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Arsenal say they would cope without Champions League football

Fri 7th Oct 2011 | Money & Finance

Arsenal's chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, has insisted the club would cope financially even if they missed out on Champions League qualification.

Following Arsenal's worst start to a season in 58 years, leaving them 15th in the Premier League table, Gazidis said the club would be able to weather a year without Champions League qualification if it ever happened.

"We would rather qualify for it but we have got a really stable model that could not just cope but do well and compete," Gazidis said after appearing on a panel at the Leaders in Football conference.

"It would be very foolish to build a business model that relied on being in the Champions League for perpetuity. I don't think any clubs do that, and if they do then they probably aren't being run as responsibly as they should be."

Champions League qualification has become disproportionately important in terms of driving revenue for the biggest clubs, and is likely to become even more so under Uefa's financial fair play regime.

The manager, Arsène Wenger, has often pointed to the club's consistency in qualifying for the competition over the past decade as evidence of their continued ability to compete at the top level while also being run in a financially sustainable fashion.

Gazidis also dismissed concerns expressed by some Arsenal fans that the club need a short‑term injection of funds in order to maintain their place among the European elite before Uefa's new financial fair play rules take effect.

There are fears the club could be left behind because they are unable to substantially grow their commercial revenues until 2014 when existing deals with Nike and Emirates are up for renewal.

However, Gazidis said that Arsenal's much admired self-sustaining model, recently backed by the American majority owner, Stan Kroenke, remained the way forward despite recent challenges on the pitch.

"I do think it's the right model for us. It gives us stability without having to worry too much about the ups and downs of the competitive cycle or the economic cycle," he said.

"Every club has the temptation to think that money is the answer to issues and that if only they'd spent a little bit more it would push them over the top of the curve. That's what drives this cycle of spending that you see in the game.

"That's not by any means always successful, but it's tempting to think it is. It relieves pressure for a while but it actually builds long-term pressure in other ways. We continue to act with discipline to make sure we've got a good short- and long-term future."

Gazidis admitted that pressure on clubs to increase revenues by putting up ticket prices was a "concern" under Uefa's proposed FFP system but said he was "optimistic" about the new landscape and believed it would ultimately be good for fans.

"I do believe the effective implementation of some sort of financial fair play system will be good for fans. The country with a model closest to financial fair play is probably Germany and the fan relationships there are good," he said.

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