On April 20, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil refused to join teammates in taking a 12.5 per cent pay cut at the Emirates.
On April 23, a study published by TheInstitute for Policy Studies detailed that owner Stan Kroenke had seen his personal wealth increase by £323million since the start of 2020.
The Gunners owner, 72, is valued at £8.1bn by Forbes.
Via his Kroenke, Sports and Entertainment (KSE) vehicle, the American owns not just Arsenal, but also the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL) and Colorado Rapids (MLS).
Despite all of those teams currently being out of action – with uncertainty reigning over the vast majority of the world’s sport – and the global financial issues brought about by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the IPS study – entitled the 2020 Billionaire Bonanza – detailed Kroenke’s wealth has risen considerably since the start of the year.
Additionally, his wife, Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke, has seen her own wealth rise by a further £97million.
Stan Kroenke, with son Josh
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal became the first club to agree cuts with their players in April, after intensive talks which initially saw the squad refuse to take a reduction in wages.
They subsequently agreed to take a 12.5 per cent drop for 12 months until March next year, with the club hoping to save £25million.
Players did so after head coach Mikel Arteta stepped into negotiations, helping to convince the squad that the club needed financial help.
If they reach next season’s Champions League, then players will receive money back, with the percentage of the cuts being reduced.
Arteta himself also agreed to a cut and the club’s 14 strong executive committee have also agreed to take a 30 per cent reduction.
Arteta played a key role in player pay cuts
(Image: Getty Images)
A club statement declared: “In these conversations there has been a clear appreciation of the gravity of the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong desire for players and staff to show their backing for the Arsenal family.
“The resulting savings will help cover some of the financial risks we have this season in relation to our match day and commercial income.
“We are proud and grateful to our players and staff for pulling together to support our club, our people and our community in these unprecedented times which are some of the most challenging we have faced in our history.”
But Ozil rejected to join his teammates – he stressed he might do it in the future once the full financial impact is known, but instead preferred to use his money himself and continue giving to charities of his choosing.
The World Cup winner did not want to rush into cuts when the PFA advised to only accept deferrals.
He told teammates that he was ready to accept a deferral and could accept a bigger pay cut in the future.
Ozil was widely criticised for his stance
He was widely criticised for his stance, but Mirror Sport columnist Stan Collymore argued that he should not be criticised for standing up to the club’s owners.
“Before people criticise me for sticking up for Ozil, I’ll remind you that he has a contract which says that under all circumstances he will be paid his wages.
“He signed that contract with an organisation which cashes cheques for £200million, £300m, £400m year after year, so it is a reasonable expectation that only 40 to 50 days after it last played a game, for whatever reason, the club can still afford to pay him.
“I can’t pretend to be a monster fan of Ozil the footballer in terms of the impact he has made at Arsenal but he has every single right – legally and morally – to take this stand.”
Ozil has another year left on his £350,000-a-week contract.
Boss Arteta is keen to continue his rebuild by making moves in the transfer market this summer.
But Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi informed staff on a conference call last week that budgets would be tight.
The Gunners posted losses of almost £30million last year and a number of income streams are now at a standstill. The club’s £240million annual wage bill represents 60 percent of turnover.
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Arsenal have been warned they stand to lose huge sums in revenue if the Premier League stage matches behind closed doors next season.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) reported in their findings that the club’s finances would be £144million worse off as a result – even with income from European competition and broadcast agreements.
Kroenke effectively underwrote last summer’s spending, including the structured £72million signing of Nicolas Pepe.
He is also continuing to cover certain financial commitments amid the Covid-19 pandemic, understood to be regarding the stadium.
Arsenal have not used the government’s furlough scheme and are committed to paying all staff full pay as they await the green light to move forwards and return to something more like normality.