Arsenal's pretax profit fell 18 percent to 15.89 million pounds in the year to end May, as lower property development sales offset gains from selling players and reaching the European cup final for the first time.

In a statement on its Web site on Wednesday, Arsenal said a lack of major sales from its property development business had knocked 18 million pounds from its turnover.

But turnover from football jumped 17 million pounds to 132.1 million pounds, after the club secured a lucrative European Champions League run, meaning pretax profit from soccer almost doubled to 16.8 million pounds.

Arsenal took a first half lead over Barcelona in the Champions League final but were eventually beaten 2 to 1 by the Spanish side.

The sale of star midfielder Patrick Vieira to Juventus helped player trading contribute 3.9 million pounds to pretax profits, against a 12.1 million pound cost a year earlier.

Net debt rocketed 71 percent to 262.1 million pounds as Arsenal ploughed money into its new north London stadium. The club relocated this season after 93 years at nearby Highbury.

In July, Arsenal sold 260 million pounds of bonds that were securitised, or backed by revenues from ticket sales, to help refinance debt associated with the new stadium's construction.

By cutting the yearly costs of servicing its debt, and extending the term over which it has to repay the money, the bond sale will free up future cash to pay for team development, the club said on Wednesday.

Retail sales leapt to a record 10.2 million pounds, helped by sales of a red currant coloured strip commemorating the last season at Highbury, and Arsenal said two big new stores at the new Emirates stadium would boost revenues this financial year.