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Arsenal have secured the required £357m of funding to construct their new stadium at Ashburton Grove.

Doubts over the club’s ability to finance stadium have plagued the planning of the project, but with the money now in place, the Gunners hope the 60,000-seater stadium will be ready for the start of the 2006-07 season.

“This is exciting news. This club has such an illustrious past but this is one of the most important dates in our history,” said manager Arsene Wenger.

“It has been a big target of mine to participate in pushing the club forward and relocating to a new stadium is a necessity as it will enable us to become of one the biggest clubs in the world,” added Wenger.

“I love the fact that the new site is so close to Highbury, it’s where our heart is and from a personal point of view, I am hopeful of being the Arsenal manager when we move to the new stadium in 2006.”

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood added: “This is excellent news for Arsenal.

“Over recent years we have established ourselves as one of the leading clubs in Europe and the stadium, which we can now positively look forward to, will provide us with the opportunity to sustain and build on this position.”

The financing of the project is highly complex. Ashburton Properties has obtained a £260million loan from a stadium facilities banking group comprising The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, Espirito Santo Investment, The Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks PLC, CIT Group Structured Finance (UK) Limited and HSH Nordbank AG.

Arsenal themselves are making up the deficit through funds from Granada, Nike and the sale of surplus assets in the vicinity of the stadium.

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