Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admits difficult decisions will have to be made this summer in the transfer market.
The north London club saw their best route back to the Champions League closed on Thursday night when they exited the Europa League after a shock defeat to Olympiacos.
And then just 24 hours later Arsenal announced a loss after tax for 2018-19 of £27.1 million. It was the club’s first overall loss since 2002.
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“Our player trading profit for this financial year was limited and this combined with a second consecutive season of Europa League football,” commented chairman Sir Chips Keswick.
“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.”
Arsenal currently sit 10th in the Premier League and remain firm outsiders for the Champions League spots, even though fifth place could be enough to qualify given Manchester City’s impending European ban.
They are also far from guaranteed a Europa League spot and, even though Europe’s second tier competition does not bring in the riches of the Champions League, it still provides a valuable revenue stream.
So, should they miss out altogether, Arteta will have a very limited transfer budget to work with in the summer and the expectation is he will have to sell first to fund any major deals, with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has just 15 months of his contract remaining, and Alexandre Lacazette already being linked with moves away.
And, speaking ahead of Monday night’s FA Cup tie at Portsmouth, Arteta admitted that the club’s financial position means some tough decisions will have to be made when it comes to rebuilding his squad.
“The damage caused by the club not being in the Champions League for the third season is really big,” said the Spaniard.
“Financially the impact is enormous because the structure of this club is built to be in the Champions League and you can sustain that for one year or two, but then after you have to start making decisions.
“So we will have to make decisions one way or the other depending on the scenario we find ourselves in, whether we are in the Champions League, Europa League or nowhere near that.
“And we’ll have a very clear plan of what we want to do and depending where we are we have to act like this.”
Arteta added: “It will be difficult but this is the situation we are in now.
“We’ve been in that situation because we haven’t performed as well as the other top-four clubs have been doing.
“That’s the reality and we have to face that reality face to face and try to make the best decisions.
“We don’t have margin for error with those decisions so they have to be very thorough and clear processes of where we have to improve and how we are going to do that and then go forward with no excuses.”