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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 20, 2006

Arsenal's debt rockets by £100million to £262.1million

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will continue to have plenty of financial muscle in the transfer market despite the club's £262.1million debt, according to managing director Keith Edelman.

The Gunners have invested heavily in the move to their new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium home.

The cost impacted on the figures released today by the club's parent company, with overall net debt increased from £153.3million in 2005.

However, with the repayments of the debt now restructured over a longer term and match-day revenues set to rise significantly through larger gate receipts over the coming seasons, Edelman insists Arsenal are 'in good financial health'.

Arsenal ended the year with some £36million of cash in the bank, a war chest which will always be made available to the manager should he wish to spend it.

Edelman declared: 'We are very strong financially and have a lot of firepower if the manager wants to purchase players.

'We ended the year with £36million of cash in the bank, in our our pocket to spend now, so we are very cash-rich, although we have got high debts, which relate effectively to the mortgage on our stadium.

'We have lowered our debt repayments substantially.

'It is a good deal for the club and it means we have more money to invest in players and team development.'

Edelman said: 'It is like an individual buying a new bigger house into which you have put more equity - you will have a bigger mortgage, but overall be in a stronger financial position.

'As long as you can service your debts with your revenues, which we clearly can, then you are in a better position.

'If you build up debt running your football business, ie paying people's wages and buying players, that is a very unhealthy way of building up debt.

'If you have got debt as we have, because we have built a new stadium, which actually generates £30-odd million of extra revenue, that is a very positive attribute to have.

'That is a huge gate revenue for any football club and is the largest in the UK by a long way - it is way past Chelsea and even Manchester United, something like 20 per cent higher.'

The figures also showed that Arsenal's operating profits before player trading and exceptional items was £11.3million, which was down from £32.6million the previous year.

Their group retained profits were £7.9million, £400,000 down from 2005, while the level of pre-tax profits from the sale of players was up to £19.2million.

Arsenal's run to the Champions League final meant their football business increased turnover to £132.1million.

Edelman commented: 'In the profit before tax, we are down in the year.

'However, last year we had a property deal in the numbers which made us about £12m, so if you take that out we have doubled our profit.

'That is obviously a very good result and we are very pleased with it. The move to the Emirates Stadium has gone extremely well.

'The revenues we are going to get from the Emirates are significantly higher than at Highbury, even after our debt repayments every year. We are in good financial health.

'What we have built with the new stadium is a sustainable business model - we can operate now at Arsenal Football Club without injection of cash or funding from shareholders or anyone else.'

Construction on the re-development of Highbury into 711 residential units - the majority of which have been pre-sold - is under way, with a £125million bank facility in place to fund the works.

Edelman said: 'The Highbury redevelopment is a three-year project and we have sold very well. In 2009/2010 when the development is finished, we will get more profit out of that development which pays back some of our debts.'