Arsenal's chief exec tells club's fans to back manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal battling to finish fourth and qualify for the European Champions League
Club post six-month profits of $78m to reflect healthy financial position
English FA charges three players with making alleged homophobic statements
The chief executive of English Premier League club Arsenal has urged the team’s supporters to get behind under-fire coach Arsene Wenger.
Ivan Gazidis told the north London team’s fans that Wenger was the best man for the job on the day that Arsenal announced pre-tax profits of $78 million for the six months until the end of November.
The club’s healthy financial situation off the field is diluted by a precarious one on it, because despite Sunday’s 5-2 thrashing of local rivals Tottenham, the Gunners are in a battle to finish fourth and claim England’s final, lucrative European Champions League spot.
Wenger, from France, has delivered three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his 15-year reign and has never failed to qualify for the continent’s most prestigious club competition.
But the team have been below par this season, and are in fourth place only on goal difference, ahead of London rivals Chelsea, and 17 points off leaders Manchester City.
“We hear the noise, we understand the concern of the fans, we know that there are issues, we know we’re not where we want to be,” Gazidis told Arsenal’s official website on Monday.
“But I can tell you that this team, our manager, the players, are absolutely united in what we have to do for the rest of the season, which is to finish in the top four. It’s very much in our hands.
“Victory through harmony. The strength of this club has always been its unity and our fans and our players need to come together in this fight for the rest of the season.”
The early-season sales of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to Manchester City helped Arsenal post such healthy profits. During the same period in 2010 the club made a loss of $9.6 million.
Gazidis confirmed there was money available to spend on players but said that UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play regulations, which aim to make football clubs more sustainable and live within their means, would help moderate a voracious market.
“We have a healthy cash balance of £115 million ($181 million) for the half year. But it’s important to understand that not all that money’s available to invest in transfers. We have running costs of the club, player salaries and so on, so that amount goes down during the year,” Gazidis said.
“We also have to keep something in reserve in case things don’t go our way. There is money available, we don’t talk about an exact figure – and there’s a very good reason why we don’t put an exact figure on that – because it would impact on our negotiating position.
“We have to invest efficiently, we have to invest sensibly. That doesn’t mean we get every decision right – we don’t. But we do get the majority of them right and that’s been one of the secrets of Arsenal’s success over a long period of time.”
Meanwhile, the English FA has charged three players with making alleged homophobic statements on social networking site Twitter.
Manchester United’s Federico Macheda, who is on loan at Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle’s Nile Ranger and Manny Smith of third division Walsall stand accused of bringing the game into disrepute.
An FA statement read: “The charge is that the players acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute. It is further alleged that the breach included a reference to a person’s or persons’ sexual orientation.”
The trio have until Wednesday to respond to the charges.