sir Ferguson have said this year isn’t a good year to buy – Man City and Real have skewed the market. A review of  a new book, Why England Lose: and Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained, says

It is possible to play the market wisely, by treating players in a similar way to stocks and shares: buy them before their prime (early 20s is best) and sell them the moment another club offers more than you think they are worth. Olympique Lyonnais, champions of France every year from 2002 to 2008, worked this out. So, earlier, did Arsenal, whose manager, Arsène Wenger, is obsessed with statistics. He also has a master’s degree in economics.

Curiously, the other day I was chatting with friends about the burgeoning football news business in Naija. Next time you’re at the vendors watch what people are paying for, reading and sparring words about. For 60 naira, a Chelsea fan can get a copy of True Blues, the club magazine. If’ you’re a geek, there’s Game (or is it The Game), a mag on football analysis that’s sold out early Tuesday morning.  IESE, a business School in Spain, has some interesting statistics on Football Clubs and Players with the most valuable media world ranking.

I recently overheard a chap saying Wenger was tight-fisted, but didn’t have the liver to confront him. He was livid. Another by-stander, said he was a Gunner fan on loan to Man City. Which probably disproves the myth of die-hard fans.

The authors calculate the average proportion of English fans who are sure to watch their club next season: about half. People move to other towns. They have families. They reward success and shun failure.

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