Arsenal have published financial records for the 2018/19 season, 12 months ending 31 May 2019, which reveal the Gunners made a £27.1m loss after tax. Alarmingly, it is the first time that the club has made an overall loss since 2002.
That directly compares to a £56.5m profit the previous year in 2017/18.
Arsenal actually recorded a marginal increase in revenue in 2018/19 from the previous season, up to £394.7m from £388.2m. The club primarily credits that to reaching the Europa League final and commercial revenue from the ‘Visit Rwanda’ sleeve sponsorship deal.
However, the Gunners note that profitability has been adversely affected by only qualifying for the Europa League as opposed to the Champions League, with revenue and prize money in the secondary competition far less lucrative than the elite level tournament.
Arsenal’s finances have also been impacted by far fewer and less valuable player sales in 2018/19 than over the same 12-month period in 2017/18.
Investment in the playing squad was similar both seasons, just over £90m each time. But where the club raised £122m in the transfer market by selling a host of players in 2017/18, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin and others, only £16.8m came in through players sales during the 2018/19 campaign.
With revenue actually going up as already mentioned, the difference in those sales is the main reason that Arsenal made a loss for the period instead of a profit.
The club has also noted that its year-end cash position, essentially their cash reserves, is still a ‘robust’ £167m, down from £231m in the previous year’s financial report.
Commenting on the numbers, Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick said, “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.
“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.”
It is a stark warning that Champions League football and the money that comes with it has a role to play in Arsenal’s ongoing financial wellbeing. Currently, the club is four points off a top five place in the Premier League, although a number of other sides are fighting for the same.