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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 09:22 GMT
Arsenal secure stadium cash
An artist's impression of the stadium at Ashburton Grove
260m: Senior loan facility from a stadium facilities banking group
97m: The club itself through Granada, Nike and sale of land
Arsenal have secured the required 357m of funding to build their new stadium at Ashburton Grove.

After securing a complex financing deal Arsenal are now set to continue construction work at the site.

The Gunners hope the 60,000-seater stadium will now be ready for the start of the 2006-07 season.

"This is exciting news. This club has such an illustrious past but this is one of the most important dates in our history," said manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners boss has always maintained that leaving Highbury to move to a larger new stadium is essential to the club's long-term growth.

"It has been a big target of mine to participate in pushing the club forward and relocating to a new stadium is a necessity as it will enable us to become of one the biggest clubs in the world," added Wenger.

"I love the fact that the new site is so close to Highbury, it's where our heart is and from a personal point of view, I am hopeful of being the Arsenal manager when we move to the new stadium in 2006."

The new projects architects also designed Stadium Australia in Sydney, the English National Stadium at Wembley, Royal Ascot Racecourse and Wimbledon Centre Court
The number of executive boxes will rise from 48 to 150 while there will be 41 camera positions
Premiership attendances should go up from an average of 722,795 to 1,140,000 a season
The site is 27 acres in size while Man Utd's is a 100 and the new Wembley is 130
Highbury will be converted into residential flats and the pitch will be used as their communal garden

The Frenchman insisted: "I'm prepared to be committed to the club at least until we go into the new stadium.

"For me, it's important that the club goes in there and that I make sure the team are at a very good level.

"After that, whether it's me or someone else, the club will be able to compete at the highest level. But for me to run away now would not be fair."

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "The gamble we are taking is that Arsene continues to work the miracles that he's worked for the past seven years or so.

"Will he stay at the club? I sincerely hope so - he might even be chairman!"

He added: "This is excellent news for Arsenal.

"Over recent years we have established ourselves as one of the leading clubs in Europe and the stadium, which we can now positively look forward to, will provide us with the opportunity to sustain and build on this position."

Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman said that the project will not be putting the club's future at risk.

"The important thing about this deal is that the risk of filling the stadium has been taken by the banks, not by Arsenal Football Club," said Edelman.

"The stadium is owned by Ashburton Properties Limited and the banks are taking the risk around that, so if the stadium does not fill out it is down to the stadium company and not Arsenal.

"However, I don't think anyone would go into this deal thinking that is a possibility.

"The banks ran all the scenarios and believe they can get repaid for the stadium, and that shows how robust the plans are."

He added: "We are taking on a large financial debt, but the extra revenue we are generating from the stadium will more than cover that debt."

The stadium will be built by Sir Robert McAlpine under a 220m fixed price contract, which also includes the construction of a new waste and recycling centre.

The financing of the project is highly complex.

Ashburton Properties has obtained a 260million senior loan facility from a stadium facilities banking group.

The group comprises The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, Espirito Santo Investment, The Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks PLC, CIT Group Structured Finance (UK) Limited and HSH Nordbank AG.

Interest on the senior debt is set at a commercial fixed rate over the 14-year term.

Arsenal themselves are making up the deficit through funds from Granada, Nike and the sale of surplus land assets relating to the stadium site.

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