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Feb 26, 2013

Chairman issues Arsenal defence

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has refuted suggestions that the latest glowing financial report released by the Gunners adds weight to the theory that the club are putting profits off the field ahead of success on it.

• Blog: Profits raise questions

After another season that has seen Arsene Wenger's first team struggle to compete for the biggest honours in the game, the confirmation that Arsenal made a £17.8 million for the six months up to November 2012 and that they now boast cash reserves of £123.3 million banished the notion that this is a club suffering in a difficult financial climate.

These figures, bolstered by profits from sales of star players like Robin van Persie and Alex Song last summer, inspired a less than glowing response from the Arsenal Supporters Trust and yet Hill-Wood has robustly defended the club's strategy and insisted they have not become a franchise that needs to sell star players every summer.

"Let me be quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit new talent to make us stronger," insisted the chairman, who has been the subject of criticism from many supporters in recent years.

"Although we were disappointed to see Robin van Persie leave the club, we have taken steps to secure our best players going forward and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to new long-term contracts.

"During this financial period we also invested £40.9 million in the acquisition of new players, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, and the extension of other player contracts. More recently we added Nacho Monreal to our ranks from Malaga.

"Our desire is to make everyone connected with Arsenal proud of the club. We know that comes through winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will remain our constant guide."

Arsenal's finances may be tested if they fail to secure a top four finish in the Premier League this season as while manager Wenger confirmed last week that Arsenal 'can live financially without the Champions League', the dip in profits caused by a reduced number of fixtures at Emirates Stadium in the second half of 2012 confirms the Gunners are heavily reliant on income generated by the home matches.

With Arsenal's cash reserves now revealed and the £150 million renewal of their sponsorship agreement with Emirates Airlines in place, manager Wenger has substantial funds at his disposal if he chooses to invest in the transfer market this summer.

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