Arsenal pleased despite fall in profits
Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is confident Arsenal's commercial future is bright after a "very solid" set of results, despite a fall in turnover and profit.
The Gunners, who have American billionaire Stan Kroenke as their majority shareholder, reported group turnover for the year ended May 31, 2011 as £255.7million, down from £379.9million in 2010, while profit before take was also reduced from £56million to £14.8million.
However, factors such as reduced income from property sales at the Highbury redevelopment and increase of player wages have played their part, with the high-profile summer sales of captain Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri not taken into account in this period.
The 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, though, continues to more than pay its way as continued improved matchday income helped to reduce the group's overall debt down from £135.6million to £97.8million, much of which is secured on low, fixed-interest rate bonds paid back over a long period against the cost of relocation in 2006.
Speaking to the club's official website, www.arsenal.com, Gazidis said: "In terms of our financial base and in terms of our platform, we are very secure - it's a good set of results again.
"We haven't seen the same kind of profits from the property side that we have seen in the past but that was entirely to be expected. Our property business is debt-free so any new sales of property do accumulate cash, which is very positive for the future.
"We didn't have the same kind of profit from player sales that we had in the previous season and that explains the slight reduction in profit, but this is a very solid, very healthy set of results and it gives us a good platform to move forward from."
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger celebrated his 15th anniversary in charge today, and has found himself under the spotlight more than ever this season following a terrible opening few weeks which saw them humiliated 8-2 at Manchester United before the last international break.
Despite Arsenal's robust performance off the pitch, Gazidis accepts what happens on it will always be what comes first for the fans, who have not seen their team lift a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.
"I think it's important to start by saying that what our fans care about is what happens on the pitch and how their club represents them," he said.
"The reason we even get into talking about the financial results is only because the financial base of the club is important for creating those two things. That's what this is all about."
With Arsenal's additional income from the Highbury Square redevelopment now coming towards a natural conclusion, the club will continue to look for improving external revenue streams.
This summer saw a break from tradition as the Gunners headed out on an Asian tour for matches in Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur.
Gazidis feels the Arsenal brand will continue to develop as the north London club look to keep pace with the likes of Manchester United in terms of sponsorship deals.
He said: "It [commercial] will drive the club forward so as the property money that we have coming in over the next few years begins to come to the end of its natural life we will have really strong commercial revenue streams that come in year after year that can put us right at the top of the game."
As UEFA prepare to implement Financial Fair Play, Gazidis believes Arsenal's self-sustaining model has given Arsenal "a great platform for success".
He added: "The way the club is run is something that we know our fans are very proud of, but they look at the world and they see that player costs are accelerating upwards and they wonder if we can compete.
"I believe we can, I believe we have a really good financial basis to do that, and I also think the football world is moving in our direction.
"We represent the future of the world and all the other clubs are trying to get towards a sustaining model like Arsenal already has.
"We feel we are well set for developments that are going to happen in the game over the next few years.
Arsenal's accounts also revealed a significant reserve of 'cash and short-term deposits' at some £160m.
While Gazidis stressed that money was "working capital" going forwards, the chief executive maintained funds were always available to the manager should he wish to use them.
"Certainly we do have money that would be available to spend in the transfer market as Arsene decides is necessary to supplement the squad," Gazidis said.
"Again it's a healthy cash position to be in and with the ability to make moves in the player market if we want to."
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