Arsenal may currently have the rudest financial health of any side in the Premiership but all the signs suggest that their North London rivals Tottenham are starting to make up lost ground.
The Gunners posted a turnover of £316m in the last financial year – the highest for an English football club ever and an impressive increase of 40% on the previous year. Tottenham comparatively generated barely a third of that total (£113m) which is a decrease of 3% on their last annual figures.
On the face of it Tottenham appear to be small fry consigned to playing the role of bystander whilst marvelling at their neighbour’s undeniable money-making supremacy. Don’t be fooled.
On closer inspection of the numbers, one figure stands out to me the most – gate receipts. Arsenal’s shiny new 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium yielded incredible revenue of £100m over the last 12 months. Compare this to a paltry £28m down the road at the Lane. The Gunners also benefitted from an income of £88m from property development – namely profits from the sale of flats at their old Highbury ground. But, there are a couple of problems here. Revenue from Highbury is largely a one off and will dry up once all the flats have been sold. In addition to this, full houses at the Emirates are heavily reliant on continuing success on the pitch.
Building the ground saddled the Gunners with debts of nearly £300m and their extraordinary profits are hindered by £25m annual interest payments. Clearly this is not a problem while the club is turning over more than any of their Premier League counterparts but what happens when it stops? Arsene Wenger has been enormously successful in delivering success and Champions League qualification at a fraction of what other managers have paid out in transfer fees but after five trophyless seasons and the impending sale of lynchpin Cesc Fabregas, they look in danger of waning.
On the other hand, Spurs will finally cash in on the lucrative Champions League next season and will therefore benefit from a conservative estimate of £30m. Once a new ground has been built, now that they have outgrown White Hart Lane, they can begin to increase gate receipts substantially. Money from the sale of White Hart Lane will also go some way towards breaking the existing hegemony in the top flight providing they spend it sensibly.
Tottenham are still some way behind Arsenal but the gap looks like its narrowing. If Spurs can convert the triumphs of the past season into sustained success then the financial benefits are immeasurable. The Gunners remain a monetary powerhouse but Arsene Wenger’s men are beginning to look ordinary compared to squads of recent years are I suspect that they are on the threshold of ceding ground to their bitter rivals.
They say money talks and presumably it will prove deafening for the Arsenal faithful if Spurs start to get in on the act.
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