Gunners close to resuming stadium work

Premiership leaders Arsenal said today that work on the club’s new Ashburton Grove stadium is set to restart within two months – as soon as agreement can be reached with lenders.

Premiership leaders Arsenal said today that work on the club’s new Ashburton Grove stadium is set to restart within two months – as soon as agreement can be reached with lenders.

Keith Edelman, managing director of the club’s parent company Arsenal Holdings, said the company needed to raise £200m (€284m) to fund the 60,0000 development.

He said: “Although we are making progress, we have not yet got banks’ and financial institutions’ final signatures.”

The club is expected to complete the financing deal within two months. Ashburton Grove is due to open in time for the 2006/07 season.

Work at the stadium, which will replace Arsenal’s current home at Highbury half a mile away, has been delayed while local property is bought up through compulsory purchase orders and the road network is altered.

Arsenal have come in for criticism from some supporters, who believe the stadium deal has reduced the funds available to sign new players.

During the summer, Arsenal signed German goalkeeper Jens Lehman was their only significant recruitment of the close season.

Today’s figures showed Arsenal moving back into profit for the first time since new requirements to include player transfer costs against operating profits.

The company made pre-tax profits of £4.5m (€6.4) over the last year, compared with a loss of £22.3m (€31.7m) in 2002.

Group turnover rose 29% in the same period, which included a second consecutive FA Cup win and qualification for the Champions League.

Merchandise sales climbed 73%, largely due to the introduction of new home and away strips.

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