Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has defended his club’s transfer policy after the Gunners revealed healthy pre-tax profits of £36.6 million.
The north London side’s 2011-12 financial results were boosted by the funds raised through the sales of the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, but spending on player wages increased from €156 million (£124m) to €180m (£143m).
Match-day income has also risen slightly to more than €120m (£95m) for the year, with the cheapest tickets for Saturday’s game against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium priced at €78 (£62) – making it the most expensive game in Premier League history.
“Our numbers are good,” Wenger told reporters. “They are pleasing, very pleasing. We are very lucky because we have good support and the income of our gates is very high.
“We have to maintain that by keeping our fans happy and to continue to manage well in the way we do it.
“We are not scared to spend the money but we feel that even if we spend our money we can’t compete with some clubs on certain players. We want to spend our money in the right way.”
Despite the increase in outlay on salaries, Wenger admitted that Arsenal were priced out of the race to sign Belgium star Eden Hazard, who eventually joined Chelsea for £32m.
“All the big budgets in England were after him [Hazard],” Wenger revealed. “The transfer price was fixed, because he had a clause, so everybody was at the same level.
“I cannot tell you how close we were because I don’t know what Chelsea paid in the end.”
Hazard is in line to face Arsenal when they meet the Blues on Saturday but one player who will not be taking part is striker Didier Drogba, who departed for China after an illustrious spell at Stamford Bridge that ended in Champions League glory.
“I don’t know how much they miss him but we don’t,” Wenger joked. “He did a lot of damage against us every game. I feel last year, honestly, he had an average season in the Premier League but in the cups he was absolutely influential and decisive.
“He was a big part of their success in the FA Cup and Champions League because he was massive. He has that quality and even when he was on a bad day for 80 minutes he didn’t give up and kept his focus and his desire to be efficient. He was an exceptional player.
“Chelsea have gone with a different style, they have rejuvenated because they bought some very young players with maybe a more technical style. They have gone a little bit more creative.”