Gazidis: Arsenal will not stand still
Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis maintains the club's self-sustaining business model is on track and vowed the Premier League team would not be standing still.
Last month, the Gunners' parent holding company announced record pre-tax profits of £56m and increased group turnover of £379.9m, while also seeing all the debt on their Highbury Square development paid off.
Addressing this morning's annual general meeting of shareholders at the Emirates Stadium, Gazidis pledged any profit from further property sales would be ploughed back into the squad - with the only outstanding debt now tied into the long-term mortgage on their 60,000-seater ground, which opened in July 2006.
"This is a challenging path to tread," he told the AGM, "but we have earned our independence. We do not have to rely on anybody but ourselves for future success. However, we have to keep moving forwards - standing still is never an option."
Members of the Arsenal Supporters Trust 'fanshare' initiative were also present at this morning's gathering at Emirates Stadium, along with American majority stakeholder Stan Kroenke.
Manager Arsene Wenger - who takes his side to title rivals Manchester City on Sunday - was set to address the AGM, having last year vowed his youngsters would finally deliver a first trophy since the 2005 FA Cup.
Chairman Peter Hill-Wood maintained the board had always backed Wenger in the transfer market, when the Arsenal manager felt it was right to spend. Wenger, however, once again insisted his young side were on the cusp of greatness.
"It will be a huge achievement for me to make you happy. Hopefully for this season and seasons to come," said Wenger, who recently signed a contract extension.
"I promise we will give our absolute best to achieve it. I see a real opportunity to have great achievements this season - we have the spirit, talent, hunger and desire. I do not say there are no weaknesses, we are conscious of that, but we work very hard."
Wenger added: "We are fans, we love the club, we want to get higher than last year. The only way we can do this is to trust the players and get behind them. They have great potential, but we live in a very fragile business, where it is very difficult to be consistent.
"What we want now is to get that little bit extra which makes us winners - and we are ready for it. We will go for every single competition this season with every resources we have and we will give absolutely everything."
Wenger also sees no reason why captain Cesc Fabregas should not be at Arsenal for "many years". Fabregas, 23, was close to returning to his boyhood club Barcelona during the summer, only for Arsenal to stand firm as they rejected a £35m offer for the midfielder whom they have nurtured since he was 16.
Wenger, though, insists there is no reason to believe the FIFA World Cup™ winner, under contract until 2015, would not continue to be the mainstay of his side for the foreseeable future.
"I convinced him to stay at this club," Wenger said. "It is a natural case of a player who loves this club - and he loves Arsenal deeply, believe me. If he did not love it, he would have gone.
"You also have to remember that Barcelona has an attraction, because he grew up there, but I believe he wants to win with this club. For how long? You never know, but hopefully for many years. It is about our potential to win also, how well he can do. I am not pessimistic about him, and I am confident we will keep him for a few more years."