By Chris Harris
Buying players and winning trophies would appear to be the top priorities in the weeks and months to come but Arsène Wenger insists that football clubs cannot lose sight of a rather different goal - keeping bums on seats.
You might not think that football has a financial care in the world in a week when Manchester City have reportedly offered in excess of £100million for AC Milan star Kaka. But, behind the facade of possibly the biggest transfer fee in history, reality is biting.
For some supporters, giving up their weekly fix of football is a distinct possibility as individuals cut their cloth accordingly amid the recession. Manchester City may be a headline-grabbing exception to the rule but, Wenger argues, for most clubs, keeping their turnstiles clicking should be the No 1 aim.
"You can hide behind Man City buying Kaka for £100m. But that is an exception to what is happening in our world," said Wenger.
"That is why I believe for us it is more interesting to think how can we keep our fans than talking about Kaka. That is living in the real world.
"Football has different types of people coming to the game. You have the client, who is the guy who pays one time to go to a big game and wants to be entertained. Then you have the spectator, who is the guy who comes to watch football. These two categories are between 40 and 60 [years old].
"Then you have two other categories. The first is the supporter of the club. He supports his club and goes to as many games as he can. Then you have the fan. The fan is a guy between 15 and 25 years old who gives all his money to his club. And you have to keep, at the moment, these categories faithful to our club.
"Some of them have been hit harder by the crisis - or will be. For at the moment England every day loses 3,000 jobs. You think that has no consequence on our game? It will have.
"At the moment the world has been hit by a financial crisis not by an economic crisis. The economic crisis is a consequence of the first one and that will be happening in 2009."
So how do clubs ride out an economic crisis? Drop ticket prices to make football more affordable? Or tempt supporters with big-money signings? Wenger understands the dilemmas that lie ahead but insists that survival must come first.
"Do you drop prices? I don't know," he said. "I believe that what is important is that like in any business if you are faced with a crisis you are in a healthy financial situation because the clubs that are in an unhealthy financial situation who have to face reduced income will be in trouble.
"It's true [you keep fans loyal with big signings]. But you keep your fans loyal as well if your club survives.
"Manchester City are not in a position where they have to [be responsible]. They live in a world without the same restrictions. But I believe that having responsibility is to anticipate the future."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 Jan 2009