Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger: We Must Move to Compete

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger: We Must Move to Compete

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE STAMMERS

ARSENE WENGER said today that moving to a new stadium is the only way they can compete financially with Manchester United.

United announced record profits of pound sterling32.3 million this week and Wenger, preparing for tonight's Champions League clash with Auxerre, told Standard Sport: "The profits shown at Manchester United prove just why we must move to a bigger stadium if we are to compete."

Arsenal's capacity at Highbury is 38,000 for domestic matches but it is only around 35,000 for European games.

"That means we are 30,000 spectators down from what we could have at the Ashburton Grove stadium every time we play at home at the moment," saidWenger.

United's financial muscle has enabled them to break the British record transfer to buy Rio Ferdinand this summer for pound sterling30m following big deals the season before for Juan Veron (pound sterling28m) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (pound sterling19m). Wenger's biggest summer spending was the pound sterling5m he paid for Gilberto Silva.

Wenger's main priority is to secure the Highbury futures of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord and the new stadium project will strengthen his hand but will be costly for the club.

Despite winning the Double and enjoying a massive boost in income from the Premiership's new television deal, the Gunners made a pre-tax loss last year of pound sterling22.3m compared to a pound sterling33m pre-tax profit the year before.

That was caused mainly by a pound sterling20.8m increase in wages but the costs of building the club's new home at Ashburton Grove also hit Arsenal's accounts - although the major task of raising a pound sterling300m loan to pay for the development has not been completed.

Wenger, though, will be lifted by the news that Henry wants to follow Vieira and commit his future to the club - even if it means he will be out of pocket by staying at Arsenal. …

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