TV deals and Henry sale boost Arsenal's profits

Click to follow
The Independent Online

English Premier League leaders Arsenal Football Club posted a 54 per cent rise in first half profits today, boosted by new big money TV deals and the sale of former captain Thierry Henry over the summer.

The club said pre-tax profit rose to £20m in the six months to 30 November from £12.6m a year ago. Including costs of debt refinancing the club made a £8.5m loss this time last year.

This time around total turnover dropped to £97m from £100.8m due to a near 70 per cent drop in revenues from property deals.

Operating profits from its soccer business nearly doubled to £20.2m as football-related revenues rose 16 per cent, its player wage bill stayed roughly the same and as the sale of record goal scorer Henry to Spanish side Barcelona helped a £8.6m profit on player transfers.

Arsenal has been the centre of takeover speculation for the last year.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and London-based Fahrad Moshiri have built a 24 per cent stake in the club led by David Dein, Arsenal's former vice chairman who left the club last April after a boardroom fall out.

US sports team owner, Stan Kroenke, has also bought 12.2 per cent of the north London club.

The stake building has received a frosty reception from Arsenal's board, who between them own more than 40 per cent of the shares.

To ward off any predators the board's key players agreed in October not to sell any of their shares until 2012 without the blessing of other members.

Managing director Keith Edelman told reporters that the move made the club "bullet-proof" to a takeover.

He said the club could start paying dividends in 2011 after it completes a string of property developments and pays off its debt.

"We need to invest in the club, in the team and in the squad and that is our port of call."

"We still have high levels of debt. I think that when we are through the development of all the properties we have got, which will be at the back end of 2010, then the board can sit down again and think about that (dividends)," he said.

Edelman said that the much-criticised idea of Premiership teams playing league games abroad had to be seriously looked at.

"I think people are not making analytical comments, they are making emotional comments."

"We have more fans offshore than we have in the UK and that is the germ of this strategic intent to try and give those fans more than a televised product."

"I think it needs to be dealt with in a serious way, I think we need to look at it very carefully and analyse it very seriously."

Arsenal are expected to struggle to reach the Champions League quarter-finals after missing a string of chances on Wednesday night in their 0-0 draw at home against European champions AC Milan.

No English team has beaten AC Milan in the San Siro, although Arsenal have beaten Inter Milan in the stadium which both Milanese teams share.