Arsenal's 55 job cuts are a disgrace: Neil Humphreys
Saving peanuts by firing staff is an embarrassment for the club
Arsenal's job cuts simplified matters. Their priorities are clear. It really is about the money.
Other concerns are mostly secondary, particularly anything quaint like morality and community loyalty.
In other words, English Premier League clubs like Arsenal no longer fulfil their original function - to serve the society around them.
The Gunners have even provided a rough formula, an indication of how much the average club employee is worth in the rich-poor chasm masquerading as a social enterprise.
Around 55 members of staff are worth about a quarter of one Willian signature. That's just where the game is now.
Arsenal's billionaire owner, Stan Kroenke, has sanctioned 55 redundancies to facilitate squad development as the club deal with the loss of match-day revenue.
According to reports, those job losses might save the Gunners around £2.5 million (S$4.5m), or approximately a quarter of the £10m signing-on fee that Willian has supposedly been offered to join Arsenal.
Are 55 employees really worth just a fraction of a 31-year-old winger's signing-on fee?
Is this what the EPL has become, relying on a crass, insensitive valuation system to determine an individual's worth?
Slavish devotees of the capitalism model may dismiss such idealistic concerns with a shrug. Life is full of winners and losers. The winners profit from their market-relevant skills and the losers make up the numbers.
But the north London club aren't a hedge fund and their employees are not digits on a spreadsheet.
When Arsenal get rid of 55 of them whilst paying Mesut Oezil £350,000 a week, one has to at least question the morality of such a decision.
The north Londoners can hardly pretend to serve their community and generate revenue for the local economy, which were once the traditional functions of professional football clubs.
The figures do not add up. The Gunners have the money to pay those 55 workers, but the wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people, which is a global problem obviously, but one that's endemic within the EPL.
EPL EXISTS TO MAKE MONEY
The rich were always getting richer. Covid-19 has merely accelerated the poor getting poorer (and pushing some into retrenchment).
Club sources have suggested that most of the job losses are within the marketing and hospitality departments, where staff will have little to do as long as games are played behind closed doors.
Oezil has had little to do all season, but he probably earns enough to single-handedly cover the annual wages of all 55 employees with two months' salary.
Is that being facetious? Or is it an unpalatable fact that drives the EPL's existential dilemma as it ponders its overriding purpose?
The Premier League mostly exists to make money for a tiny group of international owners. Covid-19 proved it.
Yes, the ghostly contests were touted as handy distractions in a time of crisis - which they undoubtedly were - but Project Restart wasn't answering a higher altruistic calling. It was satisfying TV contracts and appeasing panicky owners.
The Gunners intend to sign Willian and convince Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to extend his contract, via financial agreements that will run into the tens of millions. They will find the money. To a certain extent, they already have it.
The FA Cup win secured at least £3.6m, not to mention the millions that will follow from Europa League qualification.
A club with a billionaire owner and a team wage of more than £200m can find the funds to pay those 55 members of staff, but only if the incentive exists to do so. It doesn't.
Kroenke bought the club to increase profit, rather than pander to the whimsical view that the Gunners exist to entertain, serve and even employ their surrounding communities, like the archaic social enterprise they once were.
And that's fine, as long as all involved parties do not pretend otherwise and accept the moral outrage that follows such decisions.
Arsenal's head of recruitment, Francis Cagigao, served the club for 24 years and talent-spotted Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Martinelli. But he's expendable, so he goes, along with other key scouts.
The Gunners are no longer prepared to pay Cagigao for his long service, but they'll find the funds to satisfy Willian's agent. Any moral obligations are irrelevant here.
In the coming weeks, Arsenal will attract new players with obscene salaries and move on. The whiff of hypocrisy may linger, until it's inevitably blown away by the PR blitz of pre-season.
The people's game will continue just fine as long as everyone agrees that it is no longer the people's game.