Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger: Spurs must move if they have big ambitions

By Jim Van Wuk

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Tottenham will never maximise their potential on or off the field until they have moved to a new stadium.

This afternoon, the two north London sides will go head to head at the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners' 60,000-seater home since 2006 for which the club continue to pay off at around £35m per year against a long-term fixed interest rate bond.

Spurs are pushing ahead with proposals to redevelop land around White Hart Lane to accommodate a new 56,250-capacity venue, but following legal challenges in the High Court could be set for a season of ground-sharing rather than being able to move for the 2017-18 campaign as planned.

Before then, Tottenham may well be the subject of a takeover, although US investment firm Cain Hoy has said it is no longer considering making an offer.

Arsenal are only now starting to show the benefits of the switch, having been able to keep hold of key men on new deals and also deliver multi-million pound signings like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez while also securing regular Champions League football.

Wenger said: "You cannot be in a business where you turn down 15,000 or 20,000 people every week. If your competitors have more financial power, at some stage you have to make a decision.

"It looks like everybody makes this decision now, because when you look at Liverpool, Everton, (they) want to increase their capacity. West Ham go to a bigger stadium next season so if you stay in a smaller capacity, it is even more difficult."

Wenger added: "We built our stadium at a price that you couldn't afford it anymore and by subsidising it with our own resources, that is much more difficult today."

Arsenal's latest financial figures, covering the year ended May 31, 2014, showed a £4.7m profit, increased turnover up to £301.9m and cash reserves of some £173m.

Those results also disclosed £3m had been paid to the company of majority shareholder Stan Kroenke for 'strategic and advisory services' relating to Arsenal's broadband division, which has angered some fans' groups in wake of increased ticket costs.

Wenger moved to allay any fears. He said: "I don't think there should be concern because we only do what is legal at the club.

"Our profits did sink and are not as big as it was the years before because we spent a lot of money. It is good to have a little cushion in case we need to buy when the right players come up (and) if we need to strengthen the squad, we will do it.

"But I think in the last two years, we have invested a lot of money and we will continue to do so with the money available."

Wenger indicated he could deploy Ozil in a central role again today, the German having made such an impact in the 3-0 win at Aston Villa. A much-changed Arsenal were beaten 2-1 at home by Southampton in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.

Wenger expects a response, adding: "It (beating Spurs) has a psychological impact on the confidence of the team."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph