Arsenal debt rise will not threaten Wenger's budget

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The Independent Online

Speaking after Arsenal had reported an increase of almost £9m in pre-tax profit - but also an overall debt which had risen from £141.3m to £153.3m - Edelman denied that there was any pressure from the board to reduce the wage bill. "If the manager wants to buy new players in, it will get bigger," he said. "We back Arsène's judgement."

He did not rule out the possibility of a major signing during the next transfer window in January after the sale of Patrick Vieira to Juventus in a £13.75m deal.

Edelman stressed there was no need for Wenger to take his players out for exhibition games to potential new markets, such as Manchester United and Real Madrid had undertaken this year.

"We do have some sponsorship arrangements in the Far East, but Arsène chooses not to tour there because he believes that taking a team 6,000 miles away is not the best way of preparing it," Edelman said. "We could have made some money, but that's not where we are at. Our major focus is success on the pitch, so if we have to forego a few million pounds by not rushing off to American or Asia that's the kind of decision we make."

Within the next six to eight months, the club plans to refinance the £357m, 12-year bank loan it took out for the new stadium, spreading the cost over 25 years through a credit-wrapped bond scheme, which spreads financial risks through a specialist insurer.

"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," Edelman said. Edelman added that Arsenal currently had no plans for a full stock market flotation and that although the club planned to be in the Champions' League regularly, the move to the Emirates Stadium would make them less dependent on money generated from their involvement.

Although Champions' League revenue over the past five years had been "nigh on essential" to finances, the increase in gate capacity from 38,000 to 60,000 would see it support nearly 50 per cent of the club's income, increasing match-day earnings by about £20m a season.

"We as a club like to win things and it would worry me as a fan [if we did not do well] but, financially, no. We are building a financial structure that means if we have a bad year we should be able to weather that without changing course."

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