Arsenal announce financial figures

Jim van Wijk,Pa
Thursday 26 February 2009 11:07 GMT

Arsenal remain confident their Highbury Square development can ride out the current uncertain economic climate, with the group's property business recording a pre-tax profit of £4.9m in half-yearly results published this morning.

Profit before tax for the six months ending November 30, 2008 were £24.5m, up from £20m, with increased contributions from both the football and property aspects of the Gunners' parent holding company.

The Emirates Stadium effect is shown by an increase in match-day turnover of £3.3m to £44.4m, while broadcasting revenues increased to £28.9m, up £4.5m, and overall pre-tax profit increased to £19.7m from £19.1m in 2007.

However, the redevelopment of Highbury could present some challenges.

Construction is close to completion, with 186 apartments, at a value of £76.7m, now finished and sales at £58.1m at November 30, 2008.

However, the current economic downturn means sales income could be slower than expected and Arsenal accept "there is a probable need to extend the term of the Highbury Square bank loan and discussions with the banking syndicate are at a preliminary stage."

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "Clearly there are some significant challenges ahead of us, both on and off the pitch, over the closing months of this financial year and beyond.

"We are closely monitoring the position with a view to ensuring, as we always have done, that the group is on a robust footing and ready to respond to any challenges this exceptional economic climate may bring.

"The UK property market has been particularly affected by the economic downturn and, inevitably, this has had an impact on the group's own property development activities in the period.

"The financial arrangements for the group's property activities are separate and largely operate independently from the financing of the football business.

"This has always been a key aspect of our financial structure for the group and is intended to provide us with the ability to develop the football team as with, for example, the signing of Andrei Arshavin, irrespective of the difficult conditions in which our property business is having to operate.

"I believe these results are all the better for having been achieved against a background of what is clearly a very difficult economic climate."

Arsenal - who funded the move to Emirates Stadium with a 23-year loan at a fixed interest rate - have always sought to keep their property and football businesses separate.

Speaking earlier this month, chief executive Ivan Gazidis maintained matters on the field should not be adversely affected by the success of the Highbury Square development.

"It does not impact the club because we never based the budgets for the club on anything that happens at Highbury and the two are ring fenced from each other," Gazidis said.

"Obviously it is a situation we have got to monitor very closely, but it is not something that will affect the club negatively.

"It is possible, if it generates profit, that it will affect the club positively, but that is not revenue which we have got in our books that if we don't get we would be in trouble - that would simply be icing on top of the cake."

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