By David Owen
September 28 – Arsenal, the North London club which finished a disappointing fifth in the Premier League last season, has unveiled a substantial rebound in profits.
The Gunners, getting used to life in the Europa League after 19 straight Champions League campaigns stretching back to 1998, have reported a pre-tax profit of £44.6 million for the year to May 31, against just £2.9 million a year earlier.
One of the factors behind the improvement was relatively subdued growth in wage costs, as a consequence – ironically – of missing out on Europe’s top club competition. These climbed from £195.4 million to £199.4 million. This compares with “employee benefit expenses” of £263.5 million, up from £232.2 million, at rivals Manchester United who reported last week.
In the announcement on the club’s website, Arsenal went so far as to state that year-on-year comparison of wage costs was “distorted” by there being no players’ Champions League qualification bonus in the latest figure.
In what will be a repetitive theme of the new crop of Premier League financial results, turnover increased markedly, propelled by strong growth in broadcasting revenues in what was the first year of a new rights deal for the English top tier.
What the club refers to as “turnover from football” shot up to £422.8 million from just over £350 million the year before. Commercial revenue growth for the year was put by 10%.
Profit on sale of player registrations remained subdued at £6.8 million, up from £2 million, while a quiet year for the property business brought a contribution to profit of just £200,000, down from £2 million.
The club’s much-commented-upon cash balances, excluding “accounts designated as debt service reserves”, dipped nearly £50 million to £144.3 million, as a result of outflow on player transfers.
Expressing optimism about the season ahead, Sir Chips Keswick, chairman, said the club’s 13th FA Cup win was “some compensation for the disappointment of dropping out of the Premier League’s top four for the first time in 20 years.”
Ivan Gazidis, chief executive, said Arsenal had spent a net £203 million in transfer fees in the past three seasons, besides transforming the training ground and rebuilding the academy.
The Gunners remain well behind United in turnover terms, and somewhat behind the Red Devils’ £56.5 million in pre-tax profits. The new figures, however, look certain to restore Arsenal to the ranks of the Premier League’s most profitable clubs.
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