PracticeAccounting FirmsDon’t score an own goal

Don't score an own goal

Arsenal Football Club, one of the biggest most successful football clubs in the world, has said that appointing a finance director is by no means a forgone conclusion

The club is waiting to appoint a CEO to see if the new man wants an FD before
they begin the search.

Given the size of Arsenal ­ around £100m turnover ­ the idea of an FD being
an optional extra must strike any observer as slightly bizarre. The modern FD is
essential, providing financial analysis upon which strategic and commercial
recommendations can be made.

There is no such suggestion that Arsenal ­ where Stuart Wisely is currently
group chief accountant but not a board member ­ has been poorly managed. Indeed,
the financing of the new stadium and the club in general has been largely
without criticism. But that’s not to say an FD would not have provided
invaluable advice and insight.

Managing the club in this way sets a poor example to other clubs at a time
when football fails to attract copious compliments for financial management. The
FA’s own guide to governance suggests financial knowledge should be part of the
executive skillset prompting the conclusion that an FD would be necessary. It
also advises that power on the executive body should not be concentrated in too
few hands.

A combined CEO/FD would seem to fail on that count. Though the guide does
refer to the Combined Code, it seems a long way from being as emphatic. That
opens a question about whether it should be rewritten to send a message about
what is expected of financial management in professional football clubs. Arsenal
could send a clear message on governance and make sure there’s an FD at the next
board meeting.

comment@accountancyage.com

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