Arsenal post profit: why won't Wenger use his £120m kitty?
Angry Gunners fans up in arms as club announces healthy half-yearly figures
IT'S A SIGN of how badly things are going at Arsenal that even positive news about the Gunners' finances has been turned into a stick with which to beat under-fire manager Arsene Wenger and the board.
It was announced yesterday that Arsenal made a profit of £17.8m in the first half of the financial year, a figure that is largely down to the sales of Robin van Persie to Manchester United and Alex Song to Barcelona.
But rather than being welcomed, the news has prompted more questions about why Arsenal have not spent more cash in the transfer market.
The half-yearly results "will prolong the debate over Wenger's use of the resources at his disposal," says the Daily Telegraph. It also notes that Arsenal has cash reserves of more than £123 million - "a figure that will fuel demands for manager Arsene Wenger to enhance his squad".
News of Arsenal's financial good health has left chairman Peter Hill-Wood attempting "to head off a backlash from fans," according to the Daily Mail.
The paper explains that the club has made a killing on transfers and has a property portfolio that is performing strongly, as well as building up those "massive” cash reserves. A new deal with airline Emirates will be worth up to £150m over the next five years and there is an improved TV deal about to come on-stream.
However, ticket prices are high and the club has not won a trophy since 2005. "Fans are fed up with seeing the owners and well-paid executives bank the proceeds of their loyalty," says the Mail. "They also question the board's ability to supply the necessary expertise to improve Wenger's team, even if the money is available."
The fact that the profit came from player sales is worrying, according to The Times, which says the half-year results confirm the perception of Arsenal as a club selling their best players to mask their financial weaknesses “compared with their benefactor-funded rivals”.
Arsenal's decision not to reveal the club's wage bill has raised eyebrows. The Independent notes that the figure was wrapped up in operating expenses. "The last published annual wage bill was £143m, significantly more than the £90m spent annually by Tottenham," says the paper. "There are fears that Arsenal's wage bill is creeping closer to the £150m mark."
The Arsenal Supporters Trust reacted to the financial results by adding its voice to calls for player acquisition. "Arsenal yet again made a profit from the sale of their best players and... has large cash reserves," the trust said.
"Arsenal fans have contributed to this financial health through paying some of the highest ticket prices in world football. AST members want to see this money used for more, and better, investment in the team."