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Sep 28, 2009

Gunners announce record profits

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood insists results on the pitch will always come ahead of profit at the Emirates Stadium after the Gunners' revealed record finances.

Arsenal's parent holding company announced an increase in turnover to £313.3 million and a record profit after tax of £35.2 million from results for the year ending May 31. It was also revealed the luxury apartments built on the site of the Gunners old Highbury stadium have brought in £88 million for the club.

Most of Arsenal's overall net debt, which has decreased to £297.7million from £318million, is tied into the move to the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, with the club paying back £20 million a year for the loan that helped buy the ground.

As such, Arsene Wenger's men are clearly under some pressure to continue to produce on the field - with Champions League qualification now arguably a prerequisite each season. Wenger has, though, so far refused to spend heavily in new players, instead placing faith in youth and re-signing key men like captain Cesc Fabregas, England forward Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie, last season's leading scorer, on long-term deals.

Wenger sold Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to Manchester City and his only major signing was £10 million Thomas Vermaelen, leaving the club with a healthy surplus. But the Gunners have failed to win a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup and life-long fan Hill-Wood knows all too well the importance of consistency on the pitch.

"The group's profits have now risen in each of the three years in which Emirates Stadium has been our home," Hill-Wood said in his report. "This is excellent news, although I should perhaps stress that making and reporting profits is not in itself the primary objective for the directors.

"First and foremost we are supporters of this great football club and, as such, our main goal will always be the achievement of success for Arsenal on the field. Arsene has the resources to bring more players in, if he believes doing so will add to the quality which we already have in the squad.''

Wenger agreed with Hill-Wood that the football side of the club will always take priority, but also insisted that keeping his employers on an even financial keel must remain high on the agenda.

"I am encouraged by the fact that the financial results are good because I try on my side to contribute to that as well,'' said Wenger, whose side take on Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday. "You want to work in a company that is in a healthy financial situation.

"I am quite proud that I work in a company that is in a strong financial situation. The sporting side is one side, that is the most important, so to be completely happy you have to do well on the sporting side."

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