Good news for Arsene


LONDON: Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman said adequate transfer funds would be available for manager Arsene Wenger after full year profits at the English Premier League club almost doubled and cash reserves soared. 

Arsenal, who finished second behind Chelsea last season and won the FA Cup, announced on Monday pre-tax profits of £19.3mil from £10.6mil in the year to end of May. 

Net debt increased by £12mil to £153mil, but strong sales of season tickets and corporate boxes at the new Emirates Stadium, which opens next season, helped cash reserves rise to £63.1mil from £17.6mil. 

IDLE TALK: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) walking to Arsenal’s training grounds at London Colney with Dennis Bergkamp (left) and Robert Pires on Monday. – AFPpic

The sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines, worth £100mil over eight years from the start of next season, also bolstered funds. 

“There are adequate funds available for the manager,” said Edelman. 

“(But) Arsene takes the view that he won't invest in purchasing new players unless he thinks he finds the right player that will strengthen the squad. 

“If he believes he can find someone who would strengthen the squad the board would support him in spending money.” 

Belarus midfielder Alexander Hleb was the only major signing in the close season, joining from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart for up to 15mil euros, while former captain Patrick Vieira went to Juventus for 20mil euros. 

The new stadium, which will seat 60,000 compared to 38,000 at Highbury, is expected to increase match-day income by about £20mil a season.  

The club are considering refinancing the £357mil project, currently funded by bank loans, through a longer term debt facility such as a credit-wrapped bond, which is backed by an insurer allowing the borrower to achieve lower funding costs. 

“Our funding currently is project finance which is only 12 years and we are building an asset which will last 55, 75 or possibly even 100 years and we would like to match that tenure,” said Edelman. 

“Now that the major construction challenges ... are finished, our risk profile will reduce and so should our interest rate if we refinance. We are looking at a credit-wrapped bond.” 

He said the club currently had no plans for a full stock market flotation. 

The 150 corporate boxes have sold out and club seats are expected to sell out over the next three to four months. Arsenal have a season ticket waiting list of more than 35,000. 

“We expect to sell out all of our seats and we expect the stadium to be full for every game – possibly excepting Carling (League) Cup games,” Edelman said. – Reuters  

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