Peter Hill-Wood, chairman of English Premier League club Arsenal, has dismissed the perceived challenge of Aston Villa and Arsenal's local rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the Gunners' now almost traditional qualification for the Champions League.
Qualification for the competition, worth tens of millions of dollars to the club every season, is a vital part of Arsenal's continuing profitability but, while Hill-Wood admits contingency plans are in place for a season when the club may not qualify, he refuses to accept that it will be either Tottenham or Villa putting them upder pressure.
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"We haven’t got $500 billion to put into the club, but I don’t consider Tottenham and Aston Villa rivals, frankly," Hill-Wood told Arsenal's AGM on Thursday. "We will be up there and any worries about Champions League income are unlikely to come to fruition."
He added: "We have always budgeted for not being in the Champions League one in every four years, so we are ready for it if it were to happen."
Meanwhile, Arsenal's majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, did not answer when asked whether or not he intends to complete a full takeover of the club. Kroenke is within one per cent of the 29.9 per cent stake that would oblige him to make an offer for the remaining shares in the club.