LONDON (AFP) – Arsene Wenger will face renewed calls to splash out on new signings after Arsenal announced a pre-tax profit of £17.8 million ($26.8 million, 20.3 million euros) in their half-yearly financial results on Monday.
Wenger has been criticised repeatedly in recent years for failing to spend big money on new players while Arsenal’s results on the field continue to suffer.
The Premier League club’s latest healthy financial report, to the end of November 2012, will only add to the pressure on the Gunners’ boss to loosen the purse strings at the Emirates Stadium after eight years without a trophy and embarrassing exits from the FA and League Cups against lower league opposition this season.
The profit, down on £49.5 million for 2011 and achieved by the £24 million sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United, accompanies an increased figure of £123.3 million in cash reserves.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) claimed the figures highlight the need for the club to spend more money on the team.
“These figures contain few surprises. They show that Arsenal yet again made a profit from the sale of their best players and that the club has large cash reserves,” an AST spokesman 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”.
However, rather than promise to break the bank of star players, Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood insisted the club’s financial stability was the foundation of their regular presence in the Premier League’s top four and the Champions League.
“Our ability to compete at the top of the game here and in Europe is underpinned by our financial performance which gives the club strength and independence,” Hill-Wood said.
“Our desire is to make everyone connected with Arsenal proud of the club. We know that comes through winning trophies but also through the way we do things and that will remain our constant guide.”
The financial report states the that “profit on sale of player registrations amounted to £42.5 million” which will provide more ammunition to Arsenal fans who believe the club’s owners have not replaced players such as van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas with similar quality.
Hill-Wood is adamant Arsenal do all they can to sign the best players available and he added: “Let me be quite clear that our intention is to keep our best players and recruit new talent to make us stronger.
“Although we were disappointed to see Robin van Persie leave the club, we have taken steps to secure our best players going forward and have recently signed Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson to new long-term contracts.
“During this financial period we also invested £40.9million in the acquisition of new players, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, and the extension of other player contracts. More recently we added Nacho Monreal to our ranks from Malaga.”
Hill-Wood said that the Premier League club’s agreement to bring in financial fair play spending controls would help Arsenal in the long run.
“These new rules will be good for us, good for the Premier League and good for the game as a whole,” he added.