Arsenal to succeed Real Madrid as world's richest

"We're very close," said Edelman, reflecting on what has been a tumultuous year for Arsenal. Financial results last autumn revealed that the club's turnover in the first year at the Emirates Stadium had shot up to £200million, just behind Real Madrid, whose turnover of £202m made them the biggest club in the world, according to Deloitte's football rich list.

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But the reality is that Arsenal may even have pulled ahead of Real.

"We don't take catering revenues as part of our income," said Edelman. "That would add another £10m-£15m to our figures."

When Arsenal's results next year include the first fruits of the Premier League's £2.7billion television deal, and Real Madrid begin to feel the effect of losing the extraordinary marketing power of David Beckham, Arsenal may well have pulled clear of the Spanish giants.

Edelman added: "We always felt that when we finished building the Emirates Stadium we'd be in a much better place. We had two tough years, we didn't have that extra revenue we're now getting from the stadium. But we're there now. Our fan base is growing in the Far East and America and we're working hard in Vietnam and Thailand.

"If you look back five years, we had a million users on the internet. There has obviously been a growth in the use of the internet since then, but now we're looking at 2.8million unique users. We're looking at season-ticket waiting lists of 45,000, executive box waiting lists . . . we're oversubscribed in every area."

Even when Manchester United release what will undoubtedly be impressive financial results next month, the economic model at Arsenal means the future appears more secure in north London than it does at Old Trafford, Anfield or down the road at Stamford Bridge.

"United will bring their results out soon and they may be a little bit bigger than us, very similar to us," said Edelman.

"But one of the things distinguishes us from the other clubs that have been sold in the last two years is that the debt we have is there to fund an asset. A lot of the other clubs have debt that is being funded for the acquisition of the club."

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