Arsene Wenger has described the years following the move to the Emirates Stadium as the ‘most difficult period of my life’.
Arsenal left their former ground Highbury to move in to the newly-built Emirates for the start of the 2006-07 season.
But costs associated with building the Emirates meant the Gunners operated under serious financial constraints and they were without a major trophy in their new home until the 2014 FA Cup.
And speaking in an interview with BT Sport ahead of the Emirates FA Cup final, Wenger reflected on a testing time as Arsenal boss.
‘In 2006 started most difficult period of my life because we had restricted finances and we had to pay back a huge amount of money,’ he said.
‘We had to sell our best players and we had to stay at the top and we had to stay in the Champions League.’
Wenger explained the huge costs behind the move to the Emirates, adding: ‘There are many debates when you build a stadium about how big can it be.
‘It’s quite simple at the time it was £4000 a seat and you multiply that by 60,000 it’s £240m. Plus all the businesses we had to buy out so we went for over £420million.
‘And we had to pay a huge amount of money every year and that’s when we had to stay in the Champions League.’
Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in Wenger’s managerial reign this season after finishing fifth in the Premier League.
But the Frenchman explained why he believes the financial implications of missing out on Champions League qualification are less damaging now than they were before.
‘Because today the television money makes the weight of the television money much weaker but at the time it was absolutely needed so that was for me the biggest period of pressure between 2006 and 2014,’ he added.
‘I would say today if you tell me “you do that [the Emirates move] again”, I would say “no thank you very much, I’ll leave that for somebody else” because it was an unbelievably tough period.’
Arsenal take on Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday looking to round off a disappointing season with some silverware.
Wenger could become the most successful manager in the competition’s history if he beats the Premier League champions at Wembley.
He is currently tied with former Aston Villa manager George Ramsay – both have won six FA Cups.
Culled from Mail
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