Wenger close to new deal at Arsenal

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger is ready to sign a new three-year extension to his Arsenal contract within the next week - and will be offered a place on the board when his reign eventually ends.

Arsene Wenger is ready to sign a new three-year extension to his Arsenal contract within the next week - and will be offered a place on the board when his reign eventually ends.

The Arsenal chairman, Peter Hill-Wood, has already unveiled plans to offer the Frenchman a chance to move on to the board when his managerial career finishes at his "spiritual home". Wenger, who arrived at Arsenal in 1996, is close to an agreement that will see him lead the club into their new Emirates Stadium in August 2006 and for a further two seasons thereafter.

Before last night's Champions' League tie away to Panathinaikos, the Arsenal manager, who turns 55 tomorrow, said: "We are not far away [on the contract]. It should be the end of this week or the beginning of next week at the latest."

Hill-Wood is delighted at the prospect of securing Wenger's future at the club, describing the Frenchman's impact at Highbury as "phenomenal", with two Doubles and an unbeaten Premiership campaign among his achievements. However, he said: "If Arsène stopped being manager, then I am sure we would want him to stay in some other role. Maybe that could be as a director. It would a great shame to lose that expertise."

Hill-Wood is confident that Wenger would not be tempted away from north London, even by the likes of Real Madrid.

"I honestly don't think he would accept such an offer. He is so happy with us. He is well paid and he is left alone to manage how he wants," he concluded. "I think he has found his spiritual home and is very much in love with the club."

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