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Arsene Wenger played a substantial role in relocating Arsenal from Highbury, their home for more than 90 years, to the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium. The move has provoked mixed reactions from Arsenal fans.
Ahead of the move, Wenger argued that the new stadium would allow Arsenal to raise more revenue through ticket sales. With more revenue, Arsenal would be able to spend more on players, according to Wenger.
"The Emirates Stadium is vital to our future," Wenger said in 2005 (per BBC Sport). "At one stage this project was only 50-50 because it was very complicated and expensive, but the board of directors felt we had to go for it or risk dying at the top level."
But as Richard Williams wrote in The Guardian in January 2012, Arsenal's performances since moving to the Emirates have suffered in comparison to the glory days at Highbury. Williams quoted former Arsenal midfielder John Hollins to illustrate some of the ambivalence surrounding the stadium. Said Hollins:
I don't know how much the Emirates has to do with their problems. It's a beautiful place and it does everything they must have wanted it to do. But they've made it so luxurious for the supporters that it's as though they feel they don't need to cheer any more. Highbury was a tight little ground where you could feel an energy that drove you on.
On the other hand, the stadium itself has been something of a financial burden. Arsenal invested £470 million in the Emirates (per Williams' article in The Guardian), and Wenger has said that the club's need to turn a profit has hindered his ability to buy expensive players like Eden Hazard (via ESPN FC).
Indeed, Arsenal turned a profit of £36.6 million in 2011-12, according to Sporting Intelligence. As a whole, the league lost £361 million over the same period (via The Guardian). During the decade ending in 2011-12, Arsenal netted more than £4 million in the transfer market (via Sporting Intelligence) while Chelsea and Manchester City combined to lose more than £1 billion.
Compared to most of their Premier League rivals, Arsenal are in excellent financial shape. The problem is, while Wenger continues to tout Financial Fair Play (via Sky Sports), other clubs are spending more and winning trophies.
Can a club be both financially responsible and successful on the pitch? That seems to be the key question of the latter part of Wenger's tenure.