Arsenal chairman concedes Gunners are playing for pride against Bayern

24 February 2017 17:08

Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick concedes the Gunners can do little other than try to salvage pride in their Champions last-16 tie against Bayern Munich.

On the same day as announcing a pre-tax profit of £12.6million on a six-month period up to November 30 2016, despite spending record levels on transfers, Keswick addressed the familiar failings of Arsenal in Europe.

Arsene Wenger’s team were battered 5-1 in the first leg against Bayern at the Allianz Arena, leading to renewed criticism of the manager’s tenure and fuelling rumours that his long reign at the club, now in its 21st year, could come to an end in the close-season.

Keswick insists Arsenal will give their all in the return fixture at Emirates Stadium, but stopped short of predicting what would be an incredible comeback against the Bundesliga champions.

“Everyone, including Arsene, our players, board and staff share our fans’ disappointment at our first-leg result against Bayern Munich,” he said via an Arsenal news release.

“But we will approach the second leg with professionalism and a desire to reclaim pride. Unity has always been one of Arsenal’s strengths as a club.

“We are very focused on producing a positive and exciting closing run and with the support of our fans I believe together we can achieve a successful and memorable end to the season.”

Arsenal’s latest financial results highlight the impact of the Premier League’s bumper television rights deal, with 45 per cent of the club’s football revenues during the period coming from broadcasting.

Turnover was up to £191.9million compared to £160.2m from the same period last season, which helped Arsenal to record a profit despite spending big on the likes of Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez.

Arsenal have been criticised in the past for a perceived reluctance to part with large sums for talent, but outlays in the transfer market have impacted the club’s cash reserves.

“During the summer the club made significant investments in new players with £110.5 million added to the cost of player registrations,” Keswick’s statement added.

“Cash payments relating to these and certain past transfers were £86.6 million and, as a result, the Group’s cash and bank balance was significantly lower at £123.7million, compared with £226.5million at the start of the period. 

“Certain elements of the transfer fees payable are deferred and payable in instalments with an amount of £64.6million still to pay, of which £42million is payable within the next 12 months.”

Keswick also spoke of the continued need for Arsenal to invest wisely amid a market of inflated fees and wages as a result of the increased television money.

“Higher player wages are, once again, the single largest contributory factor in the club’s increased operation costs,” he said.

“Further work is required in the area of contract renewals and we will continue to invest rationally in our squad.

“As expected, increased Premier League broadcasting revenues have had a direct impact on player costs both in terms of transfer prices and player wage demands. 

“Whilst these are the market forces that have contributed directly over time to the success of the Premier League I would sound a note of caution in light of the very material contractual commitments to future wages that clubs are taking one.”

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