While revealing record post tax profits of £35m Peter Hill-Wood has claimed that the decision to bring in only Vermaelen in the summer was the result of Wenger`s assessment of the quality of the existing squad and the quality available to him in the transfer market.
“Although transfer activity in the summer window was limited I can assure supporters that this followed lengthy discussions with Arsène Wenger and reflected Arsène`s assessment of the player resources, both within the existing squad and available on the transfer market, rather than any necessity or financial constraint” said the Arsenal Chairman. Adding “Arsène 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.”
Rumours that the property developments were inhibiting the club were dispelled as it was revealed that the property related debt has been reduced by £90m to stand at £47m. This debt reduction was a reported as a ‘significant development` over the summer months and not included in the year end to May 31st accounts. The significant developments may well include the income from player trading following the sale of Adebayor and Toure to cash rich Manchester City though the clubs financial report states that the debt reduction is as a consequence of completed property sales. Some 30% of the Highbury Square apartments are still to be sold which, when sold, should eliminate the rest of the debt and probably provide a net profit on the activity. The clubs cash position increased to a touch under £100m.
This, Hill-Wood claims, eliminates the need for a rights issue, proposed by Usmanov to reduce debt. “Now that we have resolved any issues linked to the financing of Highbury Square, in the final analysis I believe it distils down to a decision about whether it is appropriate to raise money from shareholders to purchase the registrations and pay the wages of footballers. This is not something that Arsenal has ever done previously in its history and it would be at odds with our ethos of running the Club as a business which is self‐sustaining and pays its own way in the world.”
Successful clubs have to firstly be successful businesses but mindful of the impression that simply making money can have on support CEO, Ivan Gazidis was quick to clarify the real point behind positive financial results: “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. The Group`s profitability is important because it is a by-product of running the Club as a solvent and successful business, which in turn allows us to maximise the level of investment in the playing staff and in the future development of the Club.”
To underline the investment the club has made the report includes an assessment of total spending on wages, transfer fees and extensions to existing contracts which shows that net spending on player investment increased by £20m to £122m for the year.
The substantial reduction in the debt burden and improvements in the property market allied to the significant gain on player trading this summer should put the club in a strong position to bring in players to strengthen the squad wherever Wenger believes it needs strengthening. But experience seems to tell us that that might not necessarily be in concert with the opinions of all supporters.
Message Board To visit the message board, click here. Get involved