Property sales boost Arsenal

LONDON - Arsenal have slashed their borrowings at a time when rival clubs are struggling with rising debt and posted a 44 percent rise in first-half pretax profit.

The club said on Friday pretax profit rose to £35.2m in the six months to November 30 from £24.5m a year ago, boosted by proceeds from apartment sales at the Highbury Square development on the site of their previous stadium.

Arsenal, sitting third in the Premier League, relocated to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 and redeveloped their old ground as a residential complex.

The club said the sale of 261 apartments during the period generated revenue of £96.6m Of the 655 apartments on the site, 524 have now been sold and proceeds from the sales has been used to pay down debt, Arsenal added.

Arsenal said they had cut their total net debt to £203.6m from £332.8m a year ago.

The North London's club reduction of its debt is in contrast to the experience of other Premier League clubs.

Manchester United for instance said in January it would launch a £500m high-yield bond to help refinance the debt taken on by the American Glazer family to buy the club in 2005.

Meanwhile, premier league club Portsmouth is expected to go into administration on Friday after failing to find new buyers ahead of a winding-up hearing due on Monday in the High Court.

Arsenal said revenue in its football business rose to £100.2m pounds from £98.4m on higher Champions League broadcasting payments.

The club said it would consider investing future surplus cash in club projects and infrastructure both in and around the Emirates Stadium.

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