Arsenal are making 55 staff redundant because of the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis – with the scout who unearthed Cesc Fabregas among them.
Francis Cagigao spotted former Gunners captain Fabregas as well as current stars Gabriel Martinelli and Hector Bellerin while playing a huge part in the club’s global recruitment for over a decade.
The Premier League giants are laying off people from their commercial department, administration and football operation, although it is unlikely to affect the first team set-up.
Most jobs are understood to be going from the commercial operation with Arsenal ’s scouting department – which has already made cut backs – also affected, particularly those on rolling contracts.
As well as the renowned Cagigao, recruitment specialist Brian McDermott and several youth scouts on 12 month contracts from their famed Hale End academy could all be affected.
But it comes despite Arsenal preparing to make big name signings with Chelsea’s Brazilian star Willian, who is 32 on Sunday, set to arrive on a three year contract worth £150,000-a-week.
They are also confident of tying down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to a new deal worth £250,000-a-week and top earner Mesut Ozil has a year left of his £350,000-a-week contract.
It prompted a fierce backlash from fans on social media and the club knows it will face a difficult moral argument as to why they can make nearly ten per cent of its 590 staff redundant while still buying new players.
Tottenham and Liverpool both reversed decisions to furlough staff during the coronavirus lockdown after a public outcry and now Arsenal, who did not furlough staff, are facing the same angry response.
It is understood that head of football Raul Sanllehi and managing director Vinai Venkatesham addressed all of the club’s staff on Wednesday afternoon and those affected will now enter a 30-day consultation period.
Arsenal’s players were told shortly after the staff were addressed and just before the club made a public announcement. They hope to save huge sums and insist that it is still necessary to invest in the squad to ensure future success.
Billionaire owner Stan Kroenke has underwritten the club’s expenditure in the transfer market last summer and the crippling cost of the pandemic with Arsenal players taking a 12.5 per cent pay cut for a year, although 7.5 per cent of that is paid back after they got into the Europa League.
However, Arsenal have lost £2m in gate receipts for every game behind closed doors at the Emirates while the commercial costs and drop in TV revenue has hit even the biggest clubs hard. Some clubs have lost tens of millions.
The club statement read: “Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies.
“We do not make these proposals lightly and have looked at every aspect of the club and our expenditure before reaching this point. We are now entering the required 30-day consultation period on these proposals.
“We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible.
“These proposed changes are ultimately about ensuring we take this great football club forward, creating the right organisation for a post-Covid world, and ensuring we have the resources to return to competing effectively at the top of the game here and in Europe.”