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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 13, 2007

Arsenal's Hill-Wood rubbishes finance reports

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood maintains the club are in a strong financial position - and dismissed suggestions manager Arsene Wenger had no money to spend as 'absolutely ridiculous'.

The Gunners kicked off the new Barclays Premier League campaign with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Fulham at Emirates Stadium yesterday, after trailing to a first-minute goal from David Healy.

Wenger's main summer signing was Croatian striker Eduardo da Silva in a deal understood to be around £7million.

However, the sales of talisman Thierry Henry to Barcelona, veteran Freddie Ljungberg to West Ham and fringe striker Jeremie Aliadiere generated a surplus while Arsenal's title rivals have once again spent big.

The board have so far resisted seeking investment from outside sources - with American shareholder Stan Kroenke and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone both reported to be keeping a close eye on developments.

Despite the club's ongoing significant commitment to their new 60,000-seater home, Hill-Wood maintains Arsenal have a sound financial base and there are plenty of funds available to the manager should he want them.

'I don't think we've ever been in a stronger financial position than we are today,' he said, speaking to the official matchday programme.

'Our accounts are due fairly soon and in those everyone will be able to see that we are very solvent.

'All these stories that the manager hasn't got money to buy players are absolutely ridiculous.'

Hill-Wood insisted: 'We've never denied him funds in 11 years and we're not likely to now.

'He is extremely sensible though, we've made some changes this summer and I think they've strengthened the squad - but the idea that we need 12 new players or something of that order would simply indicate that the management haven't been doing the right job in the past, which of course they have.'

Wenger, meanwhile, has yet to sign a new contract with the Gunners, his current deal running out at the end of the season.

The Arsenal manager revealed he hoped for a 'positive outcome' before the end of the month.

Hill-Wood reflected: 'I don't see any problems with the situation and I think it will be agreed in the not-too-distant future.

'I'm sure he's happy here and he's building a great young team which is exciting for everyone.

'It's a young team, but actually now an experienced young team who've played a couple of seasons for us and I think they will give a very good account of themselves this season.'

Arsenal head to the Czech Republic tomorrow for the first leg of their crucial Champions League qualifier against Sparta Prague.

Wenger revealed Eduardo was only '50-50' to make the match because of an ankle problem which kept him out against Fulham.

With Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor (groin) also not yet fit, Wenger could again elect to play with Alexander Hleb in a more advanced position.

The attack-minded Belarus midfielder netted a 90th-minute to beat Fulham, and had looked lively all afternoon.

'Hleb is doing very well in there,' said Wenger, who had used the formation during pre-season as well.

'I felt sometimes that [Robin] van Persie was a bit isolated, and it was a bit easier when [Nicklas] Bendtner came on and supported him.'