Arsenal prospects in the pink

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After Arsenal's flamboyant start to the reason, things continue to look rosy for the Premiership champions with figures released on Tuesday showing annual pre-tax profits up by more than double at £10.6m and turnover ahead a third at nearly £157m.

What's more the previous uncertainties over the building of the club's new 60,000-seater stadium appear to be resolving themselves with works at the former Ashburton Grove rubbish dump near to Highbury some five weeks ahead of schedule. Anyone who has ever had the builders in may find this startling, so too the fact that estimated costs of the project seem still to be around the £357m mark that they have been at for some time rather than - as yet, at least - suffering sharp upward adjustments.

The new stadium - “our Nirvana”, said managing director Keith Edelman on Tuesday - is due to be ready for the start of the 2006/7 season and catering for some 20,000 more paying customers than the present stadium. As for a name, said Edleman, the club had spoken to a number of major companies and world brand names over stadium naming rights but nothing had been decided. Development of the present Art Deco stadium into tastefully Islingtonian flats and courtyards would not begin for another 18 months, he suggested, but was expected to net the club some £75m-80m.

Were there any clouds on Arsenal's horizon, those recent reports, for instance, that coach Arsene Wenger would look to renegotiate his contract in October? The club had no idea where such ideas came from, said Edelman. Wenger was contracted till at least the end of next season and hopefully much further beyond.

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