Heroes and Villains: the inside story of the commercial revolutions of Arsenal and Tottenham

Heroes and Villains: the inside story of the commercial revolutions of Arsenal and Tottenham

B01 Lecture Theatre –  Clore Building,
Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1 7HX
Wednesday 30th March 2011 at 6pm
(For directions click here)

Given by: Alex Fynn

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are two of the most successful clubs in both English and European football. Both participated in this year’s UEFA Champions League, with Tottenham through to the quarter-final stage. And in financial terms both are major European football institutions; in the 2009/2010 Deloitte Football Money League Arsenal were ranked 5th in terms of total revenue and Tottenham were ranked 12th  (Deloitte, 2011, page 5). Both are that rare phenomenon in the English Premier League, clubs that consistently make a profit (Deloitte, 2010, Appendices, pages 2-3), albeit a small one.

As a Director of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency in the 1980s and 1990s Alex Fynn, the well-known football industry consultant and media commentator, helped produce the first advertising campaign ever for a football club. He has advised both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal on media and marketing strategies. However, in this presentation Alex Fynn, argues that whilst both clubs deserve due credit for operating sustainable business models over many years in an environment where chronic loss-making is the norm, nevertheless they have both significantly underperformed in terms of the scale and effectiveness of their commercial activities, and that this has handicapped their ability to compete with other leading clubs notably Manchester United. By way of example, in the 2009/2010 season whilst Arsenal had total revenues of £224.4m and Tottenham £119.8m, Manchester United had total revenues of £286.4m. Manchester United exceeded the revenues of Arsenal and Tottenham on all three key components: matchday (stadium revenues), broadcasting, and most notably commercial revenue where it generated £81.4m (Deloitte, 2011, page 11) to Arsenal’s £44m (Deloitte, 2011, page 13) and Tottenham’s £31.5m (Deloitte, 2011, page 20).

Alex Fynn argues that there are very particular reasons why historically both clubs have fallen behind Manchester United in terms of commercial income generating power. In the case of Arsenal the move to the Emirates stadium represents a bold move to address the “income-gap” but there is more to be done. In the case of Tottenham he makes the case that it is ironic that it was at White Hart Lane in the 1980s, under Irving Scholar (1992) that the true commercial revolution in English football began, given that this was not effectively followed through by his successor-owners.

Critically Alex will pose the following key questions:

  1. What were the key factors that led Arsenal and Tottenham to lag behind Manchester United in terms of their commercial revenue generating power and how has this affected their ability to compete on the field of play?
  2. How might the gap with Manchester United now be closed via new commercial initiatives?
  3. Biography

    Alex Fynn is a well-known consultant to the football industry who has also written extensively on the subject of the football business. His clients have included Arsenal, Celtic, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur football teams, as well as the Football League and the Football Association. Through his work he has been influential in the formation of both the English Premier League and the UEFA European Champions League. Previously Alex was a director of the well-known advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, latterly as vice-chairman. Throughout his career Alex has acted as an advisor on the negotiation of the sale of TV broadcasting rights for clients such as the Football League and the FA, the latter which led to the award of the first BSkyB television contract. He has advised a number of clubs and federations on media and marketing; including the sale of broadcasting rights by the Polish FA, Galatasaray of Turkey and most recently by Celtic, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and West Ham.


    • Deloitte Sport Business Group (February 2011). The untouchables: Football Money League. Manchester Deloitte. Retrieved on the 18th March
    • Deloitte (2010). Annual Review of Football Finance. Manchester: Deloitte.
    • Fynn, A. & Whitcher, K. (2009). Arsènal: The Making of a Modern Superclub. London: Vision Sports Publishing. 2nd edition.
    • Fynn, A. & Blair, O. (2000). The Great Divide. Andre Deutsch.
    • Fynn, A. & Davidson, H. (1997). Dream on : Year in the Life of a Premier League Club. Pocket Books.
    • Fynn, A. & Guest, L. (1991). Heroes & Villains. Penguin Books.

    For further details on this seminar series contact:

    Sean Hamil
    Department of Management
    Birkbeck College
    Malet Street
    WC1E 7HX

    Tel: 020-7631 6763


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