FanPost

Debt, Relatively Speaking

A fairly recent (April 30) Swiss Ramble article on the finances of Barcelona and Real Madrid has a sneaky Arsenal reference, using the Gunners and Man U to get some perspective on the two Spanish clubs' debt (and, late in the article, comparing the train wreck that is La Liga/Spanish economics to their other European counterparts). While the first half of the blog contains charts galore of the four clubs, the main Arsenal section consists of:

Arsenal have now eliminated the debt they built up as part of the property development in Highbury Square, reducing gross debt to £258 million as at end-May 2011. That comprises the long-term bonds that represent the "mortgage" on the Emirates Stadium (£231 million) and the debentures held by supporters (£27 million). Once cash balances of £160 million are deducted, net debt was down to only £98 million, which is a significant reduction from the £136 million last year and the £318 million peak in 2008.

Many fans ask whether it would be possible for Arsenal to pay off the outstanding debt early in order to reduce the interest charges, but chief executive Ivan Gazidis has implied that this is unlikely, arguing that not all debt is bad, "The debt that we’re left with is what I would call ‘healthy debt’ – it’s long term, low rates and very affordable for the club. "In any case, the 2010 accounts clearly stated, "Further significant falls in debt are unlikely in the foreseeable future. The stadium finance bonds have a fixed repayment profile over the next 21 years and we currently expect to make repayments of debt in accordance with that profile."

I know I've been fretting a bit about the state of the Arsenal's financial obligations [Note: This is not sarcasm.] so seeing an independent source say things are pretty good makes me feel... pretty good, I guess. Looks like we'll just have to live with the "good debt" that is our new home--and thank our lucky stars that the Glazers and their shady shenanigans didn't come a-courting in Islington...

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