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Arsenal loss shows cost of Champions League absence

Arsenal’s balance sheet has been hit by their absence from the Champions League © AFP/File / IAN KINGTON

LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 28The cost of life outside the Champions League was made clear when Arsenal published accounts showing the club had made a loss of Sh3.5bn (£27.1 million).

Friday’s financial revelations –the Gunners’ first overall loss in nearly 20 years — followed their shock last 32 Europa League exit at the hands of Olympiakos after the London club conceded a last-minute goal at the Emirates Stadium.

Thursday’s loss in Europe’s second-tier club tournament means Arsenal, who reached last season’s final, will miss out on further broadcasting revenue, as well as potential prize money.

And with the Gunners seven points adrift of the top four in the Premier League as well, they are struggling to qualify for next season’s edition of the Champions League.

Arsenal’s parent holding company published accounts covering the year ending May 31 2019, which report the group’s loss for the period after tax as £27.1 million — compared to a profit of £56.5 million from 2018.

The club said overall operating profits were impacted by “continued investment in player wages”, which increased to £231.7 million.

The accounts also showed “fairly limited” player trading activity, compared to total profit on sales of some £120 million in 2018 involving the departures of the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.

Arsenal said this, coupled with other operating profits “adversely impacted by participation in the UEFA Europa League as opposed to the more lucrative UEFA Champions League”, had “a significant impact on overall profitability”.

“Our player trading profit for this financial year was limited and this combined with a second consecutive season of Europa League football has meant the club recorded its first overall loss since 2002,” said club chairman Chips Keswick.

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“For 2019/20 we will see increased commercial revenues from Adidas and our renewed deal with Emirates, but another season outside the Champions League will continue to apply pressure to our financial results.”

Arsenal’s losses were a stark contrast to Liverpool, who on Thursday announced a pre-tax profit of £42 million last year despite a record £223 million investment on players.

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