Arsenal top the cash table

Good news for the ‘jumpers for goalposts’ generation: Arsenal revealed today that they’re now Britain’s richest football club, a status they’ve achieved without a filthy rich foreign owner coming in and chucking their cash around. The London club, currently sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League, reported that turnover for the year to May 2007 surpassed £200m, with group operating profits up by an astonishing 274%, to £51.2m. Manchester United and Chelsea, meanwhile, are trailing their main rivals not just in points: they reported turnover of £167.8m and £152.8m respectively for the same period.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Much of Arsenal’s new revenue has come from the Gunners’ move from their historic Highbury home to the Emirates stadium, which allows for bigger attendances and more opportunities for generating cash. Match-day revenues hit £90.6m in their first season in the new home. That equates to £3.1m-per-game – more than double that of Highbury. Of course it helps that they play a brand of football that people are actually happy to pay to watch.

The news will be well-received at the club, which began the season under a cloud of uncertainty, with many writing off their chances after the loss of its most bankable star, Thierry Henry. Indeed, Henry’s new employers at Barcelona may well have an eye on developments. The Catalan giants have just released their own plans to revamp their stadium – with Sir Norman Foster at the helm – for £175m.

The Gunners’ success suggests rather reassuringly that it is possible to run a financially sound modern football club without relying on the bottomless pockets of foreign owners. Indeed, with the board currently trying to beat off the march of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who last week took his stake in the club to 21%, they can learn a salutary lesson from events across London. At Chelsea there are rumours that, having got rid of manager Jose Mourinho, its own oligarch owner Roman Abramovich is getting hands-on in team affairs. On the evidence of the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United yesterday, maybe he should stick to what he does best – bringing in the roubles.

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