Thursday, January 10, 2008

New stadium boosts Arsenal income

Arsenal's move from Highbury to the larger 60,000 seat Emirates Stadium is beginning to show results off the field of play for the north London club.

Their annual financial results to 31 May 2007 show that income soared 46% to £200.8m, up from £137.2m a year before.

Match income is now put at £3.1m a game, with total match income over the past year coming to £90.6m.

However, TV revenues were down on 2005/06, when the club reached the Champions League final, by £10m.

The figures also showed that Arsenal's operating profits before player trading and exceptional items was £51.2m, up from £13.7m the previous year.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "The best way that Arsenal can continue to deliver success is by maintaining a business that pays its own way.

"This philosophy helped establish our objectives for the club's move away from Highbury, and Emirates Stadium now provides Arsenal with the increased income, profitability, cash generation and firm financial foundations from which we will continue to build trophy-winning Arsenal teams for many years to come."

Arsenal's income for 2006/07 moves it close to Real Madrid, whose turnover was £202m for the 2005-06 season.

And more than 90% of the housing units at "The Stadium - Highbury Square" development at their former stadium are already pre-sold, with final completion sales expected to comfortably exceed £300m.

However pretax-profit dropped to £5.6m from £15.9m the year before, after taking into account a £21m one-off charge to refinance the £260m it cost to build its new stadium.

Russian billionaire

The past year has also seen jostling at the boardroom level of the club.

Former vice-chairman David Dein left the club in April over differences with the board over investment possibilities, with American businessman Stan Kroenke's potential involvement thought to be a major sticking point.

Mr Dein is now the chairman of Red and White Holdings and looks certain to remain a key figure in the future shape of the boardroom composition.

Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has been gradually building up a stake in the club and on Friday said he wanted to increase his holding.

Red and White Holdings Ltd, which is co-owned by Mr Usmanov and business partner Farhad Moshiri, currently holds a 21% stake.

Mr Usmanov is a metals magnate with an estimated $5.5bn fortune.

He first bought into Arsenal in August when he paid Mr Dein about £75m for his 14.65% holding.

That holding was increased earlier this month when he bought another tranche of shares.

Russian media reports have said that Mr Usmanov now aims to up his share in Arsenal to at least 25% plus one share.

Should Mr Usmanov reach a 30% stake in the club then he would be obliged to make a takeover offer.

However on Monday the club's managing director Keith Edelman said that Mr Usmanov had not sought a meeting with Arsenal.

He also said that he expected to have further talks with Stan Kroenke, the American businessman who owns a 12% stake in the club.

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