Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood insists he does not consider the club's North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, nor Aston Villa, as contenders for a Champions League qualification place this season. After Martin O'Neill's Villa side threatened to pip the Gunners to fourth place last season, both Spurs, revitalised by Harry Redknapp, and Manchester City, by more than £100 million worth of new signings this summer, have also emerged as rivals to the 'Big Four'. However, Emirates Stadium supremo Hill-Wood believes that it is far too soon to be considering any of them as genuine contenders for a top-four position, and that the current elite quartet will hold on to their monopoly in 2009/10. "We haven’t got $500 billion to put into the club, but I don’t consider Tottenham and Aston Villa rivals, frankly," he said in The Mirror. "We will be up there and any worries about Champions League income are unlikely to come to fruition."
And the 73-year-old reassured fans that the club have budgeted appropriately in the unlikely event that Arsenal were to miss out on qualification for Europe's premier club competition. "We have always budgeted for not being in the Champions League one in every four years, so we are ready for it if it were to happen. "But I don’t think it will necessarily happen."comments