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By ESPN Staff

Arsenal sell £260m bond to help finance stadium

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) - Arsenal sold a £260-million ($478.5-million) bond on Thursday, the first publicly marketed, asset-backed bond issue from Europe's 11.6-billion-euro market in soccer revenues.

The two-part deal backed by Arsenal ticket sales will refinance the bank debt associated with the construction of the club's new Emirates stadium in north London.

Arsenal will move to their new home for the coming season after 93 years at nearby Highbury, and ticket sales from the 60,000-seat stadium will repay the bond. The club's 2006-2007 season tickets range between £885 and £1,825 each.

The deal included a fixed-rate tranche of £210 million, which offered investors a life of 13.5 years and a spread of 52 basis points over UK government bonds.

A floating rate tranche of £50 million offered a life of 7.1 years and a spread of 22 basis points over Libor.

Both tranches ended up priced at tighter spreads than indicated earlier, which is usually a sign of strong investor demand.

The turnover per average spectator at Arsenal's Highbury stadium was £1,812 in 2004-2005, the second highest for Premiership clubs, accounting firm Deloitte said in its annual review of football finance in June.

Only Chelsea fans rank higher, with a turnover per average spectator of £2,371.

The Royal Bank of Scotland was Arsenal's lead manager. Earlier this week, the bank and Manchester United both declined to comment on newspaper reports that the football club was also considering securitising ticket sales.

Manchester United fans ranked fourth in the latest Deloitte spending ranking with a turnover per average spectator of £1,734 in 2004-2005.

English clubs rake in the highest football revenues in Europe. Deloitte said that in the 2004-2005 season the English Premiership pulled in the equivalent of 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

The accounting firm said the big five European leagues - England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - together generated 54 percent of the 11.6 billion euros in total revenues for European football clubs.